Creative Process

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Creative Process


Artist: Duy Huynh

Here an essay about the necessity of embracing the unknown as part of the Creative Process:

In honor of National Poetry Month: New York in Haiku. If anyone has a haiku about Fairfield, please post below in the comments!

And here a share by Jeanette: Elizabeth Gilbert on TED: “Success, failure, and the drive to keep creating”:


Tamara’s Share

Tamara’s Share, “Vincent” or “Starry Night” by Don McLean:

Creativity Log Template Downloadable Here

Dear Students,

I emailed you all the Creativity Log template twice, but some of you have reported not receiving it. Here a link where you can download the template. We’ll discuss further on Monday morning.

You can download the Creativity Log Template here, and you can fill it out like a questionnaire, so that you cannot miss anything:
CREATIVITY LOGQuestionnaire’14


Photo: Conner Carey


The Ars Poetica


The Ars Poeticais the a poem about the art of writing a poem–since only the language of poetry itself is subtle enough to touch upon the unspeakable creative process of writing.

“Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.”–Paul Engle

Ars Poetica
by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown –

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind –

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea –

A poem should not mean
But be

Infant Joy Blake

Introduction to Poetry
By Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.


And one by former student Leah Waller:

Where Is My Poem: Ars Poetica

Where is my poem?
I must have been too needy for him.
I demanded that we spend every evening together,
so one day he said that he was going out
for a pack of smokes
and never came back.

I saw him in a dance club months later
flirting with other poets
and he looked so good-
lines cut in a sharp buzz,
his images even more direct and clear.
A cigar stuck in his mouth
like a fork in a pie
as he cleanly told me
he was done.

I stood on the other side of the glass
watching him dance with the other poets.
He saw me and, feeling guilty,
put on his black fedora
and came out into the street light.
He said, “What do you want?
Can’t you see I’m busy?”
I said, “I came for my passion,
hand it over, and we’ll be done here.”
He placed it in my hands
wrapped in a small couplet.
But no sooner had he touched me
than he wanted more.
He held me in iambic pentameter,
tangled my hair into simile and metaphor.
He kissed me uncontrollably.
Wet lips pulsing stanza after stanza,
he filled my page.
Then he pulled away,
went back inside to dance with the other poets.
leaving me
with only
a page of words.
–published in Under the Cedar Tree (First World Publishing)

The Gift
by Chard deNiord

In memory of Ruth Stone (June 8th, 1915-November 19th, 2011)

“All I did was write them down
wherever I was at the time, hanging
laundry, baking bread, driving to Illinois.
My name was attached to them
on the page but not in my head
because the bird I listened to outside
my window said I couldn’t complain
about the blank in place of my name
if I wished to hold both ends of the wire
like a wire and continue to sing instead
of complain. It was my plight, my thorn,
my gift-the one word in three I was
permitted to call it by the Muse who took
mercy on me as long as I didn’t explain.”

Poem a Day

Live from Prairie Lights

Praire Lights Bookstore • 15 South Dubuque St. • Iowa City, IA 52240 • 319-337-2681 • 800-295-BOOK • Open 9:00 a.m. daily

“Live from Prairie Lights,” held at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City, is an internationally known readings series, which features some of the best up-and-coming and well-established authors & poets from all over the globe. Presented before a live audience and streamed over the world wide web, this long running series brings the spoken word from the bookstore to the masses.Most readings begin @ 7:00 p.m. Arrive early to assure yourself a seat. Link to the upcoming readings:
Live at Prairie Lights upcoming readings

The University of Iowa is home to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, one of the most highly regarded graduate Creative Writing programs in the country. As a result, many distinguished as well as up-and-coming authors and poets come to Iowa City to give readings, usually at Prairie Lights downtown or at the Shambaugh Auditorium on campus. The Virtual Writing University Archive, featuring hundreds of audio and video recordings of emerging and renowned writers from around the world, documents the history of writing at The University of Iowa and its surrounding community. The collection is continuously updated with recordings from local readings. The project, founded by Jim Elmborg of the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), is a collaborative effort between SLIS and the Virtual Writing University.

Writing University Virtual Writing Library ARCHIVE:
Writing University Archive

The Writing University live streams many of our readings here.

