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Hello everyone, and welcome to our "tWR Interviews", where we interview experienced writers of our community about the art of writing!
If you're reading, please favourite and share the article so we can spread this amazing resource around!
We literally have tons of people helping for this interview, since our article stockpile for it was rather small: SilverInkblot, jade-pandora, kiwi-damnation, thetaoofchaos, illuminara, LiliWrites, neurotype, julietcaesar, LadyLincoln, raspil and me (HtBlack) will tell you abour poetic prose!
If you want to get some more educational reading, here are the other interviews we've released so far:
- On Writing
- Prose and Poetry Basics
- To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme?
- Description and Vocabulary in Prose
- Characters, Imagery and Metaphors
- Vocabulary, Narrative Voice and POV
- Rhetoric Figures in Poetry
- Plot Building
Our interview focuses on poetic prose.
What do you think of poetic prose? Have you ever written any, and why/why not?
HtBlack, I have written some, especially in the past. I was amused by the idea of expressing both mediums together, and it also seemed to work for the stories that I wanted to tell. They were more of a "painting in words", an image or short event explained through words, they didn't have a specific plot, just a message to tell or a feeling to portray - and as such I felt that poetic prose was the way to go.
It also was a very fun way to expand my vocabulary, the richness of descriptions definitely helped.
jade-pandora, Yes, I have written poetic prose at times. I quite enjoy the form whenever I am in the mood. The poet in me loves how this style of expression allows one to stretch beyond the limits of poetry yet still be able to touch upon all things poetic. And, I might add, I do not have to commit to writing a long prose which I have not as much patience with. So for me, poetic prose is the best of both worlds when I feel like giving it a go.
The Worm and the Epiphany is a fable I wrote for a competition, done as poetic prose.
kiwi-damnation, Poetic prose, otherwise known as prosetry is a curious art form. I have written it, though not often, and I quite enjoyed it. It’s not for everyone but it’s best done by those who work in both mediums and understand the rules of each.
@thataoofchaos, Poetic prose, or prosetry as it is somewhat unevenly referred to, is a very interesting idea. I like the concept because I’m fond of the notion that there are lines between prose and poetry that can be effectively blurred to the point that one must really nitpick in order to draw valid distinctions. Novelists like Kerouac and Joyce wrote in flowing verse-like paragraphs that used compressed language, imagery-laden symbolism, and many other poetic devices to achieve this quasi-poetic prose.
I have attempted prosetry: November, Junk (another deviation was provided but the link keeps crashing).
I like prosetry because, as I said, poetic convention is ripe for challenging at any opportunity.
illuminara, Yes and no. I think all good prose is a sort of poetry. I don't intentionally try to write poetic prose, but I do always try to give rhythm to my words, sentences, and paragraphs. This quotation by Gary Provost is the most stunning passage I've ever heard on the subject:
"This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important."
LiliWrites, I've tried my hand at it. I'm not very good, sadly. I admire people who are able to combine the two seamlessly, but it's a rare thing to find. I think that it is slowly working itself into being its own genre though. There are plenty of people here on dA submitting prose-poems (or prosetry). It would actually be pretty helpful if we had a sub-category for it because I'm always a bit confused when I start reading a prose-poem if I don't realize it is one at the start.
neurotype, If I recall correctly, the first piece I got paid for could be classified as "prose poetry." I don't really think of it as anything but another device to tell a story. If your entire story is just a stream of meandering not-quite-stream-of-consciousness metaphors, nothing about it will stand out, and frankly it's going to look like a massive pile of ego-wank if you insist on describing everything to that degree. On the other hand, purely utilitarian prose isn't inspiring. Even high fantasy and science fiction, genres less renowned for the quality of style than conceptualization and theme, will use poetic devices, if not as often as literary fiction.
julietcaesar, I've written a couple, more in the style of a haibun, which is a Japanese poetry style that does involve the writing of a very short story followed by a haiku. I don't have a problem with poetic prose on principle - it's just another form that is used well and also abused terribly. The abusers of the form tend to be ones that wallow in sentimentality and a lot of adjectives and a lot of "pretty" language which personally irks me a lot because it really comes off as contrived. I admire writers who still use language littered with beautiful turns of phrase but still show restraint in a way that you still perceive as truth-moulding and catches your breath away. That's difficult. It means you've got to choose your words wisely and know the full impact of the words.
