Deobfuscating Homophonic Em-dashes
The classic em-dash is called Auntie Em, not after Dorothy’s guardian in Kansas but rather Emily Dickinson, famous for short lines of poetry punctuated with long lines of ink. We hear the skeptical community protesting that the em-dash predates Emily D., but of course her poetry is timeless and the issue to moot. (It’s widely believed that Emily’s hyphen remained intact throughout her life.) If two em-dashes occur in a row, the first is the ante-em. As a line connects two points, the absence of a line is the colon (two unconnected dots): the anti-em. Thespian Tilda Swinton has nothing to do with any of this. Nor does the vocalized Enya.
Gary Barwin replies:
It’s true that I’ve sometimes felt the need to make my poems as dashing as Emily’s, dashing them off like with the insouciance of Little Hyphen Annie, endashing them with em-dashes as if crossing a t (the verb form of which is crossingaty, and the noun, crossingatification.).
Sometimes, however, my hopes are dashed and I must employ a total ellipse of the moon…and realize that only Pluto has three moons and Pluto is not in fact a planet so my Plutonic relationship with the ellipse must be omitted and instead when it comes to my poem, I must planet better in terms of space.
And the name of the em-dash between birth and death, where all of one’s life sent(i)ence takes place? In memori-em.