Novels in Verse

I can’t remember if I’ve brought this to the blog in the past or not, so I’m going to assume it was just on Facebook and/or Twitter. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about VERSE NOVELS!

What’s a verse novel? Maybe you know them as “novels in verse”. There are a few terms to use, but they all boil down to one obvious thing: They are novels written in verse (poetry) instead of prose (what everything else is written in).

Why do I enjoy them so much? That should be somewhat obvious. I’m a poet. I enjoy poetry. And you also know I enjoy novels in general. Once I discovered the magic of joining the two forms, I was hooked.

I first read a verse novel back in grade school. It was Karen Hesse’s OUT OF THE DUST. I remember talking about the fact that it’s written in blank verse, but that fact dissolved in my memory shortly after. I remember enjoying the story, but that was all. That is, until I rediscovered the form a few years back in Sonya Sones’ writing. I found out about her book WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW. I read it. Enjoyed it. Got hooked. I’ve since read all of her books (except one, because I don’t want to be without more of Sones to read) and from there, branches out into other authors work.

I have to admit that I’ve stuck mostly to Young Adult verse novels. It’s not completely by choice, though, partly it is. There seems to be a larger amount of verse novels for YA readers out there, compared to those for “adult” readers. I also think it’s a marketing thing because I’ve discovered a few adult titles are marketed as being poetry, but lacking take about the story aspect. Probably a few reasons for this, but I won’t speculate here. But back to my mention of YA novels. I think most of my recent YA reading has actually been done with verse novels. YA is already a pretty accessible type of book for anyone to get into, but adding in the verse form makes it even more so. And not in a bad way. I think it makes them “easier” to read while opening the story up to having a deeper message, emotional response, etc. Verse forces the author to be limited in word choice (in most cases), and I feel this makes every word used count that much more. The books may be fast reads, but I feel that I’ve gotten more out of them at times than prose novels because of the lack of words and focus on what really needs to be said.

On a less critical, and more fun note, I also like when authors play with the visual form in their verse novels. One author who does this in many different ways in all her novels is Ellen Hopkins. Her text isn’t restricted to the left side of the page. It’ll jump to the right, middle, and everywhere in between. The text placement lends to the reading of the lines and what’s being conveyed. Some of the connection between text and text placement can go over my head, even, but I don’t think her books would be as powerful if they were all left-aligned. That works for other authors, and there’s nothing wrong with that either. But at times, poetry needs to push itself across a page, be different, and stand out.

I hope I’m not alone in my love of verse novels. I do know a few of my readers have experience with them. Maybe some of you haven’t explored that part of the book world yet. I’m here to help. I’d like to close this post out with a list of verse novels I’ve enjoyed. Some of them are as recent as this week…and I’m planning on grabbing a few more from the library soon. They’re addicting!

Story Time Friday goes to the desert

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Deserter

by Robert Zimmermann

It seemed like a
great idea at the time.
Everything was going to shit.
However, out in the wide open
country, there seemed to be some
hope, while I lived in a cramped
hopeless city.

There was no need for power
or even running water once I
moved out west.
There were fields for planting,
cattle to graze, then feed off of,
and horses to do the heavy lifting
once the gas ran out.

Moving to this small town
was a smart decision…
until it wasn’t.

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After several months here
and only worsening news from
cities out east,
the town decided to put together
a militia.

Again, the militia
seemed like a great idea.

I was lucky to get out
of the city while I did.
Others weren’t so lucky.

With all the unrest,

Violence was everywhere
and small gangs were forming.
They were heading out
toward places like us each day.

Being one of the latest,
and, as it turned out, last
additions to town,
I was eager to prove my
loyalty. I volunteered
to defend my new town.

It wasn’t until the first
gang made it to our walls
that things went south.

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Long story short:
I’m hiding up in
the mountains. And
I know I won’t last
long.

Longer story,
not so short:
My brother showed up.
He was leading the gang,
demanding entrance to town.

I don’t even know who’s still
alive down there. After the first
shot, I didn’t stick around for more.
I booked it out of town and
up into the mountains before
I saw too much blood spilled.

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So here I sit, waiting.
I won’t last much longer.

