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Archive for October 12, 2011

Wednesday Poetry Challenge #1

Wednesday Poetry Challenge #1

What is the different between poetry and prose?

I  cannot answer that.

Some might say poetry has evolved so that the only difference is that poetry has stanzas.  However, with the increasing popularity of “prose poetry” (poetry written in prose instead of verse) that really doesn’t hold either.

Is poetry more compact, more formal, more stylized, more imaginative, more emotional, more personal, more abstract, more symbolic?

Does poetry use more imagery?

Does poetry use poetic devices such as rhythm, meter, rhyme, alliteration, emphasis on certain sounds?

I have no idea.

That is something that each individual poet has to come to terms with.

Every poet and every reader has their preferences.  Hopefully these preferences are not static and change as the poet develops, as the reader develops, and, ideally, as the poet and reader, being the same person, develop.

For Challenge #1, pick a passage from a novel, essay or short story that qualifies as prose, but for you is particularly poetic. Then without changing a word or punctuation mark, reformat that so it appears to be poetry.

For example,

From the opening of Theodor Dreiser’s American Tragedy:

Dusk —
of a summer night.
And the tall walls of the commercial heart
of an American city of perhaps 400,000 inhabitants —
such walls as in time may linger as a mere fable.

And up the broad street,
now comparatively hushed,
a little band of six, —
a man of about fifty, short, stout,
with bushy hair protruding
from under a round black felt hat,
a most unimportant-looking person,
who carried a small portable organ
such as is customarily used
by street preachers and singers.

And with him a woman
perhaps five years his junior,
taller, not so broad,
but solid of frame and vigorous,
very plain in face and dress,
and yet not homely,
leading with one hand a small boy of seven
and in the other carrying a Bible and several hymn books.

With these three,
but walking independently
was a girl of fifteen,
a boy of twelve
and another girl of nine,
all following obediently,
but not too enthusiastically,
in the wake of the others.
It was hot,


with a sweet languor
about it all.
Crossing at right angles
the great thoroughfare
on which they walked,
was a second canyon-like way,
threaded by throngs and vehicles
and various lines of cars
which clanged their bells
and made such progress
as they might amid swiftly moving streams of traffic.


the little group seemed unconscious
of anything
a set purpose
to make its way
between the contending
lines of traffic
and pedestrians
which flowed
by them.

How poetic is the opening to Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities?

It was the best of times,
it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom,
it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief,
it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light,
it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope,
it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us,
we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven,
we were all going direct the other way —
in short,
the period
was so far like
the present period,
that some of its noisiest authorities
insisted on its being received,
for good or for evil,
in the superlative degree of comparison only.

There were a king with a large jaw
and a queen with a plain face,
on the throne of England;
there were a king with a large jaw
and a queen with a fair face,
on the throne of France.
In both countries
it was clearer than crystal
to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes,
that things in general were settled for ever.

So simply chose something that you’ve read before and were previously impressed by its poetic nature — or browse from the nearly endless resources of prose on the internet to find an example of poetic prose that works for you.

What and where is the benefit of this first exercise?  Does one benefit more from picking an example or from reading others’ selections?

I am completely clueless.

Enjoy this first challenge.  No selection is considered unpoetic if it is poetry for your heart, ears, soul or mind!

There are many resources for selecting prose works.   A good starting point is Project Gutenberg Australia.

Best to use something in the public domain (no longer under copyright) as Poetry Challenge #2 will also refer to your chosen “prose” text.

For further instructions, please reference the Wednesday Poetry Challenge Introduction.

To add a link to your post



1.  Click on green “Mister Linky” link above.

2. Enter the URL (address of response not of your website) of your post or page that has your response to this challenge.

3. For this challenge, take a passage from a novel, short story or essay and reformat it to resemble a poem — or a prose poem if that is your stylistic preference.

4. Anyone that wishes to see anyone’s examples, can click on the Mister Linky link above to view any and all of responses.


Wednesday Poetry Challenge

Not every Wednesday, but some Wednesdays, I will post a Poetry Challenge. 

I was inspired by seeing a few of these in the WordPress blogosphere and was thinking that maybe there was room for one more — one a little less traditional, but still focused on developing writing skills for the poet.

The approach is simple:  A writing exercise (or challenge) is presented.  Anyone wishing to participate may do so at any time — doesn’t matter if it is the day the challenge is posted or months or years later — there is no deadline whatsoever.  One can create a response to the “challenge” as a post or page on their blog — or anywhere they chose — just provide the link  to the “Mr. Linky” pop-up window provided at the bottom of the Wednesday Poetry Challenge Post.

I think it’s just that simple. 

One can participate in all challenges, participate in only those challenges of interest, or  participate in not a single one but just browse others’ responses or ignore these Wednesday posts altogether.

I was originally thinking about starting another WordPress blog just for this purpose, but after noting how difficult it is for a brand new blog like WordPress Blog Showcase to get followers, I thought I would give it a try here where there is already some foot traffic, so to speak.

Look forward to this exercise, any responses and any and all feedback on improving process or content.

Your friendly neighborhood Zumpoems.com administrator,

zumpoems.com Admin.

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