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Author Topic: Poetry as Prose
Member # 9379

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A couple of years ago I was struck by a story idea that emerged only in poetry form. It has an epic Odysean(?) feel to it.
Is this kind of thing still worth doing?

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Member # 8019

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Prose poetry enjoys a writing culture and marketplace all by itself. The niche is narrow to a degree, mostly in academic circles, also to a degree in flash fiction markets. Overtly poetic prose generally is passed over in the prose culture and marketpace. However, if the usual prose writing principles are accommodated, the poetry calls no undue attention to itself. Actually, a careful, close analysis of most any artful prose narrative uncovers its poetry.
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Member # 9379

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Interesting. Thank you, my friend.
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Robert Nowall
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I don't see any reason---other than commercial considerations---for writing out a narrative story in poetic form. A poem can tell a story as easily as straightforward prose.

Besides, picking out the right words to fill a rhyme or a meter could help you in picking out the right words in any kind of writing. Certainly writing poetry (including some that told a story) helped me a lot.

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Crystal Stevens
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I find this discussion interesting in the fact that cowboy poetry does this all the time. Almost all my poems (I'm a cowboy poet) tell a story, usually about my experiences with my horses and living in the country.
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A fascinating art form, much underappreciated today.
I have long loved Clark Ashton Smith's prose poetry.

Dr. Bob

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Good poetry is extremely hard to pull off. It's an exceptionally complicated writing form with a ton of rules generally ignored by most people who write it casually. And, in my opinion, those who follow the rules and try their hands at different poetic styles usually come up with something that's impossible for me to become engaged in as a reader.

One of the poetry classes I took in undergrad was hated by the students in the major because the head professor of the poetics graduate department taught the class as if it was physics. If you didn't study, and study diligently, you were going to fail. And part of understanding the poem, and appreciating the poet, was knowing the author. This makes every stanza an exhaustive research project unlocking the coded language poets employ. To me, this always made sense, as every poem I've ever enjoyed were written by people I knew, and the only reason I "got" the poem was because I "got" them.

A prose-poem would be an exhaustive piece to read that I think few would have the patience for. Even today, in what remains of bookstores, the poetry section is tucked away and has to be sought to find. I just did a check on Amazon and there isn't even a heading or subheading for Poetry. So though there's no harm and undertaking any writing exercise, having any thought of making it in any way a commercial success is probably short-sighted.

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Member # 8019

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Poetry composition does indeed rely on a numerous variety of rhetorical principles, most of which apply as equally and as artfully to prose. The ancients considered iambic pentameter the foot for dramatic poetry, or dactyl if not iamb, from which accentual verse and rhythm derive for prose writing's artful emphases, like expressing emotional attitudes and feelings. Dramatic poetry is prose's direct, lineal ancestor. At the time of the ancients, conversation generally had not fallen into patterns we take for granted today, everyday speech having little social uniformity overall or persuasive patterning and sequencing otherwise.

Noting that everyday speech and a large portion of prose is loosely expressed in iambic pentameter's unstressed, stressed syllable accentual relationship and ten syllables of each pairing, for a total of twenty syllables per verse line, corresponds to reading ergonomics. Ten regularized words of 6.5 glphys each is two eyeblinks per line, as prose's Standard Manuscript Format and Standard Publication Format appear. Also, a regularized sentence is ten regularized words.

Enjambment works equally as well in poetry as it does in prose. Caesura and medial pauses work equally as well in prose as poetry. Alliteration, hyperbaton, synchrsis, repetition, substitution, and amplification schemes, etc., to a count of eight hundred discrete, distinguishable rhetorical figures, work egually as well in prose as poetry. Metaphor, simile, irony, satire, sarcasm, synecdoche, metonymy, hyperbole, and understatement work equally as well in prose as poetry. Blank and free verse work equally as well in prose as poetry. For each rhetorical principle--scheme or trope, figure of speech, appealling virtue or unsettling vice--used in prose or poetry, most every one cross applies each to the other genre.

The only distinctions between prose and poetry are rhyme, which is a death for prose generally, rigid metric rhythm, which is also a death for prose generally, and prose is set in paragraph formatting, where poetry is set in verse formatting. Rigid rhyme and rhythm schemes call undue attention to prose's construction, unsettle the illusion of reality spell, cause a death of prose's appeals. Verse or paragraph formatting signals genre in the broad sense of poetry, prose, script writing, or expository composition forms.

Poetry like prose is as much science as art, social science at least due to writing's basis upon grammar principles expressed as social conventions and expectations. A social science certainly due to writing's function as persuasion, which is the science and art of rhetoric.

Poetry enjoys a powerful culture and marketplace following in society, albeit a comparatively narrow niche audience. Revenue performance may not equal blockbuster bestseller breakouts; however, not a few poets earn generous livelihoods from their poetry. Culture and marketplace competition is as lively and heartbreaking for poetry as it is for prose.

Before the rise of the Digital Age, critics, literary pundits, were counting poetry a knockout as an imminent cultural decision. The Digital Age revitalized the genre. Poetry now enjoys as much popular and critical acclaim as it had in the early twentieth century, and increasingly more so going forward, due to the Internet. Amazon's search category bias toward poetry only demonstrates the company's revenue-driven emphasis. They sell as much poetry and poetry writing texts and critical poetry analyses as the market and culture will bear, regardless of how Amazon categorically prioritizes poetry.

[ February 18, 2014, 01:48 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Member # 10087

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Reading the novel in verse "Eugene Onegin" by Russian author Alexander Pushkin is a beautiful experience. What astonishes me is how well the English translation reflects the original Russian so well and possibly exceeds it in beauty (which might be my native English bias speaking). I'm actually not a huge fan of the overall story, but loved the way it effortlessly flowed from beginning to end.
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