1. Laxaria
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    Laxaria Member

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    How to use: Enjambment

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Laxaria, May 14, 2010.

    I know what the device is like, but I cannot seem to use it effectively.

    Some advice into how to use enjambment a little more effectively would be great. I've always wanted to explore this literary device, although somehow everytime I use it, it does not seem as effective as I wanted it to be.

    Any advice or suggestions?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I know that it's used in poetry quite often, especially when the poet is trying to keep a beat going and has to push the end of a sentence to the next line. It can also be used when the poet wants to place emphasis on a word that falls in the middle of sentence. This word is then used to end one line, and the rest of the sentence goes onto the next line. I'm not sure I addressed all of your concerns, but hopefully this post is helpful anyway.
     
  3. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    First reaction: wtf is that?
    Post wikipedia: I've read some poems using this technique, and it usually irks me when people do that. Because it's very heavy-handed.

    I found a particular person who I think uses it quite well named E. E. Cummings.

    " no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
    no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
    and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
    and whatever a sun will always sing is you "

    i think using the parenthesis makes it sound more complete and whole rather than choppy.
     
  4. laciemn
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    laciemn Senior Member

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    I think this is what I would avoid, I'm no poetry expert, but in reading it, it doesn't sound natural.
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I think the opposite...end-stopping always sounds really artificial to me, whereas enjambment sounds much more natural. Really, all it means is that there is no pause from one line to the next, which is how most poetry is anyway. It isn't really a device you can "use", in the sense that you can "use" a simile or something, it's either there or not. If you're writing to a specific form or metre, like sonnet form or iambic pentameter, then because of the stresses and the limitations on line length, enjambment doesn't occur as often as with forms like free verse.

    And yeah, e e cummings uses enjambment quite well and quite often, his works are a good place to start for inspiration on how to use it in a contemporary way.
     
  6. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    As arron says, poetry that is written:

    clause
    clause
    clause
    clause

    is generally rather stilted. Enjambement allows ideas, themes and rhythm to flow from one line, or stanza, to another. It allows a natural, tumbling effect in the poem which may or may not suit the theme.

    Enjambement also helps to focus the importance of the line break. Poetry is not prose with aesthetic breaks thrown haphazardly. Line breaks are not punctuation, but they allow direction to be conveyed from the poet to the reader. They can help control pacing, and therefore the reader's breathing. An idea spread over two lines can stress the point, reveal hidden meaning or pervert expectation. A learned reader will not pause as a non-punctuated line break, but most will pause minutely nevertheless - use this to your advantage in terms of rhythm, pacing and suspense.

    As with everything, it wouldn't pay to overuse it, or stirve to achieve it. Enjambement is best when natural and part of a balanced structure.
     
  7. Laxaria
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    Laxaria Member

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    Thank you for the responses so far. They have been very insightful into the usage of enjambment for me. I've seen it used a lot in class from studying poetry anthologies and somehow I find it very challenging to replicate the effect I want using the same literary device.

    Could you elaborate a bit more? Or even so, an example would be extremely helpful.

    Thanks!
     
  8. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would seem odd to split a clause or idea with a line break unless there was some point in doing so. Enjambement can here step in in two ways.

    1) When a structure is relying on heavily patterned rhythm and/or rhyme, it may may to do exactly this: split a clause or idea to help achieve that pattern. The idea will tumble from line to line in enjambement - and the reader ought not pause in his reading of the lines.

    2) My above point, "An idea spread over two lines can stress the point, reveal hidden meaning or pervert expectation." Poets are lucky that there are few hard rules they must follow (if any). As such, enjambement does not need to be used with any goal in mind, but if it is, it can help acheive these items. This work best in my experience if you believe your reader will pause (even minutely) at a line break, even though classically he shouldn't.

    Stressing a point: If you are going to split an idea over two or more lines, then you can use the subsequent lines to reinforce your point. Think of the extra lines not as lines but echoes. N.B., an idea is only worth echoing if there is some point in doing so. Blunt repetition for the sake of it is not recommended.

    Revealing hidden meaning and perverting expectation: If you are going to split an idea over two or more lines, then you can use the subsequent lines to clarify an earlier one, provide extra info that will help the reader attain your meaning, or, conversely, lead him down a different path entirely with that clarification. The surprise of an clear image looming from hazy poetry, whether that image be congruous or more unexpected, can be boldly effective. When the reader tumbles from line to line, surprise him, shock him out of complacency. He will then pay you the attention you deserve.

    Experiment and have fun.
     
  9. Brandon_Trotter
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    Brandon_Trotter Senior Member

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    I think I have the same probelm with this techique. I do not like using it becuase I find it makes it harder to read. I do however know the reasons why you would use this techique
    - to break up setences to add a sense of time for a example
    ( I walked
    to
    the )
    door
    - I also introduced another poetry techique, brackets they also break up sentences however in a little different way. brackets make something enclosed for example the character was walking in an enclosed erea to a door outside the ensloed area

    - enjament also helps to add a sense of intensity for example it can be used like this
    S
    P
    R
    A
    Y
    - Enjament can be used to make the reader more interested what there reading by adding intecapation.

    - another type of enjament are hypens they like brackets enclose a peice of information but for a differnt reason. hypens you to add information into the sentence that would otherwise be left out.
     

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