As I write today, I feel like a dinosaur. I feel a little silly, and certainly a little antiquated.
The reason? I recently entered a poetry competition, which incidentally I didn’t win: no sour grapes here, just giving you some context. What concerned me were the judge’s comments regarding the capitalisation of the first word of each new line. As he so brutally put it: ‘This is not the 18th or 19th century and that old convention is passe.’
Queue shocked and highly embarrassed emoji: 😳 (I may be a dinosaur, but I still know how to use those 😁). There I was, blithely capitalising the first letter of every line of my poems, because I thought that was how poetry was writ!
It’s true that the poetry of 19th-century Romanticism often inspires me. I guess in the poems that I know and love best, it was normal practice to capitalise at the start of each line. But then I turned to the more contemporary poems I have come to know and love on WordPress, and sure enough – most don’t capitalise at the start of each line, especially with free verse, and I can certainly see the logic behind that. How embarrassing that I didn’t notice until I had it pointed out so starkly! To be fair, I don’t think it matters to me a huge great deal either way.
What’s the verdict?
Desperately hoping to cling to some form of credibility, I turned to Heaney, my favourite (almost) contemporary poet. To my relief, I found that he was capitalising at every new line. I’ll take that as vindication! But what do you, my fellow poets and poetry lovers, think?
Do you capitalise the first word of each line?
Does it irritate you when others do it?
I am preparing a manuscript and
hoping to get it published:
will my hopes be dashed
if I don’t remove all those pesky capitals?
My worst fear: have I been wandering around the blogosphere with my poetic skirt tucked into my knickers, and has no one had the nerve to tell me?
I leave you with a song which sums up exactly how I’m feeling at the moment: