muscle and sinew and music, clarity and resonance and power

from The Art of Syntax

After one hundred years of free verse invention and mastery, contemporary poets need not focus solely on lineation or fall unthinking into one of the dominant conventions of our time: on the one hand, a “sincere” poem made accessible by predictable simple declarative sentences, all about the same length, chunked by end stop and end pause into three or four roughly equivalent short lines; on the other hand, an “edgy” poem of passive predication or no predication at all, sentence fragments torqued by violent enjambments or arranged for a purely visual effect on the page.

Most of us who write poems rather than prose have very high formal appetites. Lineation affords quite evident and audible opportunities for making pattern, and we will and should go on exploring them all. But it’s useful to remember that other sorts of pattern are also there for us to use—rhythms inherent to the language we write in, the source of its muscle and sinew and music, its clarity and its resonance and its power.


2 thoughts on “muscle and sinew and music, clarity and resonance and power

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