Happy New Year, and a thought about nouns

Cheers to the new year–here’s to taking time to breathe deeply, to write, to learn.

I love receiving daily poems and blog updates in my inbox–and now I get Advice for Writers. (Thanks go to Bethany Reid for introducing me to it.) The other day, this arrived:

The Paper Should Be Dark With Nouns

If you really want your poem to work, the usage of adjectives should be minimal; but you should stuff it as much as you can with nouns—even the verbs should suffer. If you cast over a poem a certain magic veil that removes adjectives and verbs, when you remove the veil the paper still should be dark with nouns.


I thought, wait a minute. I agree about adjectives–but are you really limiting my verbs? Don’t verbs help propel the reader? Or is that my bias as a former modern dancer?

Then I remembered David Wagoner talking about the mind’s eye–how a poem needs to give the reader experiences they can see. Then the nouns began to make more sense.

What do you think? Nouns? Verbs? And the wonderful words that are both?

2 Replies to “Happy New Year, and a thought about nouns”

  1. As a non-visual reader, I’d prefer verbs (actions/motions in my head) and other senses (music, scents) in there with all those visual nouns because I do not build pictures when I read. Wagoner’s experience does not jive with mine.

  2. Mary, thanks for commenting. I’ve interpreted Wagoner’s advice to include scents and sounds–all five senses. But your observation about “actions/motions in my head” is helpful.

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