Friday, February 16, 2024

Coaxing Poems 6: Give it Space


Greetings to you dear and funny Poetry Friends! Welcome to the sixth of ten poetry visits here at The Poem Farm. In each of these short videos, I will share a small something about poetry, and you will always be able to find the poem(s) I read below the video. If you wish, you may watch the earlier videos linked below:


Please make yourself comfy for Visit 6: Give it Space.

Students - Line breaks and stanzas create the space in our poems. They are the air our poems need to breathe. See, to not make space inside of a poem is to stuff the poem into an airless jar, and we do not want our poems to live inside of airless jars. 

Pinecone Treasures
Photo by Amy LV

You may have noticed that I played even more with the line breaks - and the words - of this poem between recording the video and typing it up here. I decided to break this poem into two about the pinecones without the boy and one about the boy and his pinecone plans.

Below you can see some of my drafting for this poem. Messy, isn't it? Real work often is, so please do not worry about neatnes in your first drafts. Allow the messy thinking part of writing to be part of your work.

Now, notice the slashes. Those idicate where I chose to break my lines. If you ever write a poem that looks like a paragraph, or if you do not like the line breaks you first choose, know that you can change them. Simply draw slash marks to show where you will move to new lines in your recopy/typing of the work. 

Some Messy Pinecone Drafting
Photo by Amy LV

Here again, as in the video, you can see thre ways I considered breaking up that first sentence of the poem. You may have made choices than I did with these words, and this is one part of what makes writing interesting: we each do it our own way based on who we are.

A Few Line Break Possibilities
Photo by Amy LV

Consider breaking a line (going to a new line) in your poem if:
  • You wish for your readers to pause for a moment
  • You wrote line you wish to repeat exactly the same way
  • A new voice is speaking
  • You want the words and motion of your poem to match each other
  • One line - or word - is very important, deserving of its own line
If you wish for a greater pause or to show a more important change or shift as I did in today's poem, you might move to to a new stanza to help your readers feel this change as they read.

The space in a poem matters. As you write a poem, say this to yourself: Give it space.

Margaret is hosting this week's Poetry Friday over at Reflections on the Teche with two poems that span the human experience from love to grief. Each Friday, all are invited to share poems, poem books, poetry ideas, and friendship in this open and welcoming poetry community.

I wish you - and your poems - the healthy beauty of space in the week ahead.



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  1. Thanks for your videos. Each one is a lesson that I share with my students. They are getting to know you and look forward to the next lesson with excitement. Your comments on their poems means the world.

  2. Margaret's note above delights me. I don't teach, but you teach me! Thank you!

  3. I love that your videos give me permission to pause for a minute.
    To dream.

  4. I love thinking about pinecones as the "seashells of the forest beach." Thank you so much for all your wonderful lessons, Amy!

  5. I see Margaret's comment, and hope many other teachers are discovering your videos, Amy! They're so great, succinct, helping 'see' poetry in varied way, a suitcase full of possibilities!

  6. That last line is a delight! Such a suprise and yet totally understandable. Bravo!

  7. I'm agreeing with Linda's comment, and also, I loved the video! Ruth,

  8. This is a great lesson, Amy. I learned a couple of things to try for myself! Thank you for making it, and thank you for sharing it.

  9. Amy, I enjoyed your video talk and this post with an interesting story poem. Your ideas are bouncing in my head like a ball I toss to the dog next door. I should take out Taylor Mali's metaphor dice and give myself a treat of writing.