This week will entail the use of prose poetry. Prose Poetry falls into the category closer to the style of regular conversation. The primary connection to poetry that prose offers is the use of literary elements. People feel much more at ease when writing in prose form because of its simple nature. Prose is the “cool aunt” of poetry, and has been used in more venues than poetry, whether through dialogue, scripts, songs or simple description.
The fine line between prose and poetry can be difficult to decipher, especially for beginning writers. Understanding the unique qualities of poetry and prose help in perceiving the overall idea of, specifically, prose poetry. ReadWriteThink.org breaks down the differences with precision:
Now that we know the differences of prose and poetry, let’s look at the definition of prose poetry – it is conversation jazzed up by metaphors, similes and other literary elements. Bits of poetry and bits of prose combined. Many forms of writing that give writers their paychecks are easily referred to as prose poetry. For example, let’s look at the first part of Zachary Schomburg’s prose poem, “The Fire Cycle:”
“There are trees and they are on fire. There are hummingbirds and they are on fire. There are graves and they are on fire and the things coming out of the graves are on fire. The house you grew up in is on fire. There is a gigantic trebuchet on fire on the edge of a crater and the crater is on fire. There is a complex system of tunnels deep underneath the surface with only one entrance and one exit and the entire system is filled with fire. There is a wooden cage we’re trapped in, too large to see, and it is on fire. There are jaguars on fire. Wolves. Spiders. Wolf-spiders on fire. If there were people. If our fathers were alive. If we had a daughter. Fire to the edges. Fire in the river beds. Fire between the mattresses of the bed you were born in. Fire in your mother’s belly…”
Looking at this in more detail, notice the repetition of the words “they are on fire,” which shows the quality of taking typical conversations and making them poetic through a literary element called parallelism. Then notice the fierce images placed in the poem, such as the house, the people coming out of the graves, becoming more intense the further down you read – “system of tunnels deep underneath the surface with only one entrance and one exit.” Not only did Schomburg create a series of images that enter the mind of his readers, but he created personal images, like the “fire between the mattresses of the bed you were born in.” Regular prose would be simple, straightforward text with little meaning behind the true words. However, with Schomburg’s prose poetry, I highly doubt he truly meant there was literal fire in your mother’s belly.
Many places, such as Poets & Writers, hold special competitions for this form of writing. But, like always, reading and understanding the instructions will help you out most and will be possibly the best advice you can get if your target is to win the prize. Prose poetry may be more complicated than regular writing, but it still offers a good deal of creative juices to hone your writing skills.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed this month's topic! It is simple, yet very critical to any writer's career to recognize. Whether you grabbed a nugget of wisdom that will help in your own writing or you took the whole treasure trove, knowing the different kinds of poetry can help you achieve success if that is the beast you plan to challenge yourself with. Stay in touch for next month's topic introduction next week designed to take you further in the realm of imagination under the pen!
Stay Wordy! :)
Schomburg, Zachary. "The Fire Cycle by Zachary Schomburg | Poetry Foundation." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, Web. 27 Oct. 2016.
Slam Poetry is the best type of poetry for people with competitive natures. It enhances the words of a poem with a performance. (Brief Guide to Slam Poetry). In this form of poetry, writers approach the stage and attempt to dazzle judges, as well as audiences, with their creative approaches to the art of words. This style of poetry can often be delivered through stories, acting, singing, and other artistic word works (National Poetry Slam Decatur).
Possibly the hardest version of competition, slam poetry requires great effort on tone, emphasis, enunciation, and even accent when speaking. However, the rhythm that most slams contain help to quicken memorization more than simply memorizing sentences. Emphasized parts of the poem, in which the writer often becomes more inflamed with emotion, also aids writers in remembering their lines before performing in front of the crowd.
Slam poetry is also known among today’s youth as spoken word, which is most often displayed throughout religious and political views. It is quickly becoming one of the more popular ways to share poetry. And the writer has full control over a word’s tone and linguistic effects by saying what is intended in the way it is meant to be said. Slam poetry is opposite to flash fiction in this way. Power is reserved strictly to the person on stage as opposed to being in the reader’s hands. Let’s look at an example:
Since slam poetry is all about the visual presentation of the writing, I've included a link below if you'd like to follow along to a YouTube presentation of this slam poem presented as an opera song:
It Makes No Difference Abroad - Jake Heggie [YouTube]
It makes no difference abroad
The Seasons – fit – the same
The Mornings blossom into Noons
And split their Pods of Flame
Wild flowers – kindle in the Woods
The Brooks slam – all the Day
No Black bird bates his Banjo
For passing Calvary
Auto da Fe – and Judgement
Are nothing to the Bee
His separation from His Rose
To Him – sums Misery
This poem by Emily Dickenson is primarily presented as song, which allows the melody to carry the message gracefully to the ear of the listener. Song provides free space for creativity of enunciation, emphasis and, somewhat, the freedom of the presenter. This poem is a “nature poem,” where it focuses on natural elements. The flowers, brooks and black birds carry out their normal cycle of life no matter what happens in the outside world. It emphasizes how even the bee is oblivious to any judgement, for the only thing that matters is the rose, and his separation from it. Hence, opera is one of the best ways to perform this particular slam, because of the flow of natural tendencies included in opera.