If the town won, they’ll
come after me for being
disloyal.
They know this land well.
I can’t hide.

If my brother’s gang won,
he’ll be after me for not
defending him.

If they’re all dead,
I’ll still die.
I don’t know this land
well, at all. I’m just
a city boy running for
his life.

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How to Submit:

For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip one in 😛 ): miztrebor88@gmail.com. Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

 

 

Story Time Friday – @LilyLuchesi with another #poem!

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This week was almost another non-post week for Story Time Friday. It seems that once it happens the first time, the second is almost inevitable.

Luckily, I have passionate writer friends like Lily Luchesi who go the extra mile (or kilometer for you in the rest of the world 😉 ) to help out fellow bloggers and authors. I woke up to an email this morning containing the following poem, and while I’m still half-asleep, I’d like to get that right out to everyone to start their day with.

Thank you for coming in for the save. I appreciate it. And I’m sure my readers didn’t want to read another of my crappy stories again this week, anyway, haha.

(Don’t forget to check out her debut novel. It’s linked below the poem.)

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Poison Canary

by Lily Luchesi

I thought it had been long enough
Since I heard your voice
In person?
What a joke
In my earbuds?
Yep
I thought it had been long enough
But I guess not
When will it be long enough?
When will I stop shedding needless tears over you?
When will this pain go away?
What poison did you inject in me?
Oh, love, why did you ever even look my way?
How did I fall so easily?
Now I’m broken
Battled
I battled with my heart
My mind tells me to forget
But my heart can’t seem to contract amnesia
Not when it comes to you
Like a spider spinning his web
You ensnared me tightly
Wrapped me up to devour me whole
You poisoned me
And I loved every ounce of it
A black widow with the voice of a canary
You trapped me with your lying voice
So saccharine
Yet so bitter
But I’m a happy victim of your charms
Trapped here in your web of deceit

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And if that’s not enough Luchesi for you, she did just release her debut novel Stake-Out this week! Be sure to find out more on that book on the release post, by clicking HERE

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About the Author:

Lily Luchesi is an aspiring, young author/poet born in Chicago, Illinois, now residing in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things “dark”. At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle by the time she was twelve, and, as her family has always been what they now call “Gothic”, she doesn’t believe she shall ever change. She is also a hopeless romantic and avid music-lover, and will always associate vampires with love, blood and rock and roll. Her interest in poetry came around the same time as when she was given a book of Edgar Allan Poe’s complete work. She then realized that she had been writing her own poetry since she could hold a pen, and just had not known the correct terms. She finished her first manuscript at the age of fourteen, and now, at twenty-one, has two contributing credits in anthologies (listed below) and her debut novel, “Stake-Out”, will be published by Vamptasy Publishing on May 19, 2015.

Find out more:

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How to Submit:

For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip one in 😛 ): miztrebor88@gmail.com. Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

#NationalPoetryMonth Challange!

That’s right: I’m CHALLENGING YOU! As we all know, April is National Poetry Month (international if you want to say. It’s spread pretty far by now.) I like to celebrate it on A Life Among the Pages, and this year is no different. Bringing awareness to poetry and new poetry to readers is always a great goal, even if just one more person gets into poetry. It’ll still be a win. So let’s kick this month off by bringing back a graphic you may remember from last year…

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Poetry Month FB Banner

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Remember that? Either way, you’ll be seeing a lot more of it this month.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I’m challenging everyone reading this to do: Read a book of poetry. Simple enough right?

I challenge each and every one of you to go out and find a book of poetry that you think you’ll enjoy. Then read it. It could be a single poet collection. It could be a multi-poetry anthology. And if that’s a little too much for you, maybe try easing yourself in with some single poems you find online. As long as there’s an attempt to try to read more poetry, that’s all that really matters.

I know many of my readers read poetry even if it’s occasional. But maybe some of you would like a few suggestions. I’m not sure if I’m good at suggestions, but I’ll try by listing some of my favorite collections that I’ve read and some poets, as well.

A few verse novel suggestions might help those not ready to dive right in.

And here is a list of Indie poets you might have seen on the blog in the past. They’re definitely worth checking out. I’ll link a collection into each name.

