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Wednesday Writing Therapy: Have Pun Today

Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Grou­cho Marx

The pun nowa­days is often rel­e­gated to the head­line, as when the Saints won the Super Bowl:



One of my favorite puns of all-time appears in Robert Frost’s “Mend­ing Wall.” Well, actu­ally there are two favorites. It begins:

Some­thing there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boul­ders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. 

And of course that “some­thing that sends the frozen-ground-swell under it” is Frost. Later, Frost writes this:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense. 

And of course the pun there is at the end: …to give a fence.

There’s a game-like qual­ity to the pun, and I love that about puns. Recently, in writ­ing about a pro­fes­sor in a Catholic col­lege with an office full of elec­tri­cal cords, I had some fun with the none/nun and a cord/accord puns. So that’s the ther­apy for today: Add some pun to your work, if you’re game, and see if at least it doesn’t bring a smile to your face. Do it every day, and make it write/right/(a) rite.

Added later: Also, puns (more sub­tle than the Daily News head­li­nes) can make for an inter­est­ing title. Think of the dif­fer­ent mean­ings of “mend­ing” in Frost’s “Mend­ing Wall,” for exam­ple. I recently wrote a flash, titled “Out,” about a depressed char­ac­ter who got him­self out of the house dur­ing a snow. At the end, he’s pre­tend­ing to slide into bases (as in base­ball) and looks up for a sign. The title “out” has a dif­fer­ent mean­ing within this base­ball con­text.

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