Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Types of Closure in Poetry, Part 1: Introduction

When I was starting out as a young poet, I kept hearing other writers talk about “closure.” I couldn’t image what this odd word meant. It sounded like getting your hand caught in a door. A poem ends when it ends, right? Why does there even need to be a name or a word for that?

The more I’ve written and the more I’ve read, the more I realize that closure is a crucial part of a poem.

Elizabethan poet Sir Thomas Wyatt was one of the first to use rhymed couplets to close a sonnet

But what is closure? Here’s one possible definition:

Closure is the way that a poem completes itself, or the way a poem fills out its shape. Closure is the way that the poet and reader both understand that the poem is winding down, or reaching back into the world.

There are three main types of closure in poetry, and I’ll discuss each one in this series of blogs. The three main techniques that poets use to end poems:

1) A resonant image
2) Repetition or a rhythmic change
3) The killer last line

Of course, very few endings are purely one or the other type. There are many variations and combinations of these types.

I think all these ways of ending a poem have one thing in common: at the conclusion of a poem, something changes from the way the poem has progressed prior to the finale. That change can be in the structure of the poem, the mood, the awareness of the speaker and/or reader, the imagery, the subject matter, the sounds of the language, or the point of view. In other words, almost any aspect of the poem or combination of facets can create closure, providing that the poem changes in some significant and palpable way toward the end.

Here are the sections of this blog that deal with the different types of closure:

Resonant image
Repetition or rhythmic change
The killer ending

Zack’s most recent book of poems, Irreverent Litanies
Zack’s most recent translation, Bérénice 1934–44: An Actress in Occupied Paris by Isabelle Stibbe

How to Get Published

Getting the Most from Your Writing Workshop
How Not to Become a Literary Dropout
Putting Together a Book Manuscript
Working with a Writing Mentor
How to Deliver Your Message
Does the Muse Have a Cell Phone?
Why Write Poetry? 
Poetic Forms: IntroductionThe SonnetThe SestinaThe GhazalThe TankaThe Villanelle
Praise and Lament
How to Be an American Writer
Writers and Collaboration
Types of Closure in Poetry

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