Poetry Corner – Punc:tu;a’tion!

Hello Dear Ones!

Over the years there has been controversy regarding the appropriate use of punctuation in poetry. From when to insert a simple comma, to the applicable introduction of a hyphen – and all the way to the final stop, or period.

Discussion ranges from using or ignoring an apostrophe, such as it’s and its, to the more demanding option of a colon or a semi-colon. Depending on the style of poetry used, punctuation can vary. Many poets use the breath as the only natural comma and hence end a line and create movement down to the line beneath it to effect that breath.

Gertrude Stein, who called the comma ‘servile’, expressed an interesting dispassion for semi-colons.  She wrote (notice her lack of commas in this writing) back in 1935 in her book “Poetry and Grammar”:

“They (semi-colons) are more powerful more imposing more pretentious than a comma but they are all the same. They really have within them deeply within them fundamentally within them the comma nature.”

There are some terrific definitions and examples of all the usual, and some lesser known, punctuation tools to be found at the following website: “Sentence Sense“.

I am currently enjoying the delightful reading of the runaway best selling British book by Lynne Truss: “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation!” A worth read for the pleasure. A must read for the education it provides! Truss states wonderfully:

“On the page, punctuation performs its grammatical function, but in the mind of the reader it does more than that. It tells the reader how to hum the tune.”

Well, Reader, whether you be the writer of poetry or an appreciative and perceptive audience, may you hum along to whatever choice of grammatical structure and punctuational function, or lack thereof, is used in any poetic structure you encounter.

In Light and Laughter,


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