LadyLincoln, In my own opinion, anything done well – with a touch of genuine human spirit and raw honesty is well worth reading. And, not yet, because I feel that my writing strengths lie elsewhere, but may one day feel compelled to if and whenever the proper inspiration comes.
raspil, When I was younger (between 1990 and 1998), I wrote it. Some was good, some was not. I'm better at short stories. I learned how to do all three at the hand of Charles Bukowski. He taught me everything I know.
Are there pros to approaching writing in a poetic prose form over a more traditional poem form? Cons?
HtBlack, The pros lie definitely within the elements of prose. Adding some well-thought prose element in the poetry cauldron can get tasty results... also, poetic prose gives you more freedom over vocabulary and structure, while at the same time giving you more power over them since the chains of form and language loosen.
Seen from the other side, throwing in a prose element in your poetry, as much as the element itself is clever, could end up in a disaster; and there IS a thing as too much freedom, turning a piece of poetic prose into a monologue of adjectives and neverending bore.
SilverInkblot, Nothing comes to mind, as far as the writing process goes. Results though - poetic prose makes for gorgeous reading
How do you explore approaching a topic from a poetic prose standpoint?
HtBlack, I change my approach completely when I switch from any of the two genres to this hybrid one. My focus shifts from certain elements that I would have previously considered to others, and the weight I give to everything is different. Words not only have power, they have a definite weight, and like a combo score in a videogame, combining them cleverly pays off! As long as you don't ruin the combo with something silly in between.
SilverInkblot, It's hard to explain - you want to be detailed, but don't want to cross the line over into purple prose. To that end, I'd advise choosing your descriptors well; find the best words at the best time. And keep in mind, it's easier to take away writing than it is to try and fit more in; write, then remove and rearrange as necessary. I find I take very little away from my prosetry, but frequently move it around.
What sort of ideas do you think lend themselves to poetic prose?
HtBlack, I think I answered this above, but I'm interviewing myself, so I'll humour me and all of you. The ideas that I think are more suitable for it are the descriptions of brief moments, like a photograph or a painting turned into words; these lend themselves to richer vocabulary without losing their importance or beauty, like paintings.
SilverInkblot, Writing about something ordinary in a poetic way brings out the inherent magic. You're forced to find something beautiful when you're trying to write beautifully.
Do you have a specific "subject" for your prosetry?
HtBlack, hmm... I think nature. Most of my poetic prose has been about nature, in one way or another, and it's because nature provides us with fleeting instants of beauty that I felt would be captured best through poetic prose.
SilverInkblot, I love using extended metaphors alongside my prosetry. Space and science in general is a recurring theme for me.
Do you employ poetry devices heavily in it? Why (or why not)?
HtBlack, Yes, I think I do. Rhetoric devices are something really beautiful, and I love them. I don't know that many, really, but those I do I often employ, in most of my writing, but each of them has to have a reason to be where it is except "to embellish and look pretty". I feel like a bit of a heavier hand with rhetoric figures in poetic prose doesn't hurt, poetry after all is an irreplaceable part of it.
SilverInkblot, Not consciously, no. Prosetry is something you develop a "feel" for. It's one of those things that's hard to put strict guidelines on, but that you know when you read it.
Some questions for our readers!
- Did any of the answers catch you off guard?
- Did any of the answers particularly connect with you?
- Are there any questions that you would have answered differently?
A big, big THANK YOU to all who participated in this interview, your contribution was amazing. If you reader have any questions, tag the deviant you want to ask them to! They knew they were signing up for it. Totally.