That word: Charles Wright limns a winner

Limn– that pretentious word that so troubled the Hook that we once asked each of our writers to use it. Now we see it used by a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet.

"Snake Eyes," Charles Wright's poem in the February 17 & 24 issue of the esteemed New Yorker, begins like this: The afternoon clouds are like a Xerox of the morning clouds/An indecipherable transcript, ill-litanied, ill-limned.

 Could the Hook's limn-riddled June 27, 2002, issue have influenced Wright?

"I must say I didn't see that issue," Wright responds.

Then where did he get the word? "It just sort of came to me in a dream," he says. "I've never used it before. I know because I looked it up."

Limn simply means "to describe," and unscientific research indicates that while limn has apparently never occurred in any human conversation, it has a devious tendency to infect artistic writing.

Many readers denounced the Hook's limn experiment. Lisa Pfaffinger called it an "inside joke," another threatened to tear us "limn from limn," and a group of waitresses from Miller's fretted that "rectum" might next appear in every piece. Someone even accused us of insider-trading in limn options. (Fortunately, our self-esteem rebounded with Catherine Potter's letter lauding the Hook as a "smart paper.")

So the Hook didn't influence Wright's poem? Wait– he's changing his mind.

"Let's say you did," he relents. "You can have it."

Nooooooooo.

 

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