Things to Keep in Mind While Writing Poetry

I stumbled upon this essay by Dana Gioia called Thirteen Ways of Thinking About the Poetic Line.

He outlined some very interesting facts and factors to keep in mind when constructing a poem, illuminating all the elements available to the poet as they express their prose.

  1. The most obvious difference between prose and verse is lineation. In art the obvious is always important—although it is usually exactly what experts ignore. Poetic technique consists almost entirely of exploiting the expressive possibilities of lineation as a formal principle to communicate and intensify meaning.
  2. The three common principles of organization for the poetic line are metrical, syntactic, and visual. Each system operates by different rules, but all systems share the assumption of the paramount importance of lineation in focusing the expressive energy and meaning of the poem.
  3. Every element in a poem—every word, line break, stanza pattern, indentation, even all punctuation—potentially carries expressive meaning. If you do not shape that potential expressivity, each passive detail weakens the overall force of the poem. Those passive elements are dead weight the poem is obliged to carry.
  4. There should be a reason why every line ends where it does. Line breaks are not neutral. Lineation is the most basic and essential organizing principle of verse. A reader or auditor need not understand the principle behind each line break intellectually, but he or she must intuitively feel its appropriateness and authority.
  5. The purpose of lineation in verse is to establish a rhythm of expectation that heightens the listener’s attention and apprehension. The purpose of poetic technique, especially meter, is to enchant the listener—to create a gentle hypnotic state that lowers the listener’s resistance and heightens attention. Free verse lacks the steady physical beat of metrical poetry, but it seeks the same neural effect by different means. Lineation is the central organizing principle of free verse.
  6. The reasons determining line length should be consistent within a poem— unless there is an overwhelming expressive necessity to violate them. It takes time and energy to establish a pattern of expectation. Violate the pattern too easily or too often, and the governing pattern falls apart. A badly executed pattern is worse than no pattern. Without an expressive pattern there is no poem.
  7. Every poem should have a model line. The standard line length should be clear—consciously or unconsciously—to the listener or reader. The standard should be maintained throughout the poem, except for meaningful expressive variation. After each of these disruptive junctures, the poem either returns to the model line or creates a new standard. The expressive value of all disruptions should be greater than the loss of momentum and the breaking of the pattern’s spell.
  8. Each poetic line has two complementary obligations—to work well within the total pattern of the poem, and to embody in itself the power of poetic language. The successful poem does not merely balance those differing obligations; it uses them as partners in a seamless dance. Unless they dance, there isn’t poetry, only versified language.
  9. Each line should have some independent expressive force. Filling out a pattern is not sufficient justification for a line of verse. It should have some independent vitality in musical, imaginative, or narrative terms. The individual line is the microcosm of the total poem. It should embody the virtues of the whole. That is one reason that poetry can be quoted with such advantage.
  10. The lineation tells the reader how to hear, see, and understand the poem. As the central formal principle of verse, lineation establishes the auditory and semantic patterns of the poem. The overall formal power of the poem cannot be achieved if lineation is done carelessly.
  11. Line endings represent one of the most powerful expressive elements in poetic form. Poetic lines turn on the final word in each line. (The original meaning of versus is “to turn a plow making furrows in a field”—hence “the turn” is one of the ancient governing metaphors for poetry and poetic technique.) This verbal turning point, even when it isn’t rhymed, offers enormous potential for meaningful effect.
  12. The word at the end of a poetic line should bear the weight of imaginative or musical scrutiny. The end word of a line is highly visible and audible. Never end lines on weak words unless there is a strong expressive necessity. The end words—rhymed or unrhymed—should generate energy for the poem.
  13. The line break is nearly always audible (and always visible), even if only as a tiny pause or echo. One doesn’t hear the bar in music, but the trained listener always knows where it is by the shape of the notes around it. Since the line break is so prominent, it must be used for expressive effect. If it doesn’t work for the poem, it will work against it.

