View Full Version : poetic sensibility in other writing?

07-07-2006, 06:44 PM
I've seen it mentioned a few places around the boards, and seen fine examples here and in books, heard in songs, etc that someone with poetic sensibilities can turn a powerful phrase in prose and songwriting and most likely even filmmaking. So I guess my question is, do you think your poetic aspirations trigger in your other writing and improve it?

Sometimes words stick to you and you realize it is quite possibly the perfect phrase for that poem, novel, song, film. You wonder why you hadn't ever thought of it, and its beauty captures your imagination.
Some examples:

A Long December by Counting Crows:
And the feeling that its all a lot of oysters, but no pearls
All at once you look across a crowded room
To see the way that light attaches to a girl

Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast
I've seen you, beauty, and you belong to me now, whoever you are waiting for and if I never see you again, I thought. You belong to me and all Paris belongs to me and I belong to this notebook and this pencil.

American Beauty: (film)
It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like, dancing with me. Like a little kid begging me to play with it. For fifteen minutes. And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. Video's a poor excuse, I know. But it helps me remember... and I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in.

Is poetry for prose writers like ballet for football players? (I believe p.h. said that to Spooky on the crit of his posted poems).

William Haskins
07-07-2006, 06:58 PM
i think it's especially useful in writing short fiction, but i think some ability crafting poetry pays dividends in everything in life.

07-07-2006, 06:58 PM
They are decadent aren't they! I think that's why I like Hem so much.

07-07-2006, 06:59 PM
i think it's especially useful in writing short fiction, but i think some ability crafting poetry pays dividends in everything in life.

agreed. somehow if you are able to see things "poetically speaking" you appreciate them more for how they can be used as metaphors for other things, or how brief moments can boil down into crystal, something that used to be too big for words.

07-07-2006, 07:02 PM
Sometimes when I try to write fiction, it just turns into a poem or song...

07-07-2006, 07:12 PM
i suppose it does have that challenge as well, Godfather. That it may seem more concise as a poem or song than a long piece of fiction. But in a novel or short story poetic prose jumps at you, and makes the story cling to you for a long time to come. It binds the work in a more universal way to the reader, I believe.
If you ever do set out to write fiction, GF, take the poetic sense with you on that journey.

07-07-2006, 07:17 PM
Hmmm... interesting conversation.

I don't know about me. It seems my book writing and my poetic self are two different animals. I don't see much similarity in the two. Perhaps because my poetry tends to be shorter and sometimes more direct. When I'm working on my ms, I'm doing more scene visualizatin and describing for a long haul. I don't know if that makes any sense.

I probably should pay more attention and use the positives of one with the other, but I've never really thought about it. I will now.

Good question, Trish!

07-07-2006, 08:00 PM
I think that poetry influences my other writing, but I also have to be careful in balancing it against prose or lyrics or whatever else I may write.

Some writers who I feel hit that poetic voice are

Now in Vienna there's ten pretty women
There's a shoulder where Death comes to cry
There's a lobby with nine hundred windows
There's a tree where the doves go to die
There's a piece that was torn from the morning
And it hangs in the Gallery of Frost
Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay
Take this waltz, take this waltz
Take this waltz with the clamp on its jaws

I’ve been – not so awf’ly good lately. I’ve run for protection… from under one leaky roof to another leaky roof – because it was storm – all storm, and I was – caught in the center…People don’t see you – men don’t – don’t even admit your existence unless they are making love to you. And you’ve got to have your existence admitted by someone, if you’re going to have someone’s protection.

One minute it was Ohio winter, with doors closed, windows locked, the panes blind with frost, icicles fringing every roof, children skiing on slopes, housewives lumbering like great black bears in their furs along the icy streets.
- The Martian Chronicles

The candlelight flickers
The falcon calls
A lime-green lizard scuttles down the cabin wall
And all of these spirit voices
Sing rainwater, sea water
River water, holy water
Wrap this child in mercy - heal her
Heaven's only daughter
All of these spirit voices rule the night
My hands were numb
My feet were lead
I drank a cup of herbal brew
Then the sweetness in the air
Combined with the lightness in my head
And I heard the jungle breathing in the bamboo
I also agree with William that poetry can touch every part of your life. It can inform your experience and your peception of life. There are things we experience in life that most people never see and they enrich us. Rob's boy with a Taco, Bret's wife pulling the world away, and many other simple everyday things become a deeper experience for those attuned to the poetry that is in our daily living.

07-07-2006, 08:23 PM
As much as I love poetic prose, on the flip side, I suppose it is entirely possible for a work of prose to be too poetry-ridden, isn't it?

07-07-2006, 10:25 PM
I have a friend who is a "bug guy" (I can spell that without out looking up endemologist). I accidentally came across Annie Dillard who wrote Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, An American Childhood and The Writing Life and fell madly in love with her writing, especially because it was so beautifully, poetically, phrased. I offered it to my "bug guy" friend because alot of her work is on the inhabitants of nature and the beauty found in nature. He gave it back after a short while and said, it was too poetic for him. I thought for sure the mating practice of the horsehair worm would captivate him. No, too poetic.

Yes, some work can have that characteristic. But, what I found astounding was that the very characteristic of being poetic actually repulsed someone. For me, the lesson learned is that having that poetic perspective is a boon and a bain. Unless you are adept at crossing over techniques, poetics is a world of it's own. PS: A world I would never want to leave.

07-07-2006, 11:04 PM
Hi Stew-I've no poetical type aspirations-but since hanging around here I have been writing a few on some threads-I have been told that some of them pass muster-but I am not a good judge of anything that I write!

However, I will say as you suggested-it does improve the writing I am doing-I think for the reasons you stated-Dave

A. Hamilton
07-07-2006, 11:13 PM
So I guess my question is, do you think your poetic aspirations trigger in your other writing and improve it?
They most definitely trigger. But I don't think they always improve because I find I have a hard time balancing. My writing can have too much poetic fluff, or, none at all. I sometimes read my work and it feels very text-book like. It reads in monotone. But when I try to spice it up, I get very carried away with the poetics. This happens when I converse or correspond as well. I get caught up in some metaphor or another and you can actually see me lose focus, my eyes turn upward and I look as if I'm talking to the sky.
I do enjoy reading work with strong poetic influence. Barbara Kingsolver comes to mind right off. But it has its place. I've read thrillers where the author gets way too descriptive about the scenery as the car races madly from the crime scene. A time and a place for everything.

07-07-2006, 11:39 PM
The danger in writing poetic prose is it can come across as purple, or at least a little lavender (to those who matter). It's a shame because lean writing is frequently celebrated as a lofty goal when only a slight infusion of lyricism can make prose sparkle.

07-07-2006, 11:43 PM
Maybe that's why Hemingway did it so well, NF. Declarative, clear sentences, not flowery even slightly, but rolls like poetry. Not throughout an entire novel but placed so precisely within it that it flows.

07-08-2006, 01:11 AM
I just read Koontz "Velocity" a grim and gripping thriller. I was surprised to see how poetic it was.