I was a poet before I wrote stories. When I was in elementary school, I thought I might make my living by writing text for greeting cards. Then someone suggested I'd never succeed. It's a cutthroat, nepotistic industry. Write books, they said. It'll be easier, they said.
They were wrong.
There is no easy.
However, I do love telling stories, and I love writing books. I have not given up on my love of poetry. In fact, I've noticed I include verse in all of my novels. Sometimes the poems are my own; sometimes they are snippets and lines of other dead poets.
Why not living poets? Most poetry by deceased poets is public domain. This means, you can use it without permission (as long as you assign credit).
Here's a run-down of the poetry in my novels:
THIS GIRL CLIMBS TREES - my protagonist shares her own poem.
BIRDS ON A WIRE - I quote J.M. Barrie.
ON THE ROAD TO MARTY MCFLY (not yet published) - I quote William Blake.
STARS IN MY POCKET (work-in-progress) - I quote Mary Elizabeth Frye, Paul Vance, and others.
Poetry can offer much to your story:
1. It infuses your writing with whimsy, depth, and symbolism.
2. It connects your reader to a world beyond your story.
3. It can introduce your reader to unknown poets, ideas, and language.
4. It can add magic, light, darkness, or surrealism by quoting maybe a single line or phrase.
If you want to add poetry to your writing, here are five resources to get you started:
Academy of American Poets - a wonderful catalogue; sign up for "Poem of the Day".
Poetry Foundation - more about what's going on today; get their app too!
Poets & Writers - maybe you've seen their magazine; interviews with all who play with words.
PennSound - listen to writers share their words. Start with the birthday girl: Emily Dickinson.
TweetSpeak - I love this site; I always find something new (hey, teachers, look here).
I would love to know where you find verse or how you use it to spice up your writing. Share with us!