Reflecting on the use of Janus words in my April poems

Today is reflection post day for the A to Z Challenge. I enjoyed their theme and posts about games this year. Though I did not remember to do the scavenger hunt, I really liked the idea, and if anyone is still looking for a post for “bear”, I wrote a poem called Black Bear’s Branch. I also did a questions post.

Though I made it through the alphabet with Janus words (also known as contronyms, antagonyms, or auto-antonyms), exploring their uses in my poems, I didn’t find them to be as useful in turning the poem as I thought they would. Without holding both meanings of the word in mind, it’s too easy to glance over the words less familiar, or less contextual meaning, which takes the power from the twist the Janus intends.

I wish adumbrate was a more common word because it’s a great Janus, meaning both to disclose and obscure. My post that got the most likes was a puente form poem called Overwhelming Possibilities which used the Janus phrase “wind up.” My post that got the most views included my poem Put Out by Perch which was selected as a featured poem on NaPoWriMo.org. It was an amusing rant using the Janus phrase “put out.” I think my favorite Janus used was “overlook” in my poem He is a Selfish Moon. My other favorite outcome of the challenge was discovering “Popcorn-can Coveer by Lorine Niedecker and attempting to emulate her form. In one of these concise poems I used the Janus word “terrible.”

At the end of the first week, on my birthday, I found out a friend died. That messed up my motivation and put me in a bit of a funk. Writing poems was more difficult and reading and commenting was also more challenging. Definitely my least favorite part of the challenge, but not something that could be learned from really, unless it informs me to prepare for the unexpected. I’m not sure how I would do that.

I know that many A to Z bloggers prepare their posts in advance, but I don’t have a way of doing that and combining the challenge with NaPoWriMo. I guess I could prepare alternate, off-prompt poems for each day, just in case life gets in the way–in case of emergency posts for the whole month? Writing through it, was probably a good thing. Something to think about.

Overall, April (for me) came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. I hope May will leave me focused on revision.

Just for fun, I found this song called Janus Stair by Contronym

I want to thank J Lenni Dorner for bringing my attention to the film The Professor and the Madman today. It’s an interesting story about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary based on the book by Simon Winchester.