Slam poetry is never meant to be silent, but spoken with intent. This is why everything relies on the performances, which takes guts from speakers ready to be judged to the fullest extent in front of those who hear what he or she has to say. Coffee bars or online databases, such as Youth Speaks, are the most efficient areas that provide space and open ears for slam poetry. This form of poetry is a perfect exercise to gain confidence in writing and keep the creative juices flowing. Enjoy the adrenaline rush of passionate words!
Ok, you are free to share either slam poetry content you come across online with us. Or, if you are feeling a real challenge, make your own video with your own slam poem, post to YouTube or other SAFE video site (If site is not safe, we will delete your post) and post a link with a title and description (whether the slam poem words or basic information about your experience presenting in the video). Have fun with it!
"About The National Poetry Slam." National Poetry Slam Decatur. The Misadventures of Dzine, Web. 13 Sept. 2016.
Dickinson, Emily. "Poems of Emily Dickinson: It Makes No Difference Abroad." Monarch Notes. 1963. HighBeam Research. 20 Oct. 2016.
Now, This week, I'll be covering the basics of flash fiction. It is the shortest, and most powerful, kind of poetry. It is used to leave the reader with an image that tells a whole story. Most flash fiction pieces are interpreted, so the reader creates his or her own story. The reader starts with the flash fiction piece and develops the story from there in his or her own interpretation.
For example, the most memorable flash fiction piece is from a highly esteemed writer, Earnest Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes never worn.” Through this simple six-word story, the reader can imply the rest of what happens in the story. Readers make their own inferences based on the little information given to them. Obviously, a baby was lost. How? Why? What happened? The readers have been given the power to answer the questions for themselves.
Engaging the readers is a primary tactic for an effective flash fiction piece, which means hooking them right off the bat. In flash fiction, more words bring less impact. Each word holds great weight for the rest of the work. Competitors, as well as judges, look very closely at every word, so each one counts! Countless online venues, such as Flash500 (fee required) or Bath Flash Fiction, hold competitions for writers interested in such influential writing. Just remember: look at guidelines on any competition you enter. Some require a fee to enter, which isn’t always a scam, but writers must be wary of their submissions, for there are sharks who will steal your ideas and make you pay for it.
Once getting the hang of flash fiction, it becomes quite addicting. There is no better way to hone skills on word choice and the power or images each word represents than through a few flash fiction exercises. Is that word conveying the image you seek? You, and your reader, choose.
Now, let's get creative! Comment with your flash fiction example now!
Poetry is a special way to transfer emotion into logical, concrete images on paper. It fine-tunes the best of writers by telling a whole story in fewer – often much fewer - words. Poetry is thoroughly enjoyed among today’s writing community primarily for its short length. Between the kids' activities, a spouse's Halloween party and the house needing serious cleaning, people have no time to soak up more than a few words. This is why poetry competitions instead of story or novel competitions offering monetary rewards have become more prevalent in today’s society.
With new types of poetry being invented left and right, there are endless ways to let those creative juices flow in the writing field. And most judges of poetry contests seek initiative and creativity. Thinking of the idea no one else has thought of in the area in which you plan to write is a promising lead in the right direction toward winning competitions. However, you must be careful not to take a step out of the rules and guidelines provided for the competition you are writing for. So be sure to read fine print carefully!
Understanding the definitions and characteristics of the different kinds of poetry will help writers to fully comply with what a competition, or an assignment in general, is calling for. You wouldn’t want to write a flash fiction piece when the judges or teachers asked for a prose poem. Throughout the next few weeks, I will be explaining the basics of three distinct types of poetry often used for competition. Whether this is a brush-up topic for you or you are new to this beast we call poetry, I hope some of this information will help you along your writing journey, so enjoy!
FROM THE WRITER
This is a blog site where tips, information and other help is given to fellow writers in need of a brush up, a tip or a source. Comment, share or just enjoy!