1. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    Poetry Punctuation

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by PurpleCandle, Mar 30, 2011.

    I have looked through the forum and can't find what I am looking for. I need a link or resource for proper poetry punctuation. I can't find my old college creative writing books. I know the basics, I just need a refresher.

    And I have seen several people complain that people do not use proper punctuation and I was wondering...what are the most irritating poetry punctuation errors? What really gets under your skin? Just curious!
     
  2. Sidewinder
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    Sidewinder Contributing Member Contributor

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    Commas. Too many commas irritate the hell out of me.

    I'm a big fan of the dash.

    Also I prefer it if the poet uses proper grammar and punctuation most of the time. That way when you use poetic license I know that it's intentional.

    When I first write a poem I use almost no punctuation. Then I go back and see what's needed. I'm not aware of any comprehensive resource on this specific subject, although I have seen it discussed from time to time.
     
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  3. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    In poetry more than any other writing, all rules are off. It's whatever gets the effect you want. Look at the work of E E Cummings.
     
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  4. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Punctuation in poetry should be used for a purpose. Every period and comma should be there for a reason. If the poet is doing it correctly nothing can be wrong with it. A preference to use dashes is just that, a preference.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no single 'proper' way to punctuate poetry... it's entirely at the option of the poet whether to use any at all, or to go with minimal or maximal...

    the only 'must' is that if you are writing the text as normal sentences, then you should capitalize and punctuate as rules of grammar dictate...

    the worst common goof i see from my poetry mentees is capitalizng every line of the poem... this has not been the standard for nearly a century and is done now only for schlocky wall hangings or greeting cards...

    browse the 'philosetry' section of my site and you'll see the many ways a poem can be punctuated [or not]...
     
  6. Finhorn
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    Finhorn Senior Member

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    Cummings was a hack! (I'm probably just jealous)

    I was taught that you have to know and use all the writing rules in poetry. Then, once you know what rule your breaking and why, you can discard periods, commas and everything else. Sadly the only books I've had for my poetry classes were books of poems and they are far from helpful when trying to settle on punctuation.

    My personal bad habits include line breaks as commas, capitalizing to add emphasis, and lots of sentence fragments (though you almost never see a poem without lots of sentence fragments).
     
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  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I certainly am! (Jealous, that is, though maybe a hack too.) When you start getting into the detail of what he did you discover that some of it was incredibly clever.
    Thing is, there are so many things covered by the category "poetry" that it's pretty much impossible to generalise. About the only thing you can say is that the person with the better overall command of language will do it better -- but what branch of writing is that not true of?
     
  8. Finhorn
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    Finhorn Senior Member

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    Amen to that!
     

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