An “aha” moment: Why I need to stop overlooking syllables

“Focus on what you normally don’t focus on,” Professor Lytton advised as we began class. He told us to devote a minute to writing down techniques that we generally overlook- this written statement would serve as a visual reminder to step out of our comfort zones.

I made a note to spend more time looking at the syllables that compose each line. While I will sometimes pay attention to the rhythm forged by line structure, line breaks, and syntax, I tend to disregard the vital role that syllables play in a poem’s rhythm and sound. As a result, both my critiques and my own writing suffers.

My tendency to ignore syllables within a poem became even more apparent as I read Finch’s essay in A Broken Thing. Finch dove headfirst into the world of syllables; spewing words such as meter, iambic pentameter, and dactylic verse. The only time that I could breathe a sigh of relief was when she referenced free verse. Free verse is my comfort zone– like me, it ignores the conventions surrounding meter and syllables.

After attending class in which we made a conscious effort to look at our technical shortcomings and reading an essay regarding my own weakness, I have realized that I am doing myself and more importantly, my poetry and my peers, a disservice. This realization has inspired me to take on the challenge and work syllables and different forms into my writing.

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