(he says. In prose)
I don’t want to get all Alexander Pope on your ass and write an essay in verse because frak you I’m clever like that, so you’re saved my pentameter. But in writing poetry recently – both the posts on this blog and a secret poetry project I’ve started, and very excited for, and will complete around April 2079 – and giving up on NaNoWriMo, I’ve realised how hard it is to write in prose.
You need full sentences and stuff! And it’s harder to switch between voices and narrative viewpoints because prose exists to make clear and explicit all the moves between viewpoints and characters, saying who is speaking, where each person is, what they’re feeling in internal monologues; in a poem you can stick a dash in there, switch places completely and it’s your reader’s fault for not picking up on it!
This is a simplification of course, but I think there’s a point to be made there: prose is about the logical, step-by-step setting out of a story or set of ideas, and poetry is more about interpretation, and playing around with technique as well as words to create a series of inspirations for interpretations, rather than anything necessarily more concrete. (Disclaimer – Tristram Shandy does not buck this trend because I refuse to accept its existence as anything more than annoying.)
I disliked reading and writing poetry recently for this reason, that there is nothing concrete you can draw out from reading a poem, and nothing that you can explicitly suggest to an audience – ie how they are ‘supposed’ to react – as a poet; it seemed like from both standpoints, I’d always be getting shafted.
Having realised the fact that this view is mindless idiocentric, and getting over the fact that debate and discussion isn’t something to be feared in seminars but a thing to be enjoyed when talking about how insane Metamorphoses and Chaucer are in bars with other English students, I decided to stop being a bitch and get back into poetry, like I did was I was like twelve and produced rather a lot of high-quality, bullshit-twelve-year-old poetry, which should really be a genre in and of itself.
And now I feel comfortable writing about loneliness or conformity in verse, and even narrative pieces, perhaps moreso than creating a world and telling a story through prose, as is evidenced by my slow progress on my ‘big’ novel over the last three years and NaNoFailMo. But I still have those stories I want to tell, and think they’d be better off in prose than verse (maybe as a long-running TV drama best of all but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
But I guess this is what it is to be ‘creative’ in some abstract sense, to think things and make them appear in a form comprehendible by other people. Moving out and ‘living’ has made me think of all the things I want to share with others, not as some dry academic exercise, but because life is weird, and I have things to say on the subject. I’ve just not yet decided how I’m gonna say them yet.
If this were a poem, I’d now close with an obscenity to reduce the ‘airy bullshit’ concentration of the last two paragraphs. But because this is prose and, more specifically, a blog, here’s a video of a man being kicked in the face in slow-motion.