I’m not opposed to writers who happen to prefer a shorter (orÂ more irregular) line, or who like to avoid the use of traditional paragraphs. More power to ‘em.Â But I do not see why on earth these books are considered “poetry.”
Poetry is when every word counts. Poetry has many levels, pays careful attention to language, to sound and rhythm. Poetry places language before narrative, character, the “about.”
I overheard someone, recently, saying that they were trying out their novel “in verse”.Â Because it was “shorter” that way and might sell to reluctant readers in such a format.
“It will be easier than writing a whole novel” they said.
And I was reminded of the poet James Tate, explaining that when he works, he sits down at a piece of paper. And if, after an hour, he hasn’t got a first line, he lets himself leave the desk.Â If he does have a first line, he gives himself an hour… for the second.
Now, I don’t do that. I’m not that serious about anything.Â But it’s a good story, and it says something about time, attention, care.
There are plenty of novelists who write (in my opinion) poetry.Â But it isn’t line-breaks, or the “appearance of poetry” that makes them poets.
It’s their care.