The Live from Prairie Lights audio archive is available here.

Iowa City PATV has a video archive of readings located here.

A Muse Box Filled with Musings

One type of shrine you can make is a Muse box filled with musings:


Erato Muse of Poetry, 1870

Your Muse Box is for collecting scraps, letters, photos, magazine pictures that remind you of things you know, drawings and sketches, objects that remind you of things you want to write about, ideas, lists, mementos, and anything else you can possibly think of that might stir your memory as you begin to think about your portfolio. You can even include letters to your Muse (your very own “genius” as Elizabeth Gilbert calls it), notes to yourself or the universe–truly whatever you want and whatever inspires you, especially random things that don’t fit in the confines of a notebook or journal or items that you haven’t yet sorted for your journal. Collecting scraps for inspiration–either in boxes or books–has been a long-standing literary tradition, especially on this continent. Here the literary examples of Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Mark Twain:

From Christopher Benfey, “Scrapbook Nation”: NYBooks Scrapbook Nation, a blog reflection on Ellen Gruber Garvey’s Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance

A scrapbook advertisement from The New York Herald, December 11, 1876

Garvey notes that Whitman and Dickinson “were not poets that Civil War scrapbook makers sought with their scissors.” True enough, and yet both poets extended what might be called the scrapbook culture of the nineteenth century in new and surprising aesthetic directions. A newspaperman by trade, Whitman wrote capacious poems that Emerson characterized as a hybrid of the Bhagavad Gita and the New York Herald. Like a reporter assigned to the Metro desk, Whitman proclaimed:

This is the city… and I am one of the citizens;
Whatever interests the rest interests me… politics, churches, newspapers, schools
Benevolent societies, improvements, banks, tariffs, steamships…

Whitman’s Specimen Days, which he described as “the most wayward, spontaneous, fragmentary book ever printed,” is a moving scrapbook of clippings and jottings from the whole span of his life, including his years as a volunteer nurse in Union hospitals. While conceding that “the real war will never get into the books,” in Specimen Days Whitman tried to get at what he called the “interior history” of the war. Unlike more conventional scrapbookers with their impersonal digests of clippings from the distant battlefront, Whitman (who famously boasted, “I am large. I contain multitudes”) wrote himself into the proceedings. Sitting at the bedside of a young Irish boy, asleep, with a bullet hole through his lung, Whitman wrote that the boy

suddenly, without the least start, awaken’d, open’d his eyes, gave me a long steady look, turning his face very slightly to gaze easier—one long, clear, silent look—a slight sigh—then turn’d back and went into his doze again. Little he knew, poor death-stricken boy, the heart of the stranger that hover’d near.


A hyperactive cutter and paster, Emily Dickinson also repurposed scraps and clippings for original creative work, shifting—like Whitman, or perhaps like ambitious Facebook compilers today—from consumer to producer. Late in life, she wrote dazzling fragments of verse and prose on discarded envelopes, chocolate wrappers, and stray bits clipped from magazines and newspapers. These scraps functioned as something more than convenient notepads, encouraging spur-of-the-moment poetic spontaneity and the creative challenge of fitting stray thoughts to odd shapes of paper.

She wrote poems about birds on the twin wings of envelopes and poems about houses across the roof-like flap. (These fascinating creations were recently published in limited-edition facsimile as The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope-Poems, with a list price of $3,500.) At times, she seems to be venturing into some new concept of poetry as visual art, as when she enigmatically deploys a serpentine poem about encountering a spider in an outhouse or a prison (“Alone and in a Circumstance / Reluctant to be told / A spider on my reticence / Assiduously crawled”) around a passage clipped from a review of George Sand and a postage stamp with an image of a train.


Photo: Emily Dickinson Collection/Amherst College

(…) Mark Twain was perhaps the king of American scrapbook culture. According to the OED, he was the first writer to use “scrapbook” as a verb, writing in 1881 about the origins of his book A Tramp Abroad, “I scrap-booked these reports during several months.” Prolific in inventing ways to lose money, especially in his attempts to predict how books would be published in the future (not, he found to his chagrin, with type fashioned from clay), Twain successfully marketed his own patented design for a more efficient scrapbook, outfitted with no-muss adhesive pages and an index awaiting entries. Twain’s scrapbook can be seen as the ancestor of the lavish “Keeping Memories Alive” scrapbook industry today, with its glitter and fluff and hobby stores, and, incidentally, its more recent origins in the genealogy-affirmative Mormon community. “For members of the Church,” as a Mormon website puts it, “creating memory books seemed to come naturally.”’


