A new word in the vocabulary at my home is “somewhy.” This is a word my young son has been using regularly, as if it is common in our lexicon. The first time I heard him use it, I dismissed it. The thirtieth time I heard it, I told him I was going to use it in a poem (which caused him to say Momma! in an irritated tone). Even though the word is made-up, it makes sense in the way he uses it, such as, “Somewhy, even though my back isn’t sunburned, my shoulders still sting.” OR, “Somewhy, when my friend J. talks during the movie, I get really annoyed.” Now, in either case, one could replace “somewhy” with “for some reason” and the meaning is clear. All this use of somewhy made my mind jump to made-up words in poetry. I’m only going to hit on a few, but if you have some good ones, please share them.
The first one that comes to mind is “plashless.” In her poem, “A Bird came down the Walk,” Emily Dickinson ends with “…Butterflies, off Banks of Noon / Leap, plashless as they swim.” How lovely is that? Of course, one can argue that this is a typo or misspelling on Emily’s part, but I think it is intentional because the butterflies are NOT splashing, but doing something quite more graceful — swimming without splashing….how lovely.
One of my favorite poets, in the vein of “new formalism,” is A.E. Stallings. In her kick-ass pantoum “Another Lullaby for Insomniacs” she uses the word “otherwhere.” Now, technically, “otherwhere” IS a word. Look it up. But, as you’ll see in the entry it is an archaic word, so it functions as a made-up word on the level of sounding so. In short, this poem personifies Sleep in the form of an unhappy woman who wishes to be engaged. But, with “no ring on her finger,” she, “tosses off the cover / And lays the darkness bare. /She has another lover. / Her heart is otherwhere.”