The hyper extension of messiness – a response to Greenberg

I love the idea of a hyperextended line. From the Greenberg reading in A Broken Thing, I gathered that the hyperextended line exists in a place of building: being that a line’s train of thought will continue over two or more lines either to add meaning or build upon what was previously said; a collection of thought separated into lines that break (more or less). The inclusion of a few different examples helped my understanding in this, but I’m worried that the hyperextended line, though creative and insightful, offers a thread of messiness that might deter some readers.

No one will admit it, but it’s refreshing to read “easy” poetry at times (easy is, of course, a temperamental term that renders multiple meanings, but essentially, everyone wants a poem that they can read without too much effort). It follows a narrative thread, or lines are broken with the flow of speaking; at the very least, the reader is able to feel a sense of accomplishment by having finished reading a poem. The hyperextended¬† line is a direct defiance of this, asking the reader to break the flow of speech for emphasis or duality within the reading. It makes the reader pause and re-read, and maybe re-read again.

I’m all about it. Give me multiple meanings, give me enjambment. But while reading these examples of the hyperextended line in the Greenberg reading, I have to admit, I can see how the average poetry reader might get tired of reading the same method of writing over and over again. They might hate having to reread the same line 9 times to get an idea of authorial intent.

What do you think? In the realm of popularized poetry that’s built to sell and remain accessible to a vast group of people, do you think certain styles do better than others? I’m worried we’ve began to forsake creativity for the preference of accessibility.


***It’s funny. I just finished reading the following reading for this week, the Zucker essay, and she brings in the troubles of money and poetry. Definitely give that one a read even though it gives me little to hope for as a poet!

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