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Showing in telling

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-05-19, 00:00 authored by Cassandra AthertonCassandra Atherton
The quotation, ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass’ is often cited as the first example of the adage, ‘Show, don’t tell’. Attributed to Chekhov, it encourages the writer to paint a picture for the reader, rather than explain everything to them. Compressed forms generally—like lyric poetry, prose poetry and even microfiction—are invested in ways of ‘showing’ because they have a limited space to ‘tell’ and therefore turn on their economy of words and expression. Poetic forms, in particular, are enigmatic because with compression comes ellipsis. Furthermore, the imagistic quality of poetry and its use of metaphors and similes provides an idea in the reader’s mind that not only limits words but also opens out beyond the bounds of the poem. Poems, in their appeal to showing rather than telling, embrace more than the sum of their individual parts.1

History

Journal

Axon: creative explorations

Issue

C4

Publisher

University of Canberra, Faculty of Arts and Design

Location

Canberra, A.C.T.

ISSN

1838-8973

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, The Author

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