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I'm writing a poem entirely without commas, periods, colons, dashes, emdashes, etc.

However, near the end of the poem I name a city and I want to capitalise it.

On one hand, I think it would be jarring to read the name of a city without capitalisation. On the other, though, it might jar to see an appropriately capitalised proper name in a poem entirely without punctuation.

The question, then, is: if one eschews punctuation altogether, then should one also eschew capitalisation, in order to be consistent? Or is capitalisation a separate beast from punctuation marks?

(As it happens, my poem is a response to this poem, also written without any punctuation. In this poem, there is a street mentioned that is not capitalised. This does not jar (to my reading, at least), but the lack of capitalisation does actually let the street name fade from view somewhat, which I think is a part of the author's intent. In my case, I don't wish the city to fade from view (nor do I want it to shout).)

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marked as duplicate by John Smithers, Neil Fein Mar 17 '13 at 6:39

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Can we see the poem? Or an excerpt? This is a very subjective question that's hard to answer without referring to the actual words of the poem. –  micapam Feb 21 '13 at 4:47
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Note the author of the linked poem capitalizes 'I'. (although if i saw it lowercase, i wouldn't instantly recognize what it means.) –  SF. Feb 21 '13 at 9:57
    
Do you capitalize "I"? (Or does it not come up in your poem?) Have you considered dodging the problem by using a nickname/allusion for the city instead of its name, if it has one? –  Monica Cellio Feb 21 '13 at 18:22
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3 Answers 3

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If you're writing a poem, you are allowed to throw pretty much all the rules out the window. You can eschew just punctuation, just capitalization, both, split the difference per stanza or per line, whatever works to convey your meaning.

If it's significant to you as the poet that the city name should be capitalized, then capitalize it. If you've removed the capitals everywhere because it means something (the setting of the poem is supposed to be a monotone), and a capital letter signifies something else (a bright loud spark), then consider what capitalizing the city name will signify (this city is a bright loud spark!).

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In modern poetry, anything goes. The only rule I would adhere to is the effect of the end result: whatever suits your intended purpose best is the right choice.

In other words, if you want the city to be instantly recognizable as a proper name, then by all means do capitalize.

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I agree with the other comments. The beauty in poetry is its subjectivity. If I were reading a poem without punctuation, yet the poet took the time to capitalize the city, I would take special note of that city. If your goal is not to force the city to stand out, then forego the capitalization.

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