SunWinks! October 26, 2014: The Shadow Knows


I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow—
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.

Robert Louis Stevenson

SunWinksLogoDear SunWinkers:

In her delightful book poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life With Words,* a collection of vignettes each followed by a generous helping of poetry prompts, Susan Wooldridge suggests “listening to our shadow.” She cites Carl Jung as saying that in the normal course of development, a child of about six will split off the side of herself that is not approved of by the outside world and suppress it, and this becomes the shadow self.

*[NY: Clarkson Potter, Inc., 1996]

Jung’s concept is much more complex than this, but I went back to Jung and it made my head spin, so we’re going to wing it. Typically or stereotypically, the side split off is the fanciful, adventurous, independent, creative self which we often call our “inner child.” There are other sorts of scenarios and resulting shadows. The obedient “good child” may have a “wicked” shadow. The abused, violent, ultimately criminal child may have a conscience (“good child”) which has been so completely repressed, it isn’t even available to the conscious mind.

Continue reading


New Poem: The Barber

Dark Alley by michaeljtr

This is a response to my prompt of tomorrow, October 26, 2014 (I actually wrote it a few weeks ago) on the topic of The Shadow Self.

Additionally, if I had titled this “Introspection,” then it would be a response to the October 19 prompt. But that gives away the metaphor, so that’s why I didn’t. But you might want to look at this from the standpoint of that earlier prompt.

Poem: The Barber

We Need An Educator In Olympia Now More Than Ever

Monica Stonier

Open letter to East Vancouver, Washington:

Every election I get insulted with smear flyers from euphemistically-named committees. I am speaking out today because we need not to let this sort of yellow campaigning go unchallenged.

The Right Wing benefits from a complacent, poorly-educated electorate. I got this flyer in the mail this week. Stonier’s opponent and her party have no compunction about benefiting from garbage like this. No attempt is made to support its ridiculous accusation that “she always chooses government;” there are not even any specifics, let alone documentation.

The people who produce this may not have to justify their cynical posturing, but they do have to identify themselves and how they are funded. So, they form a PAC with the Orwellian name of “Quality Communities Committee.” Then, because they have to, they identify their top five contributors…as The Reagan Fund. That’s a giveaway, thankfully.  All the same, this dodge insulates the people who pay for this behind a couple layers of anonymity, and allows Stonier’s opponent to keep her hands clean.

Monica Stonier is a highly respected educator and community leader. To twist that into “she never held a private sector job” is just laughable. Nevertheless, I worry about how many people fail to see through this sort of smear tactic. That’s why we need an educator in Olympia, so our public schools can continue to produce engaged and well-informed citizens.

Please vote, and please do your homework. If mudslinging doesn’t work, maybe it will stop.

Doug Westberg

SunWinks! October 19, 2014: I Never Metaphor Part II

Imagine a literal world, in which nothing was ever seen in terms of anything else. Falling blossoms wouldn’t remind you of snow. A dancer’s sensuous grace wouldn’t resemble the movements of a lover; the shape of a cloud would never suggest a horse or a sailing ship. If such a world were possible, it would be a severely impoverished one.

Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux The Poet’s Companion [NY: Norton, 1997]

SunWinksLogoDear SunWinkers:

First, some miscellaneous business: Boris called my attention to a book by Dr. Mardy Grothe called I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like. I hadn’t heard of it (and didn’t steal the title of last week’s column from him, although I hardly thought I was the first to think of that pun) so I looked it up. Seems like an interesting guy—how many marriage counselor/lexicographers do you know? He’s written a number of books in the same vein, he is published by Harper, and he’s earned the approbation of the likes of Richard Lederer (Anguished English), so check him out.

Second, I have to tweak Len Maxwell again. It’s just so much fun. Mister “Metaphors-Lose-Me” drew one of the most striking metaphors I’ve seen in quite awhile: “I have a throw-rug in my living room and, as I clipped my toenails, most of the albino boomerangs landed on that rug.” And boy did they boomerang on him when “Sandi” came home! I love it!

To the subject at hand: Continue reading

SunWinks! October 12, 2014: I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like


A good title should be like a good metaphor: it should intrigue without being too baffling or too obvious.

Walker Percy


Dear SunWinkers:

I’ve danced* around it as long as I can. I must come back to the topic of metaphor. This is where I lose* some people. They immediately say, as though they were being confronted with somebody else’s religion,* “I don’t understand poetry!” “I could never write a poem!”

The mission of SunWinks! is to demystify the reading and writing of modern poetry. And so, sooner or later, we must tilt at the windmill* of metaphor. Poetry (as we understand it today) without metaphor is as banal as a greeting card.* Metaphor is the very stuff* of poetry.

*These are all metaphors. I will continue to mark similarly the metaphors in this column.* (yup, that’s another one…)

As you can see already, figurative language (metaphors) makes for compelling and colorful* writing, period, never mind poetry. Language itself is metaphor. Every word, Emerson said, is a metaphor; words are by their nature metaphors–the word “table” represents the four-legged piece of furniture we eat on. Words originate as metaphors; the word “column” refers to the fact that columns in newspapers were usually presented in narrow columns of type. These columns of type were so named as a visual metaphor to the tall, narrow columns which hold up ancient temples. Continue reading