Poetic Grammar: Part I
For centuries, there has been a debate about just how much creative freedom the poet should be allotted. Some questions have neither a right nor a wrong answer. They should be accepted as being merely a matter of personal opinion. Conflicts revolving around such questions rarely, if ever, come to a resolution. Whether or not poetry should be subject to grammatical and other literary rules, as all other forms of writing are, is one such question.
Throughout history, exquisite poetry has been written with and without adherence to the rules of proper grammar. Edgar Allan Poe appreciated and made good use of punctuation for its ability to convey the intended feeling of a sentence. E.E. Cummings is well known for his blatant disregard of grammatical rules and for creating his own poetic language. Other famous poets have chosen specific rules to break. Jane Austin was quite fond of using double negatives. H.L. Mencken favored incomplete sentences. Many more exceptional poets have rebelled against the rules and written some of the best works in literary history.
So, how did this question end up becoming one of the longest running literary and artistic debates? One would think that the literary community would uphold poetic license and agree that the decision of whether or not to follow grammatical rules should lie with each individual poet. It’s interesting that in an era when self-expression is highly valued, some are still pushing for poetry to be officially declared subject to all grammatical and other literary rules.
As it stands, many poets make their grammatical decisions based primarily on what they hope to accomplish as opposed to their personal preference and what they’re trying to express. Luckily, with the internet and the growing popularity of self-publishing, this is finally beginning to change.
History illustrates the tremendous value of opposition between tradition and modern ideas. Almost every generation has started a substantial literary/artistic movement. Their legacies directly impact what we read, the art we marvel at, and what we ourselves are creating.It’s time now to consider what we will leave behind for the next generation to build upon and, of course, rebel against. The issue of grammar in poetry could be where our generation makes an impact, putting the debate to rest once and for all. So, I’m proposing a modern day poetic movement. I’m calling it “Poetic Grammar”. A movement about empowering every poet to write from their heart and soul without inhibition and unhindered by rules. Every poet should write their poetry their way whether that means following grammatical and other literary rules or not.
This series explores the debate, examines the advantages and disadvantages of applying grammatical rules to poetry, and shows how this debate can help an aspiring poet to find their unique signature style. You’ll also get a sneak peek behind the scenes of my poetry. I hope it will inspire other poets to share their talent, opinions, and ideas with the world. A poet can only write amazing poetry if they remain true to their spirit. No matter what side of the debate you’re on, you can make Poetic Grammar work for you.
FUN POETRY FACT: The Beatnik poets, or the Beats, of the Beat movement, were the predecessors to the Hippies.
FUN GRAMMAR FACT: The question mark was originally a word. In Latin, queries were ended with the word “questio”.
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