Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Line breaks in poetry

Well there I am between transcribing a wodge of novel written on the train (why is it that train journeys are so great for writing?) and reading a novella for a friend...and in pauses, I'm worrying about line breaks. I'm fiddling and re-writing poems so they look totally different, so that the rhythms are pointed differently, even thought the words are the same. (huh?)

And I see this:

….I am mindful
that only yesterday
in Birmingham, Alabama,
our children,
crying out for brotherhood,
were answered with fire hoses,
snarling dogs and even death.

I am mindful
that only yesterday
in Philadelphia, Mississippi,
young people
seeking to secure the right to vote
were brutalized and murdered.

And only yesterday
more than 40 houses of worship
in the State of Mississippi
were bombed or burned
because they offered a sanctuary
to those
who would not accept segregation....

and to me, it says poets are born, a little. That in the rhythms above there are echoes of addresses in church heard by a small boy and IN his being. That there is natural repetition, internal rhymes, alliteration and all sorts of clever things.

Written as a poem?

Nah. Tis Martin Luther King's acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Think on, Nessie.....

1 comment:

Women Rule Writer said...

I obsess endlessly over line breaks, arranging and re-arranging. I like a poem to look neat and lately I have been trying to wean myself off that, and allow long hanging lines and un-uniform stanzas. I'm also attempting to write longer poems. It's all part of the work for me - pushing through comfort zones and finding new ways to do things.
So fiddle away - you'll probably still be at it in 40 years! It's part of the game,I think.