Monday, September 10, 2018

Poetic Repetition

By C.M. Mayo

As of this year, the second Monday of the month is dedicated to my writing workshop students and anyone else interested in creative writing.


Unintentional repetition of a word or phrase in your writing is rather like going out the door with another sweater clinging to the back of your sweater -- uh, dorky. Or smiling wide-- with a piece of spinach stuck between your front teeth. It's the sort of thing we all do on occasion, and that is why we need to revise, revise, revise.

Intentional repetition on the other hand, can bring in the bongo-drums of musicality! Here are some examples of this powerful poetic technique:

"Man lives in the flicker, Man lives in the flicker."
-- Mark Slade, "The New Metamorphosis" Mosaic 8 (1975), quoted in Marshal McLuhan, "Man and Media," transcript of a talk delivered in 1979, in Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews (MIT Press, 2005).

wanting, wanting...

"Wanting to be read, wanting the recognition, whether its Jacqueline Susan-style, all glitz and limos, or sweeping the gland slam of literary events, is not a crime."
-- Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees

book my only book...

"You have also never said one word about my poor little Highland book my only book. I had hoped that you and Fritz would have liked it."
-- Queen Victoria (letter to her daughter, 23/12/1865)

money, money, money, money....

"Tancredi, he considered, had a great future; he would be the standard-bearer of a counter-attack which the nobility, under new trappings, could launch against the social State. To do this he lacked only one thing: money; this Tancredi did not have; none at all. And to get on in politics, now that a name counted less, would require a lot of money: money to buy votes, money to do the electors favors, money for a dazzling style of living..."
-- Guiseppe di Lampedusa, The Leopard

In a previous post I talked about reading as a writer. One thing to notice as you read is where the author repeats a word or phrase-- if you judge it effective.

P.S. Oodles of free resources for creative writers on my workshop page, including "Giant Golden Buddha" & 364 more free 5 minute writing exercises.

> Your comments are always welcome. Write to me here.