How Exploring Poetry Can Improve Prose

July’s Talking With A Poet series was incredibly fun and educational … for me. I hope y’all enjoyed it, too! During the second installment of our discusstion, Robert Okaji touched on a topic that has inspired another series.

R.O.: Poetry reminds us of how little we know. A distilled form of expression that harnesses the power of language — it offers glimpses of truth and beauty, horror and love, humor, pathos, humility — the entire range of humanity’s experience, allowing imagination to take hold and grasp meaning.

… After all, what do poets do? We craft “charged” language to present a point, often without even mentioning the point. We manipulate readers. We elicit emotional responses. With this in mind, I examine a piece of writing, determine its objective, and then carve away excess verbiage, replace flaccid words with strong ones, and rearrange phrase and sentence structures to vary rhythm …

Poetry can improve prose? Yes! Whether fiction, creative nonfiction, academic essays, business emails, resumes or cover letters! How about that? While I knew this to be true in my own writing experience, I didn’t have a real understanding of just how many writers fully agree. Until I went looking.

Grant Faulkner, a contributor to the NaNoWriMo Blog shared Ten Ways Poetry Can Improve Your Prose, April 2012. This is quite a comprehensive, insightful list! I found it particularly interesting that he points out how poetry can (and does) enjoy specificity, sharp, minute details, while simultaneously appreciating nuance, and creating narratives by reaching beyond the obvious to  demonstrate the “elusive gaps of life rather than objective connections”.

During the month of August, please join me in exploring ways that poetry can improve prose. I invite all writers of fiction and nonfiction to explore poetry’s great accomplishments with nuance and detail, with sensory engagement, and brevity. Let’s work together to discover how such poetic traits might intensify and enliven your stories. 

We’ll begin with an exercise: Share with me, if you will, an excerpt from one of your stories, and I will share with you a poem that demonstrates emotional or sensory engagement that might reveal the intensity you’ve been searching for.

I am happy to accept your shared excerpts through a private email at generationkathy@gmail.com; however, it may well benefit all of our writing friends if we worked together in comments below. Ready? Let’s begin!


How would you like to guest host a chatter post or contest prompt? Please fire a message to brigitsflame@gmail.com if you’re interested. Meanwhile, we’re extremely interested in one day hosting a monthly book club — please send us a message if you would like to join us as in choosing titles, as well as reading along and joining in discussions.

It’s that time again Dear Flames! Support your local writer by reading, commenting, and voting in our Final Reading & Voting Poll of July. What Small Things appeal to your reader sensibilities?

Week One of THE AUGUST CONTEST has been presented! This month’s contest does NOT require sign-ups, so #gowrite!


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One Response to How Exploring Poetry Can Improve Prose

  1. Pingback: Can Your Characters be Themselves | Brigit's Flame Writing Community

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