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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Playing with Words


Every now and then, we’ve talked about the fun of playing with words, but this practice can also bring something unexpected to a poem, surprising, perhaps, both you and your readers.


Playing with words can bring connections we hadn’t previously considered.


The other day, for instance, my Bible Study group reached the book of Hebrews in our progressive study of the New Testament, and we came to this verse about religious leaders.

“Since he himself is weak in many ways, he is able to be gentle with those who are ignorant and make mistakes,” Hebrews 5:2, Good News Translation (GNT.)                                          

What was true of a compassionate leader then is true now, but the word that caught my attention was “ignorant.” We usually think of that word as being unaware of factual data, but I suddenly became aware of how ignorance also relates to those who ignore God. Carrying that connection further could be the starting place for a religious poem or a devotional article.


Using words with various spellings can also start a poem.


For example, most of us prefer “peace of mind” over “piece of mind,” but a single poem with both spellings could be insightful or become a rant!


Reading a dictionary has evoked many a poem for many a well-known poet!


If you were a mechanic or carpenter, wouldn’t you want every useful tool for your trade? For poets and writers, that “tool box” contains a regular dictionary, poetry dictionary, and handbook on grammar. That’s the bare minimum to bear. Judeo-Christian poets and writers would surely want at least one translation of the Bible, while academics need a manual of style.


Speaking of academics, I’d never given thought to the word “academic” or “academia” until I opened a dictionary to the A’s and read about Akademos, the legendary Athenian hero of the Trojan Wars. His association with Helen of Troy and also the school grounds where Plato likely taught gave me the impetus for this poem.



Writing The Academian Myth


Helen wrote history

without royalties,


without musing

over musicals or poems.


Helen wrote mystery,


romance and lively letters

loosely leafed

on wind.


When Akademos heard

where Helen had been hidden,

he played the instrument

for her release from unwritten

mortal codes and, hence,

her capture

in immortal odes, which

spoke volumes.


Mary Harwell Sayler from A Poet’s Guide to Writing Poetry

If you have a topic you’d like to see discussed in a future post or a comment about your own play-times with words, let's hear from you in the Comments section below.







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