Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I have read several times now, at different sites or books, about the use of difficult words, particularly in poetry.  I don't know if someone had an original article and others have borrowed the idea, but all seemed pretty close in statement. The gist of it was that poets should not use words that are difficult or obscure, words that "would send the reader to google."  Say what!? Furthermore, the authors of the articles felt that there may need to be a footnote if the word, or place, or event, etc, may be something a reader is not familiar with. Personally, I think this is hogwash. I agree to a point. I don't want to read an entire poem filled with words I have never seen before. But a word here and there that challenges the reader is great. So what if someone has to do a little research? And who is to say how many readers do not have a vocabulary more sophisticated than the poet! I come across words all the time where I do not know the definition and, yes, I reach for the dictionary or keyboard. Two that come to mind are tessellated and xanthic. You can look them up, if you want.  I used both in poems, because they fit perfectly in a description. Both were published, so someone either looked the words up, or were smarter than me.

The same applies to places or events or anything else in this universe that has a name or word attached. If I read something that refers to some remote Temple in Asia that was built 1000 years ago, I will research it, if I am interested. I do not want a footnote explaining what, where, why, etc.

We read from necessity for joy, information, relaxation and numerous other reasons, and  it expands our knowledge.We need to have some mental challenges tucked away in the sentences and paragraphs. Next time you find a word you don't know, go to the dictionary. Be sure to read the word above, and the word below.

No comments:

Post a Comment