Thursday, 2 September 2010

Alliteration: How does it affect you?

I've been editing my poems recently to try and put together a chapbook for a contest and I've received some feedback from a couple of people who know what they're talking about. The feedback has been great, and really helpful. Some of the feedback I received has even posed an interesting question. About alliteration. Now I have to admit in my excitement I got carried away with it. And I do agree that it is a little overwhelming when you go overboard, but does it really distract you from the meaning of the words? Or does it make you think, 'ooh, that's clever,' and therefore try to pay more attention to them?

This is what my father said to me after I edited the crap out of one of my poems Expectations: "The choice of word is critically important. You could write the poem, Expectation, in many ways and convey the same sentiment, but by using the letter ‘e’ in that alliterative way says something, doesn’t it? Do you want to produce prose, or poetry, two very different things, often mistaken for one and the same!"

Ok. So I'm going to show you the two versions of Expectations. One with the over use of alliteration, and the other edited and toned down. I'd like to know how they make you feel. Do they both have a different affect on you? Is one easier to understand? Do you prefer one or the other? All opinions welcome! Even if you want to tell me that they're both shite ;o).


 Empirical edits wound
Essential elements aligned.
I’ve engrossed myself in
Expert advice
…..Expedited my soul for
Exclusion from the eluent
But I embrace it
……The expanding expectations
Erected in hope.

Excitement does not ebb
While my exigency is manifest
In erratic emotions
Evolving exclusively from
The embolism encompassing me

But equal to
Eventual high hopes
Is enigmatic doubt.
I elude elimination.
…..Emergent re-evaluation
At the behest of my esteem?
Is evolution endorsed
Or will ebullient energy be erased?

Emancipate the emotion!
Emaciate the threads that
Weave an earnest determination
In my existence!


 Empirical edits wound;
vital elements aligned.
I’ve engrossed myself in
expert advice,
advanced my soul
barred from the eluent.
I embrace potential;
mounting expectations
erected in hope.

Thrill won’t cease to ebb
and constraint is manifest
in shifting emotion
sprouting solely
from the embolism
surrounding me.

Eventual high hopes
disperse; aggravated by
this enigmatic doubt.
I must elude abolition;
Is evolution sanctioned,
or will this vast ebullient
energy desist?

Emancipate emotion!
Emaciate the threads that
weave grave determination
in my existence!

So folks, what do you think? Which one is more powerful in your opinion?


  1. I think the first sounds more powerful, but the second is more understandable.
    I had to get the dictionary out for the first one, though it is good to use alternative words I try to at times one has to let the reader know what he/she is reading about,

    Have a good day.

  2. I agree with above comment - the first has more of an effect, but the second is easier to read and so in its own way more punchy. Hope that makes sense!

  3. I'm soooo not a poetry expert but the first one I was distracted by the alliteration - I was looking for the next "e" instead of following the meaning of the piece.

    The second one the alliteration is still there, but I followed the thread much easier.

  4. The second is the better. There is a lot of truth in the expressions 'less is more' and 'a little goes a long way'. It's like swearing. If you swear constantly it loses its power. In the seven years I was in my last job I swore once and literally everyone in the room shut up when I did.

  5. I like the power of the first one, but the second is easier to read.

    So I'd have to go with the second one :)

  6. I like the power of the first one, but the second is easier to read.

    So I'd have to go with the second one :)

  7. I'm not a poet, but I think the first one is more elegant while the second is more accessible.

  8. The revised version rocked my world, Jess! The meaning of the piece, line by line, swirled in my head as I read it. The alliteration is still brilliant, but now it enhances both the emotion and the rhythmic flow of the piece, whereas in the original version the alliteration was most effective in dictating the sound.

    Put another way, in the first version someone may have to read the piece twice, once as the heavy alliteration draws all the reader's attention to it, and a second time for the reader to digest what the poem is saying. Let's face it, our readers may not go back for a second read of our work.

    The revised version allows the meaning to shine through, lifted and supported by the beautiful use of alliteration. The partnership is more balanced, the result more stunning.


  9. My two cents:
    I think you have some words in both versions that are strained...

    And that, while no one can say which is "best" in an absolute sense but instead merely state personal preferences, you can decide which best suits your intent. Which best targets your readers? Who are you writing for?

    Incidentally, my personal preference goes for the second version. : j

  10. The 2nd one definitely!! I was distracted by the 1st one's capital letters. Love the line "...erected in hope"! And you know I had to look up the word eluent...You're so talented! Good luck with the Chapbook contest :)

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  12. Hmm, strained words ... Alesa could you pinpoint which ones in the edited version?

  13. The second one I like better. Its flows easier, has a tighter structure and seems more well rounded. The first one kind of seems thrown out to the wind--letting the gusts just take it where ever, but the second has purpose...

  14. hi miss jessica! i like the second one for sure even though mostly i dont know all that if means. my brother says always read your stuff out loud so you could see if it is smooth and you dont get stuck on it. that first one gets me caught up in all those e letters. he said even if you dont know a word you could understand it if you got it surrounded by good words.
    ...hugs from lenny

  15. see... I'd go w/the second one, but that's b/c I'm easily distracted and all the alliteration in the first had me thinking of other alliterative phrases and then I thought about how alliteration's kind of like a game and started trying to come up with my own alliterations... ;p

    I am SO glad you found good helpers for your poetry. I know how hard that can be.

    Yay, poetry! :o) more soon~

  16. First of all I love Alliteration almost as much as I love your name (AA not Jessica, though that's cool too).

    But the thing is, with alliteration, less is more (unless you're going for humor, which you are not here).

    I think that both these versions are good, powerful writing, but I think the second version works better. When your use of alliteration is subtle and not so obvious it enhances the imagery and the flow of the language, rather than distracting the reader.

    Well done Jess!

  17. I found the first one intriguing, but hard to read. It needed a lot of concentration and pondering. The second one was much easier to read and to understand.

  18. The edited version did it for me. It flowed better. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed 'them', it.

  19. Okay, so, I personally like the second one. Mainly because I understand the vocabulary. The first one is very artsy, and it looks like it was harder to write, but the second is easier to understand. I think you just have to decide what result you're going for. :)

  20. I prefer the flow of the second one.

  21. I do prefer the second to the first. Don't get me wrong, I love alliteration. But the second one had a nice flow to it. Great work!

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  23. I've found that too much alliteration takes the reader out of the flow of the sense of the poem.

    Like spices, the right pinch adds zing to the poem, too much overloads the senses.

    Have a great end of week, Roland

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  25. The first feels older. Like it was written in a different time. The second feels like a more modern version of the same thing.
    Both are awesome.

  26. I think everyone else stole my thoughts. The first is really intelligent, but it does take away from the piece.

  27. The second one is much tighter; much more effective than the first version as a poem. It is the more powerful one. Very good!

  28. I must admit the second version is stronger for me because the first one -- as good as it is -- seems slightly gimmicky and that lost a bit of its impact for me.

    I love the poem, though!

  29. I prefer the second. In the first one, the alteration ends up being to focal point rather than the message. Wonderful poem by the way. ;)

  30. I love the second one! The first was a bit too heavy.

    Roland's spice commment was perfect.

  31. Definitely the first. Like you said, it's clever because of the alliteration, therefore I look at it more closely.

  32. While I'm not a technical expert, I'm happy to offer feedback for your chaps project.

    Both versions are very good, although I agree that the first loses its flow. I can see the possibility of combining both, but I'd be inclined to use only about 3 alliterative verses, dispersed through the second version to add Power where you want to stress a point.

  33. After thinking about it a while,
    I had the following thought:

    Although alliterative additions
    Advance alternative editions
    Another appoach
    Allowed to encroach
    May addess your author addiction

  34. AlliAllo ~
    I want to second what Jim Murdoch wrote. I think he hit it squarely on the head!

    Due to the way my mind is wired, I tend to alliterate naturally and unconsciously. And I like that - I genuinely like alliteration. BUT... sometimes in rereading a thing I've written, I will go back and edit out a fair amount of the alliteration because, although I was alliterating quite naturally and unbeknownst to my conscious mind, too much of it will appear artificial, like an overly contrived writing style - an affectation.

    So, yeah, I greatly preferred the second version of your poem.

    Jim Murdoch said it all, and much more concisely than I have. (I need to go check out his blog now.)

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'


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