I don’t really know where to steer anyone looking for an anthology. I own so many and many have overlapping selections. You can’t really go wrong with one. Read a few poems from them and if it seems like it’ll click with you, that’d probably be a great choice.

ALSO, as a little self-promotion and a help for you (maybe), you may notice the prices on my ebooks have dropped. For the month of April, on Amazon (since 99.9999999999% of my five sales each year come from there)…

From Where I Stand is only $1.23

and

Winter’s Homecoming and other Poems is only $0.99

AND, because I want to be generous, if anyone would like to read one of these collections/chapbooks but can’t afford to buy one…let me know. If you’re serious about reading it (and hopefully leaving an honest review when you’re done), send me a message and I’ll hook you up. I can give out Smashwords coupons for you to grab it for free. You can get it in any format through them. I’m here to spread poetry and that’s what I’ll do my best to do!

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Have I tired your eyes out yet with all this reading? One most big of housekeeping to do and then you can run off.

STORY TIME FRIDAY and PROSE VERSE BABEL…let’s get them going this month! A lot of poetry has been featured on STF so far, but we’ll keep that going if we can this month. PVB hasn’t been alive in a LONG time. Let’s fix that.

So I’m asking for you all to help by contributing. Find out more on how to submit work to each here:

Story Time Friday

Prose Verse Babel

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Ok folks. That’s all for now. Help spread the poetic word and come back often to the blog for most poetry fun all month!

Story Time Friday – Work in Progverse.

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Last week, you got a story from me. Before that some poetry. I like to keep things fresh on Story Time Friday, and that’s what I’m doing for this week’s post.

This wasn’t the best week for me to sit down and write. I’ve been shoveling snow since Monday and by the time I’ve finished each day, I barely even wanted to read. That means, I’m typing this up on Thursday night and don’t have anything new to share…or do I?

You’re getting a treat this time around. Months ago I had the idea to try out a verse novel, or more accurately “write something in verse and see how long it gets.” I have some ideas for a piece, and it could easily get to verse novel length. Getting it to be a good one that people’ll want to read is a different story. I can write poetry. I can somewhat write prose. Combining the two isn’t very easy. But I’ll practice at it.

Below are the first four “poems” I wrote for a project I’m slowly working on. It’s not really polished up, and I had to fudge with some of my formatting due to HTML and poetry not mixing all the time (the indents shouldn’t be their own stanzas, so imagine they’re not…especially in the second poem. I hate how that looks right now. For anyone who knows me well, I hate when poetry isn’t how it was intended to look, haha.)

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Great Devastation (working title)

by Robert Zimmermann

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I

It was all over the television
that morning.

bodies,
smoke,
flames
fighting.

Chaos…
Revolution!

That’s what it really
boiled down to;
a Revolution.

They’d, we’d,
finally had enough.

No more talking about
reform and restructuring.
No more waiting for
an economic boom.
No more false smiles
…no more.

II

New York

lost

Los Angeles

lost

Washington,
Boston,
Chicago,
Seattle,

all lost.

Their attacks came fast,
coordinated, full-frontal.
What surprised people most
was how effective each assault was.

Military bases breached first.
…most from the inside.
That’s how deep the revolution
had infiltrated. Into the
country’s defenses.
Into its own people.

Armed to the teeth, this new
militia took up a march.
To the cities, capitals,
against any opposition.
Numbers were gained
just as fast as they were
mowed down.

The fighting went on for months.
Soon the devastation
was everywhere.

There was nowhere to be safe
and not one life would ever be
the same again.

III

There were only two options
to choose from, at this point,
in order to survive.
You either went into hiding
or you chose to fight.
Neither guaranteed survival.

Those who tried to hide
were eventually found,
forced to choose a side.
Some perished
in their concealment.

Those who joined the fight,
well, their fates were
just as unpredictable as
everyone else’s.

IV

I’m with a small group
somewhere in northern Pennsylvania
or it might be somewhere in New York.
None of us has a map
of the area. All we know is
that we’ve been traveling north,
for about two weeks.

