by Dan Sturn
Reviewers often say, "I don't like the long dash."
|The Long Dash
Often, in reviews of my Poetry, reviewers will make a rather extemporaneous statement: "I don't like long dashes."
They don't seem to hold my use of long dashes against me. They do not suggest that I remove my long dashes, and they usually identify their statement as merely their own opinion.
I've often wondered why.
Punctuation in Poetry is meant to control the "cadence" or "rhythm" of the Poem. If there's no comma at the end of the line, I just keep on going. A comma lets me take a quick breath.
If there is a period, I pause, and if there is a long dash—
I pause longer.
So, when people tell me they don't like the long dash, I wonder, are my expectations for punctuation unrealistic? Am I misunderstanding a poetic device?
And finally, my most frightening question: Are Readers reading my Poems with the same cadence I had intended?