De-stress with HAIKU


As the family and I suffer cabin fever at the frigid hands of a below zero windchill and I torment myself contemplate my future (more on that later this week), I am reminded of a dear friend of mine who posts delightful HAIKU on her Facebook Wall as a way to let go of some of the cares of her day. So here I thought I would start a new thread designed simply to amuse and destress.

Remember the rules are three lines of 5-7-5 syllables, and to be true to the Americanized form you should mention nature (but I won’t tell on you if you break that particular rule, as I like to occasionally break it myself).

I’ll get us started, and as you can see there is nothing natural about my first HAIKU below:

For twenty-five years

I stayed away from Poptarts

Today was special

And for my second one…

Bitter wind carves air

Sleet pummels an icy path

Would you pump the gas?

You’re next 🙂

Photo credit © Kheng Ho Toh

In Defense of Lavender-Tinted Prose

purple flower

Purple prose, have you heard of it? I kept reading the term on writing blogs and didn’t recognize the reference. A quick Google search and now I am “in the know.”

Apparently, the expression was coined as early as the 16th century and refers to flowery, overly descriptive writing, the type of writing that throws you out of the story and draws attention to the writing itself. Overusing adverbs and adjectives will get you a purple ribbon too.

Now I’m not going to shout praises for self indulgent, over the top writing, but I am a fan of the paler versions. Passages that make me pause and say, ooooh that’s lovely, could be considered lavender-tinted cousins. It might be a turn of phrase so descriptive and rich in evoking a mood I stop and read it again. Or an entire paragraph worthy of being read aloud because it sounds so good.

Let me give you an example, from F . Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby,”His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

“The juxtaposition of God with a romping mind pulls me out of the story, but I don’t mind, because now I’ve slowed down enough to enjoy the tuning fork metaphor and an unforgettable first kiss.

Thoreau is always good for a read aloud. Try this excerpt from Walden on for size.

“I look down into the quiet parlor of the fishes, pervaded by a softened light as through a window of ground glass, with its bright sanded floor the same as in summer; there a perennial waveless serenity reigns as in the amber twilight sky, corresponding to the cool and even temperament of the inhabitants.”

There’s even a touch of alliteration in the “ground glass,” but again, I’m not complaining because I love to speak this passage. It pleases my ear and mind to say “perennial waveless serenity reigns” even though my spell check function insists the word “waveless” is illegitimate.

I can’t help it; beige prose doesn’t do it for me. What’s the point of all those delicious words if writers aren’t going to use them? On occasion, I want to meander through a book and smell those flowery phrases. So now that I’ve got a hankering for some flamboyant, supercilious, evocative, euphoric writing. Care to share some of your favorite purple-tinted passages?

Photograph © Chris Bence

For the love of words…

So, oddball that I am—I am in love with words. Not any word(s) in particular, I’m not picky—I love them all. Each has the vivid promise to stimulate the senses. I love the way they play in my mouth when I speak them or scatter across the page when I write. Might you love them too? Here’s an experiment for you. When no one’s looking, close your eyes. Oh wait, you better read the instructions first. Okay, now close your eyes and slowly, fully, deeply breathe in the word “passion”.

Can you smell it? Like jasmine cast on a warm, humid breeze? Can you feel it rush across your skin? If you can, Mnemosyne, the Titan goddess of words, might just have seduced you.

Words are irresistible. Some are ostentatious (ooh there’s a nice one); some simply sanguine (alliteration is kind of fun too, though a few find it fantastically frustrating). And let’s not forget, deep drum beat please… “Boom, Boom, Pow!”–The Black Eyed Peas…onomatopoeia.

There is great power in words, either standing alone as in “heartbreak” or strung together into the perfect phrase as in “To be or not to be– that is the question…”–William Shakespeare.

They persuade in our vast marketplace: “Tide® keeps on working after other suds have quit!” (Hmmm, well some words sell better than others) and inspire generations: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”–Martin Luther King Jr.

They motivate nations: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”–John F. Kennedy And galvanize armies: “Better to fight for something than live for nothing.”–George S. Patton 

And incredibly, words can transform lives: “For God so loved the world…” John 3:16

Love words, or loathe them? You may hate them, or have hated them in a post-bullied past. You know that schoolyard chant, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…” Bogus right? Cuts and bruises eventually heal, but words? They can disseminate lies, intolerance, and hatred.

Ever read/hear the following phrase? “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”–Adolph Hitler 

Scary words right? Makes me wish some who speak would choose not to—lucky for us, we can choose not to listen.

Words can sting, even shatter, especially if the hurtful words come from someone we care about. But truly, don’t the words uttered say more about the utterer? (utterer=invented word, love those too, although they get your a** kicked in Scrabble®). The words you choose to throw around identify who you are, reflect your character—set the tone of your existence.

Think I’m exaggerating? Think again. Consider the girl who chats about the acquaintance of a friend of a friend. I’ll call her Ashley for demonstration purposes only.

Ashley: “Did you see what Amanda is wearing? Her clothes are to die for—I mean to die in, LOL !

What have you, the observer/reader already determined about Ashley simply based on her choice of words? Is she pompous? Petty? Cruel? Or insecure? Is she transferring her own unhappiness on to Amanda to make herself feel better? Raising herself up at the expense of another?

And as long as Amanda relegates the value of Ashley’s words below that of tree limbs then no harm done, right? Ashley should simply shed those little nasty words like dead skin.

“Toughen up Ashley, they’re only words after all,” said the psychological expert who defends that stupid stick phrase.

“NO!” Now there’s a word of power and choice, useful in so many circumstances.

“No—I can’t buy that bridge you’re selling, No—I won’t talk trash behind anyone’s back, No—I don’t ___________(insert activity of choice), No time for that, No—but thanks anyway.”