Discovering the Poetry in Prose

On Day 7 of Making Manifest, I’m intrigued by Dave Harrity’s contrast between prose and poetry with this sentence, first in prose:

This morning when I rose from bed and looked at myself in the mirror, I came to accept that I’m like an image, not much more than a projection, but nothing less than right.

Photo credit: Lois Siemens, used with permission

Photo credit: Lois Siemens, used with permission

Then in poetry:

This morning
when I rose from bed
and looked at myself
in the mirror,
I came to accept
that I’m like an image,
not much more
than a projection,
but nothing less
than right.

Quite a difference, isn’t there? I love how the lines of poetry change the flow and energy of the words.

So I decided to experiment with some of my own prose and poetry. First this prose sentence, from Sacred Fire and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission:

I saw how the wind swirled the smoke and ash together and blew them upward, and with the wind and the drummers, I also lifted up all the pain and hope of the TRC in my own silent prayer, gathered up all of the pain and hope around that Sacred Fire and offered it to God.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission Sacred Fire

Then as poetry:

I saw
how the wind swirled
the smoke and ash together
and blew them upward,

and with the wind and the drummers,

I also lifted up
all the pain
and hope of the TRC
in my own silent prayer,

gathered up all the pain and hope

around that
Sacred Fire
and offered it
to God.

Or, here’s a line of poetry from Clash: Conflict and Its Consequences:

After all that
I could hardly sit
to listen to the speaker,
yet I’m sure I heard her say,
‘In war there are only losers.’

And now as a prose sentence:

After all that I could hardly sit to listen to the speaker, yet I’m sure I heard her say, “In war there are only losers.”

I can see and hear the difference in my own samples just as I could in Dave’s sample from Making Manifest. Here’s one more: I love this playing with words and lines, space and silence, discovering the poetry in prose, and my life as poem.

I love this playing
with words and lines,
space and silence,
discovering the poetry
in prose, and my life
as poem.

 



Categories: Book Reviews, Spiritual Practice, Writing

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13 replies

  1. This just makes me go SQUEEE. What power in the same words when they’re separated into poetry! And so simple!

  2. Great post, April! It’s enlightening to discover how our emotional response to words is affected by our first view of them, before their meaning is digested.

  3. brilliant April
    just.that.
    words are words
    in lines broken and whole
    creativity flows to form

  4. Yes! I did this with some prose I had written, cynically say to Self. Self, it won’t work with what you write. Wrong. Love these examples, April. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Yes! I love the rhythm that is created when words are given a unique form. I do this with quotes and with my own writing to experience the change in emphasis and flow.

    Your examples clearly demonstrate the change in perspective.
    Kathleen

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