How do I punctuate a poem I wrote? I have no idea if each line should start with a capital or where to put semicolons!! HELP pleaseee.

Expert Answers
jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

QUESTION: If an 800-pound gorilla walks into a restaurant, where should he be seated? 

ANSWER: Anywhere he wants.

QUESTION: How should you punctuate your poem?

ANSWER: Any way you like.

There are no absolute rules about poetry, including its punctuation.  Your job, as poet, is to decide which kind of punctuation will help bring out the ideas and feelings of your poem.

Should every line begin with a capital letter?  Only if you look at each line as a separate unit.

Where should you put semicolons?  I don't know.  Wherever you think that there should be a medium pause in the flow of the poem's words.

Should your sentences end with periods?  Only if they really are sentences.  If they are just fragments (which is perfectly acceptable in poetry) then don't bother with periods.

In summary: YOU ARE THE BOSS!

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The previous post is essentially correct about poetry (and also the gorilla, I suppose): Punctuation lies with the poet. The poet E. E. Cummings (or, e e cummings) used punctuation and capitalization only rarely; when used, they were often in a highly unusual manner. He also split or divided words in unusual ways, sometimes starting new stanzas with the second part of the word. If you seek a more conventional style, USUALLY the first word of a line is capitalized (unless it is a continuation of a previous, lengthy line). A semi-colon is usually used instead of a period (or possibly a comma) when the words following the semi-colon have some sort of direct relation to the previous part of the sentence (before the semi-colon). A semi-colon is also used in place of commas with lengthy phrases that also include commas.