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Five things your English teacher (may) have gotten wrong

mean teacher

You can’t use “and” to start a sentence

Actually, you can use and for this purpose. Just for good measure, here are a few examples from literature:

“And even Mary could assure her family that she had no disinclination for it.” – Jane Austin from “Pride and Prejudice”

“And to seek to make the blacksmith a scholar is almost as silly as the more modern scheme of making the scholar a blacksmith.” – W.E.B. Du Bois from “The Souls of Black Folk”

“And let every other power know that this hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.” – John F. Kennedy from his Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961

You always use commas after each item in a series

Commas are necessary after each of the items in a series, except the last one. For example, someone might suggest that this is correct: red, white, and blue. However, that’s not the case. Using the comma after “and” is actually redundant. It’s like saying “and” twice. So, the correct method would be to write it as follows: red, white and blue.

Over and under

They do it in commercials and advertisements all the time. I suppose it is for brevity sake but that doesn’t make in any less incorrect. I’m talking about when people use the words “over” or “under” to indicate anything other than height. For example, cars are not on sale of under $20,000. Nor are there over 7 billion people in the world. The correct phrasing for each of these would be: Cars are on sale for less than $20,000 and there are more than 7 billion people in the world.

It’s not a real word if it’s not in the dictionary

First off, this implies that there is only one official dictionary when in fact there are many. On another note, there are many words that have simply been removed from dictionaries based on infrequent or rare use in modern language and conversation. I bet you wouldn’t find a lot of terms used in the Renaissance era in today’s dictionaries but that does not make them any less relevant.

Improper grammar is never acceptable

Generally speaking, improper grammar is a bad thing. However, there are a few exceptions. One of the first that comes to mind is with the use of direct quotations. Whether the quote is from a real person or a character in a book, language and grammar allowances can be made for such things as accents, education level, etc.  A quick example is the phrase frequently spoken by the character Aibileen Clark in the film “The Help” in which she says, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Intrusion – A Poem

By Amy Oestreicher

Whether I am the trespasser, alien
The outcast, the tortoise turned on its side
I can see the stream from here
And I long to dance with the source.

Can I fish for you, blue glimpse?
A glimpse of the word as it was intended to be?
The realism thrills me

In a world of
Perfec
t:
geometricshapes,painted signs,brightredautomobiles,

my hollow shell overflows with relief.
For I have now caught the world in coy disarray, in bashful asymmetry.
(I’m sorry I disturbed you – I had thought you were done changing)

But fair lilies in the stream, let me flatter you:

You are such unperturbed beauty; a beautiful mess
Some divine energy had a penchant for modern art.

This trail I stumble down begs to recount to me, pleads, “Can I tell you a story?”
Of What? What – some kind of archetypal tale to us with its paw prints, bird calls, freaks and daddy long legs crawling under rocks like blue crabs
Moist air
Shadowed filth
rocking trees comforting one another in this dark forest community.
Blue forest glimpse – you are my catch and my soul is your bait.
Here is my glimpse of the world as it was intended to be
Realism thrills me as the wind now thrills your branches.

In a world of perfect geometric shapes, of painted signs, of bright red automobiles…
I’ve wandered, lonely and seeking a friend, and I ask, can I belong?
Crumble-crumble-crumble
I venture down and down further, and down.
I am a lone pebble, but unstranded, moving with the stream of wind that caresses the branches above me.

In each crumble, I breathe in the equalizing power of nature, of burgeoning love that transcends the limitations of being 5’3 when the trees are so tall.

The air sings and swells with a knowing comfort, a tune I have heard my whole life, as constant as the seasons

and now, I look up at the dense ceiling of trees and whisper, “Thanks.”
before even realizing that I had said it.

And now the dance begins! The dance that I can join too!
And the violins play, and there are brass, and winds, and chords, and reeds, and strings, and shrubs, pebbles, rocks, debris and slugs – sound and color and light!
Trees start to rock back and forth
dance with my awe,
They reply, “Yes.” Yes!

I am the lone pebble tymbling and tumbling, being shaped and molded by the ground beneath me, as it has beneath centiures and centures of lava and strata
And then I stop for I am stopped

A large oak tree firmly itself from the others.

I whispered to it, “Tree, sway for me…sway for me please…” it didn’t budge.

I’m lowered from my floating enchantment.

My soul-bait is anchored once again, as a fervent wind dodges
Corner to corner
Boomerang from trunk to trunk
Wind so dynamic it flickers like fire.

Wind so hasty it drenches flimsier trees with its own leaking madness.

All limbs of the forest shake madly now
All limbs of my body petrified with wonderment.

