Poetry essay: Turning a story into a poem and turning a poem into a story

If you’ve read the poems with explanations on this blog, you may have noticed that some of them tell a story.  They present a scene or some event in a metaphorical way.  The idea, in some of the cases, was to add emotion and a different sense of expression to the description of a scene.

In the poems with explanations, generally speaking, the poem was written concurrently as the story was thought of.  Both were worked out together and then the explanation was written.  This is not however the only way to approach this idea.

A writer could write a story and then turn it into a poem, or they could write a poem and turn it into a story.  There are different reasons this might be done.

If a writer were turning a story into a poem, they might do it to have a shorter expression.  A story might be many pages, where as a poem might only be many lines.

Also, they may want to highlight just the most impactful moments of the story.  In a poem, a writer doesn’t have to have all that goes into setting up a story.  They can pick just a part and just show what they want, without having a traditional beginning, middle and end or various other story elements.

Additionally, a writer may want to express a story metaphorically.  Maybe the story has an emotional impact.  A writer might want to get that impact across in a less direct way or in a way that heightens the impact with the use of metaphor.

A writer could also have reasons to turn a poem into a story.

Maybe a writer thought of a very good scene and wrote it out as a poem.  They might at some point want to expand upon this scene and have a full story.

Additionally, it could be that a writer liked the idea of adding elements to the presentation of the poem that would not fit into a poem.  They might think these elements would fit better in a story.

Also, maybe a writer wrote a poem in a metaphorical way and wanted a more direct expression.

When turning a story, or part of one, into a poem, a writer can approach it in different ways.

One idea would be to read the story, and as each part (whether defined by a paragraph, section, chapter or whatever) is read, a poet could write that part out as a section of a poem.  The section might be a line, a stanza or a number of stanzas.

In turning a story into a poem, the writer could be overt and describe what happens in the story in direct language.  Alternatively, a writer could look for a metaphor or metaphors that fit the situation.  They could try to find something that symbolically represents what they are describing.  They could stick with the same metaphor throughout, or have a number of metaphors for different parts.

In turning a story into a poem, a poet should look for ways to condense the message.  What might be paragraphs in a story, might be lines in a poem.  The idea is to have more impact by saying less.

One idea a writer might try when turning a story into a poem is to use haiku.  Haiku are very brief and they can make it so the writer has to focus just on the essence of the story.  They could describe the story in the briefest terms.  A writer might try this for a whole story, or they could have a series of haiku for different parts.

When turning a poem into a story, a writer might try the approach taken in the poems with explanations on this blog and then move steps past it.  Like the poems with explanations, a writer could write out an explanation of the poem they have written.  They could go stanza by stanza, line by line, or even word by word.  They could write a full understanding of what the poem means.

After this step, the writer could take the explanation and turn it into a story.  This might be easier than working straight from the poem, because all of the symbolism and metaphor will have been spelled out.  A writer could take this and write an outline of a story.  From that, they could write a full story.

Turning stories into poems can be a useful means of expression.  A writer can take something long they have written and find ways to express meaningful parts of it in distinct ways.

Similarly, turning poems into stories can be a way for a writer to take something that might be a very good presentation of a scene and expand upon it and add more directness to it.

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