Intentionally Blank: A Writer Wednesday Post

July 17th, 2013 | Posted by Irene in Essays | Poetry



Intentionally Blank, iPad art & all text © Irene O’Garden, 2013

 To listen to this post, please click here:Intentionally Blank

“This space intentionally left blank.” Did you ever get this delightfully ridiculous notice on a piece of paper, say with a credit card bill? Laughed heartily the first time I saw it. Empty space disturbs some people. Blank? Somebody clearly made a mistake.

I’ve recognized fear of white space since an agent took my first book, Fat Girl, which I wrote as a 60-page narrative poem. After twenty-two rejections, my friend Jean–whose commercial sense is as fine as her literary taste– asked if I would consider taking the white space out of the piece.

Disguise poetry as prose? Same words, same order–why not?  It promptly sold. (Of course, when it came to designing the book…“It’s so poetic,” said my editor. “Would you mind if we made it look that way?” They broke up lines and added back white space. Poetic justice, indeed.)

Nowadays, we have webaddressestwitterhandleshashtags. We’ve gotten so accustomed to seeing words run together, to running our own lives together with thing after thing, event after event, that the idea of blank space—why, who even has a blank pie-wedge on the clock to think about it?

Seemslikewe’rebeingsoefficient, but it actually slows down the one thing we don’t want to slow: comprehension. At times like this, it’s good to remind ourselves that things have meaning by virtue of the space around them. Words  need  space  to readily distinguish them.  Music  needs  silence. Speech  needs   breath.  Even   f i n g e r s   need   space, or hands would be clumsyasmittens. Which would really molasses-up tweeting and googling and posting on Wednesdays.


What are you making space for?



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  • Mj Martin


    As usual.

  • giom

    funny you should ask…I end my “prayerful yoga” practice bowing slowly and deeply with the words….”I will open spaces within me for your presence…” blessings dear one…

    • You are quite openly spacious indeed, my friend–

  • Margaret Copeland

    thank you! I’m sharing this one with all my nyc hussling gals.

    • Thanks, Cookie! Warms my heart that you are reading– When the trains get rolling again, I’m going to come learn How To Be A New Yorker!

  • MARK R

    I love the irony of the “POETIC” change, Irene !
    The Older I get the more I want free space around me…..

    Having seen friends ( as YOU yourself know, Irene) help with friends or family that are downsizing or have moved on to the next sphere, I am longing more and more to rid myself of all the extraneous…. I started putting aside clothing today to donate … after all, how many pairs of shorts, shirts, formal suits, etc do I really need… and the order and simplicity remaining in the closet somehow had a calming psychological effect….
    Don’t get me wrong, I have my treasures that I would prefer to never part with / personal items created for me by loved ones… but really, all the furniture could just about go, all the clothing, all the books ( but the precious few) ….
    When working with Seniors, sometimes preparing for death, it was those that clung less tightly to ” THINGS” that had an easier time leaving behind their most precious earthly thing — their mortal body ……. And , of course, settled relationships with family and friends were equally important…. and those that exerted undue ” CONTROL” over people, places or things during their life always seemed to have the most difficult time “letting go”.

    • Thanks for your always thoughtful comments, Mark–how wonderful to be making space for yourself!

  • Eugenia

    Reading this is a great way to start my day!

    • Eugenia! How great to hear even your virtual voice! Glad you enjoyed it, and hope you are well indeed!

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