Twain, as befitted his pen name, was ambivalent about scrapbooks. In Huckleberry Finn, he lambasted the necrophilic scrapbook of the amateur poet Emmeline Grangerford, filled with “obituaries and accidents and cases of patient suffering” along with her own morbid contributions—including, in one of Twain’s most inspired satirical creations, stanzas like this:

Despised love struck not with woe
That head of curly knots,
Nor stomach troubles laid him low,
Young Stephen Dowling Bots.

[In Victorian times, many women especially collected scrapbooks filled with obituaries and other morbid memorabilia.]


Page of Twain’s Scrapbook

And yet, Twain’s loose and baggy non-fiction books Roughing It, The Innocents Abroad, and A Tramp Abroad were assembled from his own carefully maintained travel scrapbooks, and retain some of the pleasingly serendipitous and fragmented feel of life on the road. “Anyone may compose a scrapbook, and offer it to the public with nothing like Mark Twain’s good-fortune,” as his friend William Dean Howells wryly observed. “Everything seems to depend upon the nature of the scraps, after all.”

Ellen Gruber Harvey’s Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance is published by Oxford University Press.

Brief excerpt from the above article on Maude Newton’s blog, click here: Maude Newton Blog Tumblr Emily Dickinson Repurposed Scraps


Hesiod Listening to the Inspiration of the Muse

The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems

For anyone who loves Emily Dickinson or who has a whimsical way with words:


A bit more about Emily Dickinson’s “Gorgeous Nothings” or envelope poems (scraps), which may inspire you in your own Muse Box collecting (see also next post down about the Muse Box):

“The Gorgeous Nothings” collected by Jen Bervin and Marta Werner: Granary Books



More links on this publication:

Emily Dickinson Museum

New York Public Library


gorgeousnothings.jpeg.inline vertical

From The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope-Poems (Granary Books 2012). Emily Dickinson manuscript image A 193/194 courtesy of Amherst College Library Archives & Special Collections and The Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Free Writing and Other Prewriting Techniques


Japanese calligrapher Tsuneko KUMAGAI (1893~1986) at work with her cat.

If you have trouble getting started with your writing or if you can’t seem to get your ideas organized effectively, prewriting techniques will help you. These techniques are practical ways to help you get started and generate material (literally, the exercises you do before you write). Always keep in mind that:

1. Your ideas are valuable and need to be communicated to your reader.

2. You need to find the best way to communicate your ideas to your reader.

These are a few useful prewriting techniques. All prewriting you do in this class is part of your journal work. Keep careful track of it!


Jot down every idea you have about your topic. Free-associate; don’t hold back anything. Try to brainstorm for at least ten minutes, and write everything down in a list form. There are various types of list you can create: lists of topics, main theme ideas, details to include, character study details, setting details, examples, arguments, points of comparison or contrast, reasons, memories, etc. You can use lists effectively when you are first brainstorming for ideas. You can also use them as you are fine-tuning ideas. Read through your lists and outline the ideas you think are most useful–then do freewriting on the topics (list items) you outlined.


Before you find a focus for any of your writing work, it helps to just sit down and write. Take out a blank sheet of paper and begin writing for at least ten to fifteen minutes. Write whatever comes to your mind. Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Don’t change, correct, or delete anything. Just keep moving your pen with every new thought that randomly comes into your mind. Freewriting is a tool to allow you to connect to the right side of your brain. That is where the magic happens.


In unfocused freewriting, you just put your pen to the paper and let whatever wants to come out, come out. You don’t censor or edit or direct. You can even write: “I don’t know what to write” or doodle, or you can write about something that happened to you at breakfast that morning, a memory you have, whatever happens to pop into your mind. You trace the meanderings of your mind honestly from thought to thought. That is all you do. If you keep going without stopping your pen, you communicate to your mind that you are ready, you are listening. Your mind will be free to respond and speak to you in return. Doing a brief unfocused freewrite every day is a great way to get creative juices flowing and to clear up any of the debris that might be obstructing your creative channels.


