All tagged Stasia Ward Kehoe

Verse Novels: The Last Five Years by Stasia Ward Kehoe

When Sarah asked if I’d like to write a post for her fourth VERSE NOVEL celebration, I started reflecting on how the genre has fared between the publication of THE SOUND OF LETTING GO this past February and 2011, when I launched my YA debut, AUDITION. Here are a few of my personal thoughts and observations:

Why Verse Novels Can Be About Anything, by Stasia Ward Kehoe (Guest Post)

Being verse novelist can make one feel defensive.  The form is subject to a lot of questions, such as:

WHAT is a verse novel?

HOW can you tell a story in poems?

WHY don’t you just write “normally”?

Imagine someone wanting Eminem to define “rap.” Demanding of Joss Whedon, “How come you don’t write stage plays instead of screenplays” or of dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, “How can you express narrative through movement without words”? What might the late Andy Warhol have said to somehow who asked why he didn’t just paint “realistically”?


I don’t read a lot of novels in verse, nor do I read a lot about dance. The former is more because I don’t really know how to sift through the good stuff and the bad stuff, the latter because dance (especially ballet) kind of freaks me out—the body obsessive, intense grind of it is extremely disturbing to me. However, despite my reluctance with both of these elements, Audition was a fantastic read. 

Interesting Themes

Fish out of water, rural girl in an urban, sophisticated setting, is one of my favorites and it’s handled so, so well. Having lived that experience as a 17 year old, I appreciate when this is done well, and in a nuanced, non-stereotypical manner. Audition really nails the feelings of having the wrong everything—the wrong clothes, the wrong accent, etc. I haven’t seen this addressed in a lot of reviews, but it’s an important element.