Line Breaks and Breathing

What I don’t know about poetry fills the space between the bellows of my lungs to the space between my ears. My ignorance is the hollowness of my belly, the comb of marrow in the bones of my shins, but one of the reasons I love poetry is because there is such difference in style, presentation, and attention to the “rules” between works and writers. Yes, rules. Even those pieces which appear not to have rules, which are verse “freed” from spelling, grammatical constructs, rhyme, or form actually do have rules. If they communicate. The reason that I say that they do have “rules” is that the writer has to entrain the reader so that the reader can “get” what the writer was trying to communicate. To do that, the writer has to write something of sufficient interest that the reader wants that entrainment, otherwise the reader will put the book down and walk away.

In novels, novellas, or short stories, magazine or newspaper articles, there is very little difference to how the form is constructed to support communication. Not so with poetry. One of the forms I know least about is what I call “broken line” poetry.

Projective verse

Olson argues that the breath should be a poet’s central concern, rather than rhyme, meter, and sense.

Olson argues against a lazy reliance on simile and description, which can drain a poem of energy, and proposes that syntax be shaped by sound rather than sense, with nuances of breath and motion to be conveyed to the reader through typographical means.

“The form of what we say is the first thing we should attend to” – Al Filreis

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