Book Review “Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas” by John Scalzi

I recently enjoyed the book by John Scalzi called “Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas” which I want to talk about and totally ruin with spoilers for anyone who will listen, so I’m going to put a spoiler bar in here. If you click to read more, you’re agreeing that I am going to be giving you some plot points and you can’t get mad at me for doing it because this is your warning, I’m going to be talking about the plot and spoiling it.

You’ve been warned.

Read More »

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Analysis of “Girls Like You” Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B

This song is hard to remove from the music video it goes with considering the music video changes the message of the song dramatically, but I’ll do my best to cover both. Overall, this song shares a message of self-worth for women saying that the women listening are worth whatever they want to deal with. It encourages people in relationships to work through their problems too. I’ll get into where I see that during my analysis of the lyrics with the video.

For now, if we look strictly at the lyrics, the song is rather simplistic, but there are some lines that draw the character of the speaker into the question if we look at this like a poem. For instance, in the chorus we have the line “run around with guys like me/ ‘Til sundown, when I come through” which probably is written more to rhyme with “you” than anything, but it makes me wonder what they are getting through, and why it is “guys like me” because unless you know Adam Levine very well, that could mean any number of types of person. It could be saying that women will run around with playboys until they get over it, after all.

That “when I come through” part of it gives me a chance to read into it that most of the time women are running around with someone who isn’t the person they’re actually with, like the song “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne. That song talks about how people change when they’re among other people, and it makes sense in the context of “when I come through” because the women have to wait around until they’re feeling like they can be vulnerable and let down this disguise they have around other people.

These masks are actually a natural experience of the human condition, and help us handle the social section of our Maslow’s social belonging needs of either saving face to fit in, or losing face to become more of an individual. The question is what mask this speaker is putting forward in the song. For that, we have to look closer at some other lyrics.

The song clearly indicates that all is not perfect in this relationship as we have lines like “You spent the weekend/ Getting even, oh oh/ We spent the late nights/ Making things right, between us” and while that may be an innuendo, I don’t think it is. It can be taken that way, but I think the better explanation reading other sections later in the poem is that this person has serious conversations with their significant other to work out their problems, especially given “Now it’s all good baby” after another section of potential argument. “We spent the daylight/ Trying to make things right between us” which could mean they were spending their more sober hours in discussion and development of their interpersonal bond until things felt alright.

But why are they fighting so much? Or is it just examples of how people can fight and make up to encourage working things through verbally without taking things the Hollywood movie way? This song encourages a woman to “play [him] close” which has a number of potential interpretations, like keeping the speaker on a tight leash, not letting him get too far away physically, keeping a close eye on his actions, or it could mean to be emotionally close, and keeping that bond they worked on through discussions and fixing their relationship.

This poses a problem because while the song may be feminist in nature according to the video, this idea that the woman has to “play” the man “close” may be taken as that it is the woman’s responsibility to block the man from inappropriate behavior. In any relationship, it isn’t either party’s responsibility to curtail bad behavior like cheating, public inappropriateness, drinking, or addiction. There are some different reasoning for each. The reason one person doesn’t have to curtail cheating of another individual isn’t the same as the reason they don’t have a responsibility to curtail addiction.

For addiction, including alcoholism, it’s their choice to support the individual through recovery, not force them to recover through nagging and heavy-handed observation. If the person asks their significant other to support them by being with them and reminding them, then that’s appropriate support, not a responsibility to them, it’s a request that they are choosing to honor, not something society says they must do regardless of the desires of the individuals in the relationship.

The other side of the spectrum is cheating and public inappropriateness, these things are completely on the side of the offender to gain some self-control, not on the side of the one being embarrassed or hurt by their actions. In a relationship it’s your responsibility to be a good significant other, not their responsibility to make you a good significant other. But, like I said at the beginning of this, there are two sides to this song. Without the music video and with it.

With the music video laid on top of the lyrics, it’s a much more empowering song for women and it becomes more apparent that the message is more like an apology for all of the nonsense the speaker puts his perfect woman through rather than telling her that she has to curtail his behavior. The chorus turns more into a message of “We enjoy each other’s company during the day, and when sundown happens, this version of me who’s apologizing is there with you, and I need someone like you who will stick around for that.” The song becomes more of a “I need to change, you’re perfect” as we see empowering women dancing behind Adam Levine showing off their strengths and encouragement to their audience.

