Here's how it works: Go to Caroline's blog and leave a comment on her post "Verse Novel Challenge" so she knows you're participating. Then start reading verse novels. If you make it to 5, you get entered in a drawing for a ARC of her upcoming book May B.
I haven't decided which books I'm going to read yet, but I have narrowed down the list:
- Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
- Witness by Karen Hesse
- Foreign Exchange: a mystery in poems by Mel Glenn
- Heartbeat by Sharon Creech
- Realm Of Possibility by David Levithan
- Fearless Fernie by Gary Soto
- Stop Pretending: What Happened When my Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones
Apparently Wolff considers her writing not as verse but as "prose with line breaks." In an interview with The Horn Book (2001), Virginia Euwer Wolff said: "Writing my prose in funny-shaped lines does not render it poetry. And there’s nobody more aware of that than I."
Which leads me to the central question of this post: if an author does not consider his/her work as verse, can we the readers appropriate it as such?
My gut response is no. If an author says his/her work is prose, then I will read it and accept it as prose, even if there are line breaks and it looks like verse. Certainly, poetry is more than just prose rearranged with breaks in funny places. Poetry has an element of surprise and a musicality that differs from prose. In my mind, prose emphasizes character and story before language whereas poetry puts language first. The line breaks in poetry serve as parallels to breath and rhythm, whereas prose with line breaks must focus first on telling the story.
For this reason, much as I would love to put True Believer and Make Lemonade on my list of verse novels to read, I can't in good conscience bring myself to do it. I'll probably read Make Lemonade anyway, and maybe reread True Believer for good measure and for fun.