In December of 2007, I had a period of frustration early in Advent, facing the tension between holiday chores and holiday expectations. I could have journalled or blogged about the feeling, at some length. Instead, I condensed it into 5 lines and a title:
Advent sees me clean my whole house,
sifting through the year’s detritus
to reach a new beginning. Children grouse,
pets flee or hide, but Christmas hopes unite us:
Hark, do we yet hear angels singing?
Why do poets choose poetry, and what does this have to teach writers of prose? Poetry is, in general, both a more intense and a less bounded form of writing. By that, I mean that a poem can, at the same time, evoke strong feelings or memories while still leaving interpretation open to the reader. Indeed, sometimes the intensity comes exactly because, however specific the details, something about the setting or description allows for multiple interpretations and thus connection with people in varying situations.
As a prose writer, I struggle against the tendency to over-explain. I need to remember the lessons my poetry can teach me.