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  • Writer's pictureMelodie Bolt

Paper Balloons & Flaccidity

Loving Words from Other Writers

We had eight committed writers show up on our Flint Area Writers meeting to read fresh work and provide feedback. And let me give you some quick highlights. One writer read some Halloween poetry. In one piece, the protagonist, a young girl, is being haunted. The poet provides proof that the haunting isn’t demonic by using effective description without the use of the word “ghosts”. One example is that as the young protagonist walks down the street, things like “paper balloons” follow her.

I really liked her phrase “paper balloons.” Here’s why. First, there’s the two-dimensional aspect of paper that connects to the ethereal ghost; they’re not solidly (3D) with us.  Second, “balloon” implies that they float behind the girl. And finally, a flat, or let’s say a deflated balloon, implies the air (essentially the breath) that made it complete is gone. Again, a lovely connection between life and afterlife.

Another critiquer wasn’t sure “paper” was the best word. She made a couple of suggestions. And then I heard the word “flaccid”. Now, as far as connotations go, flaccid brings one very particular thing to mind. I’m sure you know what I mean. But she made the point that flaccid is a terrific word. And once I got my mind out of the gutter and my mouth to stop snickering like a middle-schooler, I had to agree. Flaccid is a great word. If you read the Merriam-Webster definition of flaccid, you’ll discover another fun word: turgor.

But that’s what I love about the variety of people in our group. We use words; we discuss words; we love words. 

And while I made the point that flaccid didn’t belong in that particular poem, I promised the critiquer I’d write a poem where it did. And maybe, if you join us for our next meeting, you might hear it.    

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