Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-10-2002, 02:12 PM
FasterG FasterG is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 56
Post

Please clarify -- why, one word lines are viewed a no-no. The writer's intention for this effect could be to quickly accelerate reading, or, to expound a deep meaning. The latter is understandable like an over-used cliche, however, it is the former, in many cases, that seems to me, to be perfectly acceptable.

------------------
-FasterG
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-10-2002, 02:37 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 13,698
Post

In metered verse you rarely get to use one-word lines for the simple reason that most lines have too many beats for one word to absorb, although you classically get one one-word line in a double-dactyl (in fact, it's a "requirement"). But one (or two) word lines can also happen if you write in dimeter (as some of the lines often are in rarer forms like the ovillejo).

Even in free verse, though, I suppose it's frowned upon. The reason, I think, is something that many free verse writers forget, i.e., that the line is still an important and functional unit of the free verse "form." We want a certain amoung of "meat" in every line, both sonically and substantively, or why bother giving it its own line? A reader of lineated free verse will naturally pause for a nanosecond at every line ending and try to resolve the meaning before continuing on (even if the thought turns out to enjamb over to the next line).

I guess it all comes down to your concept of what the purpose of a line break is to begin with. If it's an arbitrary, visual thing, then go ahead and do whatever pleases your eye. But if you expect the reader to take any sort of cue at all from the lineation, then you've got to put enough in every line to justify the existence of that line. This often (but not always) means that one-word lines just can't pull their weight.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-10-2002, 02:38 PM
Kevin Andrew Murphy Kevin Andrew Murphy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: San Jose, California, USA
Posts: 3,257
Post

I think one-word lines are like peculiar casing of letters, use of archaisms, inversions and so on: When used in a stellar fashion, for a deliberate effect, they're wonderful. When used badly, however, they are annoying and pretentious, and when simply used in a mediocre or unremarkable fashion, the end result is less than stellar and will be criticized as such.

If you write a double dactyl, it's a requirement of the form is that not only must there be a one word line, but that one line must be hexasyllabic and itself a double dactyl.

As with all things, it depends. People frown on things that don't work, and if they're frowning on your one-word lines, that's because they're not working, not because they are specifically taboo.

Kevin

Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-10-2002, 06:15 PM
FasterG FasterG is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 56
Post

Thankyou for the answers...and time.
I have been using one-word-lines more often lately, free-verse specifically, and I understand "meaty" words/lines; it is the nanoseconds, the slight pauses after lines, that I refered by accelerated reading. Speaking from my personal view point, although -- not a formally educated one, I find short lines and one word lines have an informal quality, a very narrative and light quality. Is it likely, that use of quick or repetitious pauses (and not necessarily one-word-lines) could advance the interests, and the excitability of the reader further into a piece?
Converse to this: How does punctuation affect the pauses? By inserting long lines in repetition, and controlling reading flow, could I not, reasonably, accentuate a feeling in my poems?
Whether it works or doesn't is mute.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-11-2002, 01:31 AM
Kevin Andrew Murphy Kevin Andrew Murphy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: San Jose, California, USA
Posts: 3,257
Post

I think the word you're going for is "moot," not "mute." But it isn't a moot point.

Effects that don't work do not work for a specific reason: They fail to elicit a response in a reader.

Any time you try something funky, nonstandard and unfamiliar, you will cause a reader to pause and blink, wondering what to make of this weird thing. Confusion is a response, yes, and so is curiousity, but if the reader is baffled, they won't bother reading further.

Varying your line lengths back and forth sounds like a reasonable strategy, but if you go too short or too long, it'll become difficult and unpleasant to read and most readers won't bother.

I won't say "No, you can't do that," but there are certainly other less risky strategies you could use to engage the reader, or to indicate pauses and timing. Regular commas, dashes, periods and so forth all are designed to let the reader know when to take a breath and for how long. To basically use line breaks in place of commas and periods seems pointless. Or pretentious.

Here's the above paragraph with the commas as line breaks and the periods as stanza breaks, and everything lowercased e.e. cummings style:


i won't say "no
you can't do that"
but there are certainly other less risky strategies you could use to engage the reader
or to indicate pauses and timing.

regular commas
dashes
periods and so forth all are designed to let the reader know when to take a breath and for how long

to basically use line breaks in place of commas and periods seems pointless

or pretentious


Kevin
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-11-2002, 03:09 AM
FasterG FasterG is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Posts: 56
Post

Thanks alot. How's this: Whether it works or not is very well understood by me. I was curious as to the specific dynamics and the relationship betweeen line breaks, punctuation, and flow...your example works well, but I'm not completely satisfied: varying lengths can hinder reader flow without function, agreed. Does a poem with long lines (long periods between pauses) and poems with short line pauses affect emotion.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-11-2002, 08:21 PM
VictoriaGaile VictoriaGaile is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,705
Post

I have been pondering the function of lineation myself for some time now.
Setting aside metrical poetry for the moment, it seems to me that the possible functions of lineation in free verse may include:

- visual effect
- structural/trope
- replacement for punctuation
- pacing
- sonic effect
- emphasis
- dramatic effect
- content

I think that these are all valid uses of lineation.

On reflection, I think I'd be surprised to encounter a free verse poem with consistent line lengths, which makes me think that lineation is one of the major "tools" in the free verse toolkit.

I suspect that some of these are "looked down on" because of excessive hackneyed use. Line breaks as punctuation may be in the same category as "moon" and "june", or Thee and Thou: it was fresh once but isn't anymore. Similarly, one word lines for deep dramatic effect have been too often badly done in inchoate adolescent angst poetry (she says affectionately).

Faster later wrote:
I was curious as to the specific dynamics and
the relationship betweeen line breaks, punctuation, and
flow...[...]
Does a poem with long lines (long periods between pauses) and
poems with short line pauses affect emotion.


Yes, it does. If the entire poem is in short lines, the most common effect I've seen that elicit is not lightness and informality, as you surmised, but either tight, deep emotion (in a serious poem), or choppiness, or silliness (in light verse).

Contrariwise, I find that longer lines create a more narrative effect for me, because in my experience, the phrasing of natural speech is longer than one or two words.

Victoria Gaile
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-22-2002, 12:40 AM
John Beaton's Avatar
John Beaton John Beaton is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada
Posts: 7,515
Post

Everything has potential. Success depends on usage. Here's my one attempt to use one-word (monosyllabic) lines:

Sprout

Sprig.
Sproinngg!
Spring
sprung.

John
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,829
Total Threads: 18,576
Total Posts: 239,934
There are 209 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online