Words Worth Repeating: John Green

“Here’s to all the places we went / And here’s to all the places we’ll go / And here’s to me, whispering again and again and again and again, / I love you.” John Green in An Abundance of Katherines.

Isn’t that beautiful, in a simple sort of way? It’s heartfelt, genuinely honest, plain and loving. I think so often people my age – people in general – who write about romance tend to get over the top and mushy. We don’t go for raw honesty anymore: it isn’t socially acceptable. Society likes flowery, like Twilight, or erotica, like the book-that-will-not-be-named-but-is-incredibly-popular. Such things are kosher. But, to me, John Green’s simple whispering again and again and again and again, I love you sounds so much more meaningful than any of that. These few lines seem to sum up a love that has been and will be…again and again and again and again.

I love the repetition. I want to roll the phrase around in my mouth like a butterscotch. And it’s so much simpler than any vampiric (how does one conjugate “vampire: into an adjective?) declarations of undying affection. Yet the sense of forever remains.

I think that’s beautiful. I think, if I edge into writing about love (again), I need to strive for simplicity like this. In poetry and prose. I would be proud of this style of writing. Claudia Emerson is also really good at this; her book of poetry, Late Wife, does the same type of thing. She’s very simple, un-effusive, yet you get the sense of the depth of her affection for her husband.

Emerson’s book was one I picked up for Creative Writing last semester and ended up absolutely adoring. Tita said it was interesting that, every year, after her students read Late Wife, their poetry seemed to instantly improve. I think it’s Emerson’s simplicity (clearly I’ll need to quote her in a future post). All beginners at poetry know is the effusiveness of the Romantics; we need a good hard dose of simple to knock those ideas out of use.

The high language of those times has long been gone. Honestly, simplicity, raw and stark emotion…these are what remain.


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