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Old 02-18-2014, 12:42 PM   #1
Neonurotic
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Let's speak about line breaks

We've probably discussed line breaks before, but we have new(ish) PoBo regulars now. I'd like to see what others think of line breaks, when and why you all start new lines. Might as well discuss stanza too.
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Old 02-18-2014, 01:51 PM   #2
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Dear Neo,

Is it true that a stanza must rhyme but a strophe must not?

Sincerely,
Clueless in NC
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Old 02-18-2014, 01:58 PM   #3
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I have no idea

-even more clueless
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
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I have no idea

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Champ will know. I could look it up but I bet she already knows.
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:46 PM   #5
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as far as i have learned, a strophe contains several stanzas whose line-lengths don't have to be equal. so a strophe is a part of a longer piece over more than one stanza. or something

as to the formalities of rhyme, i'd have to go look it up but its origins are the greek ode so maybe?
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:46 PM   #6
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*sits down with a pen and a notebook* Thanks for the thread, Neo—this will be interesting.
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neonurotic View Post
We've probably discussed line breaks before, but we have new(ish) PoBo regulars now. I'd like to see what others think of line breaks, when and why you all start new lines. Might as well discuss stanza too.
Oh good Neo I was just thinking about things like this as I read Tsotha's post in the 30/30 companion (nice job) and wishing he had some of twelves threads to refer to when I read Achilles heel thread
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by butters View Post
as far as i have learned, a strophe contains several stanzas whose line-lengths don't have to be equal. so a strophe is a part of a longer piece over more than one stanza. or something

as to the formalities of rhyme, i'd have to go look it up but its origins are the greek ode so maybe?
Merci.
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Dear Neo,

Is it true that a stanza must rhyme but a strophe must not?

Sincerely,
Clueless in NC
Isn't it you that has the 'says who?' attitude?
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Old 02-18-2014, 05:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnderYourSpell View Post
Isn't it you that has the 'says who?' attitude?
I follow rules unless they don't work for me and then I break them. But I do try to follow them first.
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
I follow rules unless they don't work for me and then I break them. But I do try to follow them first.
Damn, I knew I was doing something wrong! *notes down: 'try to follow rules first, then break them--not the other way around!'*
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Old 02-18-2014, 06:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Dear Neo,

Is it true that a stanza must rhyme but a strophe must not?

Sincerely,
Clueless in NC
STANZA: A recurrent grouping of two or more verse lines in terms of length, metrical form, and, often, rhyme scheme. However, the division into stanzas is sometimes made according to thought as well as form, in which case the stanza is a unit like a prose paragraph. Strophe is another term used for stanza, but one should avoid verse in this sense, because the word has so many other meanings. For convenience, stanza is limited to units that are regular, rhymed, and recurrent; other subdivisions are called strophes. (Holman & Harmon, A Handbook to Literature, 6th ed.)
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Old 02-18-2014, 07:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Damn, I knew I was doing something wrong! *notes down: 'try to follow rules first, then break them--not the other way around!'*
Some of my better poems have come as a result of my giving up on the rules and doing it my way. This attitude used to get me in a fair amount of trouble at school as a child. I was one of those kids that would stubbornly insist on coming to my own conclusions. I never understood how it drove my parents crazy until I had a daughter who is just like I was. Now I understand that it does help if you at least try the conventional way first--but does my girl want to hear that? Not a bit!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Tzara View Post
STANZA: A recurrent grouping of two or more verse lines in terms of length, metrical form, and, often, rhyme scheme. However, the division into stanzas is sometimes made according to thought as well as form, in which case the stanza is a unit like a prose paragraph. Strophe is another term used for stanza, but one should avoid verse in this sense, because the word has so many other meanings. For convenience, stanza is limited to units that are regular, rhymed, and recurrent; other subdivisions are called strophes. (Holman & Harmon, A Handbook to Literature, 6th ed.)
Thank you. I do have my copy of Turco but it's upstairs and I forget where upstairs. Maybe in a bookcase, maybe in a box.
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Old 02-18-2014, 08:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Some of my better poems have come as a result of my giving up on the rules and doing it my way. This attitude used to get me in a fair amount of trouble at school as a child. I was one of those kids that would stubbornly insist on coming to my own conclusions. I never understood how it drove my parents crazy until I had a daughter who is just like I was. Now I understand that it does help if you at least try the conventional way first--but does my girl want to hear that? Not a bit!
Hmmm. Breaking the rules gains a special taste when you understand the rules you're breaking, and it's even better if you're able to choose which rules to break, and when. But rebelling is good, too... For those with the energy for it.

