7:38 a.m. — Walnut Creek
Hello, dear readers. Today we take on another reader generated topic [thank you, Brenda!]surprisingly difficult to explain and over which I would have stressed a little, as I am not terribly articulate. Not only did I not stress, I moved the topic up a week, thanks to Mike Patrick, of The Poet’s Quill, who wrote a poem that not only explains enjambment but is an example.
Most of you enjamb without realising you are doing so and, as you read this you will recognise that. Simply put, enjambment is the continuation of a sentence or thought from one line to the next, or from one stanza to the next. The term derives from the French to straddle which is what you are doing with your sentences, straddling two or more lines.
The effect is to force the reader’s eye on to the next line to find out what happens. You might think of the end of a line as a cliffhanger; the next line completes what is started. If the enjambment runs for several lines, a tension is set up until the reader reaches the end.
Here is Mike’s poem, which will clear any lingering confusion:
From deep within the poet’s bag
of tricks are found, extended lines
of words, which seem to have no end.
The seeking poet always finds
a perfect way to place the stop.
No tricks involved. The easy way
to keep the meter’s flow, is wrap
those cussed lines to lines below.
Now, go back and reread and notice where Mike breaks the lines and the effect of breaking where he does. Go back and look at some of your poems and find places where you enjamb and ask yourself the effect.
I have included a poem by Israeli poet Aharon Amir that is one of the best examples of how enjambment and the right punctuation can work. Read the poem below exactly as it is punctuated and note the effect of enjambment.
I woke up at night and my language was gone
no sign of language no writing no alphabet
nor symbol nor word in any tongue
and raw was my fear — like the terror perhaps
of a man flung from a treetop far above the ground
a shipwrecked person on a tide-engulfed sandbank
a pilot whose parachute would not open
or the fear of a stone in a bottomless pit
and the fright was unvoiced unlettered unuttered
and inarticulate O how inarticulate
and I was alone in the dark
a non-I in the all-pervading gloom
with no grasp no leaning point
everything stripped of everything
and the sound was speechless and voiceless
and I was naught and nothing
without even a gibbet to hang onto
without a single peg to hang onto
and I no longer knew who or what I was —
and I was no more.
If you have questions about enjambment that arise from this, please ask. If you have a topic you wish me to take on, I would love to have it [even when I forget to ask — send anytime!]. If you know someone who would be interested in this click the buttons below.
I shall see you tomorrow for Friday’s round up; Tuesday for an open prompt [you know form has to follow soon]; and next Thursday for some sites worth visiting and even bookmarking.
Happy writing, everyone.