Convention and Consistency

When does convention become subservient to consistency? The issue of the lower case “i” in poetry is a prime example. “shell”, a poem viewable on this blog, uses lower case almost entirely throughout in order to emphasise the reality of the only visceral object in the poem, the “Single Fragment of Shell”, which is capitalised in the form of a proper name.  One editor has commented that use of the lower case “i” has become a cliché is overworked in poetry today and counts against the poet as it does not have the power imagined, “at least not to me and many others I have spoken with, whose jobs require deep scrutiny of poetry today”.

In the case of “shell”, should the risk of the lower case “i” be taken? Against it is the likelihood of those “whose jobs require deep scrutiny of poetry today” will simply see it as a hackneyed convention stolen from E. E. Cummings. In favour is the maintenance of consistency within the underlying structure to create a rational and coherent poem.

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