Poetry V. Prose

Saturday, at my writer’s group, one of our member read a fantastic poem that dealt with the metaphor of child abuse and catching mice. The images were striking, poignant and brought chills to my arms. After we went over her work though, she stated with frustration that she ‘didn’t want to be a poet’ because she was actually working on her novel right now.

Well, to her and to all I say, there is no reason you can’t be both.

The form of Poetry is usually pretty different from prose, yet without the beautiful language that we develop IN poetry, how are we going to give our prose those moments of emotional engagement that they need to survive? Kristine Katheryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith both are fond of pointing out that readers are going to like what they like and the only thing us writers can do is to make what we’re putting out available to them. Yet I find that I want when I am looking for a new book IS that emotional connection, that moment of self-identification in another character. When I read a book, I want to be the one who feels what they are feeling. To write that out, we must communicate the images. What better way to achieve that than to boil it all down in a few sentences and produce the essence of the emotion.

When you cook, you have to add flavoring, or your food will not taste bland. Whether you marinade the food before you cook it or season as you go, there should be some flavor element to the dish or you’ll forget it. The most delicious steak I had this weekend had been seasoned well and cooked to a tender perfection. My favorite chocolate experience was a cake that had been properly iced. I had a potato casserole that was infused with cheesy goodness and without that, the dish would be lacking.

Poetry is how we develop our flavor palettes in writing. It’s how we find our seasonings and how we make those scenes memorable. Don’t be afraid of the poetry and don’t be afraid to use it to make your prose even stronger.

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