poem by Robert Schechter , illustrated by Gabriel Evans

Compares two poems, reflecting on the impact of using enjambment.  

After reading the poem, discuss the lack of punctuation, emphasising that the poem is made up of one long sentence. Tell students that this style of poetry that features a sentence which continues over multiple line without punctuation it is called ‘enjambment.’ View the video, What is Enjambment? from Oregon State University. The video can be paused after the first 29 seconds. 

Discuss reasons why a poet may choose to use enjambment, citing reasons outlined in the video, such as: to create urgency and pace, to encourage the reader to keep reading due to their curiosity about the part of the phrase that is missing and to create a sense of surprise.  

Share your personal response to the poem, focusing on the following:  

  • Did the poem inspire a sense of urgency and pace?  
  • Were you curious about what the rest of the phrase included, so that you kept reading?  
  • Did you find any parts of the poem surprising? 

A sample answer might be; the poem had good pace due to sense of urgency it inspired, making readers keen to discover the narrator’s feelings about winning. The journey from losing to winning, that resulted in the narrator grinning, was surprising and unique because you did not expect the narrator to win after losing.  

Use the Think-Pair-Share strategy, placing students in pairs and instructing them to think about their responses to the questions, before sharing them with their partner.   

Once students have had time to share their comments on winning, inform them they will be comparing this with another poem, one that does not feature enjambment.  

Collaboratively read Sport Retort, found on page 32 of this issue of Orbit. Discuss the structure and use of punctuation, noting that most lines feature one complete sentence, with some sentences continuing over two lines.  

Using the same questions as before, share you response to the poem. A sample response might be:  

The short, snappy sentences helped create pace. There was less urgency to read on, as most sentences were fully explained in the specific line. The content was surprising, with Sally expending a great deal of energy, enthusiastically painting the wall.  

Once students have had time to discuss Sport Retort, instruct them to discuss a final comparison question:  

  • Which poem did you prefer and why?  

Again, share your own response though think aloud, such as: I preferred Winning, as it inspired a real sense of curiosity through the use of enjambment that kept me wanting to read on. I enjoyed the element of surprise at the end.  

Place students in small groups and instruct them to discuss their responses.