Last edited by Tsotha : 02-18-2014 at 08:33 PM. Reason: maybe I need to put my head on a pillow
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:01 PM   #15
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I never bothered to learn any rules. I just decided that I wanted to hone my writing skills and condensed story formats like poetry and lyrics seemed the best way to accomplish this.

For me, paragraphs and spacing help to establish rhythm.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:05 PM   #16
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Alright, poets. So, back to the original question: why do you break a line? And when do you do it?

Risking sounding like a fool, I'll say that I break the line when I feel like it's time to break the line. I have guidelines, but I don't overthink it. It depends on what I'm trying to do. Examples:
  • Sometimes I break a line early, to cause a sudden interruption in thought.
  • Breaking lines early, one after another, causes a "rushing" effect in my mind.
  • Sometimes I break in the middle of a sentence, which makes it a bit awkward to read, but I find that it forces me to concentrate more on those lines. So it may serve to make the reader pay attention to a specific sentence, or it may cause him to completely disconnect. Dangerous.

There are other effects I've noticed while reading others' work, like "falling through" lines, a rushing effect with sudden stops... Like someone falling from a tree and hitting the branches midway, now that I think about it. There is also the feeling of being left hanging, that is, of reading a sentence that is too long before the break (even if it isn't).

As I understand it, line breaks are closely related to the rhythm. The meter and syllable count depend on it, and those give the verse a structure... But, as I said, I don't overthink it. I just go with what sounds better (to me), and it often depends on how the words sound together.

So, how do you do it?
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Some of my better poems have come as a result of my giving up on the rules and doing it my way. This attitude used to get me in a fair amount of trouble at school as a child. I was one of those kids that would stubbornly insist on coming to my own conclusions. I never understood how it drove my parents crazy until I had a daughter who is just like I was. Now I understand that it does help if you at least try the conventional way first--but does my girl want to hear that? Not a bit!





Thank you. I do have my copy of Turco but it's upstairs and I forget where upstairs. Maybe in a bookcase, maybe in a box.
Wasn't until I started the Teach Ins that I discovered that you haven't changed a bit!
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If at first you don't succeed....skydiving is not for you ....
If you don't pay your exorcist .... do you get repossessed?
I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
....But I, being poor, have only my dreams, I have spread my dreams under your feet,Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.......
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:30 PM   #18
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I mainly put line breaks for flow and rhythm of my poem. I pay particular attention to the end word and how it effects the beginning word for the new line. I want the end word to be interesting enough a reader will want to read more, like a little cliff hanger for some poems, other poems for emphasis or a surprise.

I treat stanzas like paragraphs in a story, which do have kind of rhythm of its own because I noticed I naturally have stanzas that are the same line count with other stanzas in poem. It's not something I do on purpose, kind of annoying really once I realized I was doing it.

I don't know if any of that is right, but its what I do and picked up along the way the last eleven years I've been part of PoBo. I remember those first poems and cringe, I still write crap, but at least it's improved crap.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:20 PM   #19
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Please forgive me(if need be); i stumbled upon this thread while lazily perusing "New Posts." The name of the thread drew me in.

I have never tried to "plan" line breaks. Is there a way to do that?

Is there a "proper" way to line break? If so, what would be the "improper" way to line break?

(eesh~ i sound pathetic. *sighs~ apologies.)
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:22 PM   #20
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I do love enjambments
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They say a smile is a gift which is free to the giver and precious to the recipient.
But giving the finger is free, too, and I find it more personal and sincere.
If at first you don't succeed....skydiving is not for you ....
If you don't pay your exorcist .... do you get repossessed?
I shall always decide not to decide, unless of course I decide to change my mind.
....But I, being poor, have only my dreams, I have spread my dreams under your feet,Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.......
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:25 AM   #21
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Although still a student in this nuance of poetry, I have been thinking about it more lately.

I like to suggest a complete thought in a line, when possible, and begin the next line with a slight and intended modification to hopefully surprise and maybe even delight the reader or shock for that matter, depending upon the context.

I'll illustrate with a stanza from a poem, "Love Poem I," just posted today:

Herschel's here too, a CPA,
just like his mother told him to be
home from the park before eight,

nine pm in the summertime

I also like to experiment with the sonics of line breaks. I write a fair amount in iambic tetrameter and like to vary the sound of the poem by ending a line with a trochee and starting the next line with the same. At the final draft I try to get an intuitive sense of how the poem sounds and whether or not there's enough variation or perhaps too much.

I enjoy threads like these very much.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:28 AM   #22
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Red face cough, ummmm, yeah....

I always feel like a fifth wheel reading these threads, so much of what is said could be written in Swahili to me, I rely on intuition and sound links to try and break a poem. basically I have no freaking idea my fingers just do their thing
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:57 AM   #23
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It's good to break at break point,
And have a brandy or smoke a joint...
Then think that every strophe,
Must have its antistrophe,
Some poets are sublime,
Without rhythm or rhyme,
But this is not to say,
Those tricks are not ok,
Just follow your way,
Greetings from the blue Med,

Thanks, Neo, for the thread!
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:20 AM   #24
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It's pistils and stamens and verses and strophes.
It only matters if one is unduly interested
in the sex life of a flowers.

I can edit line breaks a dozen times and be perfectly satisfied each time. Except for trying to count beats, there is no rule, not even a vague guideline. I have discovered the spoken line demands a different break from the visual read. I'm not sure why, but when I print stuff before a reading, I always find line breaks which don't sound right and so make special edits.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:29 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Angeline View Post
Champ will know. I could look it up but I bet she already knows.
Turns out you didn't need me after all. Love how you folks take care of yourselves.

On to Line Breaks though... I copied this from a thread I started a while back so yeah, we've discussed this before:

Quote:
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Line Breaks

There are many ways to determine where you should break a line of verse in a poem. In fact, with the adoption of a current trend toward prose poetry, line breaks have become mired in even thicker muck.

With formula poems where rhythm, end rhyme or both are set devices, line breaks are easy, since the choice isn't really up to the poet. How the poet ends the line is still his to determine, but it will always fall after whatever metrical foot required by the form.

Free verse has a multitude of choices all jumbled in amidst the poet's own perception of what they mean or want to say and how they'd like it to sound when they do present their poetry. Line breaking is personal and like poems for the panty drawer, can be as exclusive to their composition as the writer wants them to be.

Sometimes, there's a lack of punctuation in a poem and the line breaks become a form of punctuation in themselves. In effect, signalling the reader to pause here, before your eye moves back and down to the next word. Most often when reading, I like to linger on the end word and then on the verse it's in as a whole. Clever enjambment can trick me into reading on past the break though, so the poet needs to be clear in their thinking about what their devices are doing to their reader.

If there's a significant thought being expressed then should the thought be allowed to continue, unbroken, until the reader goes cross-eyed and becomes breathless? I believe it's up to the poet to find a better way to express the idea, so that no matter if they let the verse run away or if they break after each word, the reader can nod and say, "Yeah, I get that."

When there's a line that hovers over the body of the poem, like a springboard over a pool, the writer needs to examine that verse. He should test it for concise expression of the thought, and if so, then write it to include a logical break earlier in the verse. Don't write it and then look for an important word, it should be composed so that no matter where the break comes, the important word is where you want it to be. Of course, a springboard may be exactly what you want the word to stand on, too. As long as the poet decides and not the verse.

Own your poetry. Don't let the words drive the poet, instead take the wheel and steer the words. Let feelings map your route, but never let them step on the gas once you're out of their neighbourhood. Turn off the GPS sometimes, too. You don't always need to follow that route, or even obey the laws governing a particular county, or formula, as the case may be.

Always do what best serves the poem and you should never need to question why your line break falls where it does in your piece. If you approach breaks with confidence you can always answer critique or questions with, "This poem is exactly how I wanted it to be."

Cut unnecessary adjectives and adverbs from the verse, don't say "tropical sky blue", learn that the shade is called "cerulean". Don't say "cerulean blue" that's redundant since cerulean is already telling the reader "blue". Hopefully, that sort of editing would shrink the line length enough to fit it into the shape of the poem and not leave the reader dangling over the deep end. Get into the pool and confidently swim with the big fish.
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