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“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

“You catch a lot more flies with honey than with vinegar,” is an old Southern saying. There is an old Sufi saying that is similar. “Before you speak, think: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” Although speaking and writing are two separate things, they are both forms of communication dealing with words, and the written word is usually both longer lasting and has more impact than the spoken. One drawback of the written word is that people can’t see your face. They can’t see the sly smile or the twinkle in your eye to determine that you are joking. So, basically, this piece of advice is two-fold:

  1. If anyone will EVER hear or see or have a possibility of seeing your poems, ensure that the poems aren’t venomous. We all write poems at times to exercise our demons. Sometimes we need to spew a little venom to get it out of our system. But in the long-term, it is works of beauty and the artists who created that beauty that last, not the venom-filled writings of a bitter person. When you need to spew a little venom, either tear it up immediately or put the poem aside for review in a month or so. See if you would really want that poem going out under your name.
  2. The reader often inserts his or her own feelings into the written word. Consider having a few people who can look over a poem before publication to ensure that it doesn’t have nasty connotations that can be read into it. Evaluate using the three questions above.
All of that said, if it is your wish to either publish a little spewed venom, have a poem that intentionally has multiple levels of meaning, or act in haste, do feel free. Like the other points in this book, this is a suggestion, and there are always valid reasons to ignore it.

 
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