Our featured poet was ill and could not participate, so Karen Paul Holmes stepped in and did a fantastic job reading some of her poems and then she gave us a brief program on how writers can learn from song lyrics by famous people like Paul Simon and others whose musical lyrics read like a poem. They use rhyme both internal and end rhyme and alliteration is often a part of song lyrics. I have always been drawn to song lyrics by people like John Lennon and Paul McCartney. I am a fan of the late John Denver and the lyrics to his songs are fabulous.
Our writing reads better when we create rhythm in poetry and in prose. The late Terry Kay, Georgia author, said we can add rhythm to prose by writing both long and short sentences. I find that reading my prose aloud helps me see where I need to break up the words, give the narrative a punch with a short sentence and then a longer sentence. I tell my students to break up paragraphs. Readers like more white space and not long stretches of expositional writing unless you are Pat Conroy and can describe the marshlands of the South Carolina Coast with images that grab anyone who can read.
|I am thrilled to have Terry Kay sign a book for me.|
We often get so caught up in what we want to say that we forget the best way to say it. Writing is a literary art and we learn the rules and tools we need, but we must also learn the art of how to use language to reach our readers and hold their interests.
Do you find yourself skipping long parts of a book or story when there is no action, nothing is happening and the language is dull? I know avid readers who say that there must be something happening to hold their interests. Dialogue is one way to attract the reader, but it must be natural to the story and should help move the story along. We find that dialogue is important in writing narrative nonfiction as well as fiction.
Karen gave us all something to think about last evening. Karen teaches at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. I took a weekend class there a few years ago when she taught this subject and was inspired to write some of poems I am very pleased with.
WNO will meet again next month on the second Friday evening on Zoom at 7:00 PM. Our guest will be the Poet Laureate of the Piedmont. We look forward to meeting her and hearing her poetry.