Why Verse?

Why verse?

Two answers, really.  The first is the easy one: it’s what I do.  Some of my earliest memories are of car trips with my family, my mother entertaining the kids by reading from Dr. Seuss or Samuel Taylor Coleridge–Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose or The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  The Cat In The Hat or The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins or The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  The Rime of the Ancient Mariner was, in case you had not guessed, my mother’s favorite poem.  Coleridge (and Seuss, for that matter) were slaves to rhyme and meter; it is no surprise that I am as well.  I wrote verse in grade school; handed in High School geometry assignments in heroic couplets, and once (this is true) answered a college essay test question (in-class test, not take-home) in sonnet form.  I do not write poetry, but I absolutely do write verse.

The second answer might be more relevant to you.  Writing poetry or writing in verse (I do not repeat myself) require the writer to think about the words, far more than most prose writing.  Words matter.  The right words matter.  Choosing a word to fit not merely the matter of the sentence, but also rhyme and meter, means thinking about nuance, shades of meaning, associations, and more.  I firmly believe that writing poetry or verse improves one’s prose writing, and improves one’s grasp of complex concepts.  One of these days I must get on with the task of testing that belief empirically.

I write in verse for very different reasons than some others write poetry.  As such, I do not claim that what I write is poetry; it simply isn’t.  Poetry, done properly, takes far more effort than I am willing to exert.  What I write is verse, or doggerel, or rhymes.  That does not make it inferior (or superior) to poetry, but if you wish to complain that my poetry sucks, I am way ahead of you.  A lobster dinner makes a lousy cheeseburger.  If you want poetry, go read poetry.  Here, you’ll find commentary.

But hey, it could always be verse.