Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership

See and share Beautiful Nature Photos and amazing photos of interesting places

Chris D. Aechtner's Blog

About Chris D. Aechtner
(Show Details...)
Bloggers PhotoDreamt a dream
about falling asleep,
woke up in yet another one --
a near-seamless string of dreams within dreams.

As I become older, 
I still retain the eternal heart of a 6 year old child.
Sort of like Peter Pan....

....and I will always take my chances with Captain Hook.

I am a Canadian who grew-up on the West Coast.
I have some of this, do a little of that(lol).
Aside from writing, I enjoy oil painting as a creative outlet.
I also love mountain biking.
I am a gardener and bio-chemist.
(So many "I"s)

As far as the Peter Conspiracy goes,
Chris is a shortened version of my birth-name.
It is my legal name.
I am not some guy from NYC; I have never lived there. is the first site where I ever publicly posted a poem online.

Punctuation In Poetry: "To Punctuate, or not to punctuate; that is the question!"

Blog Posted:9/29/2012 3:37:00 PM
These types of blogs are meant for the possible re-evaluation of your writing. That's it! I am not attempting to sway you away from a style of writing that you may hold very dear. Write as you so desire.
This is not a philosophical discussion concerning the conundrums of poetic license. If only one person who reads these types of blogs, re-evaluates his/her writing, ends up becoming a stronger poet for it, then my intent has been served. View such a remark how you wish to.
I am here to help people become stronger poets; not to nit-pick about conceptual poetic license, freedom, and the rights thereof. If you continuously desire to live within complacency, and to also have your complacency reinforced by false encouragement....well, I am not the person to offer such things. Thank you.

Punctuation. There's the period, comma, semicolon, colon, dash, ellipsis, exclamation mark, question mark, and some would add the parentheses, and the bracket.

What purposes do they serve? Or perhaps a better question would be, why, if they're so important in organizing thoughts, should they be eliminated?

Punctuation in poetry is similar to punctuation in prose.
In many ways, it serves the same purpose as bar lines in music: without them, the words and notes flow together.
Punctuation assists in organizing the written word into discernable packages or units. Punctuation in poetry serves the same function as in prose: to encapsulate thoughts
and ideas; to aid in coherence and the presentation of meaning (i.e., to avoid confusion); and especially to signal when and where to breathe.

Many poetic forms require punctuation (unless, of course, you're a rebel-in-training).
Consider the following: the acrostic, the ballade, the sonnet, the epic, the cinquain,
the ode, the villanelle, the terzanelle, the triolet, the rondeau, the pantoum, the ghazal, and blank verse.

Speaking generally, what forms don't use punctuation?
Western adaptations of traditional Asian forms such as haiku.
Experimental forms, such as John Carley's "zip", use caesura, or line breaks, to denote pauses, while other experimental forms, such as Denis Garrison's "crystalline", do follow traditional stanzaic punctuation rules.
Consider Hip-hop, Rap, and Slam, as well.
With experimental poetry, space is often used to serve the same purpose as punctuation (e.g., tabbing over on the same line; the dropping and centering of lines; running adjacent columns; creating shapes with words; and so forth).
Bold-faced type and other devices are often used to provide accents or other forms
of emphasis.

Since poetry is spoken aloud (i.e., performed), read silently and aloud to oneself, it is heard on many levels.
I often find myself longing to hear a poet read their work, rather than just listening to it in my own mind or hearing it uttered by my own tongue.
Why? Because we enter into that poet's realm of interpretation.
The result (hopefully) is that we can hear their emphasis. We are then part of the poetic experience; it's a social contract, a Sartrean 'gift exchange'.

When I was in high school, one of my favorite English teachers of all time, introduced me to e.e. cummings. Needless to say, I loved his work, and yes, partly because he broke the rules. He was a rebel. I like rebels. So, if you're inclined to be a rebel, too, consider the possibility that if all poetry is devoid of punctuation, then it becomes mainstream.
At that point, utilizing punctuation and traditional forms becomes rebellious.
We are at such a point now.
Mainstream poetry is dropping punctuation more and more.
It is becoming difficult to glean wot the author intended in a poem, because the words/thoughts are smashing into each other without proper breath/pause.

In addition to being introduced to e. e. cummings, my favourite English teacher of all time, taught me three important adages that I do my best, never to forget:

1) Learn the rules before you break them.
2) When you do break the rules, know why.
3) Don't be afraid to experiment.

