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February 20, 2009


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Well, Katy, you've touched on something I care deeply about (about which I care deeply? deeply care?). I work in government where people go out of their way to write poorly and scoff at those who think about grammar, style, syntax, and such. I do believe that the rules set us free. And because I am insecure about my own abilities (having arrived in middle school when writing requirements were relaxed and thus missed the lessons on diagramming sentences) I tend to check a variety of sources when I have doubts. I like Grammar Girl ( and wonder if you have looked at any on-line resources. I once happened upon a blog or website for copy-editing and found a fascinating debate raging over George Orwell's six rules. For a time I subscribed to Vocabula, a terrific e-magazine about good writing. Thanks for this post. I sometimes want to have a "bad sentence" contest but I think there would be too many contenders, from my office alone!

I also agree completely that the rules are there to help our creativity, not hinder it.
I've spent the past three days trying to convince my students, who are conferencing with me over their first essays of the semester and some of whom think I'm just cramping their style when I call them on their comma splices.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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Ringfinger was nervous
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