Punctuation as Noise (and White Space as Silence)

After reading Amy’s poem for workshop, I realized that the quadruple colon (::::) created a kind of noise for me by the end of the reading. Since the speaker was making a telephone call, the recurring :::: sounded like static. Plus, Katie brought up in class how the it could symbolize a “double mirror” since we like to think of the double colon as a mirror in all its glorious symmetry. This brought me to the conclusion that a double mirror could suggest the reversal of roles. Who is really making this phone call? Who else could possibly be speaking besides the father?

So, upon hearing that static in the quadruple colon, I began to look at all punctuation as noise. I say noise instead of sound because I figure that the words work as sound in poetry, poetic phonetics if you will.

If punctuation were to function as noise, what would the reader be hearing in your most recent poem? What does a comma sound like in comparison to a period? An em dash? And does this mean poems with a lack of punctuation are necessarily more quiet?

Just some food for thought that where there’s punctuation, there’s lack of space, which makes for a lack of silence! What sounds do you hear most?

One Reply to “Punctuation as Noise (and White Space as Silence)”

  1. I keep finding myself avoiding thinking about punctuation in my poems, even though I admire the things being done with punctuation in our class and in the texts we’ve been reading. I agree with your assessment of Amy’s quadruple colon creating visual and audial static. I became incredibly jealous of this effect because I tend to focus more on the words and the way they sound vs. the sound of punctuation. Punctuation for me has always been about rhythm and grammatical clarity/accuracy. Now I’m beginning to see it differently in the context of poetry.

    I’m glad you wrote this post because it’s going to push me to experiment with punctuation in my next poem(s).

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