Paul Munden is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Canberra, where he is also Program Manager for the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), running the annual Poetry on the Move festival. He has published five collections, most recently The Bulmer Murder (Recent Work Press, 2017) and Chromatic (UWA Publishing, 2017). He was reader for Stanley Kubrick from 1988–98, and has been Director of the UK’s National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) since 1994. He has worked as conference poet for the British Council and edited Feeling the Pressure: poetry and science of climate change (British Council, 2008). In 2017 he was placed second in the Ruskin Prize for Poetry, and highly commended in the Manchester Cathedral Poetry Competition. He is co-editor with Nessa O'Mahony of Metamorphic: 21st century poets respond to Ovid (Recent Work Press, 2017). 

Personal rules

Individual purpose and the poetic line

To what extent does the poetic line bear the stamp of a particular poetic personality? Is that, in any case, a desirable thing? Do individual poets have their own rules about how the line behaves – the distance it travels, to what purpose, and when and how it breaks – or is it constantly adapted for purpose? Are poets even aware of their process and, if so, honest and open about it? In this paper I consider the various (and varying) uses of the line by poets who have influenced me most profoundly, with examples from my own work to demonstrate my learning and further experiments. Specific reference is made to the influence of cinematic editing, and the role of the line in a poem’s essential memorability. Also addressed are the different effects of the stretch and breaking of the line on the page and when orally delivered.