|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
CROSS TRAIN YOUR BRAIN!
But Before We Get Going With Some Cerebral Sweat...
I want to run yesterday's review here on the front page one more day. I feel the work deserves the extra time and an opportunity for as much exposure as possible. So, in an encore performance:
Title: THE SPIRIT LIFE OF BIRDS
Publisher: Adder's Tongue Press, Ventura, CA, www.askewpoetry.org
Price: $15.00 USD
Maia and the folks at Adder's Tongue have released a powerful testament to the relationship between a couple and the profound pain of separation. Maia first met Charlie in 1979 and two years later began a bond that lasted physically until Charlie's passing in 2005 and continues, emotionally and spiritually, today. In THE SPIRIT LIFE OF BIRDS , Maia allows the reader to glimpse her love, loss, and longing in a way that is poignant and sensual at the same time.
Her imagery is taken from the natural world and the music they shared, especially the Portuguese mornas and fado of Brazil and Cape Verde. Every plant and bird, every note and song is a reminder for her. She has presented them with such control and impact as to make Charlie, and her own grief, familiar to anyone who reads these poems.
This is not to say that it is all wailing and hair tearing. Maia also shows the profound gratitude for being able to share this world with the one she was meant for. She does this with a grace and softness that is the perfect counterpoint to her loss. One cannot read these works without being touched, saddened, and uplifted all at once. Congratulations to both Maia and Adders' Tongue on a beautiful book.
Okay, that said, BACK ON THE STATIONARY BIKES!!!
What does the title have to do with writing? I was at the regular meeting of the Ventura County Writer's Club on Tuesday last. This month's meeting was to present the winners of the clubs annual poetry contest. After the presentation I overheard someone remark that learning to write poetry could be helpful in other styles and genres of writing.
Working cross platform for so many years I've never given this much thought. I just figured everyone did it. Imagine my surprise when a number of members admitted to not writing (some even said they didn't read poetry) and not seeing how it could be helpful in fiction, memoir or any other type of writing.
What is poetry? The long explanation can be had here. The synopsis, loosely, is an emotional presentation, highly symbolic and concise, of a scene, moment, or feeling an author wishes the reader to have an equivalent emotional reaction to. Poetry, as a rule, is far shorter than prose, (though there are any number of narratives we all still groan over, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge being one that comes immediately to mind), and it's language is far more abstract. It is that way in order to evoke emotion with a technique typified as Show Don't Tell.
Here is where the usefulness of poetry to the prose writer comes in. One of our problems in writing prose is too much exposition! In other words, too much telling, not enough showing. Nothing will slow a plot down faster and lose a reader quicker! By studying how things are said in a poetic form we are gaining a symbolic vocabulary to paint a picture for readers instead of telling them what to see or feel. This can be used in developing characters, setting scene and mood, or describing action.
But that poetry stuff is just too flowery! I recommend you take a look at the surge in prose poetry occurring worldwide. This is a melding of the two forms to create a deeper, more accessible form for both.
It's all about precision. The best stories we read may be rife with detail and description but, if they're truly to hold a reader's attention, it must be done in a way that makes you part of the story and sharing what the characters are feeling. This is the heart of poetry and why it is well worth any writer's time to take up reading, if not writing, it. There is such a breadth of style and subject, old as time and new as tomorrow, it would be near impossible not to find something appealing.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis. Author.