In her poem, “Sacred Emily,” Gertrude Stein wrote, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” This line is often interpreted as meaning things are what they are. In Stein’s view, the sentence expresses the fact that simply using the name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it.
In literature, objects can simply be what they are or they can symbolize something more than what they are.
A symbol is anything that hints at something else, usually something abstract, such as an idea or belief. A literary symbol is an object, a person, a situation, or an action that has a literal meaning in a story but suggests or represents other meanings.
If you want to learn more about crafting symbols in your story and how to use poetic techniques to deepen your prose, please join me this Thursday, April 21 for my writing webinar Sound and Symbol: How to Use Poetry to Deepen Your Prose, which is part of the Free Expressions Literary Series.
I’ll dive deep into how poetry can add sensory engagement to your prose.
We can have general symbols—like the aforementioned rose—and we can have specific symbols.
A general symbol is universal in its meaning. Even if the symbol was removed from a work of literature, it would still suggest a larger meaning, i.e. the rose symbolizes romantic love throughout time.
No matter what you write—emails, short stories, novels, or nonfiction—your prose can be more persuasive and impact your reader more effectively by using poetic devices.
Below are three blog posts to help you discover the power of using rhetorical techniques to create more poetic prose.
This Thursday, May 13, I’d love to have you on my webinar Adding Poetry to Your Prose.
You can buy the entire webinar series featuring well-known writers, including Donald Maass, Emma Dryden, and James Scott Bell, or scroll down to May 13 and grab my webinar. If you can’t make it live, you’ll receive the recording and all my handouts afterwards.
I’d love to see you there!
Until then, please enjoy these posts:
Use rhetorical devices to evoke readers’ emotions
Rhetorical devices: Your secret writing weapon
Add alliteration to make your pages pop!
“….Everybody, even people who don’t read poems, have poetry in their heads…,” says poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
Filmed as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, the 4-minute video below features poets Enzensberger and Tracy K. Smith, who discuss the nature of poetry and their process of working together.
Enzensberger says we find poetry in nursery rhymes and prayer and other everyday occurrences. Poetry is part of the fabric of our lives. Poetry can be a way in to other writing formats.
Watch the video below and then check out my earlier post, “Using poetry to enrich your prose” to see more ways that poetry can inform our lives and our writing.
French writer and philosopher Voltaire wrote that poetry is the music of the soul. He also said, “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.”
Besides being an end in itself, poetry also helps me dream up ideas for the novel I’m writing.
Some people create storyboards or collages to help them brainstorm. I’ve done this but, recently, I wanted to delve deeper into an idea I was developing so I decided to write a poem about it.
Poetry is all about getting the right words in the right combination in a small space (well, at least smaller than a novel). Poetry is about condensing details and sense impressions, and using metaphor to evoke an emotional response in our readers. When I write poetry, it forces me to go deeper into my subject and think of it in new ways. I can relate to what Voltaire said because poetry becomes an echo that stirs up images and ideas on the periphery of my original idea or thought that I may not have otherwise seen. Read more