Sound Across the Line

Reading Annie Finch’s chapter in A Broken Thing titled, “Grails and Legacies: Thoughts on the Line,” reminded me of the first poetry workshop I took while at Geneseo. We studied the poetics of sound and what sound does in a poem. In regard to this workshop, I think it’s incredibly beneficial to mention how sound can work across the line and tie different thoughts together while still making an appealing auditory quality for the reader.

Alliteration and (half-)rhymes are often the easiest, and most common, way to do this. Finch, herself, mentions the importance of this by the first stanza of William Carlos Williams’ poem as an example: so much depends / upon. The stretch of the p sound across the line creates a more cohesive effect by pairing similar sounds together. It also renders the use of a one-word line, whereas the second line would not have felt as effective if the author used a synonym like “on.” Also, it just sounds cool.

Sometimes, words sound cool paired together because they have similar sounds. If you’re feeling jammed, just brain-storming cool pairings or off-beat phrases can help. I guess this is also a weird way to call back to my revision post and answer my own question.

Lemme know what you guys think!

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