There’s been talk about a small colony
being formed near an old military base
near Canada…or what was once Canada.
Shit went to hell up there, too,
a few months after it did here.

There are about twenty of us,
altogether.
Some have left, while others
tag along on the way
as we pass through skeletons of towns.
I might be the one to break
away next.
I’m not sure why I’ve followed
this far. Is there any
real chance they’ve
organized that far north…
after the brutal winter we just had?

Can there be a place organized
anywhere, after what’s happened?

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For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip on in 😛 ): miztrebor88@gmail.com. Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

#Review: Exposed, by Kimberly Marcus

ExposedTitle: Exposed
Author: Kimberly Marcus
Rating: 4/5 stars

“In the dim light of the darkroom, I’m alone, but not for long.
As white turns to gray, Kate is with me.
The background of the dance studio blurred, so the focus is all on her
legs extended in a perfect soaring split.
The straight line to my squiggle,
my forever-best friend.

Sixteen-year-old Liz is Photogirl—sharp, focused and confident in what she sees through her camera lens. Confident that she and Kate will be best friends forever.

But everything changes in one blurry night. Suddenly, Kate is avoiding her, and people are looking the other way when she passes in the halls. As the aftershocks from a startling accusation rip through Liz’s world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself shifts out of focus. What happens when the picture you see no longer makes sense? What do you do when you may lose everything you love most? Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus’s gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson and Virginia Euwer Wolff.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’m always looking out for more novels in verse to read. Ever since I read my first, I can’t get enough. I found Exposed through a random Goodreads search, and I’m glad I came across it. I’ll be looking forward to reading more from the author in the future.

I thought the way the author chose to incorporated a X (real word omitted to avoid a spoiler) into the book, but not give X the main focus to be interesting. What could be the main plot line of another book was a “minor” plot point in Exposed. It helped to drive characters, family and friends, apart, but also allowed Liz, the main character and narrator, to show a view on X that isn’t often seen in literature. The view of someone caught in the middle, but not a main player.

Aside from the main conflict, I also enjoyed the author’s ability to use the verse novel form. It’s one thing to write a novel in verse, but to use a form that’s more limited with words, that makes the words used have more emphasis, there were many lines in the book that made it feel like a book of poetry as opposed to a novel. There were many moments of pure poetry to convey Liz’s emotions, her view of a situation, and (a favorite part of her character for me) what she sees through the lens of her camera.

This was a great young adult novel told in verse. It was also a great look into another view on an important issue we may all encounter at some point in life. Despite a few vague areas for me, I felt this was a great debut and as I said earlier, I’m looking forward to more from this author.

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If you’d like a copy of Exposed you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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Find more about Kimberly Marcus from her:

Website | Goodreads | Amazon author page

#Review: Psyche in a Dress, by @francescablock

Psyche in a DressTitle: Psyche in a Dress
Author: Francesca Lia Block

Rating: 4/5 stars

“But this is what I could not give up: I could not give up myself Psyche has known Love–scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.” (description from Goodreads)

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I wrote this review back in April and posted it on Goodreads. In reviewing my reading year of 2014 it seems that I didn’t post the review here on A Life Among the Pages. Today I’ll fix that by posting it now.

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I read Block’s Weetzie Bat a few years ago, and I think that helped prepare me for reading this book. Block has an interesting way with language that is beautiful to read, but can also lead to some minor confusion and rereading. It’s not a fault in the writing though. It helps it stand out and allows for the story to do interesting things.

Block takes well known myths and weaves them together into a set of modern day characters. It’s often hard to tell where the myth and the “real world” aspects of the story are because of the blending and language used. But there’s a beauty to how this story is told. I feel that I’ll need to go back and read it again some time down the road to full appreciate it, though. I wasn’t until about halfway through that I was able to find the flow through the verse, especially with it’s lack of punctuation.

I’d be very interested in reading some other poetry (non verse novel works), after reading this. I’ll have to go see if there’s any out there.

If you’re looking for something different, something that might not “click” right away but will make you think and pay attention, this might be a book to check out.

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You can grab a copy of this verse novel from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper.

She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a “Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city,” which she has nicknamed in her books “Shangri-LA.”

Find out more: