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poetry defined

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While substitute teaching yesterday, I sat in on a junior high STEAM class, during which the English teacher reviewed information on narrative poetry. (They've read and analyzed several classics and are preparing to write their own.) She gave detailed instructions for completing a graphic organizer and a nifty handout from Scholastic to visualize the plot. Anyway, in the midst of her lesson, she reminded students of the difference between prose and poetry. This is what she told them:

prose=the best words in order

poetry=the best words in the best order

There's more nuance, of course, but I was taken by the simplicity of her definitions. What do you think?

#1 - May 26, 2018, 01:45 PM
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 05:29 PM by carrots »

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I think it's too simplistic. Any good writing is the best words in the best order, both poetry and prose. I don't think you can boil it down to something that short and pithy.

But obviously there is a difference. Poetry is a different type of package than prose. Having said that, though, when I write a story (prose), I always try to use the best words in the best order, just as I do with poetry.

Adding: I did try to spell out the difference, but my brain is too tired and I gave up. :hiding
#2 - May 26, 2018, 02:27 PM

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I think she's missed the mark. I have read breathtaking prose where the words are in the absolutely best order. I have also read junk poetry, where the words have been tortured into a weird sort of order. I know there are good and bad examples of both prose and poetry: I'm not trying to say one is bad and one is good. It's just that her definition isn't right. (IMHO)

Poetry is a condensed form of communication that involves figurative language (and often meter) to convey its message. The tendency today to take a prose sentence, chop it up onto different lines, and call it poetry curls my toes. :)
#3 - May 26, 2018, 03:35 PM

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JFriday and Pons, I think you're both SO right.

When I look down at my latest PB manuscript in prose, I laugh over all the arrows and stars and cross-outs - evidence that I am forever trying to put those best words in their best order, whatever the form. We all are.

Borrowing from pons, I think this is the definition to use:

good writing=the best words in the best order
#4 - May 26, 2018, 05:28 PM
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 05:30 PM by carrots »

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good writing=the best words in the best order

 :like

#5 - May 26, 2018, 05:51 PM

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Pons, I agree with everything you said.


#6 - May 26, 2018, 05:55 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

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Yep, Pons and yep, carrots. What you guys said.

#7 - May 27, 2018, 07:41 AM

That definition of poetry is from author Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

As a middle and high school teacher, I've often started a poetry unit by asking my students to define poetry. It's a great exercise to both get a handle on what poetry is, but also all the amazing things that it can be.
#8 - May 28, 2018, 02:58 PM
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That definition of poetry is from author Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who wrote "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

Aha! I had no idea!

#9 - May 28, 2018, 04:19 PM

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