Prose and Poetry: a horse and a doe
For a person who writes both poetry and prose, it might be interesting to analyse what makes him/her 'change gears' between each realm.
There are many theories, which distinguish and separate prose from poetry - the funniest being Leo Tolstoy's sarcastic notion that a person writing poetry seems to him like a man who is leaping instead of walking.
There are more serious distinctions like the one which belongs to a famous Russian philologist Roman Jakobson.
He stated that the art of poetry is based on a metaphor, which is replacing something with another thing, whereas the art of prose explores the world of a metonymy or replacing the whole by its part.
This description is a profound notion that looks at the very heart of prose and poetry.
Indeed, poetry at its best is mostly about metaphors, be it Shakespeare's 'woundless' or 'sick' air, or TS Eliot's 'the yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes'. In one case human characteristics describe the air and in the other the fog has feline characteristics.
As for prose, it represents the reality by a part of it, like we say 'that beard' instead of 'that person'.
But one can argue, that the distinction between prose and poetry is not clear cut.
One can easily find novels based on a single metaphor, or poetry written in a 'prosaic' way.
There are also intermittent forms of prose, such as rhythmic prose or 'vers libre' (free verse) from another.
People write also novels in verses, as well as 'poetic' prose.
People who write up their dreams could also witness how fluid are borders of those two arts.
But my question was what makes people write in one or another way.
Here I can appeal just to my own experience.
I started my 'creative writing' when I was about 15 or 16.
At that point I wrote poetry.
Until the age of around 30, I wrote predominantly in a poetic form.
Now looking back I see that from time to time I used to write short stories, once I even attempted to write a novella, but I never took those stories seriously, they were by the by.
So what I'm suggesting is that the age must play some role in our writing preferences.
A great Alexandr Pushkin seems to confirm this opinion when he says: 'My age makes me lean towards the stern prose'.
Through the age it should be also to do with the levels of inner energy.
Poetry is an explosion, a creative Big Bang with ultra-concentrated levels of a suggestive energy.
In prose the same energy is spread over the whole piece, be it 100 or 500 pages long.
It's like running either sprint or marathon.
Intensiveness is a key for one and stamina is the same for another.
But sometimes I feel that the laziness is the mother of poetry... That I write it to get a sense of satisfaction at easy cost, rather than spending months and years chained to the desk writing my prose.
The aim and the process are maybe two other words, that describe the difference well.
I better stop here, before I get into prose-writing gear - instead I will end with another poetic quote from Alexandr Pushkin - who was equally brilliant in both of those arts: 'One can not harness to the same cart a horse and a trembling doe'.
Do you also think so?