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Debbie Guzzi's Blog

About Debbie Guzzi
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Deborah Guzzi travels for inspiration: China, Nepal [during the civil war], Japan, Egypt [two weeks before ‘The Arab Spring’], and most recently Peru. First published at the age of sixteen, she writes articles for Massage and Aroma Therapy Magazines. Her poetry has been accepted in the Literary Journals of Western CT. University, Inclement Magazine, Pyrokinections, Jellyfish Whispers, Grey Wolf’s Summer Legends Anthology, The Germ, Wilderness Literary Review, The Anthology Sweet Dreams & Night Terrors, Bitterzoet Magazine, haiku journal, Contemporary Haibun Online, Bella on line, The Autumn Sound, Eskimo Pie, and Ribbons, The Inwood Indiana Review, Five Poetry, Tanka Society of America Journal, and 50 haiku. She has published two illustrated volumes of poetry, The Healing Heart and Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell.


 

Most Recent Blog Post


Take a Break
Blog Posted:12/31/2013 6:36:00 PM

 

The following is an article which helped me a lot in learning about where and when to make line & stanza breaks. I hope it will help you too. It is even more important WHERE you break the line in Free Verse than in rhyme.

Poem Structure - Lines and Stanzas

http://www.creative-writing-now.com/poem-structure.html

This page is an introduction to poem structure and poetry techniques. What’s the best way to
divide your poetry into lines? (Hint: "at random" is not the right answer!)

Poem structure - the line is a building block

The basic building block of prose (writing that isn't poetry) is the sentence. But poetry has
something else -- the poetic line. Poets decide how long each line is going to be. That's why poetry often has a shape like this:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

That's the beginning of a poem by Robert Herrick. No matter where it is printed, the first line always
ends with the word "may" and the second line with the word "a-flying" because the poet has written it this way.

The poet is creating an end rhyme pattern above is a,b,a,b. If you print a piece of prose such as a short story, the length of the lines will depend on the font size, the paper size, margins, etc. But in
poetry, the line is part of the work of art you have created.
How it looks visually on the page affects the
readers response.
The length of the lines and the line breaks are important choices that will affect many aspects of the reader's experience:

·       The sound of the poem - When people read your poem aloud, or in their heads, they will pause slightly at the end of each line.

·       The speed of reading - Shortening or lengthening the lines can speed up or slow down the way people read.

·       How the poem looks on the page - Does the poem look light, delicate, with a lot of white space around the lines? Or are the lines packed solidly together?

·       Emphasis - Words at the end of a line seem more important than words in the middle.

Poem structure - types of lines

If you are writing a poem in a standard form such as a sonnet, your choices about line length are
somewhat restricted by the rules of the form. However, you still have to decide how to fit the ideas and sentences of your poem over the lines. When you fit natural stopping points in a sentence to the end of your line, the reader takes a little pause. When a sentence or phrase continues from one line to the next, the reader feels pulled along.
[This is called enjambment and is often used in Free Verse, less so in Rhyme.]  If your line break interrupts a sentence or idea in a surprising place, the effect
can be startling, suspenseful, or can highlight a certain phrase or double-meaning.

Lines that finish at ends of sentences or at natural stopping points (for example, at a comma) are
called end-stopped lines. Here's an example:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:

Lines that in the middle of the natural flow of a sentence are called run-on or enjambed lines.
Here's an example:

But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.   
[Note the antiquated use of the capital T]

Here, Herrick interrupts the phrase "worst times" with a line break between "worst" and "times," focusing extra attention on the word "worst."

If you are writing in free verse, you have even more decisions to make than a poet writing in a
traditional form. You can decide to use short lines or long lines, or to vary the length. You can decide to stack your lines evenly along the left margin, or to use a looser or more graphical form.
Some poets even write poems that are in the shape of the thing they are writing about, for example, a circular poem about the moon. You have many options, but these choices should never be made randomly.

Poem structure - stanzas

In prose, ideas are usually grouped together in paragraphs. In poems, lines are often grouped
together into what are called stanzas. Like paragraphs,
stanzas are often used to organize ideas.

For example, here are the two final stanzas of the Robert Herrick's poem. In the first of these
stanzas, he is explaining that being young is great, but life just gets worse and worse as you get older. In the second one, he is saying: "So get married before you're too old and have lost your chance."

