Contractions

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Are we allowed to use contractions? A Diligent Student

Yes, you’re allowed to use contractions,
but it all depends.
You may find yourself in a formal situation
in which contractions would not be appropriate,
but it all depends
on your audience.
Does that make sense?
If you’ve got—
you know, I’m reminded whenever I hear the word
“contractions” of my wife’s contractions
on the way to the hospital. Without belaboring things,
you’ve never heard such groaning! Three contractions on the way
(a ten-minute drive!) & I lost count after that. It was early. Such things always
happen early. One buckled her against a lamp post. I carried everything
but the creature soon to be our son. The labor was short.
We always—
enough of that. I didn’t mean to get personal.
Contractions can be formal or informal or something
in-between, depending. Who’s your audience? How powerful
is your voice,
your evidence, your story? You could risk something and say—
no, not “could”: Risk something, for God’s sake!
Say what you have to say how it needs to be said.
Does that make sense?
You don’t always have to be careful or safe, though sometimes seeming safe
carries the most power. Understatement, I mean. Irony. So many
shades of irony. But bellow if you want, or if it wants, the “it”
that needs—& I mean hungers—to be said. Or whisper. Say what you need.
Catch my drift? Use as many or few words
as you need from whatever language
or register inside a particular language It requires. It’s a game & a dance,
but before I go any more
eloquent on you
(it’s more & less than “a game and a dance,” sheesh),
I’ll say one more time that it really does all depend. It all disappears afterward
& that’s not a verbal shrug—
well, sure it is, but it’s not only that because, after all,
to say & mean & imagine “disappears” is a big,
the biggest thing—
that’s the truth I’m risking here.

Contractions by John Repp


Photo used under CC.

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John Repp grew up near the Palace Depression in Vineland, New Jersey. His most recent book is Fat Jersey Blues, published in 2014 by the University of Akron Press.

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