GrammarA Lesson by Miss Coral
Can be quite controversial...
Grammar is a big deal. You make think it's not, but I'm telling you now that it most certainly is.
Now, this post is going to focus on grammar in poetry, because that's where a lot of ambiguity creeps in. Personally, I really don't find any ambiguity at all in prose. Grammar is there, and it is to be followed. That's that.
But with poetry, grammar can be fun. Grammar can be a pain. Grammar is kind of like a needy brother. You can play with it, have fun, allow yourself to relax a while, or you can ignore it and pay the price. Weird analogy, but it kind of works.
Now, some people don't use grammar in poetry. And that's fine. However, I only think it's fine if it works.
If someone decides to not use grammar, and their piece ends up looking like this:
black holes burnt cigarette stains in the dark enveloped the planets like a glutton and his lunch ate it up and swept through the null gravity like a ghost onto the next orion and sirius ready to intervene in the stars perpetual wars by ending the ones involved altogether it tore and shredded reality to a blackened fired husk that could only half grow back kind of like the forest fires and the peeling bark but there werent any resurrection ferns not in that big black lifeless desert and so it remained blackened and burnt and helpless
it gets a little bit hard to read, right?
But if something looks like this:
black holes burnt
cigarette stains in the dark,
enveloped the planets like
a glutton and his lunch,
ate it up and swept through the
null gravity like a ghost, onto the next
Orion and Sirius, ready to intervene
in the stars’ perpetual wars
by ending the ones involved altogether-
it tore and shredded reality
to a blackened, fired husk
that could only half grow back,
kind of like the forest fires and the peeling bark-
but there weren’t any resurrection ferns,
not in that big, black lifeless desert,
and so it remained,
blackened and burnt and helpless,
it's a little understandable. Unless you're a total Grammar Nazi and have no patience for non-capitalization, this isn't going to make you gnash your teeth and your eyes bleed. Breaking stanzas up IS important in poetry. Otherwise, it's simply stream of thought, and unless you are ridiculously amazing, it's going to be incredibly difficult to follow, even if your concepts and words are interesting.
The ambiguity of grammar lies in capitalization and punctuation. If the poem is about someone being driven insane, you can reflect that decay of the mind with a decay of propriety in grammar. If it's about someone meticulous, you have absolutely perfect grammar.
Once you stylize your grammar and are comfortable in what you do, it's really pretty simple. Some people capitalize the first word of every line. Some people capitalize every word. Some people don't capitalize anything- it's really up to you, as long as it's readable, it's perfect.
The only thing I would suggest is spellchecking- unless you have a reason to neglect proper spelling, than it should be a given.
When I hear the hypercritical quarreling about grammar and style, the position of the particles, etc., etc., stretching or contracting every speaker to certain rules of theirs. I see that they forget that the first requisite and rule is that expression shall be vital and natural, as much as the voice of a brute or an interjection: first of all, mother tongue; and last of all, artificial or father tongue. Essentially your truest poetic sentence is as free and lawless as a lamb's bleat.
-Henry David Thoreau
Thanks for reading!
Added on January 2, 2011
Last Updated on January 2, 2011
Prague, Bohemia, Czech Republic
About18 year old girl, third culture kid. I like writing and swing music. Probably not super active. kissingtherivermouth.tumblr.com