We are all shaking madly! dizzy and startled by the whippings of the delirious wind

Nature restores its internal pulse
The wind’s wrath quickly wearies
Settles
Smaller gusts
Internal pulsing
Regulation
Even nature must sleep
Internal pulsing
prompts a limb of the stubborn oak tree to coyly bob up and down.
And the world was finally in sync.

I thank this forest sanctuary one more time before I leave.
I am a most welcome trespasser, and my shell is filled with burgeoning blue light

Goodnight, forest.

And all I could think about was how wonderful it would be to hold someone’s hand, staring at the trees together, in simultaneous awe, no words in our breath but all winds in our souls.

from your trunk

 

“From Your Trunk”  – Artwork also by Amy Oestreicher

Amy Oestreicher is a 28 year old actress, musician, teacher, composer, dancer, writer, artist, yogi, foodie, and general lover of life.  Surviving and thriving through a coma, 27 surgeries and other trauma has inspired Amy to share her story with the world through her passionate desire to create and help others.  Piecing her life together after her initial dreams of performing musical theatre took on a beautiful detour into broader horizons.  Amy has written, directed and starred in a one woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, has flourished as a mixed media and acrylic artist, with her art in multiple galleries and mounting dozens of solo art shows, and continues to share her story through her art, music, theatre and writings.  More information on her unique story, as well as her creative ventures can be found at amyoes.com, and visit her blog http://www.allspiceandacrylics.blogspot.com/ for her newest art, music and inspirational musings.

My latest e-book “Pesky Shadows, Pretty Shadows”

During March, I completed my latest effort in e-literature and am excited to share it with you.

Just like my other e-book from 2011, “Making Beautiful Photography,” this one is something of a how-to guide when it comes to the art of photography.

The new work is called “Pesky Shadows, Pretty Shadows” and is available now. Among other things, it focuses on the use of light and how it pertains to the issue of shadows, both good and bad, within a given image. There are also tips and tricks on how to make the most of soft shadows while doing your best to avoid the harsh and unflattering ones.

If you are interested, check it out!

pesky-shadows-pretty-shadows-237x300

The “rules” of poetry

When people first hear the word poetry…

beside the notion of eloquent language and the concept of emotional sensitivity coming to mind, they might often think about this form of literature as being filled with rules and structural regulations.

While classically poetry has had it’s share of rigidity and intense structure, this is not always necessarily the case.  For example, slam poetry would probably drive someone from the Renaissance era insane.

Personally, I believe that good poetry is not so much about structure and form as it is about emotion and the ability to convey a concept not easily stated in any other way. Hence the reason that I, and many others, do not always follow the so-called rules.

First and foremost, poetry is an art and as such should not be constrained. We all need to have our own rules to some extent.

My personal rules and guidelines

1. I either use rhyme or not. It seems clumsy and awkward to switch between the two in the same poem.

2. When I use rhyme, I tend to rhyme in a pattern of matching up either the first and third/second and fourth lines or a stanza of lines one and two then three and four.

3. I generally write 3-5 line stanzas

4. Modern free verse has always been a great stylistic friend

5. I rarely punctuate except for emphasis with a question mark or exclamation point or to separate items in a series with a comma

I figure hey, what the heck? After all, E.E. Cummings was known for his unorthodox and grammatically flexible style while the great William Shakespeare literally made up hundreds if not thousands of words.

images

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Comedy for writers

While comedy is in and of itself a form of art, as a writer, I have a special place in my heart for those who create comedic content about writing and writers. Check out these funnies for something to tickle your lighter side.

As seen on Pinterest:

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Subculture Story (A poem)

If you have a “freak flag”

Let it Fly

What good is denying

Who you are inside

 

If you look different

From all the rest

Celebrate your image

And revel in your uniqueness

 

Whether your skin be alabaster

Or your hair neon green

Let your true colors

Always be seen

 

A few great tools for writers

Listen up fellow writers.

When it comes to academic writing specifically, we’ve all had that experience of putting together a good old bibliography. Honestly, this was always one of the biggest pain in the a#@ parts of the entire process. In fact, it wouldn’t really be a stretch to say that on some occasions, putting together the bibliography took darn near as long as writing the paper or essay itself.

What if there was a way to nearly bypass this tedious task or at least make it a lot faster? Well, there is, enter the site Easybib.

Easybib

So, maybe you don’t work with academic writing.  Maybe you’re more into writing poetry books or novels. No matter what you write, grammar is always important. This brings me to the second tool I’d like to share – Grammarly.

The name is pretty straight forward in regard to its function. The site checks your gammar on a much more intense level than any basic word processor and can even aid in working with the book publishing process.

Grammarly

Give these a try today.

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