The Millions

A Meditation on Exclamation Marks in Contemporary Poetry (!)

“I always got the exclamation mark at the end— / a mere grimace, a small curse.” Luljeta Lleshanaku, in her poem “Negative Space,” writes how she would wait her turn during a reading circle in first grade: “A long sentence tied us to one another / without connotation as if inside an idiom.” Other children would get nouns, verbs, and pronouns, but she was stuck with that vertical punctuation. Likewise, for many contemporary poets, the exclamation mark is a mere grimace; for others, a small curse. It was not always this way.

The Italian writer claimed to(1640), again stresses the element of admiration, and quotes from : “Alas! what harm doth appearance / When it is false in existence!”

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