Journal of Writing & Environment

Web Rove: Unconventional Arrangements

by William Bonfiglio

Some of the most gratifying experiences writing poetry can occur while tinkering with the format, and no matter how beautiful and evocative the language of a piece, the way it all looks on a page can support and perhaps even add to the meaning.  Call it what you will: experimental, unorthodox, or unconventional, but these poems stand out for their layout.

The Baboon” by Sara Deniz Akant (From Wag’s Revue)

“The Baboon” defies that antiquated practice of reading from left to right.  While the lyric does translate in the traditional approach, Akant inventively isolates phrases to give them emphasis, and the columnal arrangement dares the reader to play with approaches to the piece.  The result is an engaging and mystifying read.

Self-Indictment, with Arrhythmia” by Cate Lycurgus (From The Journal)

A common tool for poets is enjambment, the continuation of a sentence without pause into the following line.  In “Self-Indictment, with Arrhythmia,” enjambment is only the tip of the iceberg.  Abrupt line breaks, fluctuating margins, and irregular spacing create a stuttered, hesitant delivery that further reflects the poem’s namesake.

Prayer for a Ripple Effect” by Ellen Wright (From The Ilanot Review)

In reading this piece, pay particular attention to which words end and begin each truncated line.  Each seems to have a basis in the chronology of the piece, which reinforces Wright’s theme of interconnectivity.  Also notable is how the poet uses spacing to gradually separate text as the poem progresses—just like the titular expanding ripple.

Quickening” by Yvonne Higgins Leach (From Breakwater Review)

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Flyway web rove without a nature piece.  This lyric poem personifies and pays reverence to the earth and its floral bounty, and the exaggerated line breaks emphasize the visceral language, and give action to a tranquil scene.