Saturday, 25 June 2011

The thin black line

John Hollander identifies the most popular verse form in America today as:

a kind of free verse
without any special
constraints on it except
those imposed by
the notion-also
generally accepted-that
the strip the lines
make as they run
down the page (the
familiar strip with the
right-hand edge) not
be too wide

I love Hollander for this definition and for the fact he wrote his book Rhyme's Reason, from which this quote is taken, in 1981. The free verse form is still so familiar today. And maybe with Kindle, netbooks and phones being used to compose will become all the more so.

Hollander of course is too subtle not to concede that great poetry can be produced looking like the above but ask yourself when writing.

However inspired, are your lines that length just to avoid being "too wide"?

Front Cover

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