Old Pal Poetry and Capricious Prose

When I thought about the different effect that prose and poetry have on me, and how I feel about writing both, it surprised me to discover that I used the pronouns ‘she’ for prose and ‘he’ for poetry. At this moment in real life, I seek out female companionship, which I find more nurturing, but in writing I seem to find a home in poetry when I am unable to write prose.  I wonder what Jung would make of that?


Prose taunts and haunts me – she blows hot and cold. Sometimes I love her to bits, sometimes I feel close to strangling her. I can never approach  her unprepared. She requires, nay, she demands a lot of love and attention; I often don’t have the time to give her all that she deserves. Then she neglects me, slams the door in my face, throws a tantrum. I spend weeks, even months, trying to woo her back, but there is no sign of life from her capricious majesty.

She is also the mistress of comparisons. She has no qualms about telling me that her other suitors are better, tidier, more organised, more romantic, more dashing, more, more, more…

I have tried to flirt with her younger sister, Short Story, or her niece, Flash Fiction, but it’s Prose the Novel whom I love best. She knows it, I know it. No amount of success with the others would ever make up for the loss of her.

Poetry is my refuge when Prose refuses to cooperate.


When I cannot find the words, Poetry takes over like an old chum. Knows me best, understands the unspoken, the wildest metaphors and similes. I say a carrot is like a star and Poetry smiles in his gentle, light-filled way and only ever replies: ‘Why not?’

Poetry is the one who soothes my nightmares, unknots the wrinkles on my face and in my mind. He encourages me to discover myself, and if I don’t come back with answers… well, so what? He’ll still be there for me.

9 thoughts on “Old Pal Poetry and Capricious Prose”

    1. I started off with some automatic writing and the result surprised – I too would have expected poetry to be a ‘she’, as it nourishes and sustains me in a way that prose does not. Prose is more like fast food at times…

  1. I love reading prose. Except for haibun, I don’t enjoy writing it. Amateur flash fiction annoys me. I am first and foremost a poet. They have no gender for me. They are prose and poetry. Prose to me is the cafeteria meal. Poetry is the meal, snack, cheese course, dessert. ..prepared by a loving, passionate, exacting chef or cook, to be savored, to be true.

  2. I really like this reflection on what it’s like to write both prose and poetry, Marina Sofia. I’ve honestly never thought of pronouns for either, but I can certainly see your thinking about that. And it makes for a beautiful contrast here. And I couldn’t agree more about the attention and love that a prose manuscript requires. I think it’s because I don’t really write poetry that I don’t really contrast them , and certainly not in the elegant way you do here.

    1. Another way of thinking about it is that poetry is like a series of brilliant one night stands, while a novel can feel like a very long and not often harmonious marriage… but poetry can feel like a long and continuous journey of discover too!

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