This past year has taken a lot from so many. Most of the loss has been obvious--tragic, tangible. Other losses have been more like the heat out of a drafty window--largely unnoticed until one is alone in a room and the chill is highlighted by the absence of distraction. In some of the quiet calm of this summer's vacation days I felt myself feeling the loss of a year and a half of childhood for every child in the world--and more personally my own. No matter how fortunate, innocence was lost this past year along with the care-free nature that is the hallmark of youth. It is as if my vision was so blurred by all that has transpired, I now look up to discover I missed some of the tailwinds of childhood as they swept by. My children continued to grow though time seemed to stand still for so many of us. They have grown in so many ways! This poem helped funnel those feelings through and out. There is so much we have not yet processed and that only quiet, contemplative time can yield. There is much to lament and it is important that we all allow ourselves the time and space to do so. It's a healthy, albeit unpleasant and often awkward, part of the natural grieving process.
Summer. Sit. Sways to and fro -- already tomorrow. Drip. Tic. Drop. Tok. Sticky, sweet, slow -- honey. Swollen with time -- basking. Then switch. Flip. Tic. Fly. Tok. Did, do, done -- heat. Evaporating days, catching. Rising or setting? Giving or getting? Summer, stepping out here and there -- yesterday. Ride the waves. Fade into the haze. The legend of Summer Days . . .
Just when a person thinks she has, perhaps, created something--invented a thing--one internet search proves that she is not so original after all. But, ignoring the fact that the "word," Prosetry, already exists and that there are some scattered definitions of what it is supposed to mean or represent, I present to you my intention of the word.
PrOsETRY: a genre that mixes the use of Prose and Poetry for the length of the novel.
Recently I finished my latest whole-manuscript revision of my Young Adult Contemporary Coming-of-age novel complete at approximately 63,000 words. It is a milestone for me having written the first draft at the beginning of 2018, revised that draft aloud, sent it through my critique group, queried, received feedback, decided to change the point of view of the narrative from 3rd person to 1st person, made that change and then embarked on this latest pass through which took several months. This latest revision was a word-by-word, read through out loud in my basement (my husband is working from home still, but luckily my kids are in school part of the day). It involved major rewording and of course the disbelief that I thought it was good enough to send out previously.
So--now for the part where prosetry is invented!
In a one-on-one critique I was fortunate to participate in through NESCBWI's 2020 conference, agent Alex Slater's last piece of advice on his critique form was: "-Think about the power of the 'white space.'" So, though at first I was busy with homeschooling during a pandemic and other such things leaving little time to "think," when I made it to September I finally had time to focus and think. That's when the long task of reading my manuscript out loud and making serious revisions began. This time, though, I thought about the power of the white space which gave birth to PrOsETRY: a mix of Prose and Poetry. After all, this novel has poetry running through its veins. It makes perfect sense in this case!
Considering the appeal of Graphic Novels, which is simply a long form of a comic book that combines narrative and illustration, there's no reason why a book has to be all prose (standard fiction) or all poetry (novel in verse). Why can't we blend both and create another hybrid--something like a graphic novel? Instead of visual illustrations to pair with the narration, poetic form is sprinkled along the length of the novel in a way that illuminates (perhaps illustrates) the narrative prose.
So, that is the genre of my YA novel: prosetry. It is not all straight prose in paragraph format, nor is it a full-length novel in verse only. It is a novel where prose and poetry dance together the entire time and allow the white space to exert its power where the reader would benefit from slowing down, soaking in what is being said or seeing a scene more visually--like an illustration would invite a reader to do.
So, I don't care what the internet claims already has been invented. This feels like is a fresh new genre format that is something writers and readers will embrace--celebrate even! It feels like the writer's answer to graphic novel form and I have to say--as someone who has just written a whole novel in the form--it feels so liberating to dance along the page as I see fit.
Prosetry is the perfect rhythm for a young adult novel to dance to.
Confusion: Dark, orange cloud of chaos.
Confusion: Invisible, deadly cloud of coronavirus.
One powerful man, plus one powerful virus, equals
Life, liberty, love--
Destruction, disease, depression--
Only tears to make stone soup,
The stone sits and sinks—stews
waiting . . .
but nothing is added
doors remain locked, neighbors silent.
The bell’s toll proclaims profound need.
Ingredients hoarded, people hide behind the invisible cape of their keyboards,
flying and fighting.
Heroes of the ether—online, in their own minds.
Alone (in disguise) in reality.
But—reality is a memory,
Folklore, near-forgotten fable.
Confusion has replaced community.
Confusion has erased common sense.
Confusion is a blinding light
—manifestation of evil allowed to slither up and around—engulfing.
to speak or act or care—out loud and in person.
Surrendering to be swallowed, spit out . . . swallowed again.
Shuffling from one display of drama
to the next,
fearing the silence more than anything.
Resisting the feelings we ignore
denying reality at all costs—at every opportunity, after each tragedy.
We let the mind work its magic:
Hard edges soften.
Lessons dissolve unlearned, unintentional, unimportant.
Leaving the cycle to start again: same bed prepared, toxic seeds sown, take root and grow--
into more monsters, more mayhem, more of--
That menacing character continues to reinvent and take control,
while we revert to our time-honored history of hypocrisy and
our beloved bevy of distractions (they salivate and wait patiently).