It would take more space than I have here to address each punctuation mark and how it would or could be used. So, to illustrate an absence of commas, semicolons, periods,
and such, I've included an example.

Check out this piece by local poet Don Snider (Thank you for your courage in the face of potential fire!).

Callin' Mr. Bojangles

Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
I gotsta learn this dance
is it not the right time
have I lost my chance
maybe it's Gregory Hines
or Sabian I need
or should I study at Julliard
to perform this deed
is it two left feet that
have me crashing to the floor
or did I look too deeply
into her slightly open door
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
help me keep in time
maybe one day we'll look back
and smile at this rhyme ...
I had my dancin' shoes
all shined and ready to go
was it my fault I cha cha ed
as she did the tango
is her sweet melody
a song too divine
not meant to be heard
by me at this time
Mr. Bojangles, Mr. Bojangles
I've put my shoes away
I'm old enough to know
I'll dance again someday

If Don had added in standard punctuation, this poem still works, but the flow would be interrupted. Usually performed live, or recorded, this style of poetry is highly musical.
He uses line breaks to point to where he might take a breath, line beginnings for emphasis, and no doubt, when he does perform this piece, he'll add his own special something.

Local Slam poet and publisher, Chris V., says this on punctuation:

"My punctuation is based on the lines themselves. I split the lines the way that I want them to be read. Commas are not necessary if you do that. Once in a while, I will use one if I want to continue the thought on one line...but rarely. A comma represents a pause in breath, which can also be created by a line break. Words running together can create an effect, often emotional, of speed, of flow, that following strict rules of punctuation would eliminate, thus hampering the poem's flow, and perhaps meaning."

When a poem is written in short lines(usually 2 to 6 words), the line breaks make for punctuation itself. Because more and more poets are viewing punctuation as useless, or 'uncool' in poetry, there are more and more instances of poems being written without punctuation, were really....punctuation is dearly needed.

Lyrics usually don't show punctuation, because the words are obviously set to music.
It is the musical bars that become the punctuation.
I hear a lot of poets say:

"Well, lyrics don't use punctuation, and I see my poetry as being musical, so I too, don't use punctuation."

I completely understand this, BUT when the poem is publicly posted without the punctuation AND the musical bars, the reader has more of a difficult time discerning when to breathe and how to stop the words from 'crashing' into each other.

Again, highly stylized poetry, uses the formatting and line breaks themselves as the punctuation. Generally speaking, couplets and quatrains written without at least one comma or period somewhere throughout each coupling or stanza, can make for some very awkward presentation and reading.

Do you have any opinions/thoughts to add?
Please Login
  1. Date: 10/1/2012 10:24:00 AM
    Puctuation is my biggest downfall, I'm never quite sure what to do. I just do my best. Still learning. Good blog!

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 10/1/2012 8:55:00 AM
    Well I used to writing scientific papers, so what do I know. I just try to help the reader pause or stop where I had planned them to stop. However, I probably am doing it wrong. I use commas too much. Lee

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 10/1/2012 6:53:00 AM
    Chris, this song is a good example of when commas are not necessary. Sadly, too many people think their poetry reads as easily as this song. I used to be an editor for my friend's magazine: SPQuill. I often had a difficult time understanding the poems that came to me without punctuation. Some just ran on an on, and I had no clue where the next thought ended or began. Especially with improper line breaks, a poem is horrible to read with no punctuation. That's why I always prefer to see it WITH commas and periods, rather than not.

    Login to Reply
  1. Date: 9/30/2012 5:52:00 PM
    Great blog. Grammar is grammar, no matter whatcha writing- poetry, fiction, non-fiction. Punctuation is a part of grammar, and its loss can make humourous lines out of ones that were intended to be serious. That being said, I DO absolutely respect the ... hmm?.... style of the poet. I get voice. I am a diehard comma-user. I will be until the day they roast my remains. That's just me. But I've enjoyed poems that use NO punctuation whatsoever. Hey, liked your example there. The question marks would redundant(?) It is OBVIOUS this is a question. I just don't like it when clarity is completely lost, a wonderful line is distorted. Still, I do celebrate our differences. BUT I DO judge my contests NOTICING punctuation... and a lack of its use MAY affect its placement. I think, MHO, that lack of punctation can actually TOSS the reader from the work. Suddenly, we NOTICE the lack of punctuation, not the lines, not the fab verb, the incredible image, only the missing comma or period. A poem should leave us saying AHA not huh????