So there you have it. I really couldn’t have put it better myself!

Have anything to add? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Pacific Coast Highway

Technically speaking, they call the Pacific Coast Highway the road that stretches all along the coast of Oregon all the way down to the south western tip of California. Its the US101, and sometimes its the US1.

This is one of the most scenic, beautiful, and curvy drives in the world. It curves and weaves its way along the coast like a roller-coaster at times, and at other times its as straight as an arrow; at nearly all times directly along the open coast of North America.

For me it was pure pleasure; there were pull outs around every corner that I was able to stop and pull my camera out to snap a few scenic beauties off. I would be willing to bet that this road gets worse than the Jasper highway (between Jasper and Calgary in the Jasper National Park of Canada) in peak times of the summer, crowded with tourists in their RV’s, the whole way driving slower than a snail crossing a sidewalk. But, on my trip in early May, it felt like I was the only one on the highway outside of the cities.

The first stretch, in the north west corner of Oregon beside Portland was very beautiful. It was most of the same scenery that I’m used to living in the rain forests of Vancouver, but it was so much less populated that it was easier to feel like I was going to find a ginger bread house around the next bend, huddled in amongst the trees.

Early on in the drive there were a few towns like Long Beach and Rockaway Beach that were slightly surfer town-ish that had a few surf shops littered about, all along the ocean with great beach access that you could enjoy the surf in. However, it was fairly windy, and talking to locals, at this time of the year its either windy or foggy. So I was happy with the wind because it meant that I could see and take cool pictures!

The drive lead me directly into San Francisco via the Golden Gate Bridge, which is beautiful and magnificent, inspite the $6 (or was it $8) toll for going across it. Unfortunately for me, it was nearly midnight when I crossed so I got the city lights instead of scenic San Fran bay, which I guess wasn’t that unfortunate after all for the beauty was all in its own.

The drive into San Francisco was pretty cool, always being on a downhill slope, and the 1 takes you directly through downtown San Fran. Its always fun to take the trip right through the heart of the big cities. That’s what trips are all about in the end aren’t they?

Once through San Fran, I found myself a bit off the coast, so it required a little bit of winding to make my way back to the coast. I B-Lined it over to Pacifica so I could get right back onto the US1 and the coast to capture more scenic photographs, which was the goal of my trip; do the coast the entire way.

By this time one notices that the landscape is slowly turning to more dessert type vegetation, and for me I saw my first palm trees about 1km outside of the California State border. Its weird how that goes.. Although, when I was driving along the coast everything was still very green, but once the road took me in land a while, there were signs everywhere for the dunes.

Santa Cruz is a cool town, which the US1 takes you directly through. I stopped here for to find a grocery store that could supply me with the vegetables and fruits that I needed to stay alive! I’ve started big time to support Clif Bars, which give amazing nutrients, cheaply, and organically.

I soon found myself in Big Sur, weaving through this beautiful stretch of heavily forested & beautiful coastline view roads. I must have pulled over once every km or so to stop at the turn out and take pictures. It was so amazing, and if I ever have a chance to retire from the regular way of things, I think I will choose an area like Big Sur to live. As long as I’d get a nice patch of land to grow my veges on! Apparently its one of the top areas in the world that scientists say will be gone soon. They say because of the rising tide, but really, there were very big cliffs at spots to get down to the water.

After rolling through Big Sur, I ran into a big parking lot that had a tonne of sea lions beached, just chilling there; relaxing with each other and enjoying the surf. It was an amazing thing to see from this close, since usually the only exposure to the animals is either in a zoo, or from a boat thats about 20ft off a rocky island that idles safely at a distance. I literally could have walked out and amongst the giant animals, but I choose to stay on the human side of the fence…. segregation?

The highway soon smoothed out, and pleasantly I cruised on along towards the final destination happy and content with the warm sun beating down through the sun roof in the car.

