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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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