Tip #17: Give a Line Some Space [and 15 Words or Less Poems]

Welcome to today’s tip in my month-long Poetry Tips for Teachers series.

Tip #17: Give a line some space.

One approach to reading poems aloud is to do a slight pause at the end of each line, whether there is punctuation there or not. That’s the identifying factor of poetry, after all. Poets break their language into lines instead of just writing until they run out of space on the page/screen. Again, this isn’t the ONLY way to read a poem, but it’s a valid approach. It helps you give each line room to breathe and focus on the words. Sometimes you’ll find different meanings and nuances in the line on its own (as opposed to considering it as part of the poem as a whole) that add something to your understanding or interpretation of the poem. Or you’ll notice syllable counts in a new way. Or you’ll see a pattern that didn’t announce itself on a more fluid reading. Other times, it just makes you realize that certain words are stronger or weaker or have a different context. Give it a try, especially with free verse or other non-rhyming poems like the one I’ll share below. Don’t expect revelations with every poem (including the one below)–just add it to your poetry-reading repertoire. Sometimes it will pay off in interesting ways!

Now, for my 15 Words or Less writers–and anybody else who would like to join in–it’s another 15 Words or Less flashback to 2007!

Wake up your poetry brains with 15 Words or Less (guidelines here)!

?OK, I know beautiful sunrises are just a photographic cliche, but earlier this week we opened the verticals and saw this view out the sliding glass doors. I love it! What strikes you about this photo? The colors? The lines? The contrast? Does it remind you of any particular day in your life? Of a place you’ve been to??Choose any angle you’d like?and write a 15 Words or Less poem to share with us.

Here’s my?first draft.

Yard Arms
And here I am reading it aloud, exaggerating the line breaks.

[soundcloud url=“https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201263769” params=“color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=“100%” height=“166” iframe=“true” /]

 

Now it’s your turn! Have fun and stick to 15 WORDS OR LESS!??(Title doesn’t count toward word count:>)?

52 Responses

  1. Thick velvet night ascends
    Making way
    For the bloody satin
    of dawn

    What a beautiful sunrise!

    1. Ooh, that “bloody satin.” So unexpected, and pairing violence and luxury or beauty. Great description, Amelia!

      1. Laura, I am submitting my 15 WOL as a reply to your reply to Amelia. This is the only way I have been able to access the site today to comment. The “sigh“berspace
        gremlins are at it again.

        Anticipation

        B right day dawning
        I nfant clamoring
        R eaching toward light
        T rees’ arms
        H erald a new life.

        I love Acrostics. This in honor of my daughter’s birth 56 years ago today. I remember a scene just like this (plus a few leaves on the trees) as I labored
        and wondered “how much longer.”

        1. I like this, Martha. Good connection made.
          Let me know if you receive this comment. Everything is kind of weird today.

        2. Oh, dear. Sorry, Martha! I am having big blog problems…and I’ve been out of town 3 days. I don’t think it’s emailing anyone who has an email subscription, and it’s not letting me reset that. Working on it…glad you found a way to Comment!

          What a great acrostic–I especially like the clamoring infant. Happy birthday to your daughter!

  2. Thick velvet night ascends
    Making way
    For the bloody satin
    of dawn

    What a beautiful sunrise!

    1. Ooh, that “bloody satin.” So unexpected, and pairing violence and luxury or beauty. Great description, Amelia!

      1. Laura, I am submitting my 15 WOL as a reply to your reply to Amelia. This is the only way I have been able to access the site today to comment. The “sigh“berspace
        gremlins are at it again.

        Anticipation

        B right day dawning
        I nfant clamoring
        R eaching toward light
        T rees’ arms
        H erald a new life.

        I love Acrostics. This in honor of my daughter’s birth 56 years ago today. I remember a scene just like this (plus a few leaves on the trees) as I labored
        and wondered “how much longer.”

        1. I like this, Martha. Good connection made.
          Let me know if you receive this comment. Everything is kind of weird today.

        2. Oh, dear. Sorry, Martha! I am having big blog problems…and I’ve been out of town 3 days. I don’t think it’s emailing anyone who has an email subscription, and it’s not letting me reset that. Working on it…glad you found a way to Comment!

          What a great acrostic–I especially like the clamoring infant. Happy birthday to your daughter!

  3. Circes Lights Bright Like
    Cotton Candy Sky

    I will not
    ride crying
    kicking
    scramming
    African elephant’s
    trunks turn to sky
    Me being terrified

    Laura I love all the images in your pome my poem is true when I was little I had to be taken of an Elephant because I was crying I have been enjoy 4 of the books from your sears they are wonderful

    1. This is awesome. I completely get the panic, and I don’t think you even need that last line. Between the title and the kicking and screaming–and then that wonderful image of elephant ears turning to sky, so we realize how very close the narrator is to that elephant, completely gets across the terror. Really vivid!

    2. Jessica, I can relate — took one ride on an elephant and promised self and anyone else who was in earshot that if I got safely back onto the ground I would never, ever get on another one.

  4. Circes Lights Bright Like
    Cotton Candy Sky

    I will not
    ride crying
    kicking
    scramming
    African elephant’s
    trunks turn to sky
    Me being terrified

    Laura I love all the images in your pome my poem is true when I was little I had to be taken of an Elephant because I was crying I have been enjoy 4 of the books from your sears they are wonderful

    1. This is awesome. I completely get the panic, and I don’t think you even need that last line. Between the title and the kicking and screaming–and then that wonderful image of elephant ears turning to sky, so we realize how very close the narrator is to that elephant, completely gets across the terror. Really vivid!

    2. Jessica, I can relate — took one ride on an elephant and promised self and anyone else who was in earshot that if I got safely back onto the ground I would never, ever get on another one.

    1. this is wonderful love the first line and can see as reading the last 3 lines

    2. I really like that the branches can be sailing ships (passing in the dark?).

    1. this is wonderful love the first line and can see as reading the last 3 lines

    2. I really like that the branches can be sailing ships (passing in the dark?).

  5. I didn’t get the email this morning, but I went to Facebook and clicked a few dozen times and I arrived here. Looks like others may have had trouble, too.

    I immediately saw a sunset, instead of a sunrise.

    “Sailor’s Delight”

    Setting sun,
    blazing sky,
    stunning view
    for weary eye.
    Tomorrow’s
    weather will be dry.

  6. I didn’t get the email this morning, but I went to Facebook and clicked a few dozen times and I arrived here. Looks like others may have had trouble, too.

    I immediately saw a sunset, instead of a sunrise.

    “Sailor’s Delight”

    Setting sun,
    blazing sky,
    stunning view
    for weary eye.
    Tomorrow’s
    weather will be dry.

    1. Pat, I did connect and read yours. Lovely and it’s good that the pic could stand out as a sunrise or sunset. I understand the weary eye.

    1. Pat, I did connect and read yours. Lovely and it’s good that the pic could stand out as a sunrise or sunset. I understand the weary eye.

  7. enfant branches
    swirling words across
    pastel parchment
    a letter from mother
    sinned with Love

  8. enfant branches
    swirling words across
    pastel parchment
    a letter from mother
    sinned with Love

  9. Lashes of trees shield my eyes
    From the infrared shock
    Of such majestic power!

    1. I love this, Karen. That “Lashes of trees” is so evocative, like the earth is a giant eye with forests for eyelashes:>)

  10. Lashes of trees shield my eyes
    From the infrared shock
    Of such majestic power!

    1. I love this, Karen. That “Lashes of trees” is so evocative, like the earth is a giant eye with forests for eyelashes:>)

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