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Welcome to another installment of Write After Reading: Living the Life Poetic,a weekly online book club with poetry participation. It alternates between my blog and Laura's blog. Last week, we chatted about Chapter 24 over at Laura's blog. Today I want to talk about Chapter 33.



Before I get into my thoughts on this chapter though I have an exciting announcement to make. Sage Cohen, the author of the book Writing the Life Poetic, has volunteered to answer any questions for us when we wind up the series. I'll need to send them to her in advance so please, send in your questions now, or in the next few weeks. You can either post them as a comment in the blog (here or at Laura's) or you can email them to me at susan AT susantaylorbrown dot  com

Now, on to Chapter 33 and the discussion of line breaks. I was so glad to see this chapter because line breaks is one of the things I most struggle with in my poems. I felt a bit better when she said she thought ten poet laurerates would break a poem in ten different ways. But of course, being a rule follower, I wanted to know the RIGHT way to do it. But I think the message here is there is no right or wrong way, there is only the way of the individual poet based on what they want the reader to feel, to take away, as they read the poem. Some line breaks will be a leisurely stroll and some will feel like you're on a runaway train.

The line breaks that confuse me most of all are the ones that break mid-idea and leave me hanging. I keep studying the poem to see if I can discover the answer to why it breaks a certain way but usually I can't. This is part of what makes me feel dumb about poetry because I want to understand that which often can't be understood but only felt. I like the idea she gives that you want to end the line on the word you want the reader to linger on a bit longer.

I think line breaks will always be hard for me until I learn to trust myself as a poet.

I chose the first exercise she listed. She took the poem Lake and Maple by Jane Hirshfield and wrote it in paragraph form and then suggested that we try putting in the line breaks. I haven't read that poem before so it is all new to me. I'll go looking for a copy after I play with my own line breaks with it (in the comments.)
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

dorireads
April 24th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
I found it interesting that I didn't even consider adding stanzas to the poem, but so many other folks did. And I think the addition of stanzas made each poem even more distinctly different.
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice

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