Poetry essay: Layout on the page

One poetry form element is layout on the page.  It relates to how the poem is presented visually on the page or screen.

Layout on the page can involve a number of elements and can be simple or complex.  Layout can have a pattern and it can be in shapes.

When looking at layout on the page, there are a number of elements you could use.  Some include:

  • Spacing between lines
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  • Spacing between stanzas
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  • Spacing between words in lines
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  • Spacing between letters in words
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  • Indentions of lines
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  • Position on the page
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  • Alignment on the page
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  • Justification of text
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  • Length of words
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  • Length of lines
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  • Length of stanzas
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  • Number of stanzas
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  • Font size
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  • Direction of reading
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  • Curvature of lines

With these elements and others you could create different patterns, effects, and designs.

Layout on the page can have a number of purposes.

Sometimes layout simply looks nice.  A poem might be presented in a square or diamond pattern for presentation.

Layout can also be used to create shapes.  The idea would generally be to have the shape somehow relate to the topic of the poem.

Layout can be used to create pauses.  This can be done by indenting words or lines.  The idea is to have an effect.

Layout can be used to emphasize something.  An example of this might be a word set apart by itself so it stands out.

Layout can be used for different effects.  Think of a poem where the lines get progressively shorter.  The idea would be to lead the reader to something.

Layout can also be used for feel in a poem.  This might be done in a free verse poem where different spacing between lines and stanzas, as well as line indentions are used for an effect.

Layout might be used to conform to the presentation surface.  An example might be a poem written on an object or on a shaped piece of paper.

There are other ides as well.

If you’d like to see examples of poetry forms that use layout, here are some from this blog: experimental poetry forms that use layout.

As an exercise you should try to use some poetry forms that use layout and experiment with making your own.