SunWinks! March 8, 2015: Rhymes with “Economy”

[This column first appeared in slightly different form on Gather in 2012]

SunWinksLogoDear SunWinks! Symbiotes:

Metonymy!  (gesundheit…)

Pardon my Greek… The word “metonymy” itself may look as arcane and hairy as, say, onomatopoeia, but like onomatopoeia, you can find metonymy almost anywhere you look! Metonymy (meh-TAWN-i-mee) is the rhetorical figure in which an object is referred to by substituting something—usually smaller and more concrete—that is related to, symbolic of, or a constituent of that object.

An individual instance of metonymy is called a metonym. The type of metonym which consists of a constituent or component part of the object referred to is called a synecdoche (sin-ECK-duh-key). We use metonyms every day without even thinking about it. Here are a few familiar examples. You can think of dozens more. Continue reading


SunWinks! December 28, 2014: The Spirit of Christmas Present

SunWinksLogoDearest SunWinkers:

A perfect Christmas. Somehow that always seemed to elude me as I was growing up. My parents giving me a fondue pot instead of a guitar.  Dad telling me I’d better not shoot my new rocket with a certain one of the space capsules, doing it anyway, and breaking it as he had predicted. Bringing the tureen of mashed potatoes in from the kitchen, pausing in the doorway, all eyes upon me as the tureen slips through my fingers, hits the floor, and cracks in half.

This week I experienced the perfect Christmas, bathed in it, drank it in. Shandra was the most perfect tree I can remember (they always tell Carol their name). All my children (and three partners) were there all afternoon and evening. All the presents we gave the kids seemed to be perfect and go over like gangbusters. Eli took a page from Daddy’s playbook and gave out a book she wrote. Santa heard our microwave had died and brought one just in time.

The turkey and ham came out beautifully. Everybody brought side dishes and everybody pitched in. Three friends, my mother, and my brother’s family joined us for dinner. One of the friends remarked that he had never experienced a family that had so much acceptance and love and so little friction. Wow…

Tree1Xmas Couch 1

Carol n Tree 2

20141225_202456 Portrait w Rich et al


The evening was full of laughter and music. I sang “O Holy Night” and butchered the high note just like that horrible Christmas morning at Church of the Resurrection circa 1999. It got a big laugh, so it wasn’t a total loss. Donna contributed an original Christmas novelty song, Aaron played Irish jigs on the violin, and ten-year-old niece Haley on recorder and I improvised a duet on “Linus and Lucy.” For a  blessing, I read from A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Carol requested “the magic” this year, so she left a letter to Santa and went to sleep with nothing under the tree. In the morning, the presents were under the tree, the angel was on top, and there was a letter from Santa with cookie crumbs on it. Here is what it said:

Give of your treasure and you will never be poor.

Love from the fullness of your heart and you will never be unhappy.

Treat the world with kindness and welcome and you will never be lonely.

Do not live each day as if it were your last–

Live each day as if you will live forever as the person you are today.


Dear Cuffy:*

I may be Santa Claus (and let me tell you, that chimney was no picnic) but you bring Christmas to your world every day. God love you for it!




*[“Cuffy” is Carol’s family-of-origin nickname. I have never called her “Cuffy.” Ooooh…]

The Prompt

Write a letter from Santa. Don’t use the one above as an exemplar, just write your own,  your style, your concept.


Doug and Carol

Instructions for submitting your response to SunWinks!

SunWinks! Index

Carol Holden Cancer Fundraiser

© 2014 Douglas J. Westberg. All Rights Reserved. Please share, reblog, link to, but do not copy or alter.

SunWinks! December 7, 2014: Grand Allusion

SunWinksLogoDear SunWinkers:

Going through my old Gather columns, I next run into the topic of allusion. Allusion is a reference to a commonly known work of literature or piece of history or culture. As with personification, allusion lets the reader relate to your poem on a deeper, more visceral level. Namely, the reader reacts with the feeling or value judgment which he or she associates with the event or piece of literature being alluded to.

A classic example is “The Second Coming” by Y.B. Yeats.

And what rough beast, its hours come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Continue reading

SunWinks! November 30, 2014: Poetry Personified

When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table

T.S. Eliot “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.

Wallace Stevens “The Motive for Metaphor”

SunWinksLogoDear SunWinkers:

Two years ago, my third column for Gather was on the topic of personification. So far, going back to my old columns isn’t giving me much of a head start. Oh, well! I must have had a lot to learn back then.

Personification is the assignment of human qualities to an animal, an inanimate object, even an abstract concept. To wit, Emily Dickinson’s

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.

We slowly drove—he knew no haste… human qualities to an object tells us something poetically about that object. In our example, Dickinson’s poem tells us something about death. She could have just said, “Death is patient.” Giving us the image of Death as a kindly carriage driver lets us to relate to her thesis on a personal level and experience it in a visceral, sensuous way. Death didn’t show up at the door in a black hoodie holding a scythe. Death didn’t throw a bag over her head and toss her into the back seat. Death opened the carriage door, smiled kindly, and invited her in. What does that say about death? Continue reading

SunWinks! November 23, 2014: A Likely Story

As the deer thirsts for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O Lord.

Ps. 42

Like a virgin, touched for the very first time…


SunWinksLogoDear SunWinkers:

I’ve added an index of all the SunWinks! columns which I’ve posted here on WordPress since May. Find it among the Page links (with “About Me and SunWinks!” and “Submission Instructions”) and also at the bottom of each SunWinks! installment. It will help you enjoy the SunWinks! series in a more systematic way, like an online tutorial. With that, I’m going to start polishing up and recycling some of the 60+ columns I did on Gather in 2012-2013 to fill in the topics I need to create a complete tutorial and, ultimately, “SunWinks!: The Book.”

(I’m thinking of calling it “SunWinks!: How To Write Modern Poetry and Get Away With It.” Whaddya think?)

Continue reading