Notes on craft. (1)

October 4, 2007 at 6:05 pm | Posted in writing | 6 Comments
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Endings depend on the point of release in the cycle. Flat, rising on the upswing or falling just before the last (unheard) beat.

Pivots are words or phrases which contain an open thematic link. My favourite pivots consist of just one word with alternate shades of meaning, like ‘down’ which can be a direction or a feather. I call a single word pivot a hinge because the alternate meanings open outward to reveal a confluence of thought at some level behind the language.

The placement of the hinge partially determines the structure (and effect) of the poem. Hinges at the beginning are very subtle because the reader will most probably not consciously appreciate the duality (the hinge may still work but the craft will be hidden.) Hinges in the middle create an harmonic balance. You can open the poem with one meaning and close it on the other, pivoting on the hinge. Hinges at the end create silence, open the mind to the motive (often nonverbal) idea.

If you are an experienced poet you may know all this instinctively. If poetry is like a mental martial art a Zen-like forgetting may be required. Learn, know, practice, forget, then act.

So the two poems below share the same melody in the same key but the endings differ. One is taken from a moving car, blurs and trails out of frame. The other is a very high resolution black and white still photograph taken in a studio.


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  1. One of my favourite things about poetry, thought provoking post

  2. Nice post

    I like your use of the word
    describing possible doors…


  3. Hinge has two meanings attach or join
    to rely entirely upon

    and all about forgetting..yes, learn the rules, the techniques, the styles, then unlearn and forget and mix an muddleup

    the things yousay are worth reading carefully

  4. Thank You For The Link
    I Very Much Appreciate
    That…A Link Is A Little
    Like A Hinge Isn’t It….?


  5. I’ve used specific words for effect but more in an enjambment sense…but this is a wonder insight on craft that I haven’t considered before, thank you for sharing your hinges.

  6. this is great Paul, I will try and work on using a hinge/pivot in a poem on my weekend session…thnx 🙂

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