Saturday, October 15, 2005

Rule 17: contrary to one common anti-art complaint, you can't just randomly insert line breaks into a text and get a poem.

Reading strategy: take a poem you don't know well, pull out all the line breaks, then come back to it later and see if you can put them back where they were.

Are the line breaks need where they were? Are they needed at all? Look at the Bukowski piece again to see why he wrote this:
from the sad university
lecterns
these hucksters of the
despoiled word
working the
hand-outs
still talking that
dumb shit.
and why he did not write this:
from the sad
university lecterns
these hucksters
of the despoiled
word working
the hand-outs
still talking
that dumb shit.
So it may not be the greatest poem in the world, but it has been constructed with some care, not just bashed out with random line breaks.

3 Comments:

Blogger michael said...

from the sad university lecterns
these hucksters of the despoiled word
working the hand-outs
still talking that dumb shit.

m.

Tue Oct 18, 06:36:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger eeksypeeksy said...

That's pretty good. Maybe better than his, though his shorter lines may be better for throwing vicious little concrete chunks up at the lectern.

Tue Oct 18, 07:37:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Bob said...

Bukowski's version is much better than Michael's because the line-breaks are much less expected--or certainly were when he wrote it. His kind of line-breaks are pretty common now, I guess. But I hit the comment button to air a minor gripe. I say you most definitely CAN "just randomly insert line breaks into a text and get a poem. What you won't get is a GOOD poem. For me, what I call "flow-breaks" are what differentiate poetry from prose. Line-breaks are the main kind of flow-break.

Bob Grumman

Sun Apr 16, 02:05:00 AM GMT+2  

Post a Comment

<< Home