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Poetry Pairing: The "&"

Ampersand by roseandsigil via Flickr

While reading Kingdom Animalia by Aracelis Girmay, I was struck by the use of the & in place of “and” and even more struck when I came upon her poem employing it as its title. I’ve searched for this poem online to no avail and wish I could share the whole poem with you here, but hopefully this snippet will satisfy:

but even more
giving, you remind us
of the heart & how
the heart would
rather die thank keep
its two dark arms
all to himself;
his life, like our lives,
depends on what is at his side.

In an interview with The Rumpus, Girmay is asked about her use of ampersands in her writing and responds:

“I love the muscle of the “&”– a muscular shape, a mustache, too. Kind of infinity. But not. A highway…
(read more by clicking on the interview above)

All this led me back to a story that intrigued me a few months back: Poets & Ampersands in Poets&Writers’ January/February 2012 issue.

This has evolved from a pairing but I think it makes for an interesting subject! Do you use the “&” in your writing? Why or why not? And what are your thoughts on its use?

And please, feel free to add your own pairing to this!

10 thoughts on “Poetry Pairing: The "&"

  1. I've always loved ampersands as a symbol, because they indicate that something is to follow.Hearing Girmay talk about it being a muscular shape and then seeing it used with reference to the heart is so interesting!

  2. I don't know why, but I never use the & though I like how it looks like a musical notation. I am too partial to the ellipses, maybe because my mind is full of . . . as it wanders off. I will have to check out this poet now.

  3. For a long time, I didn't like the ampersand in poetry but recently I read a book that used it (can't remember which one) and I loved it. The last poem I wrote uses them throughout and I think it words wonderfully. I will continue to use it on a poem-by-poem basis. I love what Girmay says about it. Thanks for this post.

  4. I don't use ampersands because I don't believe in using shortcuts when writing actual literature, you know what I mean? But to each their own, and things – language and symbols – can evoke different responses and meanings for different people. I love her description of the ampersand. 🙂

  5. I love her description too! And I love it when I see it employed it a poem…it makes more of an impression now. I tried it in a poem and well, I'm not in love with it. But I tried. Thanks for stopping in, Bethany!

  6. I don't like it. :/ Part of me wants to blame this on text speak. Also, I am lazy and using "&" takes more for me than just typing and. hahaha. Then again, I think it adds….uhhh…texture? to poetry. Does that make sense? New follower!! whoo! Go me! 😀

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