Workshop: Punctuation in Poetry

August 1, 2020 9am-3pm (lunch 12-1) Location: Main Ave, Park Rapids, MN Leader: LouAnn Muhm Suitable for Poets who consider themselves intermediate or advanced $150

Are you flying blind when it comes to punctuating your poems? Do you find readers misinterpret your meaning? Do your poems not “sound right” when someone else reads them out loud? Chances are good those are punctuation problems. Punctuation can do a lot of heavy lifting in poems, to direct both meaning and sound, and the regular rules sometimes don’t apply! In this craft-focused workshop, we will look at where punctuation in poems works well and not so well, and how we can create certain effects by using punctuation in unusual ways.

Consider these two letters:

Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours?


Dear John,

I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?



No difference but the punctuation! In this workshop we will look closely at examples of poems with punctuation that affects meaning (for good and for ill) and will look at some of our own poems to assess whether or not our punctuation is helping or hurting the poem. Participants will bring up to five poems that they are struggling with and the group and the instructor will provide suggestions and feedback on how the poems might work better. I’m betting that at least some of the issues will be with punctuation!

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