Poetry design | Let’s Talk About It

I generally just write poems which are justified left. There’s a white space between each stanza. The lines are generally short and choppy. Lately. It’s how the words happen and usually I don’t think a lot about how the poem looks as being a vehicle for meaning.

I started thinking this week. Sometimes the poetry isn’t just about the words. The design of the poem can have just as much meaning. Length of lines, the white space, where the lines are places on the page, if the lines create a space. So, the words aren’t just a player, the way the lines themselves are formed can change the meaning or heighten it.

An example of an interesting use of space:

e.e. cummings – [l(a]
l(a
le
af
fa
ll
s)
one
l
iness

When you look at the poem, you’re able to extract two thoughts: loneliness; a leaf falls. The leaf falling is in the loneliness and how it moves down the page resembles a leaf falling to the ground.
Do you tend to create a poem that has a default look like I do, or do you play with the shape, the white space, etc? When you read poetry, do you take notice of how the poem is spaced or shaped? And if you have any examples of poetry that uses white space in an interesting way, definitely share it.

I’ll meet you in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “Poetry design | Let’s Talk About It

  1. Thanks for the ee cummings fix on a Friday.
    I have a tendency to go left justified, although maybe I’ve centered a line or two for emphasis.
    The thing I struggle with in my poetry is knowing where to make the break for the best emphasis or contrast or to encourage some grouping of thoughts. I hope you get lots of feedback on this, because I’m interested in what people say.

    Like

  2. I would like to be able to play with the space and shape of a poem, I have seen some done this way and I love it, but I guess I’m just not talented enough to make it work! I’ll keep trying and see what happens!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My poetry tends toward longer line lengths that does not enact the poem as cummings’ does. However, about a month ago I reviewed the excellent collection Cut-up Apologetic by Jamie Sharpe. One of his poem used space and line breaks to convey a wonderful poem. I managed to recreate it in my review but I will try here, too:

    collapsed against the bar
                                            collapsed against the bartender
    tender is the night
                                            is the nightclub’s only blonde
    club’s only blonde broad
                                            broadcasting looks across
    casting looks across counters
                                            countersinking loss
    inkling loss with beer
                                            with beer mugs everywhere
    mugs everywhere

    Liked by 1 person

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