Poetry or Prose?
My father wrote poetry, but he never showed any of it to me He gave me a carrier bag of notebooks and papers a short while before he died with the instructions to ‘see what you can do with this’.
Some had been written over thirty years beforehand. I had always expressed a dislike for poetry even as a youngster, which may be why he never showed them to me.
I used to say: ‘If someone’s got something to say,, why not just say it so that everyone can understand? Why wrap it up in verse and make it difficult?’
I still that to a certain extent, but my attitude has changed since last week, when a poem came out of me. It was a very strange experience.
I write a lot of prose, but haven’t written a poem since we were forced to one day in primary school for St. David’s Day (the Patron Saint of Wales) at the age of eight. I clearly remember why I didn’t like doing it too – it made me feel too exposed. I was giving too much away.
When I wrote that poem last week, it was March 1st – St. David’s Day – 50 years to the day since the first poem. I was sitting on a bus waiting for it to refuel. I set out to write an article like this one to go on my blog.
I put the title on the top of the page, as I always do and started writing. The title was to be ‘When The Lights Dim’, but when I started writing, a poem came out instead.
I was highly charged emotionally, just having had an argument with my wife and a little tipsy because I wanted to sleep on the five-hour journey. I wrote a poem of four stanzas in less than ten minutes with practically no thought at all, but lots of pure emotion.
It occurs to me now that that is the difference between poetry and prose – emotion. A good poem has to be heart-felt, from the heart, whereas an article or book can just be factual and still be good. I have never seen a text book written in verse.
I sat down just now to try to write another poem, but nothing came t me, so I am writing this instead. Is that because I am not so ’emotionally-charged this time as I was the other night?
I think that it is because it takes a lot to get me riled and without that passion, poetry might not be possible. After all, you don’t have much room to say what you want in a poem. An article like this will have 500-1,000 words whereas most poems are a lot shorter (20-30% the size?).
Perhaps it’s difficult to remain emotional after 300 words. Perhaps the poet feels drained. It would not surprise me in the slightest. I learned something about poetry and poets on that bus – I know I’ll never be a poet.
by +Owen Jones