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The Problem With Putting Your Mom In Poems

Let's say in my poem I introduce a mother. There's a mother in my poem.

And then I assume that because I use the word 'mother,' all of my associations with 'mother' are universal. 'Oh yeah, my mom and I, we had a great relationship, very loving, she would always help me out, you know, she was always there for me.'

So, I'm assuming that all my associations with my mom are your associations with your mom. Yet, I have enough friends that are not on speaking terms with their moms. They may not know them, or only see them sparingly. There are all different kinds of dynamics.

When we introduce characters and we introduce symbols, it's very easy for us to believe that all those things that we assume are universal. The reality is the opposite. It’s not enough to just say the word 'mom;' you're going to have to, in your poem, individualize that character if you want your reader to start generating some of that emotional weight that you want them to carry throughout your work.

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