Anna Arlene Amsterdam
Redheaded Rosie played with perky Patsy and sassy Sally while daring Dan dived into the deep, dark water. Now, isn’t that clever, I asked myself.
When I was very young I wrote a little story and asked a teacher to read it. There was one passage that I thought was very clever such as the one above and I anxiously waited to see if she would comment on my creativity. When she finally returned my story, I quickly turned to the aforementioned passage to see if there were any comments. And yes, there were—but to my dismay, she had marked out several of the words and written in “alliteration”.
What could alliteration allude to, I asked myself. I looked the word up in the dictionary and saw that it meant, more or less, the repetition of a sound at the beginning of two or more consecutive words. And this was a bad thing? When I had read poetry with alliteration, I had thought the poets to be very talented and creative.
I asked the teacher about this and she smiled and said, “It just depends on the poet and the poem. It’s certainly acceptable when the poet intends for his work to be alliterative as in satire. But you must try to avoid it in prose.”
“But why, what’s wrong with it?” I asked alliteratively.
She smiled and simply said, “Read your passage out loud. Listen to how it sounds to you. If you had to read an entire story like that, you would lose the gist of the story and be bogged down in bouncing rhythm.”
“Oh, okay,” I answered, still alliteratively.
What a disappointment—my admirable alliteration couldn’t compete with my teacher’s exemplary expertise.
Palmaltas note: The above is a work of fiction.
(Published in Seasons for Writing, March 2002)