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A site for exploration and discussion about verse, poetics, the aesthetic, and creative writing in general.

Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.



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Friday, February 22, 2013

"The Caravaggio Room" by Ron Smith -- Poetry Daily, 2/22/13

from Plume (Issue 19)
poem found here
 

first lines:
"Yuck," you heace in front of that sick boy
with the grey face. "Bacchus, my ass," you say

 

center formatting

-- reformatted, some editing 1/10/2014
 

All you poets, all you poets in training, all you poets-to-be, let it be known throughout the realm:

 

Do Not Center. Ever.

 

Never ever. Never ever ever. Those occasions where center formatting works -- which is to say is a benefit to the organic whole of the poem -- are such rare occasions they are truly exceptions that prove the rule. The urge to center is a giveaway for poetic immaturity -- which is reason enough not to do it. It can make a good poem look like a fourteen-year-old's personal discovery blog. Do it in private to get a feel for the effect; but do not ever do it in public. Trust me on this. Nothing will deflate a sophisticated reader's anticipation, a reader you are hoping to get advice and constructive critique from, more quickly than being handed a page with a centered poem.

Most of the time, centering accomplishes little more than making the poem difficult to read. Not infrequently, very difficult to read. Especially, as here, where line lengths vary greatly, when your eyes have to work to find the beginning of the every next line. Even when the visual of the poem has the words spread about the page, you have to consider how easy it is to read, whether the poem flows with or against the natural, anticipatory reading movements of the eyes. This is, atually, an important consideration with poetry -- you can make a poem suck by making the reader have to work to hard to read it. Successfully working the space of the page takes practice, exploration. It is just like developing your ear. There are far greater issues that should be the concerns of people climbing the learning curve. Which is why you should take the advice and just don't do it.

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