Friday, October 15, 2010


For those who don't receive the Writer's Almanac, I can't resist posting this poem on punctuation--especially since I sometimes bug students about the semi-colon and then realize I probably misuse it myself. (Note to Anne: when will you give that promised lecture on grammar and punctuation that we all need?)

On Punctuation

by Elizabeth Austen

not for me the dogma of the period
preaching order and a sure conclusion
and no not for me the prissy
formality or tight-lipped fence
of the colon and as for the semi-
colon call it what it is
a period slumming
with the commas
a poser at the bar
feigning liberation with one hand
tightening the leash with the other
oh give me the headlong run-on
fragment dangling its feet
over the edge give me the sly
comma with its come-hither
wave teasing all the characters
on either side give me ellipses
not just a gang of periods
a trail of possibilities
or give me the sweet interrupting dash
the running leaping joining dash all the voices
gleeing out over one another
oh if I must
give me the YIPPEE
of the exclamation point
give me give me the curling
cupping curve mounting the period
with voluptuous uncertainty

"On Punctuation" by Elizabeth Austen, from The Girl Who Goes Alone. © Floating Bridge Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission.


  1. I like the way it doesn't contain any punctuation.

  2. I like the way she explains how punctuation gets in the way of passion. Then again in a poem you have the option of starting another new line. That can serve as any kind of punctuation you want.