Fiction vs. Poetry

So, I graduated with a BA in English with a focus in Creative Writing. It was a great experience, learned a lot, read a lot, wrote a lot. But I caused all kinds of trouble when it came time for my senior capstone. You’re suppose to be one style of writing and do an entire collection of that type of work, so a collection of poetry, or essays, or short stories, or screenplays or a novel excerpt. Well, bump that, I love all styles of writing (though I struggle with screenplays and essays lots! Nonfiction is a toughie for me cause I’m actually fairly private) and wanted my capstone to express that. After some confusion and debate I was allowed to do this. I had poetry, short stories and essays in my final capstone project. I read both poetry and fiction at my final reading. And I am proud of myself.

Fast forward to now, looking into becoming a professor of creative writing means getting an MFA. I have yet to find an MFA program that allows you to concentrate in more than one ‘area’ of writing. It’s either poetry, or fiction, or non-fiction, or (rarely) screenplays. I don’t want to do that.

I think that writing in several styles can really help you in other types of writing. Short stories makes me pay more attention to pacing and that helps immensely in a poem. Screenplays focus on dialogue which helps with short stories. And so on and so forth. Here’s a snipper from a poem of mine that started as a nonfiction essay.



Was the first word

I felt.

I knew.

I held.


Writing assignments

Are dull.


A storm.

And Ebony.

Started as non-fiction essay about when I first realized I wanted to be a writer (interesting story for maybe another blog post one day). But jumping from essay to poem really brought that moment to life. It totally changed the meaning and the feeling.

Then there’s the whole issue of commercial fiction being frowned upon so much in ‘academic’ settings. I had a professor flat out tell me that my stories were not good because they were ‘cheap horror genre fiction.’ (but that’s a post for another day!)

Anywho, I really believe that stepping out into a new form can really help your work and keep you inspired. I like to keep several different types of writing going at all time to keep my brain working at processing. I read differing topics and styles. And sometimes I fall flat on my face and mess up big time but I have fun doing it! Well, I think I am going to run away off to bed, sleepy tonight! (and forgive me if this post has some errors, I think I typed a vast majority with my eyes closed. That sleepy tonight)

In the end I think this big divide between being a poet and being a writer is silliness. We’re all writers, no matter what form our words take.


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