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Ask the Editor: The Particulars of Prose

Xulon Press Ask the EditorI’d venture to say that when most people hear the word “poem”, they think of rhymes and jokes – either due to high school Shakespeare or college limericks about drinking. The other side of poetry, non-rhyming and more thematic, tends to either elude or scare people. The fall of the line break is unpredictable. It’s harder to compose without a consistent rhythm.

However, depending on how you look at it, prose frees you as a writer. When writing prose, you have unlimited space to make your words dance. Plus, it’s up to you what kind of dance it will be. Quick and saucy, lulled and jilted – it’s all up to you. Here’s an example of one great prose poem titled Fable by Paul Colinet.


A village bell-tower was sleepy.
It wrapped itself in a little band of trees, counted to
three and fell asleep.
When it woke up, there were no more than a few trees,
with silver dew under their armpits.
A large burnt paper cross was branding its forehead.

So what can you take away from this poem that will help you write your own?

  1. Notice the irregular lines. Instead of syllables and meters deciding where the lines end, you as the author decide where they end in order to create emphasis rather than rhythm.
  2. Metaphor should be even stronger in prose, as can be seen here with the personification of the clock and the trees. Inanimate objects don’t feel, think or have body parts, so this strong imagery has a sharp impact on the reader’s senses. This is important for keeping readers engaged in what takes place.
  3. As short as it is, the story is complete. It has a beginning, middle and an end. Free form prose doesn’t mean the poem can lack focus; it is quite the opposite. The subject matter needs to be even more focused to make the reader keenly interested in what is transpiring.
  4. Last but certainly not least, leave room for the reader’s imagination. You know the clock was sleepy, you know it slept and you know it woke up. There is still mystery in what happened while it was sleeping and what significance the paper cross has. This is the beauty of poetry – the reader can attribute meaning to it in his or her own way.

Tune in for our next and last post on poetry, which will give you more insight into metaphors and imagery. Until next time, Happy Poetry Month!


Vanessa Correa is a Staff Editor at Xulon Press with a total of 10 years of publishing experience in diverse industries including journalism, academic publishing, social media and more. She is a native New Yorker and alumnus of the M.S. Publishing program at New York University. Her passion is translation—her family is from Puerto Rico and her aim is to ensure our authors receive the same high quality services for Spanish books, press releases and other materials as they do in English.

2 Comments on “Ask the Editor: The Particulars of Prose

  1. Although I’m not writing a poem, the vibe I received from reading this column inspired me in a special way. To “create emphasis rather than rhythm” may be key for a person writing a poem, however I found this to be encouraging to me as I’m currently working on what would be considered today as a chapterbook by ISFDB. I too, believe that the flow of the book should be determined by the author by creating emphis. Lack of finances and this being the first book I’m going to seek having published, I had decided that I would allow a friend with a printing company to put it together and start from there. Now, after reading this column and the one in your “marketing your book section” I must admit, I’m feeling strong about the possibilty of coming the Xulon route. Definitely, if the Lord makes a way, this is the will for my work. Thank you guys for all the side insight you provide.

  2. Frank! What lovely things to say; thank you so much and you’re very welcome. Your feedback is exactly what we have hoped to accomplish with our posts. We are thrilled that our blog could speak to you and help you along the way. I must admit— I am now very curious to know more about your book. If God gives you something to do, He will surely give you the ability to do it. Feel free to call 866-381-2665 if you want to tell us more. Have a great day!

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