Once you have some idea what you may want to write about, you can do a focused freewrite, where you use a specific prompt. As you write, you welcome all thoughts that happen to come, but when you find that you deviate too far from your original prompt or topic, you gently lead your mind back, just as in meditation you go back to the mantra once you’ve become aware that your mind has been engaged with random thoughts. This technique always yields very direct results. Do a focused freewrite for any creative idea you have relating to a possible portfolio project. Don’t start editing and crafting right away. First do a lot of freewriting so that your mind is limber and free. The best work comes from a deep place where you are truly connected to yourself.


Frida Kahlo’s Diary


Many experienced writers keep journals or diaries to help them organize their thoughts, to keep track of ideas and note down things they see or read or hear or experience. The more you record, the more you observe, so keeping a journal will generally make you more observant and help you generate ideas about which to write.


Place your general subject in a circle in the middle of a blank sheet of paper and begin to draw other lines or circles that shoot out from the original topic. Cluster the ideas that seem to go together for at least ten minutes. This type of prewriting allows you to visually see how ideas can go together under each cluster. It may also help you think of broader angles, of connections you had not thought of before. Clustering invariably helps you make connections that aren’t instantly evident. You can’t know all of the connections between your subject and related ideas unless you spin them out visually on the page. Clustering and mapping helps you outline further ideas for listing or freewriting.

This is what it might look like:




You can brainstorm on your own, but brainstorming is most effective in a group, where you can get the feedback of others. It involves offering ideas freely, without fear of criticism, allowing one idea to suggest another and another. By freely associating ideas, you can come up with new solutions for old problems. The trick of brainstorming is to allow the mind to make connections between ideas, no matter how strange the connections may seem at the time. No idea should be discouraged. Sometimes the strangest hunch can lead to the best work.


If you are more visually oriented, you can also doodle a drawing about your topic, and this might give you clues about what to include in your writing. Graphics can also give a very clear sense of the relationship between the wholeness of an idea and its component parts.


Analyzing your audience is one of the steps in the prewriting process. All writers have to know their audience. Knowing your audience will help you find your appropriate subject matter and also the appropriate form and tone to present your subject matter in. For example, if you are writing about your experience being a child, you can choose to tell your story to children or to adults. This will affect the word choice and sentence structure, the tone and style of your writing. You can choose whether you want a catchy and hip voice that would fit well in a glossy magazine, or whether you prefer a subtly powerful erudition that will appeal to the literary magazine market, or whether you want simple but emotional language that might appeal to readers interested in self-help issues, etc. Your audience determines dozens of details about your writing: vocabulary, sentence structure, formality, psychological appeal, organization and approach. If you are writing about a technical subject to an audience of laypersons, you must use a layperson’s vocabulary. If you are writing about a formal subject to an academic audience, your sentence structure should mirror the formality. If you are expressing an opinion to readers who will likely disagree, you should use different appeals and a different organization than you would with readers who will likely agree. If you want to be published in a literary magazine, you must adopt a more sophisticated language than if you publish in a small-town newspaper. Determining audience is one of the first things a writer does when beginning to write a new piece.


Ⓒ John Thomson, Luna Park, Porte Maillot, Paris, 1910’s, children audience

The Stubborn Gladness of Elizabeth Gilbert


“I think creativity is entirely a spiritual practice. It has defined my entire life to think of it that way. When I hear the way some people speak about their work, people who are in creative fields who either attack themselves, or attack their work, or treat it as a burden rather than a blessing, or treat it as something that needs to be fought and defeated and beaten. . . . There is a war that people go to with their creative path that is very unfamiliar to me. To me, it feels like a holy calling and one that I am grateful for.

“I can lay out the biography of it and say, “My parents are big readers, and they spent a lot of time in the library. And I had an older sister who is really creative, and we used to write plays.” I can even break it down and say, “I am really disciplined, and I work really hard, and I put decades of work into learning how to write.” And I could have put decades into playing a violin, yet I wasn’t going to become advanced. I took piano lessons for 10 years; I still can’t play very well.

