Friday, February 1, 2013

Prosaic Aside

One reaction people have had to my poems over the years has been "write more prose." It's a sentiment with which I have a lot of sympathy, and it has come from sources of great authority.

There's a catch, though. My verse and my prose have something fundamental in common: a lot of it is unreadable, especially when it seems most meaningful to me. The writing of prose affords no magic protection against bad writing. At most, writing prose can usually afford the comfort of conventional meaning, or what has been called (sigh) "prose sense." In my own prose this comfort can become cold in a few sentences.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to whether it works or not. When we read someone who writes a lot and seems to write well, we read the best tip of a huge iceberg. A huge, ugly iceberg.

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