Greeting fellow dVerse/Poetry Afficionados. This is Victoria, welcoming you to Meeting the Bar. Today, I’ve had to dig into the archives and play with an older post. My life has gone through a few sea changes in the last couple of months and, perhaps you noticed, maybe you didn’t, I haven’t been around much.
My husband had major surgery last week and came home on Friday. What that means for me is that I have revived my nursing skills, donned my nursing cap and white stocking (okay, maybe not) and assumed another form of art for a while. Because of this, and to have time to nurture another novel idea that’s brewing in my mind, I am stepping away from dVerse as a hostess. When things ease up, I’ll continue, as possible, to post my poems and comment as much as time allows.
Thanks to all of you: the dVerse team–especially Claudia and Brian who brought me on board from the beginning–and all the hosts, past and present, and each of you who bring so much of yourselves to the art of poetry. I know that under Bjorn’s leadership, along with all the team, dVerse will endure as my favorite poetry community for years to come.
Now, let’s look at how verbs can bring life to your poetry:
When I first ventured into the world of creative writing, one of my “mortal sins” involved an abundant use of passive voice and boring verbs, hyperbolic adjectives and taxing adverbs. though we never quite”arrive,”by participating in critique groups and reading about the art of writing, an important insight occurred to me: active verbs give life to prose and poetry. My earlier attempts to create character and description often fell flat.
Adverbs and adjectives are part of our language for a reason—to add color, texture and other artistic elements to our verbal armory, but discriminating use of these words peppered with verbs that rock do make a difference. While there is a role for telling and judicious use of passive voice, success lies in knowing how to balance our use of writing weapons.
Here are a couple of examples/definitions of what I’m trying to say:
Passive voice—when something is done to the object:
The child was bitten by a bee.
Active voice, the subject is the doer:
The bee bit the child.
And overuse of adjectives and adverbs:
The hefty pass-kicker adroitly kicked the ball between the goal post in spite of the blustery wind.
To demonstrate this, let me choose one of my older poems and rewrite parts of it with fewer adjectives and adverbs, grasping instead for verbs that create the same mood:
in the corner of the dark
room spider spins her web,
traps a fly.
in the corner of the room,
spider spins her web,
traps a fly.
you are prone, sipping
from a straw. your smile
flickers then you wait.
prone, you sip from a straw,
your smile flickers,
why do fireflies compete
with lightning when summer
you are prone, tugging
at fringe on your prayer
shawl. deep breath. sigh.
prone, you tug at fringe
on your prayer shawl,
tomorrow they say
will be the same as today
or the day before yesterday.
you are prone. glasses
smudged with grease and
sweat. how will you see tomorrow?
your glasses smudge with grease
How will you see tomorrow?
today the rent was due
they picked up garbage and
the mailman delivered more junk.
you are prone, fingering
rosary beads. eyes closed.
and still we wait.
you finger rosary beads,
and still we wait.
I tried to eliminate not only adverbs and adjectives, but also forms of the verb “to be” which goes hand-in-hand with passive voice and deadens the flow of the poem.
For this week’s MTB prompt, please join us and write a poem incorporating a rich use of verbs. You may want to select one of your older poems, as I did here, that has never satisfied you and try to spice it us a bit. Maybe it’s heavy on adverbs and adjectives, even bordering on “purple prose.” Or you could grab a dictionary and discover a verb or two that’s new to you or one you’ve never used. Another fun device is to make a noun into a verb–let’s call that verb-ing!
Here’s how to join in:
• Write your poem and post it on your blog or website;
• Copy and paste the direct URL to your poem on Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post, adding your name or identifier as he prompts you;
• Spend some time visiting the work of your fellow poets and leaving comments on their blogs—above all, return the favor to those who have made the effort to comment on your work
• Let the world know about dVerse by linking this post to your blog and social networks—invite a friend to join us as well;
• Above all, have fun; enjoy the creative moments.
For dVerse, I’m Victoria, thanking you for joining us this evening and happy to be your hostess tonight. I’ll make my way to your “table” sooner or later. Perhaps a bit later since I’m on the far end of the time zones and playing nurse!