another lesson

Kurt Vonnegut: “Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.”

the first rule
if we are making rules
which is something
to consider
if your art is to begin with
something that bends
& stretches
& rolls it in a ball

to play catch with
or bounce on walls
of rigid mindset


there are no rules
as long as the
twisting & shaping
works so well
that whoever
happens to read
what you have done

to this inflexible thing
written words are usually

if you love
those winking anarchist

use them.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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16 Responses to another lesson

  1. George Ellington says:

    Those winking anarchist semicolons. HA! As an English teacher, I’ve got to remember to “borrow” that phrase.

  2. no full stops too, just rolling dots trying to reflect where one stream of thought or its tributary stopped to catch its breath! —– should spontaneous creativity borrow the jackets of grammar to be respectable?

    • I have to be so rigid in my work usage that I prefer to be relaxed and as far from respectable as I can be in my poetry, in terms of grammar. All part of the fun! However, that is the anarchist speaking on her day off–not the policewoman I am most of the time. So much of my day job revolves around maintaining order and drawing gibberish into a framework where anything makes sense at all 🙂

    • Btw, it was your share on FB about commas that got me thinking about these poor abused semicolons somehow, which led to the KV quote–so a thank you is in order!

      The first time I heard “full stop” used to end a sentence was in a medical report. So much more elegant than “period,” and much friendlier to speech rec software. Every time the poor Irish physician tried to end his sentence, I was leaving a blank.

  3. nelle says:

    A raspberry to you, Kurt.

    I stand with the language anarchist.

    With amused disdain,

    A Transsexual Writer.

  4. Rhonda says:

    Thank God you said to go ahead…I’d be lost without my semi and Kurt V….I never went to college so what does it say about me that I use them? ppppthhhhhhhhh;;;;;;;;

  5. Rhonda says:

    hmmm, didn’t know my own strength!

  6. unfetteredbs says:

    winking anarchist… flipping awesome contrast to KV

  7. coffeehousejunkie says:

    I just finish reading A Man Without a Country and Slaughterhouse-Five. Nice.

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