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:34:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Yeah, I sometimes use commas too much, so I am actually attempting to use less commas, because....I love commas so much. When I ran contests, I also found myself dropping poems down the placement list due to a lack of proper punctuation(unless not needed, within stylized formatting -- but in such a case, it is obvious that the author understood exactly wot they were accomplishing). I find it quite entertaining(and annoying, albeit with some healthy chuckles)wot happens when reading poems that need some obvious punctuation.
  1. Date: 9/30/2012 1:53:00 PM
    Here! Here! Light & Love

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:34:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

  1. Date: 9/30/2012 8:43:00 AM
    I use ... and commas for breaks to add to the rhythm of the line. When is the 'used'? Like your informative blogs. When should the ... be used, too?

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 11:25:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I thought of other ways of using ellipses; could have an entire blog on it....but would probably bore people too much :D
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 11:24:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    *more informal(not less)
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:27:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Heya, Carol. Remember that I am an amateur. If you are using ellipses(...)in a similar fashion as a comma, you can't go too wrong. For me, an ellipses is a slightly stronger/longer pause than a comma, but a little less of a break than a semicolon. Ellipses can also be used in writing to denote intended missing words(shown in a quote to indicate that part of the quote is missing in order to shorten it). I don't use ellipses in poetry with this intention. Ellipses is a good way to have a poem look less informal in a visual sense. Usually a very formal style/form doesn't use if you want to 'soften' a stiff piece, or help a poem look even less formal, ellipses can be a good tool. For some odd reason, some poets add ellipses on the end of EVERY line of poem, which to me is then definitely overkill. Does the poet really want a pause like that at the end of every line?
    Lindsey Avatar Catie Lindsey Date: 9/30/2012 11:13:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    you can use ... after the statement in haiku, just before the juxtaposition. hugs, catie :)
  1. Date: 9/30/2012 6:28:00 AM
    hey Chris... I quite like to use punctuation, it is, I (personally) think, it is sometimes, only sometimes, overused. I (not often) read what I would call, a bloody good poem, only to be ruined, yes ruined, by lack of punctuation, just my ten, yes ten cents....David

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:38:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Heya, David. I hope life is going more smoothly for you now :D I definitely overuse punctuation here and there, but believe that a bit of overuse of punctuation is still a better route than none(in a poem that obviously needs it). Yes, I agree with you....there are many bloody good poems that are ruined by a lack of punctuation.
  1. Date: 9/30/2012 4:51:00 AM
    A very informative blog....thanks...:))

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:39:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    No problem -- I am glad that you found this blog worthwhile to read.
  1. Date: 9/30/2012 1:39:00 AM
    You have touched on the haiku poem as an example of doing away with punctuation. May I add to this, please? The reason why I write haiku and sometimes a whole poem without standard punctuation or capital letters, is that the poem should be read as a continuous loop. Example: Innocence - Promise of Eternity (Poetry form: Mobius). At times the absence of punctuation or incorrect punctuation, has hilarious results, as I have witnessed here on the Soup. Good blog, Chris. Keep us on our toes. Suzette

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:46:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    You added some good input. Yes, a purposeful lack of punctuation can have strong results. But that's just are seeking a specific effect(your example of a desired continuous loop). There's an obvious difference between intending something with a lack of punctuation, versus ignorance(or laziness lol). I have created some of my own hilarious results with lack/improper use of punctuation, which is another reason why I am even more careful now. Yes, the Soup can be a bowl-full of hilarious results sometimes....
    Richards Avatar Suzette Richards Date: 9/30/2012 2:05:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    ?"It is always a silly thing to give advice, but to give good advice is fatal." --Oscar Wilde
  1. Date: 9/29/2012 9:29:00 PM
    My little nephew said one time "sometimes I gets the burps...and sometimes I gets the farts" ...had to agree with' nature intends ....I do's or don'ts! is short, swing frum the chandelier if'n ya feelz like'it...jimbo

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:48:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I can easily appreciate your viewpoint, Jimbo. Gotcha :D
  1. Date: 9/29/2012 8:25:00 PM
    I try to avoid punctuation in my humble poems, but punctuation should never be haphazard. I usually have a reason to do it. I use capitalization at the begining of sentences (rather than capitalize the start of every line) and the "end of the line" to make a make thoughts/ideas/images easier on readers. However, when writing prose, I "succunb" to complex and compound sentences, so...I "have to use" punctuation to clarify and enhance the meaning of the words. Good blog.

