My Writing Reflections

Poetry or Fiction: What’s Your Preference?

April is National Poetry Month and in a discussion forum, two questions were asked: What are your thoughts on why some writers choose to write poetry instead of fiction? Which does a reader prefer? Both were good questions.

The responses among the participants varied with a small number of them noted here:

  • There is a thin line between writing poetry and writing fiction. Poetry can be fiction.
  • No specific reason why. Many authors write poetry and fiction.
  • Poetry is more specific, more emotional. At times, the poet prefers to be expressive with her individual feelings.
  • The reader of poetry is drawn into an experience through the lyrics of the poem and it’s usually quicker to read.
  • Depending on the type or poetic form (i.e., rhythmic, haiku, free verse, etc.), poetry is easier to write than fiction.
  • Success comes sooner from writing poetry than with fiction.

As for myself, I believe some writers choose poetry because it provides more freedom. It’s less structured. Although writing fiction is my preference. But periodically, I’ll read and write a poem during moments of reflection. While both are forms of creative expression, writing and reading a poem may generate new thoughts for the fiction writer. This has sometimes been the case for me when I take a short break from my fictional work in progress.

Many well-known fiction novelists are also classified as poets, such as Joyce Carol Oates. One of her popular poems, An Age of Miracles (created in a ‘free verse’ form), is displayed below, in part:

An Age of Miracles

He walked to the window
stared down twenty stories to the street
gaseous and dizzy as a swamp
not visible at this height
but there had been a street down there
and he knew

It came with the apartment
and the guarded foyers and halls
and the doorman
beneath the uniform
the television split-screening
front and rear entrances

He knew it was all there
and he was here twenty stories above
the unsettled swamp-mist
he knew the trucks bound for the bridge
were still passing near
he could feel them rumbling
in the soles of his feet
so he knew …

(read full poem)

Question: What are your thoughts about poetry versus fiction? Do you have a favorite poem or poet?