The world has a way of categorizing people as either writers or poets, as if a poet is not a writer or a writer cannot be a poet. While it’s true that some may predominantly produce one over the other, experience reveals that many authors write both prose and poetry over the course of their writing careers. The author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, J.R.R. Tolkien, wrote narrative poetry. Maya Angelou, who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published numerous poems. Even the famous thriller author, Stephen King, submitted many a poem to The Devil’s Wine Anthology.
Poems are usually written in a more organized pattern of verse, but both poetry and prose are vehicles by which writers share their thoughts. Prose is sometimes more straight-forward and poems more lyrically nuanced, but both convey stories. Many times poems are a bit more subjective than prose, but both can include key elements of good writing: voice, point of view, significant sensory details, sense of place, and more.
Several years ago, as I reflected upon some recent deaths in my family, I decided I wanted to let the people in my life know what they’ve meant to me. First I composed a letter. Then, I wrote a story. Neither seemed just right. Finally, I decided to try a poem. Several lines quickly popped into my mind as I began to write. They came easily and readily, and the entire piece flowed within minutes from my mind to computer. 92 lines and 838 words later The Chosen Road was ready to be sent. Not only did it convey my sincerest thoughts of appreciation, it revealed a story – a story about my life and about the people who have been a part of it.
Sometimes as writers we can believe we’re a certain “type” of author, but I challenge folks to rethink what you’re writing. What makes writing so exciting and wonderful and challenging is that we have so many choices, not just about what we write, but the manner in which we choose to write. Maybe today is the day that you will try something new and different.