Poems as Shaped and Shaping Experiences

April 10, 2014

National Poetry Month.10

Everything matters:  spacing, patterns, repetitions, punctuation, line breaks

Everything matters: spacing, patterns, repetitions, punctuation, line breaks

“The organization of white space and ink or the vocal tones that signal “poetry” are instructions to reader or listener to enter the changed consciousness that poetry asks.  Each element of a poem is expected to be meaningful, part of a shaped and shaping experience of a whole:  a word’s placement on the page is significant, not accidental; sound qualities matter, even punctuation is thoroughly alive, responsive to itself and its context. . . . form signals us, in reading it, to listen for concentration’s transforming arc.”
— Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates Entering the Mind of Poetry: Essays

“I believe every space and comma is a living part of the poem and has its function, just as every muscle and pore of the body has its function.  And the way the lines are broken is a functioning part essential to the poem’s life.”
— Denise Levertov, The Poet in the World

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3 Responses to “Poems as Shaped and Shaping Experiences”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    It occurs to me this morning — if I read too much of this stuff, I’d never be able to write another poem. Not that such reflections are unimportant, but…

    • Rosemary Says:

      Yes, after all, who is a poet? Someone who writes poems of course. At some point, reading about art and artists can almost become a “writer’s block.” You just need to get those tools in hand and start working.

  2. Elisa Says:

    I just really love this tree and leaves. I love the colors and the light.


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