I used to think I understood prose poetry on a deeper level since I’m primarily a fiction writer. Well, maybe not understand it, but I felt like I connected to it more at the very least.
Since starting this poetry class on the line, including its breaks, meanings, and uses in poetry, I’ve found myself stuck in the way I think about the line as my previously-held beliefs are solidified when I’m able to catch my preferences in another’s poetry: primarily, the line being used as a way to provide double-meanings, suspense, and most importantly, emphasis.
When it comes to prose poetry, line breaks are somehow…less thought out to me. I see the merit in recognizing that each line – when it breaks – can do a different thing, or continuously expand on the initial idea presented (these ideas have also been solidified the more I’ve read prose poetry), but the margins really control the poem, whether it takes up a whole page or is broken by an indented margin. The language doesn’t dictate the line break, but the end of the line’s space does; it seems that form, here, is controlling content, when I’m used to thinking about it the other way around.
Trying to break out of my set views on the line is what I intended to do at the start of the course, but I find myself getting more and more wrapped up in the views I already held. Even when I read advice offered in Rios’ work, I curtail other ways to view a line, seeing that these all connect back to emphasis or tension in some way. How does one rectify this problem?
This is kind of an expansion of the last post I published on the site.
How do we build them in a poem? There are a lot of ways in fiction that we build characters, be it through dialogue, actions, thoughts, and interactions with others in the story. I’ve noticed that in a lot of my poems, my speakers and subjects have one goal in mind and if they deviate from this whatsoever, the point of the poem will be lost.
How do we create rounded characters in a poem that stretches across only a few lines?
Do we need to build characters from the ground up? In fiction, we focused on a lot of different aspects, usually compiling them into a character bio and working off that. Starting with the basics, we have name, age, gender, and general appearance. But then we expand. What’s their favourite food and why? Who was their first kiss and did it mean anything to them? What are their goals, aspirations? How are they going to get there?
For those of you that have built characters in your poems from the ground up, how did it work out for you? Do you find it easier to create single-minded characters for the sake of the poem? How often do you find yourself using the same person in more than one of your poems?
So my first workshop in Geneseo was Fiction with Gentry in the spring semester of last year. This only being my second workshop and a diversion from the structure and content of my first one, I can’t help but feel like a fish out of water, especially when I see the poetry coming out of more experienced poets in the class.
But I can’t help but notice that fiction is trailing into every piece of poetry I write. I recognize that poetry is more of a fluid subject between fiction and cnf, kind of a meeting point between the two and I appreciate that. But the fiction characters I write, especially in my last semester, have been worming their way into my poems lately. I guess this can be seen as a natural thing, but I feel like I may be stuck in the fiction mind-set versus the poetry one.
I guess my question is this: How do you create characters in your poem when you’re writing about experiences that haven’t happened to you? Do you focus more on content and shape your speakers around that, or do you have a set character in mind? One with experiences you’ve invented and can build off of? Or is it okay to simply say, hey you can do both?
So I’m freaking out a little. I’m really ahead as a creative writing major and it was recommended that I get a minor. But the problem is, all I really care about is creative writing. Sure, I can pick whatever I want because anything really complements English, but I have no idea what I would want to do. Outside major electives are needed anyway, so I might as well get a minor but I’m just terrified I’m not going to be good or interested at anything but English.
Are any of you double majors or minors? How do you juggle your love of English and writing with other things? I’ve been thinking about communications, but I’m terrible at journalism. I’m just worried that my way of viewing English is going to be a completely different mindset from my minor and it’ll take away from my true love: writing. How do you handle the mental shifts between subjects that you’re putting a lot of effort into?
Firstly, I love the title. Initially taken back by the nearly incestual idea, I was intrigued to read this possibly risque poem. My shock was apparent when I viewed its length: but it was wonderful. The simplicity garnered by its mere three stanzas held more weight than a good deal of the longer poems we’ve read as a class thus far. The speaker detailed the distance between son and father without making it overly obvious or dwelling on their past relationship, and the fact that he focused on something as simple as lifting another person out of a chair was a great way to convey the intimacy needed in a task like that. I always feel like my own writing needs more validation and I often end up stumbling over what I’m trying to say. I want to try to mimic the simplistic weight this poem held.
Upon flitting through the poems in From the Fishouse, I quickly realized that (at least tonight) I’m very interested in structured line breaks and use of white space, both aspects that the assigned poems for the evening were essentially lacking, though all four had a steady and thought-provoking use of enjambment. Starting from the beginning of the collection, fittingly, the first poem that caught my eye was indeed the first poem of the anthology. Deaton’s use of white space and line breaks immediately drew my attention and I was taken with the opening stanza, being a nature-lover myself. After its completion, I was left wondering why they chose this poem to be the first in the anthology; save for the welcoming line towards the end, I thought the poem didn’t embody the sense of sound the assigned poems we read carried. I was intrigued by the repetition of white by the ending, however. Though this poem is mostly regarding the early death a quickening winter can bring, white is often a sort of cleansing colour. All in all, I was taken by this poem and look forward to delving into it more.