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Mar 11, 2015
This week’s theme
Poetic forms

This week’s words
clerihew
epigram
cento
limerick
doggerel

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

cento

PRONUNCIATION:
(SEN-to)

MEANING:
noun: A literary work, especially a poem, composed of parts taken from works of other authors.

ETYMOLOGY:
From Latin cento (patchwork). Earliest documented use: 1605.

NOTES:
Nobel-prize-winning poet T.S. Eliot’s observation is relevant to centos: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.”

Examples of centos:
The Oxford Cento by David Lehman
The Dong With the Luminous Nose by John Ashbery

USAGE:
“Louis Zukofsky continued to write ... a play, a novella, a book of criticism, a 500-page cento of philosophy in homage to Shakespeare ...”
Bob Perelman; Finding His Voice; Tikkun (Berkeley, California); May/Jun 2007.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas-covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be. -Douglas Adams, author (11 Mar 1952-2001)

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