Poetic Grammar: Part III
The words “debate” and “conflict” carry negative connotations. However, the ongoing debate about the conflict between proper grammar and poetry has proven itself beneficial. It helps the newly aspiring poet to develop their own unique signature. It encourages the seasoned poet to contemplate and possibly revamp theirs. It also gives every poet the opportunity to make a profound statement with their writing.
Every poet aspires to pen eloquent poetry which expresses their true spirit, resonates with readers, and outshines the competition. Every day the internet introduces new aspiring poets to the world. This is why it’s essential to define and establish your style early on.
As a poet, your signature is more than merely your name/pen name written in fancy lettering at the bottom of a page. Your signature is the combination of three key elements which make up your unique poetic style; structural formatting, use or lack of rhyming, and grammar. Grammar is the most prominent element of your style signature. Therefore, before style can be established, each poet must answer one critical question. Do you believe that the rules of proper grammar should apply to poetry as they do to all other forms of writing? How you answer this question will help you determine what your grammar signature should be.There are three grammatical foundations which can be built upon or torn down:
1.) Live up to literary standards and abide by grammatical and other literary rules. Maybe add a few rules of your own.
2.) Go rogue and refuse to implement any grammatical or other literary rules whatsoever. Maybe even follow in the footsteps of E.E. Cummings and create your own poetic language.
3.) Purposefully choose specific rules to follow and specific rules to break. This too can be an opportunity to create your own poetic language.
Each of these grammar signature foundations makes a different statement about who the poet is and what they hope to accomplish with their writing. Each offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Your poetic style will define you as a poet so each element warrants careful consideration. Especially your use of grammar. There are four things to consider when deciding on a grammatical signature:
1.) First and foremost, it’s essential to decide what it is you wish to accomplish. Are you writing for yourself or do you plan to publish your work? Do you plan on making a career out of writing? Defining your goals is the first step toward establishing your poetic style.
2.) You must know the rules of proper grammar before you can decide whether to abide by them or break them. A firm command of the English language is absolutely crucial. Your readers know the difference between ignorance and command of the language. They will immediately recognize either one or the other in your writing. The worst mistake any writer can make is to underestimate the intelligence of the reader.
3.) It’s essential to know who your audience is. No writer can please everyone. Therefore, you have to decide who you’re writing for. What is their age range? What is their education level? What are their interests and expectations? Knowing and writing for your target audience is a key factor in choosing your grammar signature.
4.) Make sure you can commit to your chosen style. Consistency is crucial unless you’re strategically employing different styles in order to make a statement. A lack of consistency, when it comes to style, may make your writing appear amateurish no matter how intelligently it is written. If you feel the need to experiment, choose a style which will grant you the freedom to shake things up every once in awhile. Each foundation does offer some freedoms.
The English language is a beautiful masterpiece in and of itself. It can express anything we can feel, think, or dare to dream. Whether you believe that poetry should be subject to the rules of proper grammar or not, if you have a good command of the English language you can write eloquent poetry which will accomplish everything you want it to. So, join the debate and use it to cultivate your own unique poetic style. Be sure to read Part IV for more on Poetic Grammar.
FUN POETRY FACT: There was an Elizabethan poet who was also reverend named Thomas Bastard.
FUN GRAMMAR FACT: Pronunciation is the most mispronounced word in the English language.