A First Line Challenge

How important is a poem’s first line to you as a reader, especially in a poem by a poet whom you might never have read before — nor even heard of?

Here are five first lines in poems published in the May 2016 issue of Poetry. After reading them, which poem would you read first? Last? What makes you want to read more?
Share your responses by replying to this post.

1. “Never were knuckle men.”    → “Axe Derby” by Bonnie Cassidy

2. “Ripeness was a semitone below”    → “Magnifera” by Jaya Savige

3. “I have known these estuaries —”    → “Thalassography” by Sarah Holland-Batt

4. “Focus on the taxidermied light,”    → “Forget the Stars” by Fiona Hile

5.  “Rock quartz next to a fence with upturned faces.” → “In a Dark Room” by Cassie Lewis


One thought on “A First Line Challenge”

  1. The first one. I like an opening that makes a short punchy statement, preferably something that is offbeat or wry or in-your-face, something that makes me want to keep reading. #3 puts me to sleep out of hand.


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