'Simon Patton, writing recently in the Sydney Review of Books encourages us to ‘…think of the line as a kind of gesture, a gesture which carries an expressive force’. He contrasts poems in which individual lines ‘achieve sufficient distinctness to make them memorable’ with poems of a more ‘fragmentary quality’ (such as those of Antigone Kefala, whose Fragments he is reviewing). Without valorising one over the other, I would agree that these are two possible approaches to the line. Many others are possible also — from prose poetry’s decision to dispense with the line entirely, to the opening up of gaps or caesurae within lines favoured by many contemporary poets, to formal poetry’s demand that the line contain a certain number of feet, syllables, and / or end rhymes.
'For myself, as a practitioner who writes in both constrained forms and free verse, the line takes on different qualities in different poems. In this brief piece I will consider my approaches to the free verse line, and to lines in poems working against some kind of self-imposed constraint. I will close with a case study of the treatment of the line in translation using an example from Japanese poet Kawaguchi Harumi.' (Introduction)