Join Diane, MotherOwl, Mimi, contributors in the comments, and me, as we try our hand at this topic. You can leave your poem in the comments, or post on your own blog. If you do the latter, please comment so we can find you and your poem. Use the topic, or choose another. Write your own poem, or share one you like from another author.
The idea is to enjoy ourselves and work our brains a little.
At first, I wasn't sure what approach to take with "leaves". The phrase that kept running through my head was "eats(,) shoots and leaves", made widely popular by this book - based on this joke - as an example of how punctuation changes the meaning of a sentence. With the comma in there, the sentence describes what a panda eats; without the comma, it describes what a hungry, armed panda does just before he/she goes somewhere else.
I like correct punctuation, as I know many of you do also. I even use it some of the time! Admittedly, I have slacked off in my blog, but, still, I appreciate good punctuation when I see it, and I am being super careful to use it today, while it's uppermost in my (and your) mind. (Normal service will probably resume on the next post, unfortunately.)
But reading the newspaper or online news can make me cry almost every day with the lack of appropriate punctuation, especially commas. Using too few commas makes those long sentences - of which news writers seem so fond - harder to follow, sometimes requiring several readings to really grasp what it is they are trying to say.
Sometimes it cannot be grasped at all, as one interpretation is as likely as another, even when they are polar opposites.
Using too many, commas, is just, as bad, as you can see, here in this, sentence.
I blame lack of proper use of punctuation on lack of proper instruction at every grade level in school.* Some kids learn proper punctuation more easily than others, especially keen book readers who absorb proper usage subconsciously along with the story line. Other kids find it harder: kids who aren't interested readers, those with dyslexia or another reading disability, or those whose home lives do not include or place importance on written skills. But kids have much less chance to learn anything if it is not given a place in the school curriculum, simply because they spend so many of their waking hours in school. (Well, at least they did, before the pandemic.)
Punctuation no longer seems to have much of a place in either school or university curriculums, if even journalism students, who intend to write for a living, are not taught the basics.
*All opinions my own. My kids have been out of school for many years and I no longer have the advantage of direct observation of the curriculum. Here's another opinion: I blame lack of proper use of punctuation on laziness. I'm guilty of that one myself.
Well, that took an unexpected turn. I didn't expect to end up passionately defending punctuation, particularly while admitting at the exact same time to being careless with it myself, when the topic was something else entirely.
It's a good thing I don't drive a bus. Passengers would get on expecting to go to Halifax, and end up in Sydney. Or vice versa.
A map to help you understand that last bit:
Halifax and Sydney are our two largest urban areas, but they aren't in the same neighbourhood. Not even close.
As an aside, for those eagle-eyed readers who note that "Sydney" is also a very large city in Australia, why, yes - incredibly - people have gotten the two confused! Including travel agents. There have been multiple news stories here about folks thinking they are going to one Sydney and ending up in the other one, 17,029 km away . The only thing the two places have in common is that they are on the ocean. Usually, of course, folks want to end up in Sydney, Australia. But, instead, they end up here in Nova Scotia. And that's why we read about it in our newspapers. Because it's not news in Australia. Because the travellers don't end up there, wishing they were here . . . oh, never mind.
Again, I'm straying off the topic.
So, here's my poem. As sometimes happens, I seem to have veered off the beaten path and into the ditch. I'm not pome-ing about leaves after all, but commas.
Small But Mighty
The comma's a tiny and wonderful thing;
A "dot with a tail" that can make our prose sing.
When not used enough, it can lead to confusion;
When used overmuch, it may signal effusion.
I'm keen on the comma, but too short on time
To write about comma rules in perfect rhyme.
So if it's a quick comma lesson you need,
Just click on the link here to get up to speed :)
And now . . . what you've all secretly (or not so secretly) been waiting for . . . today's funnies.
Wishing you a week perfectly punctuated with smiles :)