Statement of Philosophy

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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Monday, November 10, 2014

"Journey of the Magi" by T.S. Eliot

poem can be found here


line construction, and sham or genuine poetics

– minor editing, Jan. 20, 2015
This post has been added to the Hatter's Cabinet site via its Best of the Poetry Daily Critique page

Perhaps it is not as often the case as once might have been, with pop-poetry being so inundated with bad free verse, if not defined by bad free verse, that the question of enjambement is one of the first, major, creative explorations in poetics for novices. Though, in truth, that statement does not fit my own experience with younger explorers of poetry. That experience points to that the natural tendency is to write in defined lines and explore through defined lines, even if not formal lines, and enjambement is a complexity added much later to that base idea. But then again, looking at poetry posting sites online, that individual experience may not be telling of the statistical norm. Irrespective, I know I am not the first person to say that free styling culture of poetry of the last half century has had a detrimental effect on the ability to read and hear poetic structure.

You would have to work to convince me that even a substantial minority of pop-poets have any real, organic idea of the line, or write their poetry through any such idea. There is far too much bad prose with line breaks being published in books and chapbooks and mags. This goes for formal poets as well, who to most appearances defer the considerations of writing lines (couplets, stanzas) to the mechanical procedure of rhythms and rhymes.

In my own introductions to writing poetry the idea of enjambement was something counter – contrapuntal – to the beginning want to write lines; it was an idea that was at the start not wholly trusted, something that had to be explored, justified, before being implemented. It was (for me) introduced through what I am sure are familiar phrases: a means to have the flow of the poem cross lines; a means to create importance or energy by varying from a norm within a poem of end-stopped lines. Given such justifications, my fellow, novice writers would merrily introduce enjambement into their writing – or increase its frequency if already present. They would then learn how to defend the use of the running lines through the same or similar phrasings: "It creates a more natural flow" or "It creates an interesting moment in its variation." And you will hear the same and similar justifications by poets higher up the learning curve, even for poetry that exhibits a dearth of end stopped lines. Lest I forget, there is also that most important one: "that is how contemporary poetry is written."