Wordplay has rapidly become a staple in the work of many of today’s contemporary poets, with verse-makers all over the world incorporating impressive variations of double entendre and unique puns in order to elevate a piece of work to even greater heights. So, then, what is wordplay exactly? Wordplay is a literary device whereby writers employ a clever or witty approach to the meanings and arrangements of words to create imaginative schemes where a particular subject has more than one meaning.
Its mode of application certainly varies from poet to poet, but there is no denying just how popular the incorporation of wordplay is to modern-day verse-makers. That said, is all wordplay good wordplay? Well, the answer to that question, as is the case with every opinion-based discussion, is it’s subjective. There are no specific parameters for determining what comprises laudable wordplay. What is considered the ideal components to one listener may be completely different to another. I guess you could say: beauty is in the ear of the beholder.
Nonetheless, if wordplay is a sum of its constituent parts then it can be surmised that the more meaningful its application is, the more impactful it will be. Granted, this depends on the subject matter, since inventive wordplay is also a common product of comedic work, it stands to reason that any wordplay entry that exists in a more serious piece of poetry should be the result of some judicious or utilitarian consideration.
Truthfully, wordplay is often positively received regardless of its application or the meaning (or lack thereof) that it encompasses. This is largely due to the fact that it sounds fascinating and is thereby subsequently judged to be appealing even if when broken down it makes little to no sense, and that’s because it rarely ever sounds less than alluring. But, be that as it may, wordplay has equal potential to elevate a piece of work as it does contrariwise to attenuate it. In the end, it is up to the poet to decide when and how to incorporate wordplay without risking the integrity of the piece’s intended message.
Written by: Liam Spencer