Glossary of Terms

We sometimes get a little wacky and use circus terms when we mean other things.

If you ever get lost, refer to this Glossary of Circus (and non-circus) Terms to help you pick up the lingo!


Circus / Life is a cabaret, old chum. What good is sitting alone in your room?

Clowns / All clowns are poets, but not all poets are clowns. Use this term with great care.

Come One, Come All / The weekly call for links to your poems. This gathering of the community begins on Fridays and lasts throughout the weekend.

Elephant / That thing in the room everyone is pretending not to notice.

Gongs / A gong is a discipline. It is a repeated practice (as one would commit to meditation or yoga, for example). Ages ago, Carolee and Jill applied the term “poetry gong” to the act of writing poems or revising poems daily over a number of days, and they started hosting gongs on their blogs. When they migrated that concept to Read Write Poem, the gongs were re-named “mini-challenges,” so that’s how they may be familiar to you. Big Tent Poetry may use the terms “gongs” and “challenges” interchangeably.

Groundskeeping / The category we use for housekeeping announcements and other chores. Elephants are messy. Trapeze artists are demanding.

Lion tamers / Bouncers. Don’t make us use them. Be kind to others. Eat your vegetables. Avoid adverbs in your poems.

Revisionaries / Brave poets who expose their poems to revision techniques in the spotlight under The Big Tent. Their activities will be highlighted in Ring #2.

Rings / Categories that help us organize activities under The Big Tent. There are three rings: #1 — Prompts and Responses (see “Come One, Come All”); #2 — Gongs and Revisions (see “Gongs”); #3 — Columns, Interviews and Reviews.

Ringleaders / The ladies in charge. The head honchos. Carolee. Deb. Jill. Contrary to popular myth, ringleaders do not carry whips (see lion tamers).

Sideshow barkers / Our contributors. Helpers we’ve kidnapped gathered up from the community.


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