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Poetry

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Saved by msward
on October 23, 2012 at 12:15:42 pm
 
POETRY TABLE OF CONTENTS: 

 

 

 


 

 

 


LESSON 3: Line Breaks

Where do you break your lines?

(original source for this lesson)

 

What is a poetic line?

A line is a unit of words in a poem, and it can vary in length. According to Oliver (1994), "The first obvious difference between prose and poetry is that prose is printed (or written) within the confines of margin, while poetry is written in lines that do not necessarily pay any attention to the margins, especially the right margin" (35).

 

An example

Here are three lines from Robert Creeley's poem "The Language":

   Locate I

   love you some-

   where in

 

Enjambment

What is enjambment?

Enjambment is breaking a line but not ending the sentence. Enjambment is when a poet carries over a sentence from one line to the other.

 

An example

There are multiple examples of enjambment in these lines from Robert Creeley's poem "The Language." Notice how this single sentence is carried over from one line to the next and over multiple stanzas, and all the lines break abruptly.

Locate I

love you some-

where in

 

teeth and

eyes, bite

it but

 

take care not

to hurt, you

want so

 

much so

little.

 

Robert Creeley and The Line

One of the masters of enjambment and the line is the poet Robert Creeley. As you can see above, Creeley's line breaks are often startling and unexpected. To find out more about Creeley's unique use of the line (or breaking the line):

 

Robert Creeley's "The Language"

Here is the complete poem of Robert Creeley's "The Language":

 

The Language

 

 

Locate I

love you some-

where in

 

teeth and

eyes, bite

it but

 

take care not

to hurt, you

want so

 

much so

little. Words

say everything.


Ilove you

again,

 

then what

is emptiness

for. To

 

fill, fill.

I heard words

and words full

 

of holes

aching. Speech

is a mouth.

 

SOURCE: CREELEY, R. (1992). THE COLLECTED POEMS OF ROBERT CREELEY, 1945-1975. BERKELEY, CA: UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS

 

Robert Creeley's "The Language": An Animated Version

 

An animated poem of Robert Creeley's "The Language" read by Carl Hancock Rux:

open player in a new window

 

ASSIGNMENT: "Creeleyizing" A Poem

Look back at the poem that you wrote for today's Writer's Notebook entry. For the purposes of this assignment, it is best if the poem consists of lines at least ten syllables in length and/or heavily end-stopped lines (meaning that punctuation appears at the end of the line). After you have selected a poem, "Creeleyize" your poem. In other words, rewrite your poem by breaking your lines at unexpected moments (like Creeley does in a number of his poems), creating frequent enjambment and short lines.

 

Assignment Purpose:

The purpose of this assignment is to revise the line breaks of your poem, exploring ways in which your changes in line breaks and line length open up new meanings and points of emphasis in the poem. It might also suggest possibilities for further revision to imagery and sound.

Some Questions to Consider After Your Revision:

      • Does the change in line breaks help reinforce the rhythm of the poem? Or does it seem distracting?
      • Is the change in breaks in the poem appropriate for the meaning of the piece? In other words, does this new form enhance the content of the poem?
      • What words and phrases stand out to you in this revision that did not stand out before? How does this change the poem?
      • What additional ways might you revise the poem to explore other possibilities for making meaning, sound or word play?

Example

Take a look at this poem that Ms. Ward wrote, and then read through the revision she made when she "Creeleyized" the poem.  Which do you like better? 

 

ORIGINAL POEM  REVISED POEM 

Speechless

 

Expecting the call

                yesterday, next week, in a year.

Not expecting

                to hear my father’s voice quiver.

                no words

                eldest son to his eldest daughter.

 

Skin pulled tight,

            knuckles white,

grasping through the phone for a connection

miles, states, ages away,

wanting to reach through the line,

to understand.

 

First thoughts

do not fly to schedules,

are not overwhelmed with how to tell the little ones,

            or memories of summers spent

playing croquet with Gramps in the backyard.

 

My first thoughts are

                what can I say to

                my fatherless father. 

 

REVISED:  Speechless

 

Expecting the call

             yesterday,

next week,

in a year.

Not expecting

             to hear

 my father’s voice

quiver.

No words

            eldest son

to his

eldest daughter.

 

Skin pulled tight,

            knuckles white,

grasping through the

phone for a connection

miles,

states,

ages away,

wanting to

reach

through the line,

to understand.

 

First thoughts

do not

 fly to schedules,

are not

overwhelmed

how to tell the little ones,

                         or memories

summers spent

playing croquet with

Gramps in the backyard.

 

My first thoughts

            what can I

say to

            my fatherless father.  

POETRY RESOURCES

 

 

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