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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > August 2016 > Poetry in practice

Poetry in practice

Advice on toying with line length from poet Doris Corti

The lines in a poem are building blocks.

Lines written in prose depend on font and paper size as well as margins. In poetry the length of lines and line breaks will affect a reader’s experience of any poem. In traditional forms the length of each line is to some extent controlled by the metre used and the rhyme pattern. In other styles, where the poet has more freedom over lines and line endings, care should be taken as to how you use them. Short lines can create a rapid pace and emphasise the statement-like quality in some poems. The way you break a line can signal a change of movement or highlight a certain part of the poem, as in the following example.

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Earn from your writing and get published: Cash prize competitions, calls for submissions and writing opportunities in 20 pages of Writers' News Discover your inner writer Cut to the heart of your novel – without losing the plot Social skills: Learn to use your online time to the max 10 top tips to get your book published and keep it selling Reader successes: Readers share their success stories Meet our publishing deal competition winner Star interview: Prize-winning poet and author Kei Miller on writing without boundaries

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