I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose = words in their best order; – poetry = the best words in the best order.
I would rather write poems than prose, any day, any place. Yet each has its own force.
A risk for a poet-novelist is imbalance: The poems can flatten into prose or lose their intensity of focus; the novels can stall amid lofty writing or literary preciousness and ignore the engine of plot and character.
There is something about poetry beyond prose logic, there is mystery in it, not to be explained but admired.
So it is in poetry. All we ask is that the mood recorded shall impress us as having been of the kind that exhausts the imaginative capacity; if it fails to do this the failure will announce itself either in prose or in insignificant verse.
Somehow, the words don’t have any vitality, any life to them, unless I can feel it marking on a paper. That’s how I start. Once I’m off, then I switch to the laptop. I think it would all just be prose if it started on a laptop – not that what I do is poetry.
Though my poems are about evenly split between traditionally formal work that uses rhyme and meter and classical structure, and work that is freer, I feel that the music of language remains at the core of it all. Sound, rhythm, repetition, compression – these elements of my poetry are also elements of my prose.
There are a lot of editorials that have nothing to do with anything like that. But I was just thinking of that sense of prose as being very responsible and perceptive, thoughtful, intimate, and contriving a quote statement.
The poetic prose that most interests me is that of Henri Michaux.
Poetry seems to sink into us the way prose doesn’t. I can still quote verses I learned when I was very young, but I have trouble remembering one line of a novel I just finished reading.