“I think creativity is entirely a spiritual practice…I was given a contract, and the contract is: ‘We are not going to tell you why, but we gave you this capacity. Your side of the contract is that you must devote yourself to this in the highest possible manner, you must approach it with the greatest respect, and you must give your whole self to this. And then we will work with you on making progress.’ That’s sort of what it feels like for me.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert


With Luca Spaghetti, ITALY

More from the interview:

Interviewer: You have written about how important self-forgiveness is in the creative process.

“Oh my God, it’s so hard. And we are the last person we can forgive. But it’s necessary—even more than discipline, even more than inspiration—that gentleness [with yourself]. It’s the opposite of what we are taught about the big geniuses creating, with the furrowed brow and the sweat and thrashing and gnashing. There is always such a violence in it.

“To me, the best work I have done is when I say to myself, Well, that was a good try. This isn’t a perfect story you just created, but that’s the best we are going to do today, and tomorrow we can pick it up again. When you see artists who lead their life on the battlefield, that’s a missing feature that causes the self-abuse and the torment and the alcoholism—”

Interviewer: The archetype of the suffering artist.

It’s really strong, and I think it comes in part from the old Christian theology that you can only trust suffering and pain, and that all pleasure holds the possibility for sin. Only through lashing yourself and denying yourself all comforts can you be certain that you are actually living a serious life. I think it’s now a little out of date. I think it’s in need of a tune-up.


Ashram friends, India, with Richard from Texas, INDIA

Interviewer: Why do you think that being creative or an artist has become a rarefied thing, something that “other people do” and not a part of our daily life?

“A very good piece of fortune I had as a child was that I was raised by parents who had no faith whatsoever in professionals. To the point that they didn’t go to doctors when they had an eye infection and stuff like that. They take it to an extreme, that you don’t need a permission slip from the principal, that, really, you can do everything yourself. And while there is some pathology in that, it was also part of my childhood, seeing people who didn’t wait for permission to do something before they did it—whether it’s doing their own plumbing or growing their own food or making their own clothing.

“So I never had this obstacle that some people have. I felt like, I can write a book—you just write one. I think that [way of thinking] is from a different era, where people just felt that they were allowed to write a song, they were allowed to make a drawing. Now I spend a lot of time trying to talk people out of getting an MFA. Unless you have a trust fund or you have gotten the full scholarship and you have nothing else to do, you don’t need an MFA to do this. You can just do this. But it’s become a profession, and if you don’t have the right accreditation from the right institution, you are not considered a professional artist. That’s weird, that’s just weird, and it’s never been like that in history before now. I think it’s contemporary, and I think it’s also really American, and it’s stopping a lot of people.”


With Ketut Liyer, BALI

Interviewer: Yes—like we need to have permission or accreditation or a degree to be creative, instead of its being a part of who we are.

“There is something really nutty and sad about that. My sister pointed out that something happens when we get to high school. She’s noticed this with her kids and other kids, where they love to read and they love to write stories and they love to do stuff—and then you get to high school. All of a sudden they throw the Great Books at you, and they send you this message very clearly that the books that you have so far been enjoying have no value.”

Interviewer: What are your spiritual or creative influences?

“These days I am drawing most of my creative inspiration from poets. I feel like they bridge the gap between the literary world and the spiritual world because so often the poet’s work is purely coming out of the stream. They really are walking around with a transistor radio getting messages. The poet Jack Gilbert, who just passed away, much to my sorrow, is as important to me as any guru that I have ever read. Ruth Stone is another one I love, love, love. These are people whose work I carry around with me the way other people would carry around a prayer book and who I return to for inspiration.

“I have a mantra that I have used for meditation. It’s a line of Jack Gilbert’s: “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” That idea of ‘stubborn gladness’ is my meditation. I love that line because it doesn’t deny suffering; it doesn’t deny the existence of suffering; it doesn’t deny that the world is a ruthless furnace. But there is a fierce insistence on staying awake and staying afloat in the midst of that, that I go back to again and again and again.”

Here a link to the entire article, published in Spirituality & Health called “The Stubborn Gladness of Elizabeth Gilbert,” written by Karen Bouris: The Stubborn Gladness of Elizabeth Gilbert.


