Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Difference Between Prose and Poetry

I have always been a streaky writer.

Both my output and my material happens in bunches, like a basketball team on a 12-0 run; strong defense leads to less time on defense, leads to a fast break, leads to excitement to get back on defense again.

My May was dedicated to the Blogathon, to prose. I have a couple more book reviews to write, with several more books nearly finished, and I have some ideas about video games and learning curves, and about the effect of America's stratifying levels of education on unionization and the middle class. Beyond that, my horizon is kind of prosed out.

But a part of that is because I've found myself in some great poem building situations.

I love the monthly open mic I've found, and after a workshop last Saturday with Jane Cassady (whose new book is available here), I'll be joining her on Wednesday nights throughout the summer for a poetry workshop.

Why is it so hard to shift gears?

The clarity and precision demanded by prose is often unnecessary, or even unwelcome, in poetry. Likewise, the tactile qualities of poetry can make prose feel stilted. So there's some of that.

But I also feel, at times, that I need to go to a different place within myself to write good poetry. Not a better or worse, brighter or darker place. No qualifiers. Just that the spot within myself where the poetry bubbles has a taste that distinguishes it from the prose place. The way water tastes different in different towns, and how that difference seeps into the breads and the drinks and memory of the place.

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