First and Last

Poetry is all about the line.  It is the unit of measure.  It is what makes poetry different from prose.  The unit of measure for prose is the sentence.  Poetry has stanzas and prose has paragraphs.

If the unit of measure is the line, then we can look at the strength of each line in how it contributes to the stanza.  To look at the line, one needs to look at the first and last words in the line.  Have you ever noticed when trying to memorize something that you often have trouble with the middle, not the beginning, or the end?  So look at the beginning and ending word of each line.  Articles and prepositional phrases don’t have a lot of impact so try NOT to start or end a line with them.  Often the article can be eliminated.  Look at some published poems you admire.  What is the end word in each line?  Is it a noun or a verb?  Is the word concrete, something you can touch, feel, hear?  Does it create an image in the reader’s mind?  The extra millisecond that the word at the end of a line gets with a line break lets the word imprint on the reader.  Concrete words create images and make for stronger end words and lines.

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