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May 17, 2013

Poetry Friday--The Secret Society of Enjambment

You are officially invited to join the Secret Society of Enjambment. The only requirements are: 1. you write poetry; 2. you don't know if you're enjambing correctly. (You certainly can't be doing it right since enjamb isn't a real word according to Dictionary.com "No results found for enjamb: Did you mean encamp?"); 3. you believe that the poetry mumbo-jumbo you learned in college English is just that, MUMBO-JUMBO--language designed to make you think something is more complicated than it really is.

If you accept membership, you must swear that if you learn the secret of enjambment you will immediately share your findings with S.S.E. members or risk being thrown out on your ear! (We're a tough group.)

Okay, I call this first (and only) meeting to order!

First item on the agenda is a report on my research into the elusive definition of enjambment.

Dictionary.com: en·jamb·ment
[en-jam-muhnt, -jamb-]
noun, plural en·jamb·ments [-muhnts] Prosody.
the running on of the thought from one line, couplet, or stanza to the next without a syntactical break.

Wikipedia: In poetry, enjambment or enjambement is the breaking of a syntactic unit or a clause over two or more lines without a punctuated pause.

Poetry Foundation: The running-over of a sentence or phrase from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation; the opposite of end-stopped.

Poetry Archive: Enjambment is the continuation of a sentence or clause over a line-break. If a poet allows all the sentences of a poem to end in the same place as regular line-breaks, a kind of deadening can happen in the ear, and in the brain too, as all the thoughts can end up being the same length. Enjambment is one way of creating audible interest; others include caesurae, or having variable line-lengths.

Haverford.edu: A line which does not end with a grammatical break, that is, where the line cannot stand alone, cannot make sense without the following line, is enjambed. "Enjambment" comes from a French word meaning to put one's leg across, or to step over, just as the sense of the line steps over the end of the line.

Is this sense-of-the-line-stepping stuff starting to make sense?

How do you know you're doing it right? I guess if you don't punctuate your pauses, you're on the right path!

More research needs to be conducted.

Okay members! Any old business (which, in this case is also new business)? Announcements? If so, please add to the comments section below.

Before we go, however, please join me in singing our S.S.E. theme song. (To the tune of "Old MacDonald" and sung con spirito.)
Oh! Enjambment!

Before enjambment our
ears went dead.
Oy vey, oy vey! OH!

We now step over line
ends instead.
Joy vey, joy vey! OH!

With a line
here. And a line
there. Here
a break, there
a break, everywhere
a break

No more do our ears
& brains go dead.

This meeting of the Secret Society of Enjambment is now adjourned!

If you hurry, there's more poetry to explore at the Round-Up being held at Think Kid, Think! Make note of enjambment, please, and report back!


  1. The Secret Song is my (en)jam(bment)! Thanks for making us all founding members.

    1. Thanks for sitting through the entire meeting!

  2. Brilliant! Best meeting I've attended in ages. Shouldn't all meetings end with a theme song?

    1. Yes, I do! Yesterday I attended a board meeting in which we were handed royal blue pompom-type things on a stick for a cheer--it was almost as good as a song.

  3. This never really troubled me at all until you mentioned it in a previous FB post. Now I can't sleep at night. Hopefully this meeting will put the enjambment question to rest (and me, too!).

    Next, perhaps you could tackle VOICE, Diane.


    1. I've got VOICE! I use it all the time. Especially here on the blog. You'll have to solve that problem yourself, Janet. The sleeplessness is probably due to the noisy pub within a stone's throw of you (isn't every Irish cottage within stone's throw of a pub?

  4. Thanks for taking this on, Diane.(Giving you secret handshake as I exit the meeting.)

  5. So glad you've brought the
    SSE to
    indeed (end-stop)

  6. Thanks, Buffy, maybe we should schedule another meeting!

  7. I am honored to be a founding member of this notable society. I love that the Wikipedia definition contains internal rhyme, except if we made it a found poem and enjambed it after "clause" then it would be real end rhyme, but possibly mind deadening in its effect. Oy vey!

    1. Dori! I feel I must warn you against mumbo-jumbo! "Internal rhyme"? Do not get sucked in!

  8. Yes, Diane. Pubs to the left of me. Pubs to the right of me. What's a girl to do?!? Ah, either wet the tea or call up a pint o'Gat. Oy Vey.

    1. Ah ha! I had to use the internets, but I found what I needed here.

  9. Doh! I missed the meeting! Thanks for the minutes, though. :-)

  10. Maybe we'll meet again, I'll let you know!

  11. Love the bit of poetry humor here. I totally missed the meeting, catching up on reading your blog. I can't stop singing the theme song. It's one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head. Enjambment is fun to play around with. Hope you'll have another meeting soon.