BANNED WORDS-by Peerless

Peerless, my poetry-writing group, is having a discussion on banned words. Ariel, always so knowledgeable, quoted Bill Greenwell saying never to use the word SHARDS. Jean, our follow-up expert, has given us four sites which agree (or not) with Bill:

One Night Stanzas
Magma Poetry
Poets On Fire Forums
Bill Posters

Some of the banned words shine: glimmer, golden, shimmer. Some are tactile: flame, clutching, grass. Others present pictures: twilight, mist, leaf. Make a list of the words that you might ban. I am loath to look at my poems now; banned words will be everywhere.

Wish I had been in on the discussion (turned out to be a hot debate over tea). Perhaps I’ll get some comments from a Peerless Poet or two. Do they have banned words? Are other poets who read this website/blog concerned with the topic? write this has a list of words numbering 99 that “shall be banned from poetry (an evolving list).”

One word missing from the list above, one that Greenwell bans, is soul. In the poetry competition for Northern California that the National League of American Pen Women sponsors each year, I just won second place. I used the word three times in “Chair by the Window.” As I deposited $50 in my bank, this swayed me, I’m sure, to move to the “no banned words” side.

Here is a poem by Jean Lin. I think it belongs right here in this blog.

At the poetry workshop,
a woman arches her finely tweezed brows,
and states emphatically,
she hates sentimentality in poetry.
She especially dislikes
the use of the words gather and stars.

I immediately want to write a poem
using those two words
in a totally unsentimental way.

The stars gather as if to assassinate the night,
one begins.
The gathering stars foretold the coming of Armageddon,
predicts another.
When stars gather, love’s falsehood shines bright.
sounds a third.

I love stars and the word stars.
For that matter,
I love sentimentality
Every so often
I want to wallow in pure bathos.

Turn on a Lassie rerun,
watch Audrey Hepburn kiss
George Peppard in the rain.
Sing songs from Oklahoma
to my glowering, unappreciative cat,
the sullen emperor of the kitchen.

Wrap myself in my grandmother’s afghan
sit under the evening sky
watch stars gather
and write.

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