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

For a more detailed explanation of poem structure, I recommend the book Writing Poems by Boisseau, Wallace, and Mann. (This page makes use of some ideas from the book's third edition, by Robert Wallace, HarperCollins 1991.)

Poem Structure - Decisions about Form

So many decisions to make -- line length, line breaks, arrangement, speed, rhythm. How should you
choose? The right form for your poem depends on, and works with, the poem's content, or what it's about. If the poem is about flying, you probably don't want lines that feel slow and heavy. If you're writing a sad poem, short bouncy lines might not be the way to go.

You may feel overwhelmed by so many issues to think about. How can your inspiration flow freely if you have to keep track of all of these aspects of a poem? The answer is to do the work in two stages.

1.    
First, let your ideas flow. [Many poets get stuck in step one.]

2.    
Then, go back to the poem later and work on improving the poem structure and form.

In the second stage, it's a good idea to experiment a lot. Try breaking the lines and different ways
and compare the effects. Try changing the order of things. Try reorganizing things to move different words to the end of the lines so that the reader's attention goes to them. You've got nothing to lose -- you can always go back to an earlier version.

As you go through this process, ask yourself:

·       What is my poem about?

·       What feeling or mood do I want the reader to have?

·       Do I want the poem to move quickly or slowly? Are there places I want it to speed up or slow down?

·       What words or phrases do I want to highlight?

There are a lot of things to consider. But the more poetry you write -- and read, the more natural and instinctive some of these decisions about poem structure will become to you.

If you have a poem you’d like to work on the line breaks with let me
know, I’d be glad to help!



 



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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 8:24:00 AM
    Poetry Quaterly has just published a book with 3 of my verse in the beginning Go by the website to see the issue. http://PoetryQuarterly.com Or read it online for free: http://poetryquarterly.com/freeissues/fall2013/

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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 8:09:00 AM
    Lenora and Eileen if you want I will go find one of your poems and see if we can 'polish' it up a bit? I can send you the result in email or soup mail OR if you are not shy we can work in a blog?

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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 8:07:00 AM
    I am so glad you find this helpful. I have a new friend here on soup who writes such GOOD content! The editing is not done though, most of you have a function for grammar check [I know you do in Microsoft word] DON'T feel bad if you didn't know and don't have it set. I didn't have mine set until a YEAR ago! Ask some one to help you make sure its on.

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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 7:58:00 AM
    Also, I seem to like to end my line on a strong noun or precise verb, when it comes to enjambment. I dislike ending my lines -- usually-- on a preposition, pronoun or adjective. My nose wrinkles at a line ending with "of" so we can rhyme the word "love" UGH.

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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 7:57:00 AM
    - HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014,DEBBIE!! - oxox // Anne-Lise :)

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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 7:53:00 AM
    Fantastic blog, hon. One thing though, guess what? As a fiction writer, prose, I can testify that we actually do this, too. We INTENTIONALLY alter our lines and create white space. I choose to vary the length of my sentences and paragraphs to keep reader interest. I have "tidied" lines so they do not straggle and are more eye-friendly to editors. Thanks for the breath of fresh air. Whew. I needed that. And I hope this blog helps all those who would like to further their writing. Love to ya!

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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 7:11:00 AM
    I love free verse poems sooo much but free verse poems don't love me that much I think.:))) Most of the time, i have difficulty in finding where/when my line breaks. That's why I admire/adore sooo much those poets who write their poems in this form. Line breaking comes to them so naturally knowing exactly where & when they break their lines. This is a rich sharing from you my dear friend Deb. Thank you so much. This will also be a big help for me in my practice of writing the diff. special free verses forms aside from the great inspirations I got from the great verse poem poets here. Thank you, thank u so much and HAVE A VERY HAPPY & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR! love lots and big hugs, Leonora

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  1. Date: 1/1/2014 12:48:00 AM
    And this is why I adore you!!!! You are amazing. What a fine blog this is! I'm so impressed! I often have problems wit my free verse and at times have felt that I've just butchered a thought by the way I've done the line breaks. This gave me lots of food for thought...especially as it talks about pulling the readers in when the line breaks are at "strange" places. I'm very traditional and find that hard to do, but I have seen you do it in your work. :) Thanks, Debbie. Hope your new year is off to a good start. Thanks for being so helpful! Hugs

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  1. Date: 12/31/2013 10:06:00 PM
    Thanks Debbie! Good stuff!

