Recently, I wrote about the value of reading poetry as part of my daily writing practice, only to find the thought echoed — and much better stated — in Walter Mosley’s little book This Year You Write Your Novel. Mosley’s not the first author to mention the importance of regularly reading poetry for the aspiring novelist, but he is the first to explain it in such a lovely way.
“Poetry is the fount of all writing. Without a deep understanding of poetry and its practices, any power the writer might have is greatly diminished . . .
Of all writing, the discipline in poetry is the most demanding. You have to learn how to distill what you mean into the most economic and at the same time the most elegant and accurate language. A poet must be the master of the simile, metaphor, and form, and of the precise use of vernacular and grammar, implication and innuendo. The poet has to be able to create symbols that are muted and yet undeniable. The poet, above all other writers, must know how to edit out the extraneous, received, repetitious, and misleading. A poet will ask herself, ‘Why did I use that word, and how will that usage affect meaning later in the poem when the same word is used again? A similar word?’
The poet seeks perfection in every line and sentence; she demands flawlessness of form.
If the fiction writer demands half of what the poet asks of herself, then that writer will render an exquisitely written novel.”
To create an exquisitely written novel…..that is my dream, and poetry is my daily vitamin.