With the added message from Cardi B talking about how she is fighting for her best life, and getting it, there is another layer of encouragement to only accept what’s best for yourself rather than what society says is best for you. Her message is not to settle for the Disney normal of “a white horse and a carriage” but for financial stability and someone that you really love.

Overall, the song itself is a bit monotone and repetitive for my tastes, but the message has some depth if you look at the different word choices, versus pairing it with the visuals.

Have a taste!

Disagree with my assessment? Agree with it? I’d love to hear from you! Drop a comment below!

 

Img from PixaBay

The Hunt

I have to say that I forgot how much I hate job hunting.

I think 90% of the reason I hate it is because I see all of these expectations that employers put out and they’re all looking for this energetic, sharp, quick, witty, funny, personable, beautiful, wizened, youthful, person who I just, am not. I can be some of those things some of the time, but I am never as fast as they want me to be, I am never as well versed in every program they expect me to know, and I never feel qualified to actually hit “apply” for anyone.

I mean, I’m no slouch. I have 2 years experience running an online news team, I’ve been in honor societies, and sororities, and graduated twice with high honors. I have a GPA of 3.94 for crying out loud, but I’m just not their level of good.

I’m not their level of engaged and committed to the type of person they want to be around for 8 hours every day for the next 50 some odd years. I suppose that’s why school is more comfortable than work. At work, you’re committed, and you’re performing for 8 hours of the day. You have to be sociable and kind and on top of it.

At school, you just have to learn. Sit your butt in a seat and learn. That’s a lot easier.

From your experience, which is easier for you? School or work? Why?

Fighting the Muse

I’ve experienced Writers Block.

An inability to want to write, a feeling that you’re not good enough, or that everything needs too much work, or that there isn’t enough time to bother.img_6405-2-e1537418158950.jpg

The hardest one for me is feeling like everything I write is shit. Every word I wriggle out of my pen is just meant for the trash and there’s nothing I can do to change that.

The hardest part is fighting it, fighting the way my muse decides to shut up about everything and just remind me that the only thing I’m worth is garbage.

The way I fight that is just to accept the garbage. Write through writing bad because eventually I know I’ll begin to see things I don’t like, and why I don’t like them, and then I can change something. I can’t change anything if I don’t know what’s shit. I have to write the shit in order to identify the smell.

Sometimes you’ve got to just jump into the refrigerator, nose open, and sniff everything until you find what stinks.

For me, sometimes that doesn’t work and I still feel like my writing’s shit despite looking for everything that smells bad, and that’s when I take it to be scrutinized by others. Usually they’ll be more considerate of my problems than I am. I wrote a review on one of my own poems once as an exercise, and the person I was doing the exercise for told me I was too harsh.

I was forgetting to point out the good.

So maybe next time I have to go de-smell my refrigerator, I’ll look for something sweet to tide over my nose between each bad thing I find.

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I took all of these pictures were taken at a place in a city which used to be a car plant which was torn down and left a vacant hole. Now, it is being used to deposit trash in these heaps, and those heaps are growing greenery on the vast concrete nothingness.

 

Back to Basics

I started going to school again.

That might be an event if I felt like I’d done anything in the middle, but I really don’t think I did. I think I took a few year sabbatical from life and now I’m back to it again. It’s that feeling that makes me believe I should really just commit full time and go back for a masters in English rather than bothering with the School of Management stuff.

At the same time, I know that marketing is vital to the type of activities I like to do. I need to learn how to do this stuff in order to really get good at advertising Quirni.

So it’s a two-way mountain. Either I struggle through marketing on my own and attempt to make Quirni all it can be, or I fight through school now and go back for what I love later. Right now, the latter seems more appropriate, but maybe it won’t always seem that way.

I love going to school in general, so whatever way I choose, I want to keep spending way too much money for way too little profit. Like, zero profit. That’s a problem.

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Parts of a Poem

I was recently in a conversation with someone who wanted to learn how to critique poetry, and I figured, what the heck, I’ll just go over what I know. On YWS, I’ve been reviewing poetry since 2013, and I’m a poetry moderator, so I probably know quite a bit. Plus, I love helping people. This wasn’t going to be anything too difficult, right?

