Context: Writing poetry.
Learning Focus: How varying sentence structure and sentence length can create different
emphases in poetry.
Using an exploded version of Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mirror’ presented alphabetically as a word grid, students are asked to generate pairs of sentences, experimenting with the possibilities outlined below:
· Beginning with a non-finite verb, adverb or prepositional phrase.
· Using a short verbless sentence.
· Using a one-word sentence.
· Using repetition of a single word or short phrase.
Well, I’m not happy with this! Am I being too precious about Poetry? I don’t believe that writing poetry is about thinking, for example, whether to begin a sentence with a prepositional phrase. I can see this being useful when deploying rhetorical features in an argument, and of course in providing variety within a narrative, but it seems alien to the creative impulse when writing poetry.
I don’t know. When I write poetry I prefer the spontaneity of the initial words on the page, writing them as I hear them in my head, listening for sound and rhythm – maybe even echo/rhyme – as I’m getting the meaning/subject down. But I do know that the editing/crafting stage is crucial. If you’re lucky, there’s much that doesn’t have to be changed, but editing/crafting can be intense and dramatic in terms of alterations. Perhaps it’s just that I don’t think in grammatical terms when I do in fact make grammatical decisions. Yet I do know those decisions are informed by other factors like positioning on the page [I generally write and edit on screen, so word processing] as well as the sounds and pacing. Looking at repetition – whether to exploit or alter – is crucial, but I don’t ever recall thinking I need an ‘adverb’ here or a ‘prepositional phrase’ there. Vocabulary is very important, and editing is often looking for synonyms.
Not sure about this.