When to Break a Line of Poetry

During my last poetry group meeting, I was inspired to create a type of verse known as found poetry. This is created by taking phrases, passages or sometimes individual words from another work – often a prose piece – and reframing them, frequently by altering the line breaks.

My source material was taken from a comment that another member had written when distributing our poems. Here it is as prose:

Collation enfolded. Zoom link below for this evening. There have been recent times in recent weeks where the Wi-Fi at 2 Shore Terrace has been decidedly dodgy.

I then arranged this into a short piece that illustrates arguably the most obvious distinction between prose and poetry: the difference between sentences and lines.

Collation enfolded.
Zoom link below for this evening.
There have been recent times
in recent weeks where the Wi-Fi
at 2 Shore Terrace
has been decidedly dodgy.

The original material uses the sentence as a delimiter, whereas the reworked version uses a combination of sentences and lines.

I felt the first two sentences would work well as complete lines on account of their brevity. The third sentence, by contrast, runs over four lines to emphasise the repetition of recent times and recent weeks. It is also considered good practice to end a line with a strong noun or verb, as the reader is likely to linger there for a moment longer than the other words.

If you want to try this yourself, here’s a more in-depth discussion about the difference between a sentence and a line. It’s also worth reading a few examples, such as when a journalist used the technique on speeches by the politician Donald Rumsfeld.