The Poetical Dictionary by Lohren Green was recently purchased for me by my girlfriend for my birthday. Unlike most poetry dictionaries which simply amount to a rhyming dictionary, this one infuses poetry in the words chosen for the book. It’s a fascinating concept to say the least, and in many respects, much more useful.
I find it useful because it doesn’t just give me a dictionary definition in blunt Merriam-Webster terse prose. Rather, it gives me a rather playful interpretation of it through poetic license. It’s almost as much fun to read as it is to use. Actually, it’s more fun to read than it is to use. There’s something within the playfulness of the poetry itself that is inspiring.
While poetry is the method of delivery within the book of words, there is more to it than just delicious word play. The preface is a monument to word play itself in not just poetry, but also in writing. To be short, it is inspiring in its delight in words and prose.
And finally, the entire purpose of the book. Words are used in performance rather than definition. To understand the definition of a word it should be seen in how it is used performance wise. Poetry is just such a vehicle to demonstrate the word rather than define it.
I’d highly recommend this book, if only for the poetry about trout. As a writer you’ll find yourself falling in love with words again rather than sentences and pages. Word counts will seem less important as words take hold and you long for the right one in the right place to change the entire structure and meaning of your work. It is a short work, so don’t expect a thorough dictionary. But in its brevity you’ll find inspiration that will carry itself into how you view the words you read in a dictionary, and also to use a dictionary in a way that surpasses the right click.