Give Verse a Chance by Marie Jaskulka
So many people claim they don't "get" poetry, then they quote some lyrics from their favorite songs.
I understand this prejudice, this preconception that poetry is difficult. I understand it, but I disagree. I think poetry takes a big, emotional idea and distills it into a few potent stanzas. It packs a lot of force in its compressed punch, and therefore, it hits the readers' feels hard.
While fiction is a meandering walk, poetry is a sprint. When it's good, at the end, you should feel breathless and sweaty. Your heart should beat wildly.
A professor once told me that lyrics are the poetry of my generation, but again I disagree. Our generation doesn't need lyrics to be the poetry of our generation. Poetry is the poetry of our generation, and verse novels are the new frontier of the genre.
Verse novels show the verse-averse that poetry isn't necessarily something that was written in the past about people who are dead and about problems that don't matter anymore. What I love about the current popularity of verse novels is that they make poetry accessible. If you're somebody who thinks poetry is only for brainiacs and English professors, try a verse novel. It's a portal.
Do I sound like some sort of poetry evangelist? Maybe I am.
Want to know a secret? I've been writing poetry ever since I could hold a pen, but I never considered myself good enough for the title "poet." Poets are mysterious and intellectual and way cooler than I am. I am clumsy and rough around the edges, rough right down to the core, if you want to know the truth.
In high school, extreme lateness was my downfall. (It still is. Sadly, this very blog was late. Sorry, Sarah!) One morning I was sitting in my vice principal's office, listening to a sermon on how disrespectful it was to be late, when my vice principal asked if I had any ambition, if I had any idea what I would do when I grew up. I said, "I'd like to be a poet."
He schooled me, telling me that poets didn't earn much. I should probably show up on time and learn a back-up skill. A nice little reminder that while poets did exist, they did not come from working-class towns in the middle of nowhere, and they certainly didn't show up late and regularly miss the first half of American history class.
That conversation must have been formative because it's stayed in my brain. It's something I've reminded myself often: I am not a real poet. Then one day, after scribbling poetry in notebooks for a million years, I wrote a verse novel for the same reason people do all sorts of dangerous things: a dare.
Look at me now. I wrote and published an entire novel-in-verse. Take that, vice principal who will remain nameless.
Young people, you live in a golden age of poetry. Verse is being published about people your age, in your time. Poetry is YOURS. And reading it isn't difficult, I swear. It's just different and fun. It's like a new pair of shoes. A verse novel may feel a little funny the first time you read it, but I promise you'll get the feel of it quickly. Read one. I dare you.
About Marie Jaskulka
Marie writes fiction and poetry for readers of all ages. She grew up in Philadelphia and Northeastern Pennsylvania, and graduated from Saint Joseph’s University with a BA in English and a concentration in writing. After tutoring and teaching for a few years, she ventured north to Fairbanks, Alaska, to earn an MFA in writing and to contemplate the meaning of life under the aurora borealis. She's been a waitress, a teacher, a record-store clerk, and an editor, among other things, but she's always been a writer, too. These days, she lives and writes in the Pocono Mountains. The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl & Random Boy is her first novel. Learn more @ mariejaskulka.com.
About Forgotten Girl & Random Boy
As Forgotten Girl, a fifteen-year-old poet, faces the breakup of her parents and the paralyzing depression of her mom, she meets Random Boy, a hot guy who, like her, feels like an outcast and secretly writes poetry to deal. In The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl & Random Boy, their poems come together to tell their unique love story. Through verse, the unnamed characters document the power of first kisses, the joy of finally having someone on their side, the devastation of jealousy, and the heartbreaking sadness of what each of them is dealing with at home and hiding from the world. Finally they have someone to tell and somewhere to tell it in their marble notebook.