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Prepping This Semester’s Poetry Workshop — 2

This is from an essay called “Here Today,” in Hay­den Carruth’s Efflu­ences from the Sacred Caves. In my ear­ly years as a poet, I learned more about craft from read­ing this book than almost any­where else:

[W]hen poems gain in flu­en­cy and intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty, and hence in mean­ing, from being print­ed as prose, it is because the line has ceased to function…and when the line has ceased to func­tion it is because the lan­guage has become too dull to sus­tain the mea­sure. This, inci­den­tal­ly, is the right way to say it: lan­guage sus­tain­ing the mea­sure, not the oth­er way around, as many have thought–or hoped.”

It’s worth not­ing that he’s not talk­ing about any spe­cif­ic mea­sure, a term he is using in its musi­cal sense, just the idea that for a line to func­tion as poet­ry, it ought to have one.

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