Poetry Monday: What poetry does better

I remembered today what I knew back in high school:  that poetry can be a better outlet for difficult emotions than prose.  Prose is linear, but poetry speaks in images, in snapshots of emotion.

I wrote the first poem I’ve written in years today.  It’s probably no better than what I wrote back in high school, but it did what I wanted it to do: express an emotion and an experience directly, without explanation or exposition.

2 Comments

Filed under poetry, writing

2 responses to “Poetry Monday: What poetry does better

  1. I’ve been thinking about this since you posted. It’s very true. Some of the most beautiful, or most disturbing, images I’ve ever “seen” came by way of reading poetry. I also think this can be true of other forms of writing, just with less frequency. Some of the most impactful emotional images I’ve “read” were presented by way of short erotica. That format, being compact like poetry, allows the use of sensuality and sexual detail to mirror the psychological and emotional snapshots you mention. Some erotica stories are more poetic and lyric than others, though.

    In the case of novels, I thnk the toil required to make a longer work of prose that has that same all-encompassing impact on the reader — I’m thinking Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, for example — is epic! Pun intended 🙂 I imagine few authors are willing or able to spend decades on a work as Tolkien did. The typically shorter format of poetry really lends itself to communicating imagery, which is probably why we have few Tolkien-like authors. Of course, a lot of Tolkien’s work did involve poetry within the volumes, so perhaps that just underlines your point that some forms of emotional imagery just can’t be communicated as well as with poetry?

    • Short work, especially poetry, achieves its impact in a different way than prose. Prose is more like a slow seduction, while poetry is more like a carnival ride. (There are lots of different rides, some intense like a roller coaster, others a little more mellow.) Epic poetry seems to blend the two forms.

      Tolkien and some of the other tolkienesqe books do have a lot in common with poetry and are particularly compelling because of it. Dennis McKiernan talks about how important getting the right rhythm is.

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