Totally content so far on the trip, I was feeling lucky and rather blissful. It may have just been the drain of entering into the land of the sun, but I think it was due to the enjoyment I was having on the trip. Going down the coast, seeing all these sights and beautiful coastline photos was literally fairly dreamy. I hope I will remember all that I saw, and all that I went though, but I also have lots of photographs to remember it by.

You all should do the trip.

Caribbean Cruise Line Scam

Caribbean Cruise Line onboard the SS (MS) Bahamas Celebration is a Hoax

Recently I was contacted by a survey firm, and the reward for the survey was a free cruise. I know, this sounds oddly like a too good to be true story, and I should have realized this as soon as it happened, but the lesson was yet to be learnt.

After completing this quick survey, I gave them my email address where they forwarded me a sample voucher of the free cruise: all things ok so far. I was told that I would be contacted within 72hrs with further details on the cruise and thanked for my time.

So, about 4 days later or so, I got a call from this firm Caribbean Cruise Lines. Again, I should have suspected something was odd when first off, when I was talking with this guy, he would sometimes, right in the middle of me explaining something he asked me the question to, go talk to somebody else, and I would have to repeat myself.

Ok, I can handle that. I asked him all the questions in the world, hummed and hawed, and was told that this offer wouldn’t be available to me in the future, and that I couldn’t think about it and phone them back, I had to put the money down, they quoted me $59.00 for the first two passengers to reserve, and for two it was $118.00 total. They put a limit saying I must have at least 2 passengers, and no more than 4. Ohhhk, this was all fair, I guess, since I was planning on doing this anyways. The money, I was told, was to pay for the port taxes and to reserve a space on the vessel, and also that I had three days to get my money back.  Ok, whatever, they didn’t stipulate this when I was told it was going to be a free cruise. The odd thing, I felt, was that I had to put the money down right then and there. I looked on their webpage: ( and ok, they claimed Carmen Electra was their spokes person. Does that make things legitimate then? Shame on Miss. Electra.

I viewed the page, looked at the privacy policy and checked out everything, things seemed to be official. One line I clearly missed “5. Recipient is responsible for actual port charges and government taxes of $59 per person at time of booking. These charges are non-refundable. “ – now started the fun.

So, I put down the money, and they took my visa and address and email and phone number and told me that I would receive my package within three days, and also that I’d get an email with more information on how to book my seat. They told me that there was no black-out dates, except between a few weeks in April that were of no concern to me since I would be using it within a month or so (February).

Three days later, I hadn’t received even a confirmation email, no nothing, so I phoned the number they had given me and tried to see what I could get. They told me when I told them the time I wanted to go, without any hesitation, that the dates I wanted to go were not available for the price class of room I won, and paid for already (not much of a free winning is it?). My only options for the time would be to upgrade for $350.00 to either a better room, or a 4 day cruise package… Right.

I was now getting mad, and disturbed, which further elevated my previous skepticism about this company or ‘sweet deal’ as they kept trying to tell me.

I asked for my refund “please”. They told me the only way to get my money was to a) resell the package to a friend, or b) they could extend the voucher for another 24 months, so I’d have 3 years to give them $350.00.

Needless to say, I didn’t approve of either of these options, was furious at the scam that I had been dragged through, but glad that I wasn’t out the full $500.00 it would have taken me for this FREE CRUISE package. I am hoping that what I write here today will open any one’s eyes up to similar situations, or even other deals that this company tries to offer. I suspect they get enough suckers like me to employ about 6 people, for I was in contact with probably all of them.

By the way, it has been about a week now, and I still haven’t received this package they promised me would be emailed as well as mailed to me.


This may or may not be related, but I’ve been getting calls from an unknown number, when I answer, they hang up and call me repeatedly. So, I did a bit of research and found that this company has a history, and its from a Imperial Majesty Cruise Lines, so I thought I’d link you all to this website that explains a bit more: 19543510087 .

God these guys are annoying. Just keep feeding the fire.