Week of September 24 / by Katelyn Halpern

This week, I’m sharing a piece I wrote last week for poetry class.

My philosophy for the line:

Defining the line* is a waste of time. It is building a castle from dry sand: your hands will do the work, and you will end up with a pile of sand and a circle of voices arguing whether and when a pile is a castle. By now, the line has thrown off all but the most useless and defensible characteristics, such as: a line is a unit. Duh and so what? The line carries the weight of the past like we have a tailbone and no tail. Don’t waste your time.

Here is what I understand of the line from running my sighted hands over its face while I hold my eyes closed. The line is an intention. // It is figurative; it figures the poem, along with space, rhythm, meaning, word. It is a thing, not the thing. It is part of a balanced breakfast. // The line is a dance step. But what kind of dance are you doing? // The line is a brick. But are you building your house by laying bricks or sawing wood? // The line is a unit of control. It is as far as a poet will go before they want to stop, or want to stop you. // The line is chewing; the break is swallowing. The line is breathing; the break is also breathing. The line sets a pace for breath or digestion or your choice of natural process of taking in. // The line is enough. An amuse-bouche. A room. A photo op. A mind of its own. // Lines are whatever you want as long as they do the job. Just don’t fuck it up.

*It’s not just the line. It’s almost anything of art you want to pin down in the current age.