All tagged Verse Week 2015
Novels in verse come from a tradition of putting stories into language that flows with the magic of poetry. The Iliad and the Odyssey is something that any freshman high school student can tell you about. Verse novels stem from this oral tradition dating from 1600-1100 BC; the power of verse flows like music with the beauty of epic and poetic language.
Not to neglect Old English and Geoffrey Chaucer’s raucous and rowdy tales of those on a pilgrimage, I must mention those monks of olden days who told tales that to this day make us smirk and smile. In verse, Chaucer painted tales of the good folk who laughed about and flaunted their rowdy and raucous adventures.
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.
Full confession: before Tricks, I had never read an Ellen Hopkins' novel. Novels in verse are right up my alley, but I just couldn't get over my perception of Hopkins as the drug writer.
Reading about people getting hooked on drugs and terrible things happening seemed about as interesting as listening to a friend tell you about that totally awesome trip they had once. But I saw her speak at the Montgomery County Book Festival, and she spoke very passionately and personally about the books she writes. I chose to read her 2009 release, Tricks, because the sequel, Traffick, is coming out this November.
I’ve always loved poetry; I used to hate reading novels in verse.
Part of my aversion to verse novels can be attributed to my first experience, which was Crank by Ellen Hopkins. The angsty, dramatic, dark story of addiction that is perennially popular with teenagers didn’t appeal to me at all.
just seemed so
The line breaks
When I offered to write a post for verse novel week, I thought I’d review three of my favorite verse novels. Easy, right? And then … I flipped through my reading journals to choose which books I wanted to highlight, and I realized how hard it was going to be to narrow it down to three!
(Granted, this is a very good problem—so many great verse novels out there!)
So, no top three. Maybe I could focus on a single stand-out? Or maybe go for something old and something new (something borrowed? --thanks, Vancouver Island Regional Library--something blue?).
First, the caveat:
I’m not saying prose novels can’t deepen emotion, of course they can—and do. I’m just saying this was my experience in the verse novel writing process.
Okay, I feel better getting that off my chest. Now, let’s talk about exposure. Say, for instance, you wrote a verse novel. One that started out more prose-like. Perhaps it had a particular voice that you explored while getting your masters in creative writing, if you will. And let’s imagine that as you combed through the scenes and fine-tuned the story, you pared back the language—just playing around during your time in Higher Education. It could happen. And, maybe as you dabbled in voice and tone, words fell away. A sparseness happened. What’s that all about? You thought, while typing away in your writer cave. What just happened to my story?
The Nakedness. That’s what.
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: