Breaking Free from Line Break Habits.

If you really look at it, the only distinction between free verse and a prose poem are line breaks. Yet I often read poems where the line breaks don’t do anything that the syntax of the sentence doesn’t already do on its own. Maybe this is just my pet peeve, but I own it and feel the need to talk about it.

Readers hesitate at commas,

and stop briefly at periods.

They’ll even pause when a phrase finishes

before moving on to the next.

So if the line breaks just echo the pauses and stops already inherent in the text, what’s really the point of writing a poem instead of prose?

When it comes time to revise, I challenge myself to think about the line breaks. Sure, some breaks just come together with the ends of phrases and sentences and effectively reinforce those stopping points. But I also consider how line breaks can offer a counterpoint to my syntax, creating tension between the rhythm of my sentences and the rhythm of my lines.

I’ve been working on this personally, and I think it might be a path to better poetry.

Reporting Live from Portmanteaupia.

A portmanteau is a word formed by the merging of sounds and meanings of two different words. Switched-on-Gutenberg has published my poem dedicated to these faux words - “Reporting Live from Portmanteaupia” – in its Issue 23.

Switched-on Gutenberg: A Global Poetry Journal has been e-publishing the best poetry it can find since 1995. This is the fourth time they’ve published my work, and I definitely appreciate the chance to contribute again…but those who know me know this is all a ploy to get something legitimately published with the word “incognegro” in it…

A New Center for Black Poetics.

From Poets & Writers: At the University of Pittsburgh, poets Dawn Lundy Martin, Terrance Hayes, and Yona Harvey recently established the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics -- a creative think tank dedicated to studying, archiving, and promoting the work of African American poets.

Breaking New Territory.

I found this article about nine women nonfiction pioneers, including Roxane Gay, Wendy C. Ortiz, and Eula Biss, to be inspirational. I’ve been experimenting with writing more nonfiction lately, especially as my personal muse has seemingly drifted from poetry towards more prose.

Not only did this article give me some candidates for my books to read list, it was also interesting to learn about women writers who are challenging convention and exploring new territory. I want to find my angle and do something unconventional like these authors have in order to find my niche in nonfiction. After all, we all have a story to tell…