Dina Friedman's Monthly Writing Advice
Vol. 2 # 2, August 2002 - ACCESSIBLE POETRY
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* This Month's Tip: Accessible Poetry
* Bob Burg's "Winning Without Intimidation"
* New at FrugalFun.com & FrugalMarketing.com
* IMPORTANT Administrative Note
* Subscriber Discounts on Shel's Books
* About This Tipsheet (with sub/unsub/archive info)
THIS MONTH'S TIP: Accessible Poetry
I am fifteen years old and I have been writing poetry since I was eight. I
think my images are very good, but often people tell me they can't
understand the meanings of my poems. What can I do to make my poetry more
accessible to people?
I had the same problem in college, and my teacher merely said, "No one
understands John Ashbery either." That didn't help much, because we write
to be understood on some level. Even if we don't want to give the
particulars of the situation that caused the poem, we write to convey a
sentiment that we hope others will experience.
What I find helpful, therefore, is to ask your readers what they got out of
your poem. Don't put them on the spot, by making them feel like they're in
English class, but ask them instead to give you an honest accounting of
their experience as they read your words. Rather than asking them what they
think you mean, ask them the feelings they encounter when the read a
particular line, and if they're confused have them state exactly what
places in the poem confuse them and why.
Readers, as well as writers, each bring their own experience to a poem. But
if you find that several readers get stuck in the same place, and that your
poem is conveying a message that is very different from what you intended,
that truly may be a place to rethink your intent.
BOB BURG'S "WINNING WITHOUT INTIMIDATION"
By Shel Horowitz (Dina's husband and business partner)
Instead of the usual "Free Stuff for You, Dear Reader" section this month,
I want to tell you about a guy who has done more to improve my attitude
than just about anybody.
His name is Bob Burg and I've never met him, but I've been subscribing to
his newsletter, "Winning Without Intimidation," for maybe a year and a half.
Here's the basic premise: when you're in a situation where you aren't
getting your needs met, find the best way to de-escalate potential conflict
AND get the results you want? Every week, Bob provides another real-life
example of how he does this (or how his readers do it).
A lot of times, now, when I'm in a situation where things could get heated,
I take a deep breath and a step back and say to myself, "How would Bob
handle this?" And guess what--not all the time but a lot of the time, I'm
able to access that smarter part of my brain that can figure out what Bob
would do, defuse the conflict, and achieve my goal. I just used this the
other day, to resolve a situation that was building my frustration level on
one of the lists I'm on. I wrote a polite note asking the two offenders, as
a personal favor, to change their behavior. The response from both was
Here's a little taste of Bob--one article from a recent issue of his
newsletter, reprinted with his permission.
A Lesson from Justin
By Bob Burg
A subscriber from South Africa, author ("Create Your Self")
and talk show host, Justin Cohen, wrote to share with us a
recent personal story of WINNING WITHOUT INTIMIDATION. Here
it is in his own words:
"Bob, just wanted to tell you about a win that I had
utilizing WWI principles. I recently bought an apartment. I
later discovered the geyser (South African term for the hot
water system) was broken. Although this falls under 'failure
to disclose' the previous owner didn't want to pay for it.
Initially the lawyer handling the sale bluntly told the
sales agent he would not try to secure payment from the
previous owner. That's where WWI comes in. I wrote him a
letter. I said my knowledge of the law was incomplete so if
it was not fair to grant my request I would 'really
understand' but, if there was any way he could secure
payment from the previous owner, I would 'really appreciate
it'. All I asked was for half payment.
"He called back. This is what he said: 'The previous owner
is a nightmare to deal with but because you're a nice guy
I'm going to make sure they pay for the whole geyser.'
That was great! Let's review the principles Justin so
#1 He chose to "respond" instead of "react". He kept his
cool and, instead of getting angry, simply asked himself the
best way to handle the situation.
#2 He admitted not knowing the law, implying that the lawyer
to whom he wrote was a man of expertise. Contrary to what
most people think, this is VERY powerful. Don't try and fake
it; instead, play into the ego of the other person and allow
him to feel good about himself.
#3 He played upon the person's own feelings of
"righteousness". By saying, "If it was not fair to grant my
request..." Justin let him know that he was confident the
man would do the right thing. Also, very effective. Keep in
mind that most people want to "be good" and "do the right
#4 He let him know that he'd understand if it couldn't be
done, but would "really appreciate" it if it could. This was
an excellent paraphrase of what I call "The Eight Key
Words", which are, "If you can't do it, I'll definitely
understand" and the follow up, "If you could, I'd certainly
appreciate it." These are about the most effective words you
can ever use in the persuasion process providing you've set
the situation up correctly with politeness and patience, as
#5 He offered to accept a payment of just half the amount.
Although not necessary, a very nice touch. He's giving
Of course, in doing all of this, the lawyer saw that Justin
was nice, polite, reasonable, fair, and just a really good
guy. And he gave him everything he wanted! And, why not?
Great job Justin; you are truly a positive persuader...and
thank you for basically writing my column for me this week :-).
[[[END OF BOB'S ARTICLE]]]
NOW--here's the big news: Bob has taken all his wisdom to date and packed
it into a new e-book (that is, you download, and if you want a printed
copy, you do so from your own printer). 267 pages containing 160 distinct
"lessons," plus some absolutely golden "nuggets" at the end. What a
treasure trove! And because Bob is a guy who prides himself on providing
value, the price is not high--just $19.97. With a full guarantee, of course.
To order your copy, delivered to your e-box as a PDF file, visit
I'm betting that you will find tremendous value in Bob's work. He will not
only make you a more successful marketer, but a better human being, and
less stressed out, to boot.
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Dina Friedman, M.S.W., has worked with
individuals and groups on issues for thirteen years. A
published fiction writer, poet, playwright, and journalist
and winner of several awards and honors, she coordinates
academic writing workshops for Mount Holyoke College. She
has taught rhetoric, English Comp, and creative writing at
the University of Massachusetts, Holyoke Community College,
and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.
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