Well, it turned out to be a bit of a challenge to get started because poetry has so many aspects to it which are reviewable. There’s tone, structure, clarity, uniqueness, entertainment value, and even the story like plot, setting, characters, theme, and point of view. I decided to narrow it down to just those things which would be easiest to manage, and I’d like to share some of the more complicated things I discovered when posed this request with you.

Structure vs Tone

The structure of a poem, things like the punctuation, capitalization, spacing, line breaks, and so forth affects the tone of the piece. This was a new concept for my fellow reviewer, so maybe it is to you too. First thing first, the tone of a poem is the way the words sound with their meaning such as an angry tone, harsh, light, etc and it’s often made up of the connotation, denotation, stress, and meter.

The structure can affect the tone because it relates different words together that usually would not be highlighted in a poem. For instance, if a poet capitalizes certain nouns or verbs, they might create a different stress or meter than if they leave it for a talking voice to read.

Some of the ways a critiquer might determine if the structure is hurting the poem or not is by changing the poem. Take it out of the structure and try to fiddle with it to find if there’s something that works better. Do the capitals get in the way? Does adding capitals help? Usually this is advice I give poets rather than critiquers, but it can help both determine which the problem child is if one of these two is faulty.

Clarity vs Creativity

There are usually two camps in any debate, for and against. That’s the case in poetry too when it comes to the debate about whether clarity of message, or creativity of word choice and sound should reign supreme. There are some poems written just to sound good, and others which are written to give a message.

Ideally, like with any good debate, there’s compromise for a final answer. In this case, there is compromise with allowing for a poem which has a meaning, but is creatively delivered or a poem with sounds creative while delivering a message. The difference? If a poet is doing the first, they focus on a message, such as racism, war, famine, love, peace, those big ticket items, while they use poetic devices to deliver that message. A poem on racism being from the perspective of an albino zebra, that sort of thing. Meanwhile, there is also the option that a poem is just about the sounds, but they snuck in a message as well. It might be something that is still a big ticket item, or it might just be a life lesson they’ve learned.

The point is that in a critique, it is the reviewer’s job to determine if either the creativity or the message are lost to the other. Did they sacrifice their message too much and lose it entirely? Is there no point to read the poem? Or is the poem too explanation oriented and there’s no challenge to reading it? Is it a boring thing to read? These questions all help a poet determine which way they need to sway their balance because it really is a balancing act.

 How To Analyze a Poem

While we were working, I discovered that they didn’t feel comfortable analyzing poetry. To me, this is something I can do, but I do less than I want to. In the end, I explained it like this.

There are a few ways to do it, but basically it boils down to asking questions about the poem to discover new understandings. Mostly, focus on what the poet’s intentions were. Ask yourself why they might do something versus something else, look for figurative language, punctuation marks in weird spots, capitalization in weird spots, and basically, be curious!

To get them started, I set out some basic questions.

  • What is the poem about?
  • How do you know what the poem is about?
  • What is your paraphrase of the poem?
  • Does anything sound odd? If so, what sounds odd and what do you expect?

Sometimes these questions can be pretty complex, so let’s break it down just a little bit. It’s okay to take them in any order. There’s no reason to jump right into ‘what’s it mean’ when we can paraphrase it to get that meaning. For now, let’s look at ways to break down the questions and make them manageable.

What is the poem about?

This question is here for two reasons, a broad sweeping statement of theme, and any personal observations afterwards. Really, I answer this question twice, once when I begin to write a review, and the next time when I finish writing a review.

If someone is completely stuck with analyzing what a poem is about just in general, I suggest looking for key words, jumping down to the paraphrase, finding figurative language (metaphor, simile, allusion, alliteration, idiom, etc.), or looking at the tone to figure out if the language is negative, positive, or something else. The more someone works with a poem, the more they’ll understand it’s complexities.

How do you know what the poem is about?

This is a probing question to get the analysis done. What makes me as a reviewer think that this is the message of the poet? This can help because if I already have a sweeping message written down, I can clarify it and make sure it’s right.

If someone doesn’t know how they know, I suggest they do all the things from looking at what the poem is about. Paraphrase. Underline figurative language. Analyze tone. Reread it. Underline key words. If none of that works, ask “Where does it say anything about [meaning of the poem]?” If that’s too broad, look for the specific parts. Use quotes. Whenever using a quote, make sure there is a paraphrase of the quote attached to it so that someone coming by afterwards can read the paraphrase and see what the reviewer sees.