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:49:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Ruben, you have your own style going on. At least you have an understanding and purpose behind your actions....this separates you from ignorance.
  1. Date: 9/29/2012 5:35:00 PM
    I tend to use punctuation more in poetry with definite form, such as quintain. I tend to use less in free verse. Depends on the mood and flow of a particular poem.. Ghreat blog - gets people thinking.

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:51:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Joann, intriguing that you use less punctuation in free verse(even though, yes, more formal forms usually require more punctuation).
  1. Date: 9/29/2012 5:19:00 PM
    I enjoy punctuating, but am finding that I also enjoy the absence of it. :)

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:53:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Sure, employing both ends of the spectrum(and wotever in-between)can help create some more original structure, flow, and entire poems.
  1. Date: 9/29/2012 4:53:00 PM
    Mr. Bojangles, read as a slam to me. It looks like a run on sentence. I sat back and delivered it; vocally! Smooth piece! You're accurate about the music. Music bars are paralleled to a couplet; 16 bars equals 8 couplet rhymes. After each one, is where the rapper regains breath control. Punctuation in music isn't a necessity. It's as you said, rebels, but with a cause! Good blog Chris!

    Login to Reply
    Aechtner Avatar Chris D. Aechtner Date: 9/30/2012 10:55:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Glad that you enjoyed(seemingly)the blog. Yeah, you are right, Mr. Bojangles is a smooth piece, and definitely reads as a(soft?)slam.

My Past Blog Posts

Shoddy Grammar
Date Posted: 8/31/2014 5:58:00 PM
For many people here, this is a long, boring blog: The Cetacean Brain and Hominid Perceptions of Cetacean Intelligence
Date Posted: 8/28/2014 6:10:00 PM
Corn dogs **edited**
Date Posted: 8/22/2014 6:17:00 PM
The Soupiquette of Return Comments **edited**
Date Posted: 8/20/2014 9:01:00 PM
Random Thoughts #1027: We
Date Posted: 8/15/2014 4:47:00 PM
Some wildlife photos of mine
Date Posted: 8/13/2014 2:36:00 PM
Perhaps They Could Be Re-located To The Moon?
Date Posted: 8/5/2014 8:16:00 PM
Some Thoughts Concerning The Islamic/Zionist Situation
Date Posted: 7/28/2014 3:50:00 PM
Who do you think will win?
Date Posted: 7/10/2014 3:23:00 PM
My Turtle-God
Date Posted: 7/2/2014 5:30:00 PM
2014 FIFA Football Fever
Date Posted: 6/26/2014 2:23:00 PM
Media News is bad for you – and giving up watching/reading it, will make you more happy and healthy
Date Posted: 5/7/2014 10:44:00 AM
After reading this blog, you will never again have to claim that you don't know how to write haiku :P
Date Posted: 4/23/2014 3:04:00 PM
For many of you, this is just another boring blog concerning thoughts about haiku(any Japanese short-forms)
Date Posted: 4/1/2014 7:24:00 PM
tanka (a long blog for a short form) **edits / updates**
Date Posted: 3/20/2014 11:46:00 PM
Random Thoughts #126: 7 Gold Stars
Date Posted: 3/11/2014 10:45:00 PM
My 2014 Contest Disclaimer
Date Posted: 3/11/2014 12:23:00 AM
Hullo, Soupers! Wot! Wot!
Date Posted: 3/8/2014 12:27:00 AM
Questions Concerning Soup-Etiquette -- Part II
Date Posted: 11/20/2012 11:52:00 AM
Questions Concerning Soup-Etiquette......Maybe?
Date Posted: 11/19/2012 9:52:00 PM
Random Thoughts: Damien Star-Man, the Israeli crack-smoker
Date Posted: 11/17/2012 11:00:00 PM
The BEAST 666
Date Posted: 11/13/2012 11:22:00 AM
Frankenstorm 2012: A Haunting of Shelleys
Date Posted: 10/31/2012 12:35:00 PM
Noah Exposed: How The Western Lands Came To Be (Part I)
Date Posted: 10/2/2012 2:38:00 PM
Lazy Boy: A Mythology
Date Posted: 10/1/2012 1:12:00 PM

