I write both prose and poetry. When I was in college, we were often warned that a writer must choose the manner in which he/she might explore that skill. We were told that we must choose to write either prose or poetry, but never should we attempt to write both.
It was important, especially to our Instructors, that we understood, that if we tried both, we would lose something from one or the other, and perhaps even the ability to write at all.
But, I have days when I really want and need to write poetry, and others when my only desire is to make prose. Even back there in college, I noticed something important. When I wrote poetry, I did really well. But my first major was in History, so much of my classroom experience was written work. And I received many of the same accolades in those classes, even though I was writing prose.
It might have been because I was almost twice the age of my fellow students. Or maybe the affects of the Women’s Movement, or even the fact that I owned a rather definite rebellious streak that ran through my system and occasionally raised its head even in polite social surroundings. But then I took a few friends to Palatine, Ill. to hear Robert Bly read.
And although he did speak of his prose book, Iron John, he also read his poetry while playing an instrument. I was mesmerized. His energy was all about getting personal with his audience. And he did that well. I understood his poetry because he offered it as a gift, several times asking if we’d like him to repeat a few lines. And we’d nod our heads and he would do just that.
That one evening changed my entire view about writing. All of it. This was a well known poet, breaking the rules, asking us to join him in whatever manner we might choose. I doubt that I was the only one present who accepted that invitation.
I’d like to leave you with a trail of breadcrumbs to follow. I’ve tried many forms of writing, enjoying most, knowing I didn’t have the patience for others. I would like to ask you to take a look and then come back here and tell me how you feel about those rules concerning not crossing genres.
- Poetry: https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2009/01/18/at-fifty/
- Prose: https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/the-affair/
- Mythopoesis (making myth from personal experience) : https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/the-call/
Elizabeth Crawford 5/14/2019