LESSON 9 – LINE BREAKING-IT

In poetry it really does matter where you end a line.  Each line is an invitation to read on, to feel the poem, become involved in the message of the poem, and ultimately, believe in the journey the poem is taking you on.

Simply ending the line in a way that “teases” the reader into wanting to know more, is an effective poetic device.

Example:

I wandered like a shadow

testing the breeze    feeling against my skin

fingers of sunshine

A poetic device known as “enjambment” is a way to create drama and, infuse energy into your poem.  Enjambment is defined as: “… a thought (that) “steps over” the end of a line and into the beginning of the next line, with no punctuation, so that the reader must read through the line break quickly to reach the conclusion of the thought.”

Example:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

  • T. S. Elliot
    The Waste Land

Another way of using enjambment is to have one line mean one thing and, when you connect it to the next line, have the meaning change.

Example:

The beauty of her smile

was a lie     exposed

by the pain in her eyes

Often, after I’ve written a poem, I spend time just working line break, rearranging where the lines end and how they connect with the following line.  Sometimes I discover new meaning in a poem I’ve written, surprising even myself with a nuance I was initially unaware of, until I changed where the line ended and the next line began.

I would like to invite you to “fool around” with line break and enjambment.  And, if you’d like, send in your poem (no more than 10 lines) and if I find one that really captures the essence of line break, will publish it at the beginning of my next lesson (with credit to the poet, of course.)  Simply head on over to https://poetladykatz.com/poetry-talk/ and send me your poem through the chat room.

Poetry is a shared experience.  It explores (and exploits) the human condition through the power of words.  I would love it, if you would share your words, your poem with me.

Thank you,
~Susan

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