Why Fiction Writers Should Write Poetry

I’m going to start by saying that I don’t really consider myself a poet. I’ve never quite understood it, I never caught on to the rhyming and cadence. I just didn’t get it. I thought you were either a good fiction writer or poet, much like people say you’re either a good baker or cook. I’m learning that neither are mutually exclusive.

About two weeks ago, my editor suggested I start writing poetry. Now, you need to understand “her suggestions” are never just light suggestions. They mean something… and it usually means work on my end. She’s not your typical editor. She’s also a teacher and when she sees something in your writing she thinks you could use to improve yourself to become a better writer, well, she tells you. (if you’re interested in this type of editor who teaches as well as edits, check Denise Vitola out here) Anyway, she suggested I go to this new Facebook page called Peanut Butter & Poetry Jam and look at the image prompt they put up on Saturdays. The concept is you write a poem in the comments and then on Thursdays they pick a poem to discuss on Fridays. She said this would be a good exercise for me and “it was suggested” I do this each Saturday. (hmm…suggested, ordered, take your pick).

Created by Beth Ann Ryden

Created by Beth Ann Ryden

But I did. Strangely, my poem got chosen the first week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t spend a lot of time on it. Nor my entry for the second week. It wasn’t that I didn’t care. Normally I agonize over work that goes public, but I have no real idea of what I’m doing, nor any idea of what I should even agonize about. But, while I’m self-conscious and it feels like my entries are lame, I’m trying. And apparently, they seem to be passable and getting some nice feedback. Come on over and like the page and put in a poem. No cost, no competition, just feedback. Please don’t be fearful. I’ve talked to people who want to do it, but get scared they will be judged. I promise you, this isn’t that kind of place. If I can do it, by all means you can. Here was my entry last week with the gorgeous photo prompt created by Beth Ann Ryden.

My Entry:

“How often does the sea meet the sky, papa?”
“As often as the sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes, and the tides flows in and out. As often as the dolphin breaks the surface to breathe, the fish swim in schools and the earth spins. The sea meets the sky from the moment you wake, to the moment you sleep. Rise up, dear daughter and meet the sky, for wonders will be met and joy will be felt when your face touches the sun.”

So I started thinking… am I a poet? Have I ever been? I was in the attic last night and I actually found this poem I wrote when I was about twelve. I remember thinking back then I still had no idea what I was doing, but you can see the joy in it. The way I circled the “dots above my “i’s,” the little doodle drawings on the margins like kids do.

One of my earlier efforts - might have been 12 yrs old?

One of my earlier efforts – might have been 12 yrs old?

Do you write poetry? How do you feel about it? Love to hear!

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19 thoughts on “Why Fiction Writers Should Write Poetry

    • I wish it slowed my mind – I approached it the same as my books, possibly faster since I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing… I do poetry more like a stream of consciousness since I just write… I’ll try to slow down more – maybe that will help.

  1. Your youthful poem was so sweet and hopeful! I liked it very much. … I write poetry all the time, and find I can express my thoughts in so many different ways, be it light and fun, or deep and soul searching. There are structured forms, and also free style, for whatever suits you at the time. Hope you continue to explore the poetic forms! πŸ™‚

  2. I started with poetry when I came to writing but i find it truly a challenge; occasionally i glimpse something in what I’ve done that has a flicker of hope but it’s soon crushed under the weight of metaphor and crass phrasing. *sigh*

    • Oh, I get that completely. You already lost me under the “weight of metaphor and crass phrasing.” I don’t even know when I’m doing that wrong. But my guess is that they simply want you to explore the prompt for feelings. What does it invoke. What emotion can your brain come up with. One entry this week is rife with metaphors that seem totally nice and fine to my eye, but not something I’d ever come up with on my own, at least not yet.

  3. Your editor makes good suggestions. I occasionally indulge in a poem, and I don’t really know what I’m doing, either. I think I’m old-fashioned, because I prefer poems that have rhythm and rhyme.

    • Yes, I always thought poems were supposed to have rhythm and rhyme but when I do them, like my entry this week, I think it’s lame… but at the same time, it’s nice to flex those muscles.

  4. That’s such a good idea. I haven’t written a poem since I was in my 30s (which was a while ago). I wasn’t very good, but the idea of working on a poem and using vocabulary that I can’t in my novels certainly appeals. It would be like using a different set of muscles, but still getting benefit.

    • That is EXACTLY why my editor is having me do this. She’s not looking for me to be an acclaimed poet, but there are apparently skills with poetry that every writer can use. Give it a try. It can only help, right?

  5. I used to write sonnets back in Senior English in High School. It was an assignment as we were studying Shakespeare and I like the idea enough to create about a dozen or so. Not sure where they are currently located though.

  6. Love your poem that goes with the picture. I think poetry is difficult because you must choose your words so carefully to convey a meaning in a short format. I was never good at that but will consider the challenge. πŸ™‚

  7. I’ve been writing poetry since the early 1980s. I don’t write everyday, week or month, but I do return to poems repeatedly. In fact, I wrote a few haiku last Thursday.

    Here’s one of them – hope the syllable count is correct.

    Sunlight blinds my eyes
    Ice melts into a river
    Feeding the red flood

    • Lloyd, I don’t know the first thing about Haiku’s! But I do get a visual with this. Come on over to that FB page and give it a try… I’m sure they’d love to have you.

      • What Facebook group?

        Haiku is a major form of Japanese verse, written in 17 syllables divided into 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, and employing highly evocative allusions and comparisons, often on the subject of nature or one of the seasons. ( I copied and pasted this)

        Tanka poetry is another form, a little longer – a Japanese poem consisting of 31 syllables in 5 lines, with 5 syllables in the first and third lines and 7 in the others.

      • This post is about Peanut Butter and Poetry Jam on FB… I have a link in the post above. Go definitely check it out! You’d be amazing. I’d love to see a Haiku about the prompt this week!

  8. Writing a poem requires one to look at a subject in a different way than writing a story or an article does. Sometimes there is a poem in me that wants out, and that is when I write poetry. Poetry takes one to the heart of a subject. Like fiction, it deals not just with what is, but also with what could be.

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