I think I read my first verse novel a few years ago, and fell in love with the form. Maybe it was not surprising though; I love novels, and I love poetry. So that was easily one of those ten reasons to love verse novels that I talk about in my post title. But then the verse novel or novel in verse has so much appeal, and so many reasons to fall in love with it. And it works for the Love Freebie theme of Top Ten Tuesdays this week over at ThatArtsyReaderGirl.
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Verse Novels and All That
What is a Verse Novel Anyway?
I loved Edward Hirsch’s definition of the verse novel in his book Poet’s Glossary (thanks to poets.org) where he says that
“…the verse novel filters the devices of fiction through the medium of poetry.”
And as I read further, I also fell in love with how Michael Symmons Roberts’ argues in his article listing his top 10 verse novels that
“…a verse novel can only be written in conscious awareness of the novel as a form”
And finally and totally agree with Gabriela Pereira when she states in this must-read article (DIY MFA) that
“….a verse novel must have the music and imagery that we find in poetry and at the same time character development and story structure of a novel.”
To learn more about the verse novel and how it is different from those other narratives in verse, including the epic poems, you can check out the DIY MFA article linked earlier or wikipedia.
So as I was saying earlier, I fell in love with the verse novel the first time I read it. And maybe the verse novelist got it wonderfully right!!
And that gave me more than one, well
Ten Reasons to Love Verse Novels
Lots of energy! The words grab you, hold you tight, and you find yourself racing to the end.
And as you race, you experience emotions viscerally. Verse novels, when written well, have that perfect blend to emote, well, perfectly.
The visual imagery in verse novels is pretty cool. All that white space, and the clever use of the white space tells a story by itself; just like illustrations do. While breaking up prose cleverly across lines does not a verse novel make, brilliant graphical placement of words (sometimes like an epigram) in an actual verse works very well.
They are quicker to read than a regular novel (but don’t blame if you go back to read a page or two for the brilliance and take longer!)
Rich with figures of speech on every page! It is like going on a treasure hunt where there are treasures strewn generously across the route.
Since the number of words are way lesser than a regular novel, they are chosen carefully, and cleverly. And as readers, we can feel that in the reading.
The verse novel allows for a more creative use of various styles, adding to the reader’s delight.
They are so wonderful to read aloud. While I am not one to read a book aloud, these books make me want to do so; and having watched Amanda Gorman recite her poems of late make me even more eager to do so!
Perfect to get those reluctant readers around you to get started on reading.
And I did say ten reasons. So here is number ten. They are novels and they are poetry, both of which I love!! (Well, that was the first reason I stated anyway)
And here are a few (not ten)
Verse Novels I Love
The Poet X
I described this as Poetry That Slams Its Way Into Your Heart in the title for this book’s review post.
Inside Out and Back Again
A book I never reviewed and mentioned that as well a couple of times. But I can recall the beauty of the words leaving me awed and in tears as well a few times.
Brown Girl Dreaming
Another I keep talking about as meaning to review but never have so far. I hope to review both this and Inside Out and Back Again before they appear in another list on my blog.
Love and Leftovers
This was the first novel in verse I read; and it was a delightful read.
Yet another yet-to-review-but-totally-loved book. I have gifted this book many a time, read it a couple of times too, but reviewed it not once.. Soon, I think..?
Love That Dog
To be honest, I read this book in the time it took me to write this post. Or rather, delay this post by a bit. But even more honestly, this book is a really quick read, and I dilly-dallied over other things for this post. Back to the book, oh so totally a must read.
In Paris With You
A sweet quick delightful treat of a read that gets over all too soon (like a dessert you are eating!)
Becoming Muhammad Ali
This is not truly a verse novel, but a brilliant combination of a regular novel (James Patterson) and verse novel (Kwame Alexander). Read my son’s thoughts on this here.
This one is sweet! A book for children that everyone will enjoy reading.
And a few
That I Want To Read
- Clap When You Land
- Long Way Down
- The Golden Gate
- A Time to Dance
- The Marlowe Papers
- Out of the Dust
- Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs
Get Them Here
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And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, what are your thoughts on the novel in verse? And your thoughts on any of the books listed if you have read them? As always, love your recommendations for books, and comments on this post.