What is your paraphrase of the poem?

This is a call to action, not a question. Basically, I write a paraphrase of the poem somewhere so that I have it on hand if I need to use it to interpret any of the lines or see where my interpretation falls short.

Does anything sound odd? If so, what sounds odd and what do you expect?

This final question leads back to the question about what is the poem about because if I find something that sounds odd, I know that I need to potentially rethink my meaning. Usually if I find something odd, it’s because I haven’t read something close enough.

Oftentimes when paraphrasing, something won’t quite stick. Something feels like the message is lost or that there is a dead line [a line with no meaning]. Sometimes this is because of poor poetry writing [I work with emerging poets], but sometimes it is because I didn’t spend enough time with a poem. This tells me if that’s the case and it has saved my criticism from many an angry retort.

TL;DR

Poetry is interconnected so what affects one thing will change how another feels. Play around with the poems you want to edit or review until you find what you want. If you are reviewing or analyzing a poem, try to discover the mindset of the writer to determine why they might have done things a certain way.

Ask yourself questions about the poem to help you analyze the meaning and why they used certain phrases, structures, or sounds.

Have a question about poetry or see something you disagree with? Ask and tell me! I would love to hear from you guys!

Podcasts

Recently I’ve been listening to more podcasts and I find it interesting how different they all can handle a single subject. The recent subject I’ve chosen has been true crime. Now, I’m not familiar with a lot of true crime, so most of what is being said in jest or about particular people, I have no idea what they’re talking about, add on that I am an absolute dreg when it comes to names, and you have the making of an outsider.

If you’ve been a reader of my other blog, Quirni, then you know that my mother and I read together. She’s the one who introduced me to her favorite podcasts. One of them is two guys talking about true crime and they have a very systematic approach, the other is two girls talking about true crime  and they have a very chaotic approach, it’s more conversational. I see this as a reflection of the way that poetry works too because you have those who rhyme and structure and develop their poems completely and then publish them, and those who just throw something together and publish.

Or at least, that’s how it feels and I’m sure that the girls also have a method to their madness since they actually keep their podcasts to about the same length. That takes planning no matter what anyone says. You at least have to plan how long you want to make them and then actually stop when you hit that time.

For the moment, I don’t really want to call out the podcasts because I think it’s more entertaining to talk about how they’re speaking rather than talking about the subject matter, so it’s just going to be two girls, two guys.

So here’s a rough overview of my thoughts and I’ll do my  best to relate it to something you all care about, poetry.

Two Girls

The two women’s podcast has an outline that it follows, but it doesn’t actually plan what is going to be talked about together. Interestingly enough, both women come together to do the recording and have their own notes or idea of what they want to talk about, and then discuss it for however long one episode is.

They have a really round-about approach for how they talk about everything. They begin by just talking to one another, occasionally do corrections from the last show [they openly don’t research and ask their listeners to correct them nicely] and then getting all of the advertisements out of the way. Eventually the topic of true crime comes up naturally, because one of them can find something that relates to the story they want to share, and they get into the stories. Once one shares, the other does, and then they have a few things they do at the end of the show as well.

The thing I find really interesting is that these two discuss this in a very open and conversational manner. The way they discuss it is basically just “Oh my god, did you hear about …?” and even if the other one did know about it to some extent they’re always excited to talk about it.

I really like this style because it lets you feel like you’re just overhearing the conversation while in a cafe or somewhere that people talk. It makes me feel more like these are just two people talking rather than someone trying to inform me or gross me out.

While they’re discussing the murder, each of them are free to jump in and go on tangents and allow for that in the time of their podcast. They eventually get around to describing what happened, but it’s always with warnings such as “And this is really gross” or “If you’re eating, I’m sorry” as they break the fourth wall and address their silent audience frequently. The audience is someone sitting in on their conversation, however, and it’s primarily their conversation.

That’s way different from the two guys.

Two Guys

In the two guys podcast everything is very regimented. They have all of their advertisements up front and they get their plugging done for their products right away, such as products they advertise for other hobbies, and once that’s done, they’ll just bring it up if they want a break. Primarily, the podcast is all about the topic, whatever that is. They often spend a few hours on one subject too which can mean sometimes extending to two or three shows.

