The Art of the Short Poem: Justifying the White Space

The white space simmers around its poem.  "Make me make you profound," it hisses to the ink.  "Otherwise, stick with prose and fill me from margin to margin."

The blank page is the poet's most severe judge.  When it comes to writing a poem - especially a short poem - one must justify the space in which the poem is captured.  The poet should ask, "Am I serving the page well as its single representative?"  A great weight of expectation rides on the short poem.  

Here are some of my favourite short poems that entirely justify the space around them:

Mrs Darwin
By Carol Ann Duffy

7 April 1852

Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him—
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.

non-creation vs. creation
By Kat 

Obsessed with creation - the idea of it. 
So quick to define, title and sculpt.
But, what if you waited.
Don't create. 
Just wait.
See what emerges.

By Billy Collins

Mid-winter evening,
alone at a sushi bar—
just me and this eel.

Taking a headbutt
By William Letford

your pal ruffled ma hat
i said, what? made the mistake of leaning forward
and that was that

blood-metal darkness and the taste of brass
the bell was rung
i know i went somewhere
because i had to come back

By Sam Willetts

Look to your life.
Rest your kindness
and your unkindness
now, and listen: I know
what makes your heart
clench coldly
in all weathers,
I know how it feels
that it always will.
Bear that. Look to your life,
to your one given garden.

And finally one of mine:

An Alternative to Winning the Euromillions 
By Tom Wiggins 

Grow a money tree
so neighbours crave for Autumn's
benevolent breeze.


  1. This made me smile and nod in agreeance, good selection also!


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