The Verse in Your Prose

116293Upon Reading Carl Sandburg…

I say to you, fiction writers, that you should read poetry. Of all genres and types of writing, poetry is its base medium. It is the ether through which the constructed orbs of our cosmos spin. Read it, I enjoin you.

But I Don’t Like Poetry!

Nonsense. You call yourself a writer? You claim to tell stories? How can you work in a medium you do not love? The carpenter knows wood – the grain and the shape of it, the taste of the dust on his lips, how it bends and how it cuts. So, too, does the writer know words – how they tumble from lips and collect in ears. How they take root.

I say to you: You already love poetry. You must. It is the purest form of words. There would be no engineers without Euclid and Pythagoras; there would be no writers without Homer.

Reading and Understanding Poetry is Difficult!

How is it a writer can fear challenge and yet still write? Where are the laurels for you to rest on, novelist? Few and far between, I say – a poor bed. You do not rest – you strive. You face rejection and heartache with every sunrise, yet still you go on. Can you tell me you quail at verse? Verse is as life is – a challenge, filled with rejection and heartache. Do not tell me that you fear it; I know that you do not. I have seen your grim resolve in the dark of night, pecking at a keyboard, singing in your head far away.

Poetry Doesn’t Do Anything For Me – I Like Things To Be Concrete!

Concrescence does not fall from the sky in lumps, God’s gift to writers. Stories congeal – a word here, a phrase there, a character’s face in a dream. How does this happen save in the subconscious? Are we not plumbers of dreams? I say this: in verse you will find your images unshakeable, defiant of story, for you to tame and shape. In verse we can be dreaming awake; we can note in the margins of nightmares.

I Only Like Poetry That Rhymes!

Philistine. Luddite. Fool. Do you still read Beverly Cleary? Are you enamored always with Hungry Caterpillars? Do you mark your days with bars of Twinkle Twinkle? There was a time when you thought the people in the television were real, when monsters would chase you in the basement, when Santa Claus watched. As we grow, our vision broadens. We learn. We taste the variety of the world. You would deny this opportunity to poetry, and why?

Fear, I say. Cowardice. Ignorance. Expect more from yourself.

I Don’t Know Anything About Poetry!

Education is the seed of all things. Go forth and read. Let the poets sing to you, let them curse you, let them bore you and chide you. Grow. There is no storyteller that didn’t go exploring in spite of fear. Swallow it down, and let the verse crash upon you.

Read poetry.


About aahabershaw

Writer, teacher, gaming enthusiast, and storyteller. I write stories, novels, and occasional rants.

Posted on October 17, 2014, in Critiques, Theories, and Random Thoughts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ve always found it strange that poetry is viewed as intimidating, but strange or no, it is. It’s also wonderful and I think most people should indulge in it, so I offer this poem as encouragement to those who decide to take the leap.


    Past mishaps might be attributed to an incomplete understanding of the
    laws of aerodynamics or perhaps even to a more basic failure of the
    imagination, but were to be expected. Remember this is solo flight
    unencumbered by bicycle parts, aluminum and nylon or even feathers. A
    tour de force, really. There’s a lot of running and flapping involved
    and as you get older and heavier, a lot more huffing and puffing. But on
    a bright day like today with a strong headwind blowing up from the sea,
    when, having slipped the surly bonds of common sense and knowing she is
    watching, hurtling down the long, green slope to the cliffs, who knows?
    You might just make it.

    — Louis Jenkins

    Also, it reminds me quite a bit of when Deirdre and I were young and tried, day after day, to learn how to fly. We’d run down the hallway, through the kitchen and leap off of the kitchen steps, desperately flapping our arms. Poor Cathleen… 🙂

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