One of the pre-AWP rituals is the viewing of the schedule, where you try to balance going to the enormous book fair with getting to see all your friends and literary heroes at their panels, readings, and events. As I perused this year’s offerings, looking (mostly in vain) for electronic literature-themed panels that are about more than just letting grade school students use computers, I noticed that there were an awful lot of poetry events. More than I’ve seen in previous years. Which meant that if 2014 was the Year of Craft and Letterpress Books, 2015 is the Year of the Poet.
About time, too. While I myself am a fiction writer, I know lots of poets, and what I know is that good poetry requires a level and type of discipline that longer forms don’t. I’ve written in other venues about my search for what I call the “pixel of narrative” – the smallest fragment of text that can contain narrative meaning. I don’t think that it can be the word, because nearly all words carry multiple meanings and so rely on other words for context. The miracle of poetry is the poet’s ability to exploit that multiplicity of meanings to convey layered, nuanced, surprising imagery with a very small number of words.
Are you a writer of both prose and poetry? How does the one discipline inform the other? What do you get from each one? Tell us!