Elizabeth Gilbert’s follow up to Eat, Pray, Love is Committed: A Love Story: Committed: A Love Story

More from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Website: Conversations & Excerpts:

Figurative Language Glossary


A Magical Life, Christine Chalmers

Image—A picture in words; a word or sequence of words that refers to any sensory experience (having to do with sight, hearing, touch, taste, or scent).

  • The Autumn wind blows the rust-red scarf back from her face.
  • The brown, withered leaves rustle about our feet as we stamp around in our green plastic boots.
  • I plunge my soft hand into the porcelain bowl of ice cold water.
  • A green-feathered hummingbird hovers in mid-air, its wings beating fast.

Simile—A comparison of two things, indicated by some connective (usually like, as, than, or a verb such as resembles). It usually only refers to one characteristic that two things may have in common.

  • Like a long-legged fly upon the stream/his mind moves upon silence.
  • Our headlights caught, as in a flashbulb’s flare,/a pair of hitchhikers.
  • The skin prickles, outraged as a cactus at this cold.
  • The birds on the power lines resemble musical notes.
  • I am as tired as the seams of my grandfather’s old fishing trousers.
  • Curtains lift and fall like the chest of someone sleeping.
  • I wear my patience like a light green dress, and wear it thin.

Su Blackwell

Metaphor—A statement that one thing IS something else, which, in a literal sense, it is not; a comparison that omits the connective. A metaphor is not limited in the number of resemblances it might indicate; in fact, the best metaphors work on several or many levels.

  • All the world’s a stage,/and all the men and women merely players.
  • The fog comes on little cat feet.
  • I slept as never before, a stone on a river bed.
  • I will speak daggers to her, but use none.
  • When the hounds of spring are on winter’s traces.
  • My love has thorns! (Implied metaphor)

Personification—An image that attributes human characteristics to an inanimate object.

  • The wind stood up and gave a shout.
  • The eagle clasps the crag with crooked hands.
  • The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls.
ViaAdele P

Via Adele P

Transferred Epithet—An image or phrase that attributes a quality that belongs with one thing (usually a person) to another (usually an object) for reasons of poetic complexity and surprise.

  • Lonely lands. (The land is not lonely; a person in it might be.)
  • Snake-lying tale. (A tale cannot lie, but the person telling it might.)

Symbol–An image that stands for something bigger, representing an idea, an absolute truth or a intangible reality, a process, a feeling, or something else that does not have material existence. The word “symbol” derives from the Latin symbolum, a symbol of faith, and symbolus, a sign of recognition. In turn it comes from classical Greek συμβόλων or symbolon, an object cut in half constituting a sign of recognition when the carriers were able to reassemble the two halves. In ancient Greece, the symbolon, was a shard of pottery which was inscribed and then broken into two pieces which were given to the ambassadors from two allied city states as a record of the alliance. Literature is full of symbols, which convey deeper meaning. Some symbols have universal meaning (sunrise representing a new beginning, a stream the passing of time, water consciousness, blossom spring, etc.). Other symbols have individual meaning attributed to the image by the writer. More information and examples here, on Literary World Blogspot: Literary World Blogspot, Symbols in Literature

Jessie Chorley

Jessie Chorley


Mixed Metaphor–Jumbling together two or more metaphoric images that don’t go together, often in an illogical manner. Mixed metaphors lack clarity because they move in too many directions at once. They confuse the mind of the reader and don’t quite hit home. succession of incongruous or ludicrous comparisons. Mixed metaphors are often composed of cliches or over-used, stale expressions.

  • Water the spark of knowledge and it will bear fruit.
  • We want a knock-your-socks out website that will teach anyone’s mind’s eye to play it by ear!
  • Her oral writing is not very strong; she’s not the sharpest cookie in the jar.
  • Once you open a can of worms, they always come home to roost!
  • We’re treading on thin water. This is a really hard bubble to crack.
  • Let’s use the tip of the iceberg as a first stepping stone. Or is that putting the chicken before the cart?
  • “All at once he was alone in this noisy hive with no place to roost.” (Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities)
  • “Top Bush hands are starting to get sweaty about where they left their fingerprints. Scapegoating the rotten apples at the bottom of the military’s barrel may not be a slam-dunk escape route from accountability anymore.” (Frank Rich, The New York Times, July 18, 2008)