Dickman's Use of Line Breaks

Topics: Oxford English Dictionary, Suicide, Dictionary Pages: 3 (1046 words) Published: December 11, 2012
Shetal Patel
Mathieu Bouchard
English 102, Section 0004
10 December 2012.
Matthew Dickman Contradicts Himself
Matthew Dickman the author of All- American Poem, uses line breaks very carefully and effectively throughout his novel for structural purposes. Dickman mentioned in his interview in Willow that he is terrible at line-breaks; one would agree that this is definitely not true. Since, he demonstrates many techniques in his writing, such as enjambment and end-stopping. Dickman’s use of enjambment emphasizes that an idea is flowing throughout the poem, that it ruins a reader’s expectation and that it marks a transition. On the other hand, he uses end-stops to leave the reader with an unambiguous idea. These techniques are seen in the poem, “The Black Album”, “Thanksgiving” and “Trouble”.

Oxford English Dictionary defines enjambment as “the running on of the thought from one line, couplet or stanza to the next without a syntactical break”. One of the interesting functions of enjambment is that it allows an idea to flow throughout the poem. This is seen in the poem, “The Black Album”. Essentially, this poem is about darkness and violence. From the beginning, Dickman writes, “Black like my sister’s black eye an imaginary father/gave her, so now she is forever beaten/ by the absence of men, her pupil/black like a record is black” (19). Usually, Dickman describes in his poems that he is searching for masculinity, though in this quote, he expresses the violence of masculinity. One would notice the repetition of the word “black”. Dickman uses this word to keep the idea of violence flowing throughout the entire poem just like he did in this verse. When enjambment is used in this form, it makes the theme of the poem obvious and it reinforces the mood.

Enjambment in poetry can also be used to trick a reader, usually by setting up one idea in a line and allowing the second line to go against what a reader might expect. A good...
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