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Improving my short copy game, take one.

I have a slight problem with short copy.

Sometimes I get it right.

Often I don't.

Social media posts – like tweets – and email subject lines come relatively easy to me. Long copy also tends to flow, unless the tyranny of the blank page gets to me.

But super-short, ad-like copy can be harder.

Our Creative Director says it has to do with the fact that my copy isn't emotional enough – it's too functional.

One of our Junior Art Directors says my copy starts off emotional – but then I excise the emotion (like a tumor, I suppose) and the remainder is somewhat soulless. Phrased differently? I tend to lobotomize my short copy.

So I've started turning to poetry for inspiration.

To use another oh-so-clinical metaphor, I thoroughly enjoyed dissecting poems at school. Imbuing combinations of words with meaning they may not have had before, but now – because I said so (or because I discovered it?) – that's what they mean.

Because in poetry, every single word needs to be considered. Making each phrase intensely pregnant with meaning.

And always underwritten by, and conveying, feeling.

So here are some of my favorite poems, and favorite lines from them – in full awareness that they're pretty high school cliche, and male, and mostly white.

Ars poetica (Archibald MacLeish):

"A poem should not mean  / But be"

The red wheelbarrow (William Carlos Williams):

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.


Since feeling is first (e e cummings):

"for life's not a paragraph / And death i think is no parenthesis"

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (T. S. Eliot):

"It is impossible to say just what I mean!"

"Do I dare / Disturb the universe?"

Ulysses (Alfred Tennyson):
"Come, my friends, / 'T is not too late to seek a newer world."

"my purpose holds / To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths / Of all the western stars, until I die."

"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

When you are old (W.B. Yeats):
"But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you"

Love after love (Derek Walcott)
"Sit. Feast on your life."

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