You can really tell that this show is planned out from subject to subject and the way they go about talking through their topic is very systematic. One episode might just be about the evidence they have on this person or that person, while another could be about a trial, or about who else it could have been.

They also have a speaker and a color commentator rather than two presenters. In this case the color commentator takes the roll of the audience completely. Whenever the speaker wants to address the audience, he addresses his co-producer. Occasionally he will mention “the people at home” but it’s usually in a detached way and the color commentator has to address the people at home himself.

This can be awkward like trying to write a blog without “you” because sometimes the color commentator will add more information about the case and the listener can tell that he knows exactly what he’s talking about, so there’s no reason to present to him in particular. It just is how they write the show.

There’s also much less time for side conversation in this podcast. They’re always on topic pretty much, and they stay to one crime, give or take the relevance to other crimes, and that’s pretty much it. They are much less likely to go off on tangents.

Comparing

Between the two podcasts, they both love to talk about crime and I’m pretty sure they both listen to one another, so it’s fun to see the differences in how they operate. The two guys are trying to be as accurate as they can be, while the two girls are being very loose about their accuracy, but both of them end up with the same information in the end and both of them have to make corrections.

While the one is more conversational, the other is more like a radio show, or something where you are an audience which isn’t involved in the discussion at all. The other includes the audience on a regular basis either talking about what they’ll think, or what they might be doing, going as far as to talk about what the people in jail that they’re talking about might be doing as well. They’re completely aware that people who commit these crimes might be listening to their podcast.

I find it interesting that with two very different approaches, they both garner the same audience. They both are interesting to my mother and that’s not just because she has a lot of time to listen. She enjoys true crime, and while she’s actually supported the two guys’ podcast, I think the reason she hasn’t supported the two girls is only because they have less merchandise out and about advertised on their podcast. The two girls advertise tickets to live shows rather than stuff with a logo on it.

Relating to Poetry

These are by far two types of poems written today. One school of thought is that you should be conversational with your poetry, talk to your audience, discuss what’s going on. This is huge for poets and writers like Billy Collins. The more you can discuss with your audience, even if it is one sided, the better your poem is to this school. I’d love to call them the Conversationalists and have it actually be a thing, but I’m not writing my masters final yet.

The other type is the type where people are talking about a moment in time, or discussing something with themselves or with a set audience in the poem. There are even poems which present a story and you’re just along for the ride. This is like the two guys podcast because they have an agenda that they’re trying to develop, just like the other style, but they do it by creating a captive audience, an audience without a voice.

If you’re reading a poem about nature, you’re probably not involved unless it’s saying something in the second person, and who does that? So I find it fascinating that it shows up in other forms of spoken word. There isn’t a binary choice here either. With two people running a podcast there could be any variety of styles including creepy music, reenactments, just sharing the facts and no speculation, sharing no facts but expecting everyone to already know about it, excluding the audience entirely, relying entirely on there being an audience, and all the intermediate answers. Poetry is the same way.

In poetry today there is a mix between the different types of poems out there from poems that directly speak to the audience, to those who are just reflections of ideas without any addressing of the audience at all. You can look at poets like the confessional poets and see how they became conversational, but it’s more than just one option.

As I keep listening to podcasts, I will be interested to hear the different varieties that are out there, and see how they affect my experience listening. Personally, I am in love with this conversationalist movement, so I will be happy to see it continue in podcasts and other types of media as trends shift and grow.

Poetry in Schools

With all of the recent school shootings such as Florida and Maryland, I thought it was time to talk about what I do. I work in a school building M-F with kids who are usually none to happy to see me, struggling to find the best ways to communicate in the short time I have with each student.

I’m not a teacher, I’m an in-class tutor. That means I don’t teach class, but I do teach kids. I help kids who are not understanding lessons, or just have a difficult time not getting distracted. A lot of the times, I feel like a parole officer, and if I do get to teach kids during the day, it’s for a very short time, maybe a few minutes. Our system at my school isn’t perfect. There are other schools which have better systems for tutoring kids in need, but our system works for us, despite the hassle.

So how does this relate to Poetry Talking?

Well, April is coming up and for those of you who don’t know, that means National Poetry Month. I’m in two English classes. The problem? Neither one of them was planning anything for Poetry Month!

