The Stanza

After the line, the most basic unit of poetry is the stanza. It's a powerful tool. So powerful, in fact, that even its absence in a poem is an element of craft, a deliberate move by the artist in the creation of a work.

Among other things, a stanza:

• Pivots the poem like a chapter in a book.

• Mimics the mind in remembering events.

• Mimics nature in depicting events.

• Creates a pattern to guide the poet.

• Empowers the patterns of formal verse.

• Pleases the senses with new shapes.

A little white space goes a long way if you know how and when to use it. Unfortunately, because a stanza seems so basic, so second nature, too many poets treat it casually or not at all during composition, missing opportunities to enhance their work.

The stanza helps poets express their ideas or express them in complex ways. In fact, a lot of funky things can happen off the page in the white space of a stanza. The narrator or character of a poem can have an epiphany there. Or the poet can change the subject or setting and even flash forward or backward as needed.

As an exercise once, I wrote the following poem to show the power of the stanza. I'll number the spaces between stanzas because I'll refer to them later:

0 0

Post a comment