A writer-editor-teacher’s quote of the week #21

“The syllable plays an important role in connection with the rhythms of poetry, as do the letters themselves in the work of creating syllables. For most people, it is enough to know that the English alphabet has twenty-six letters that make up the words of the language. They also know with a vague kind of comprehension that these letters are capable of producing more than twenty-six sounds; they’re willing to accept this process without bothering to examine closely the procedures creating such magic.

For you, as a student of the writing of poetry, this is not sufficient. You need much more information about letters and their workings in syllables and words. If you are to use language near its maximum potential, you must understand how the sounds of words are achieved and what is required to make them serve your poem. A poem is as limited in expression as the poet is limited in his or her understanding of the language.”

from the chapter “The Voice” in The Intimate Art of Writing Poetry by Ottone M. Riccio, first published in 1980

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