Why? Well, there is a huge variety of reasons but the main one was testing took up too much time, and they didn’t feel as though they had time to handle poetry. I think that’s a load of bull since poetry doesn’t need to be “dealt with” it just needs to be read, enjoyed, and move on.

Last year, I saw a young man writing poetry and while he called it “rap” that was just because poetry wasn’t considered ‘cool’ because it was totally a poem. People can be excited about poetry, and I know when I teach kids in April, I will be doing things with poetry to encourage understanding!

Poetry can help with so many critical thinking skills. In a single poem we can have at least two types of patterns to identify [rhyme and rhythm] and there are so many figures of speech!

I am happy to say that both classes have read poems once this year, but once is not much. So, this Poetry Month if you’re in the schools, I challenge you to “deal with” poetry just for a few minutes at the beginning or end of class. Read them something cool and fun that they would be interested in! There are emerging poets all the time who write on unique topics, and develop new messages, so poetry is just as likely to be over something as an article or a short story is.

Don’t cut it out of your curriculum just because you don’t think they’ll get it. Assume they’ll get it because it’s already in their day to day lives with every song they sing.

If you work in the schools, what are your plans for Poetry Month?

“To His Brooke.” Review

Edmund Spenser’s  “To His Brooke.”

For those of you who don’t happen to have a wonderful copy of The Yale Edition of the Shorter Poems of Edmund Spenser or those of you who have never heard of Edmund Spenser before you searched poetry on WordPress, here’s a copy of the poem I will be talking about.

To His Brooke.

Goe little brooke: thy selfe present,
as child whose parent was unkent:
To him that is the president
Of noblesse and of chevalree,
And if that Envie barke at thee,
As sure it will, for succoure flee
Under the shadow of his wing,
and asked, who thee forth did bring,
A shepheards swaine saye did thee sing,
All as his straying flocke he fedde:
And when his honor has thee redde:
Carve pardon for my hardyhedde.
But if that any aske thy name,
Say thou wert base begot with blame:
For thy thereof thou takest shame.
And when thou art past jeopardee,
Come tell me, what was sayd of mee:
And I will send more after thee.

Immeritô

With the text out of the way, I’d like to talk about the poem, but first, there’s one more order of business. I want to paraphrase the poem as well, so if you don’t want to read my paraphrase of the poem, skip the next speech box.

Read More »

Line Punctuation

Line Punctuation is one of the most common forms of punctuation for old styles of poetry. If you flip through an old poetry book, you’re going to run across it, and most teachers show poems with line punctuation first in their classes.

Why?

Line Punctuation Value

The value of line punctuation really breaks down to one thing, reading poetry. When a reader has line punctuation, they feel more at ease reading a poem if and only if they have a habit of stopping at the end of a line.

Since poetry used to be all about that sound, ’bout that sound, ’bout that sound, not written, the end of the line usually was the end of a sentence, or where a period, exclamation point, comma, dash, or other type of punctuation was sitting.

After all, when poetry was first transcribed and read in letter, it was meant to be read for those who were still illiterate for a long time afterwards. It wasn’t common to read poems in print, therefor the language had to be geared towards shorter lines with obvious beat and punctuation that assisted the reader to get it right each and every time, and the same each and every time.

Rhyming also has some support with line punctuation because the natural meter that line punctuation can provide, can help hide or stretch some of the rhymes that are weaker than others. Using line punctuation cannot make words like word and fear rhyme, but word and chard, yeah, it might hide that if you’re good.

Exceptions

There are some exceptions to the rule ‘punctuation at the end of every line’, like with everything. Line punctuation was never meant to be a strict thing, it was happenstance due to the meter and way that poetry was developing into a literary tool. For instance, when flipping through a book of Spenser, who is a poet around the mid to late 1500s before the standardization of a dictionary was widely accepted (1700ish), we have this poem:

To His Brooke.

Goe little brooke: thy selfe present,
as child whose parent was unkent:
To him that is the president
Of noblesse and of chevalree,
And if that Envie barke at thee,
As sure it will, for succoure flee
Under the shadow of his wing,
and asked, who thee forth did bring,
A shepheards swaine saye did thee sing,
All as his straying flocke he fedde:
And when his honor has thee redde:
Carve pardon for my hardyhedde.
But if that any aske thy name,
Say thou wert base begot with blame:
For thy thereof thou takest shame.
And when thou art past jeopardee,
Come tell me, what was sayd of mee:
And I will send more after thee.

