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.
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