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Ode to the Art of Eloquence

April 15, 2011
Common Roots Cafe
38 degrees, gray, wind that sneaks down your neck
empty coffee cup,
sitting cross-legged in a coffee shop along Lyndale Ave.
willing words from my head through my fingers

It is within the pages of our journals that we develop an art that cannot be taught in any classroom, an art that can only be practiced and honed.  It is an elusive art, rarely mentioned within the walls of writing classes, yet more important to the writing life than good grammar and spelling will ever be.  It is an art that is useful in any and all situations and endeavors outside of the classroom.

Eloquence derives from the Latin roots: ? (a shortened form of the preposition ex), meaning “out (of),” and loqui, a deponent verb meaning “to speak.” Thus, being eloquent is having the ability to project words fluidly out of the mouth and the ability to understand and command the language in such a way that one employs a graceful style coupled with the power of persuasion, or just being extremely graceful in the interpretation of communication.

When we write about our lives, about the experiences and emotions and people and hunches and dreams and memories and humdrum and pain and hope, we are grabbing words from clouds to give shape and form to the wordless emotional and spiritual life.  When we write about our lives, we are practicing the art of eloquence.

This is what happens when we write: we clunk along at first, trying to name the nameless, to get to the bedrock of who we are, of why we act the way we do, of why we feel the way we feel.  It’s not easy.  It’s not easy to pin down thoughts into words.


When we continually meet ourselves at the page, our writing becomes fluid.  We develop the ability to name and understand.  Our writing begins to lift off the page, curling and swirling above and around our lives, and then, then, we begin to transcend who we are and grow into who we are meant to be.

Here’s to the art of eloquence.


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