Immeritô

As you can see, the poem is before the time when words were spelled like they are today. This is back around/before Shakespeare, and it has two lines that do not have punctuation at the end. “To him that is the president” and “As sure it will, for succoure flee” both lack a punctuation mark at the end!

This was during the time when punctuation at the end of a line was at it’s height, and the majority of his poems have the cadence that support punctuation falling at the end. So what can this tell us today? Well, that it’s not necessary even when using an older style to maintain strictly to having punctuation at the end of literally every line. There’s more to it than that.

Putting it Together

What line punctuation is good for is when you’re writing a poem with a certain meter [cadence] and you want to ensure that meter is being met. That means the writer is using those punctuation marks more like breath punctuation, or to follow the inflection of the poem, rather than just because it’s the end of a line.

Traditionally, meter ends at the end of the line with a strong or soft beat that feels like the end of the pattern, and therefore it ends up with end punctuation. This is when it’s typically supported the most by how the poem is read. If a poem doesn’t read with a meter, chances are it won’t look good, or sound good, with line punctuation.

  1. Not all lines need punctuation at the end
  2. Metered poetry supports line punctuation
  3. Rhymes also support line punctuation as rhymes can be part of metered poems
  4. Line punctuation supports a reader who wants to stop at the end of each line
  5. It can seem like a really old style for a poem.

Down Sides

The problem with using line punctuation might seem obvious to some of you by this point, especially those of you who are familiar with it from personal experience, but let me lay out how I’ve responded as a reader to line punctuation.

Most of the time, poets who are trying to be dramatic use line punctuation exclusively. They will write poems like:

My life is a lie …
I want to die …
If only,
If only,
I wasn’t so lonely.
No one loves me.
My cat hates me.
I want to drown in the sea!

And being someone who handles a lot of unpracticed poets, I am stuck trying to explain why it doesn’t have any emotion when they’re talking about suicide. So where do I begin? Personally, I start with structure because these lines are not beefy and that’s a big part of the problem.

Taking away the line punctuation doesn’t help this poem, by any means, but, after seeing a lot of poems like this, and writing a lot of them myself when I was at that delicate age of hating the world, I grew out of love with line punctuation. So the first thing I check whenever I read the poem as a critiquer is line punctuation and capitalization. If those two things are there, chances are, I’m not going to like this poem as much.

If the poem shows promise after I get by the first two lines, I try to struggle away my general dislike from years of handling poorly written line punctuated and capitalized poems, but it can be a struggle.

When I did Submission Reading for literary magazines, and when I do contests, these two things are top on the list of annoying things for most readers I was speaking to. Just to stand out, staying away from these two things can be a good idea. The third top thing was rhyming in poems.

That being said, don’t let it compromise your poem if the poem feels best with this formal style. Just know what battleground you’re entering if you want to submit it.

Should I Use it?

Yes!

I am a strong advocate for using anything and everything in your arsenal, so line punctuation is no different. The question should never be ‘should’, but ‘when’ because it has it’s time and place.

For instance, if you were writing a haiku, probably not the best time to use line punctuation. Haiku aren’t a style that benefit from the added structure because they started out with their own structure and rely on a couplet, and a turn.

However, if you are writing a villanelle, or a cinquain, or some other form of poetry that either requires meter and/or rhyme, using end punctuation and enjambment can create a completely new and unique atmosphere for an old style of poetry, or an older feeling to make it seem dated and antique.

The best thing for you to do as a poet is to experiment and read. The more you read, the more you’ll discover what touches your funny bone, kicks you in the shin, or gives you a back massage after a long day’s work. In other words, you’ll find what you like and what you don’t like. If you avoid writing the types of poems you don’t like, you’ll find an audience who likes what you like too.

After all, we’re a bit of a niche right now. Most people who read poetry are those who write it, so if you, as a writer, don’t like something, chances are your audience doesn’t either.

If you enjoyed reading about line punctuation, check out Quirni on Amazon Kindle to see how I utilize my poetic language in a full on science fiction adventure! Join Erica as she explores a whole new world in Book One and help support my blogging hobby by buying a copy.

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