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    Guzzi Avatar Debbie Guzzi Date: 1/1/2014 8:11:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thanks PS
    MacMillan Avatar Cyndi MacMillan Date: 1/1/2014 7:48:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    :D
  1. Date: 12/31/2013 7:47:00 PM
    Metrical verse lines may acquire any form of length we want, as long as they are metrically correct. There is a form of Iambic poetry which is called Iambic decapentasyllabic. Each line has 15 syllables, and trust me, that is long! --- We use that form of meter in Greece, to compose lyrics for many traditional types of music. G.

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    That Archaic Poet Avatar Just That Archaic Poet Date: 12/31/2013 8:32:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    xD ^^^^

My Past Blog Posts

 
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My Poems

12345678
Date PostedPoem TitleFormCategories
4/17/2014Wolf PactsSonnetpolitical,pollution,pover
4/17/2014Thread TimeVerseuplifting,
4/16/2014'Itty Bitty SpringTankanature,
4/16/2014Wind BornFree versedream,
4/12/2014Crest FallenVersecolor,
4/8/2014Skin DeepFree versemagic,
4/7/2014Dark And Mystical Versenight,
4/5/2014Tick Tock - Itty BittyFree verseage,funny,
4/4/2014Sweety PeepsVersecandy,child,
4/2/2014Trash Talkin'Free versepoems,
4/1/2014The Handy ManLimerickfunny,funny love,
3/28/2014 March GoosebumpsSonnetspring,wind,
3/23/2014St Catherine's WheelFree versesky,
3/19/2014He Crowed the NightFree versenight,
3/15/2014Memories on the BranchRhymeseasons,
3/14/2014Crotches and ScotchesLimerickfunny,
3/13/2014Pushing the EnvelopeFree versespring,
3/13/2014TruthLimerickfunny,
3/7/2014Life is What You Make ItSonnetloss,
2/28/2014Dewberry CobblerHaibungrowing up,
2/24/2014Remember Kent StateFree versewar,
2/22/2014What's White Got to Do With ItRhymenostalgia,parody,
2/21/2014The Naughty BoyQuatraincare,
2/21/2014Dumb BroadAcrosticlost love,
2/9/2014Corpus delictiCrown of Sonnetsaddiction,family,grief,lo
12345678

My Photos


Fav Poems

1234
Poem TitleFormCategories
GodFree verselife,mystery,
Hard TimesCowboycowboy-western,family,fun
For Things Once CountedRhymeintrospection,loss,uplift
PetalVerselove,
Defender of the WastesFree verseart,life,parody,world,
BirthImagismchildhood,life
this is why i woo wordsVerseart,inspirational,philoso
ForbearFree versesad,
BelongingsRhymeloss,love,mother,peacewor
Gold FeverFree versefaithfaith,political,
SplatteredI do not know?life
EchoQuatrainlost lovewords,love,
Bells (after Poe)Lyricpassion
Respectfully, Emily DickinsonLyricintrospection
Give the End Back to the BeginningFree versededication,faithme,
The Bruised and Rotting PearCoupletfaith,hope
flyFree verseanimals
ABC's for a Young CaptainABClife
Not Entirely About Living In New YorkFree verselifeworld,light,light,
WoodcutterI do not know?warold,old,
DreamsFree versefaith,forgiveness
A Feed of ChipsNarrativefunny
Weep O WillowsVersedeath
Harlem BluesFree verseblack-african amerchildre
Summers EverlastingFree versenostalgia
1234

Fav Poets

PoetCountry 
Carolyn Devonshire United States Flag United States Read
Carrie Richards United States Flag United States Read
Deirdre Omaidin Ireland Flag Ireland Read
Andrew Crisci United States Flag United States Read
Jim Fish United States Flag United States Read
Debbie Guzzi United States Flag United States Read
Nigel Fawcett Italy Flag Italy Read
L'nass Shango United States Flag United States Read
Andrea Dietrich United States Flag United States Read
Robert L. Hinshaw United States Flag United States Read
Chris D. Aechtner Canada Flag Canada Read
nette onclaud Philippines Flag Philippines Read
Sidney Beck Russian Federation Flag Russian Federation Read
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