Some Thoughts on Punctuation

Updated: Jul 15

1. One day in class at Iowa, Donald Justice brought in a poem by a poet he named only as “Anonymous” and asked what we thought of it and whether we could identify the author. The poem had standard punctuation and line breaks and regular stanzas. We thought—I thought—that standard punctuation was an important giveaway, as what is now called the “international style” was all the rage then in some quarters; punctuation eliminated some poets right off the bat. As we started our dissection, one of the group—there’s always one, right?—told us that he recognized the poem and so knew who the poet was, and thus should not participate. For the rest of us the discussion was lively. No one liked the poem much. I don’t remember the poem anymore, and so can only offer what might be a version of the exercise:


All the way north on the train the sun followed me, followed me without moving, still the sun of that other morning when we had gone over. Come on over men at the screen door said to my father. You have to see this. It’s an ape. Bring the little boy. Bring the boy along.