Punctuation and Poetry

I was recently asked to edit a book of poetry and to correct any punctuation mistakes. I admit I had to do some research first before I felt comfortable taking on this task. Here is what I found.

  • There is no need to put every coma and dash at their places, because the rhythm or even a poet’s aesthetic taste can be perfect excuses for breaking the rules.
  • There is no need to start every line with a capital letter. It was an old tradition, but contemporary poets can choose to follow it or not.
  • It is possible to use any punctuation marks almost anywhere in the text, to convey an emotion, or simply give readers a chance to hold their breath.

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Nancy M. Wade

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