Note: If you’re a writer of prose (fiction, non-fiction, or both) this post is particularly directed at you. If you are a poet, enjoy the vote of appreciation for the wonderful work you do with words and images.
Want to polish your prose, dust off your diction, and give wings to your words? If you do, then read a poem every day. If possible, commit to write one every day or at least every week.
Why poetry to improve your prose? It’s simple. Poetry is like condensed soup. The poet packs more meaning into each word than the average prose writer does in an entire sentence or paragraph. For the poet every word is a gem that must be polished, cared for, and shown in its best light.
Reading and writing poetry will help the prose writer reduce verbosity, heighten meaning, and maximize metaphor and imagery. Integrating poetry into your daily discipline will help your words sing with renewed freshness and light.
What does it look like to integrate poetry into your daily prose routine?
1) Sign up to have a poem delivered each day to your inbox. Here are a few to consider.
- Writer’s Almanac (from American Public Media, with Garrison Keillor)
- Poetry 180 (from the Library of Congress)
- Poetry Foundation (offers a poem of the day–written and audio)
- Poetry Daily (features a daily poem, poet, and poetry journal)
- Poets.org (from the Academy of American Poets)
2) Lay hands on a good book about poetry and writing poetry. More importantly, put it to use! Three books to use as starting points are:
- The Poet’s Handbook by Judson Jerome
- Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Forms by Miller Williams
- Getting the Knack: 20 Poetry Writing Exercises by Stephen Dunning and William Stafford
Most importantly, take every opportunity to hear poetry read aloud or performed. If you don’t have access to local outlets for poetry readings, you’ll find plenty of good YouTube videos. Hearing poetry allows it so seep into your skin and weave its way into your creative heart. The more your hear, read, and write, the stronger and more vivid your prose is likely to become. Now, go play with words! Make art. Spread beauty. Have fun.
P.S.: What about you? What are your favorite ways to incorporate poetry into your daily life? I’d love to hear from you.
Photo by chillihead used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!