Wednesday, November 4, 2015

'Poetry Has Replaced Novels': Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem says in the Sunday Book Review:
Poetry has replaced novels. If you poured water on a great poem, you would get a novel.
I once heard novelist Salar Abdoh share with us a very similar sentiment when he came to read to our graduate students. He said he mostly read poetry those days, and that he could read poetry for the rest of his life and be happy with it. He said it with such earnestness I thought I too might buy up a few strong books of poems and hit them hard.

Each poem, if done well, unfolds into novel length insights for the patient, sincere mind. The novelist struggles to drag the reader through set ups and contrived dramas and dialogues, to rush us through what needs to be said, but isn't always interesting, only to slow us down to take in a surprise, a shock, or some sort of payoff.

Yet, with poetry, it's all there, line by line, and the mind is not constrained by what channels it chooses to flow into, other than by what's on the page. There is pleasure in both artistic set ups.

But Gloria Steinem put it so well that I suppose her line on poetry will always stick with me.

If you're a novelist, do you give the power of poetry its due in your craft?

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