Friday, May 14, 2010

Poetry Prompt #5 - Through the Viewfinder

Locate an old photo album (or a box of old photos) and spend some time looking at the pictures. What do those old photos “say” to you?

Select one photo. The photo may be of you, someone you’ve been close to, an event from your past, or may even be a scenic photo of a special place.

Take yourself into the photo you've chosen: jot down impressions, memories, details. and emotions. Then work on corresponding images and work them into a poem.

As you pause to look at old photos, and as you work on this poem, think about caesura – the art of the pause in poetry. Caesura is a natural break in a line of poetry, usually near the middle of the line although placement may vary to achieve different effects. Be aware that pauses are important in poetry – they can be used to create drama, to emphasize feelings, and to add meaning. You can create pauses in many ways, particularly through punctuation (periods, commas, and semicolons). Remember that caesura is dictated by natural speech rhythms rather than by metrics; a pause at the end of a line is not caesura.

Well-known examples of caesura (pauses are indicated by //):

Alexander Pope – “To err is human; // to forgive, divine.” [note the semi-colon before the pause]

Elizabeth Barrett Browning – “How do I love thee? // Let me count the ways." [note the question mark before the pause]
John Donne – “Death, // be not proud, though some have called thee” [note the comma before the pause]

1 comment:

  1. I like this exercise very much and tried this some time ago ~looking at a photo and then the words came in poetry.