My Poems

Date PostedPoem TitleFormCategories
8/19/2014Footles - Skinny dipping in late September: Cause and EffectFootlehumor,september,
8/7/2014MesopotamiaKimogrowth,high school,hope,k
7/30/2014The LobotomizerFree versehistory,hope,
4/14/2014flowers for Chinaski -- part iiFree verseflower,growth,hope,tribut
4/12/2014flowers for ChinaskiFree verseflower,tribute,
4/5/2014 -- and there are proverbsFree verseallegory,philosophy,
3/24/2014Preacher's SonFree versefaith,hope,life,mystery,
3/18/2014EvergreenFree versehope,love,lyric,tribute,
3/2/2014Captain CrunchFree versecrazy,
2/19/2014Stalking The Stalker: Peter Pan CanFree versedark,
2/4/2014When Harry Heironymous Huffenhoffer Met Henrietta HuckhellopolisAlliterationgrowth,
1/14/2014Tristesses de la lune by Charles Pierre Baudelaire -- with English translationsFree verse 
1/6/2014Making Love with Crystal AntennasFree versehope,mystery,
12/19/2013Sunlight and Rain: The Prism of an AnarchistFree versehope,
12/10/2013EdinburghFree versededication,hope,life,love
12/8/2013MFree versecelebration,hope,life,lov
11/7/2013The Kreepy KidsFree versehalloween,happiness,
9/18/2013A Reminder: To BeFree versetruth,writing,
8/1/2013Live The ClichesFree versedream,hope,love,poetry,
7/22/2013The Soup ReichFree versesatire,slam,
7/18/2013What is thisRhymesilly,writing,
7/8/201323 warning signs that you are severely addicted to poetrysoup dot comList satire,silly,
7/3/2013The Gospel of Lucifer - Chapter 11: 1 - 8Prose Poetrymystery,
5/20/2013Kiss The SkyFree versededication,love,lyric,tha
5/2/2013EdinburghFree versededication,

My Photos


Fav Poems

Poem TitleFormCategories
Ripping ChristVerseallegory,history,social,t
A Deeper DivideVersepassion,people,philosophy
The Devil's TideNarrativeadventure,angel,june,life
Recording/Re-playing/Recording/Re-playingFree verselife,people,philosophy,ti
The Skipping of StonesChokanature,sea
MUSEUM OF MODERN ARTFree verseinspirational,uplifting
This Night Sonnet 
Day of ReckoningChokanature
Go Ask AliceQuatrainallegory,devotion,fantasy
the farm boy Tankachildhood,nature
A. Long Learned Tale.I do not know?epic,space,
SocialitesFree verselifenight,night,
Priorities Viewed by a Dying ManVillanelledeath,introspectionnature
Answered Prayer Sijolife,nature
Haiku for Hidden HabitatsHaikunature
RaindropsI do not know?adventure,angst,art,imagi
Pretentious Collaboration Written During Conversation (Credit to Emmily Rosa) Free versepeople,love,may,time,
I Remember When I Could FlyLyricsong-lyricme,me,
Anxious DissolutionFree verseallegory,depression,intro
Is this a Grook or Not? (Nothing)Grookconfusion
Let me write you something. Free verseloveme,write,epic,me,writ
Under the Same Moon -3-Way-Collaboration-Coupletfriendship,lifeworld,life
BreakingFree verselost love,

Fav Poets

christopher higgins Jamaica Flag Jamaica Read
daver austin United States Flag United States Read
Carolyn Devonshire United States Flag United States Read
Debbie Guzzi United States Flag United States Read
Izzy Gumbo United States Flag United States Read
Ruben O. Argentina Flag Argentina Read
Charmaine Chircop Malta Flag Malta Read
James Marshall Goff United States Flag United States Read
James Fraser United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
binibining p.iNk Philippines Flag Philippines Read
Linda-Marie SweetHeart Italy Flag Italy Read
Andrea Dietrich United States Flag United States Read
John Trusty United States Flag United States Read
Juan Paolo Galua Philippines Flag Philippines Read
harry horsman United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Wilma Neels South Africa Flag South Africa Read
Tony Bush United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Kristen Varwig United States Flag United States Read
Thvia Stein United States Flag United States Read
Gwendolen Rix United States Flag United States Read
Christine Ueri South Africa Flag South Africa Read
Elaine George Canada Flag Canada Read
iolanda Scripca United States Flag United States Read
Monterey Sirak United States Flag United States Read