By: Traci Kenworth
“Always be a poet, even in prose.”―
Ever wonder which came first? Poetry or Writing. Or did the two-walk hand in hand, soul to soul? It turns out that poetry came first as man’s need to communicate among themselves progressed from verbal sounds. Writing came much later to civilization. Especially when groups settled together and needed laws.
The Need for Poetry
I would say; personally, poetry is one of the best craft-teaching tools. It forces you to be stingy with your words, generous with your descriptions, decisive on what you say. I have found since studying the Tanka and senryu of late, that my writing is taking on an edge it didn’t have before.
The more I practice writing the poetry forms, the more confident I become in other areas of my work. I see new colors blending into my prose, new descriptive teasers, and less verbiage.
When I started writing poetry years ago, I only wrote when my emotions were at a peak. I couldn’t seem to do so at any other time. Now that I’m counting syllables, I’m becoming freer to write whenever it’s called for: i.e., when a contest comes up.
I’m hoping to continue to grow until I can submit to the professional markets again, armed with a better understanding and more of a chance at success. Though I know the poetry market, like the short story, are extremely hard to break into, I still intend to try.
Of the two, poetry and prose, the prose is the hardest to learn. Most likely, because in English, there are so many grammar and punctuation rules. It takes more concentration and narrowing in on what to say and not say. Man has always liked to communicate. Witness the caveman drawings. Fire. Laws. Plays. Television and on and on.
We hunger to understand one another, to entertain one another, to impress. As such, we seek smarter and more ingenious ways to do so.
We’re not satisfied with the bland, the simple, we want more complex.
Stories were brought about by many generations of campfires where the storyteller would seek to regal those around them. Haunting stories. Adventure. Bloodshed. All this and more dangled before the listener.
When books got around to being printed, it was the same objective: the author seeking to compel readers with one tale or another. Storytellers were sought after in some circles, ridiculed in others. It all depended on how structured the society was at the time.
I’m thankful that today, there are as many genres of storytelling out there as there are different reader tastes. I hope we continue to grow and achieve. I know there are those who say readers are diminishing, that people no longer have the patience to pick up a book, but I can’t imaging a time when that is true. We might have to find a new venue, but storytelling will continue as long as there are people.
Poetry and Prose: Side-by-Side
When we bring poetry into prose, it can do so much to enlighten us, make us drift deeper into an emotion, widen our understanding of the scene. It was a dark and stormy night becomes lightning snapped among the branches of the tree and bridged the dark velvet that spread through the heavens. A cool touch of the breeze spun through her hair, making it frizzier than usual.
Poetry paints a picture – trips our emotions – makes us a part of the story. A shiver spiked through her body when the light revealed a new path home. That hadn’t been there yesterday. And yet—hadn’t it? She distinctly smelled the cow barn in the distance below. If she listened carefully, she could hear the friendly nicker of her horse, Bedizu.
You pair a picture of what you want your reader to see with strong emotion. She bowed her head to the gravestone, the crack running through her mother’s name sparked shortness of breath. How could she do this? How did her mother survive all these years? Daddy was insufferable. And worse now that her mother had died. He’d sold the last of their Cornish hens just yesterday. Where would they get eggs? It’d been too long since they’d had chicken itself for dinner. He claimed stores were the place to be when just last week, he’d declared them young whippersnappers.
Or go for fear: Adell lowered her head to the ground and listened. A faint humming came from the dew grass. It rocked the belly of the earth some. She gazed about her looking for the source of tension but saw nothing more than an anthill, overloaded with residents. Another quake and the dirt cracked before her. A stadium of ants drilled out and covered her legs before she could stop them. They bit and pinched as they moved. Soon, even her eyelids paralyzed while they marched over and beyond her, headed for the city below.
Wrapping it Up
Writing and poetry might exist without each other, but together, they are extraordinary. They keep the excitement, the pulse on the piece if you will. They broaden our horizons, letting us experience the joy, the depth of emotions we might not otherwise. As humans, our need for knowledge, our hunger for exploring is tied to a lot of different genres. I don’t see that diminishing any time soon.
We need our future worlds. And our past. Our galaxies. The moon. Werewolves and dinosaurs. Aliens and cavemen. All creation to come together and make stories that defy the boring.
Who wants to read about school? But give that school a boy wizard with doom awaiting his future, and the children will come in waves. Or the adults who dreamt of living in medieval times and fighting the wars, winning the titles, conquering dragons, and along came Game of Thrones.
Or the women who dream of adventure, traveling, and healing, and we have the Outlander world with all its feistiness and danger.
To live is to breathe poetry.
To open our hearts is to tell stories.
Together, the two are unbeatable.
Bio: Traci Kenworth
Traci Kenworth writes all genres of YA as well as the occasional historical romance. She lives in Ohio with her son, daughter, and four cats, chasing snippets of whatever story she’s working on at the time.
She has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Writing saved her during a dark period in her life.
She is forever grateful to God for this way out of the darkness and into the light. That’s the type of hero/heroine she writes about, survivors and those they love. Her writings show others a way back when they think everything is lost.
Her character’s stories give the reader that most welcome gift – hope. Some other things she enjoys: genealogy, riding horseback, and, of course, reading.
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