Punctuation in Poetry

Punctuation in Poetry

Blending grammar and punctuation in poetry is a prevalent issue among writers. While some bypass the laws in an attempt to be more creative and innovative with their ideas, there are others who do so just because they don’t know where or how to use them. Another group of writers tend to adhere to the guidelines but may use punctuation arbitrarily without being aware of the clarity and breathability it adds to their poetry work.

Nowadays, it is not uncommon for “inexperienced” writers to just group bits of verses of expressions and notes, and call it a poem.

Of course, heavy use of some elements of poetry like images and metaphors in their verses can make this seem acceptable. But the truth remains that following grammar rules and using punctuation correctly will give structure to your work and make it more communicative to the reader. Using correct formatting may also help especially when writing verses like a sonnet. Thus before breaking the rules, you should fully understand the implications. Whether you decide to apply the creative dimension when making your poem relatable, make sure it is composed of high quality. Again, the grammar must never be a question here.

What’s in the name?

Punctuating a poem is not so different from punctuating many other essays; thus the same literary guidelines apply. When you want to cite another person’s poetry, make sure you do so notating the title with quotation marks.

Some examples include:

“There is another sky” by Emily Dickinson

“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

“A Girl” by Ezra Pound

“Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman

Retain the punctuation of the original title and commas should be avoided at the end of the title.

General writing capitalization rules also apply in poetry. Thus try to start a new line with a capital letter and make sure the words that make up your title are in capital letter format except for connecting words, determiners, and prepositions.

The only case where the capitalization rules may not apply is in a case where the word starting or ending the title is a preposition. However, it’s a common practice among poets to write preposition in capital forms if the number of characters is over five.

Common Grammar Mistakes You Must Avoid

As earlier indicated, grammar is a core aspect of poetry as with any other essay type. So it’s very important to pay attention to how it’s used in your work.

Poor poetry grammar can blur the understanding of readers and reduce the quality of your work.

Usually, it’s the correct use of the writing language that actually makes creativity visible; thus when your grammar is not properly articulated, there’s usually a missing link with your audience.

Although mistakes are bound to occur every now and then, you should always strive to observe the rules so that the message of your work is never in doubt.

With this in mind, below are ten grammar mistakes you should aim to avoid.

1. Titles, Commas, and Spaces

As earlier indicated, when citing another person’s work, make sure you keep to the original. Citing mistakes is very common among poets (even the experienced ones).

Use capital letters where appropriate and only use commas where needed (especially for dates).

Also, make sure you create spaces between words and punctuation.

2. Phrase at Introduction

Remember to use a comma when you have a phrase begin your sentence. Or else, it would be difficult to notice the breakpoint of your sentences. So instead of saying something like – “When he got to the house the man was already waiting for him.” You should say – “When he got to the house, the man was already waiting for him.”

3. Text simplification

Our acquaintance with social media has made us change a lot of things in English inattentively. In an attempt to make texting more convenient, we tend to either shorten them or remove punctuation marks, thus changing their meaning unconsciously. For instance, in writing poems, it is common for writers to use “its” and “it’s” interchangeably. This is wrong because both words don’t mean the same thing.

“It’s” can replace “It has” or “It is” while “Its” is used to express ownership or belonging.

Also, it is wrong to say – “Its raining outside.” Rather, you say – “It’s raining outside”.

Another case is misusing words with similar sounds. Make sure your poem punctuation does not have any one of these words at the wrong place.

For instance, it is wrong to say – “They are my friends.” Rather, you use –“They’re my friends.

4. Punctuating Compound sentences

A compound sentence in poetry should be punctuated with a comma at the point separating its various parts. This applies even when the other part of the sentence is another verse. For instance, rather than saying – “They were sad and they hated each other and they divorced.” You say – “They were sad, and they hated each other, and they divorced.”

5. I and Me

“I” and “me” are not meant to be used interchangeably. Many poets make this mistake unconsciously. So, please take note.

You should be able to distinguish both pronouns and know which one to use and when to use it. Or else you will be violating proper grammar.

For instance, it is wrong to say – “You are expected to give the letter to George or I when you are done reading it.” The right statement is – “You are expected to give the letter to George or me when you are done reading it.”

6. Agreement between subject and verb

This a common mistake that often goes unnoticed even by the native speaker. When composing sentences, you must make sure there’s an agreement between subject and verb. For instance, it’s not right to say – “She have been waiting for thirty minutes.” Rather, you say – “She has been waiting for thirty minutes.”

Why punctuation is used in poetry?

Punctuation is basically used in poetry to indicate pauses. They help to control the pace of the reader by signaling where and when to breath, where is very important in aiding their perception and understanding of your work.

You will find six forms of commonly used poetry punctuation - dash, exclamation point, question mark, period, semicolon, and comma.

Use each one of these for various kinds of breaks. A period should be used for the pauses that are the longest pause while for a low one a comma is more appropriate.

These pauses help to differentiate your stanzas and tell readers when to pause and take a little break. They also help to make your work look more organized.

To wrap it up

In conclusion, punctuating your poems properly will greatly help to organize your words into verses that are discernible. It will add coherence to your work and present it in a way that is more readable. Consequently, your thoughts will be clearer and more breathable.

More importantly, you must not neglect grammar. You must strive to take away every form of ambiguity or confusion from your writing. People should be able to read and feel your words just like you mean them.

If all these sound overwhelming to you, then don’t worry; you can always use an online checker.

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