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Narrative Poetry (1 Viewer)

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Is it a good idea? Has any modern author even attempted it?

(I'm finding the 10-syllable per line sonnet limit very hard to work with for actually creating a scene.)
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Narrative poetry is very common among contemporary writers, It simply means the poem is told from the perspective of a narrator. Usually (not always) there is some kind of story. If you go to Rattle.com you can read lots of new contemporary poems.
 
I LOVE narrative poetry, especially rhyming narrative poetry! TL's right that there's a lot of contemporary narrative poetry out there, but most of it's free verse, which is less my thing.

I think it's a good idea. I would really enjoy a narrative sonnet. But, yes, it isn't easy to balance story, flow, and fitting within a structure all at once. I wrote a long narrative poem in heroic couplets--even without a hard syllable count it was difficult, and I sometimes spent hours on one couplet. But it was very rewarding and I'm proud of the finished product.

One tip: have the general story fleshed out ahead of time, but not all the details. That way you can shift the details around for flow and structure's sake. So, for example, in the poem I wrote, I knew I had to have a 'scene' (stanza) where the protagonists' friends are described, but I made up their names and some of their features on the fly so that it wouldn't be impossible to stay within the iambic pentameter.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
Is it a good idea? Has any modern author even attempted it?

(I'm finding the 10-syllable per line sonnet limit very hard to work with for actually creating a scene.)

I love narrative poetry. It's one of the few forms of poetry I actually like. The Raven by Poe is an all time favorite. The Charge Of The Light Brigade is another good one.

Modern wise? Yeah there's a lot, different to the old days. I believe they tend to be less epic in length but still story-character focused. A lot of it is on YouTube. Tim Minchin has some excellent, comedic narrative poems.

A recent and very popular short narrative poem is ' The Great Realization' by a British poet named Tom Foolery, linked below.

[video=youtube;Nw5KQMXDiM4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw5KQMXDiM4&t=52s[/video]
 

Darren White

co-owner and admin
Staff member
Co-Owner
Is it a good idea? Has any modern author even attempted it?

(I'm finding the 10-syllable per line sonnet limit very hard to work with for actually creating a scene.)

Reading this, I had a few questions.
Why would you want to try it? Is poetry something you like to write already? If not, it might be more of a burden than a pleasure.

And why mention a sonnet in 10 syllables (which is not the same as iambic pentameter)
There are so many poetry forms, why the restriction of a sonnet?

I am writing a book that is, I assume, narrative poetry interlaced with poetic prose. There are so many possibilities out there.
 
I love narrative poetry. It's one of the few forms of poetry I actually like. The Raven by Poe is an all time favorite. The Charge Of The Light Brigade is another good one.

!!!! The Charge of the Light Brigade. One of my favorite poems of all time!

To the OP, and bouncing off of Darren, it is good to consider what is the best form for the story you are trying to tell. Will it actually work as a sonnet (I mean, for one, is it short enough?)? There are a lot of poetry forms out there, and you can always invent your own. Or even beyond poetry ... I always ask myself: is this story best as fiction? Poetry? A song? A drawing? (If it's a movie or video game, too bad for me; gotta wait until my little siblings grow up and start companies for that one...lol).
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Reading this, I had a few questions.
Why would you want to try it? Is poetry something you like to write already? If not, it might be more of a burden than a pleasure.

And why mention a sonnet in 10 syllables (which is not the same as iambic pentameter)
There are so many poetry forms, why the restriction of a sonnet?

I am writing a book that is, I assume, narrative poetry interlaced with poetic prose. There are so many possibilities out there.

Oh, I have some mileage with sonnets. I was thinking that I could write 2 or 3 "sonnets" per scene and develop an entire short story. Blank verse, of course. The key would be to totally avoid abstractions and -ironically- keep flowery language to a minimum.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Avoiding abstraction and flowery language is a good strategy in general. I also prefer blank verse sonnets to end-rhyme sonnets. They tend to be less contrived with a more natural flow. There's no reason that a sonnet can't be narrative. I've written several.
 

Darren White

co-owner and admin
Staff member
Co-Owner
Oh, I have some mileage with sonnets. I was thinking that I could write 2 or 3 "sonnets" per scene and develop an entire short story. Blank verse, of course. The key would be to totally avoid abstractions and -ironically- keep flowery language to a minimum.
That's not ironical at all. For some reason sonnets and flowery language are mentioned in one sentence very often (and I don't mean you :) ). But that doesn't have to be the case. Indeed, Blank Verse already helps you a lot, because it removes the chains of end rhyme. It does however not remove the iambic pentameter requirement (or any other formal form).
For my own book I only have here and there a poem that might be classified as an end-rhyme poem. I prefer Free Verse, even though I have a 'classical' poetry education.
 

ozofeteam

Senior Member
The theme of sonnet poetry is a difficult form of poetry, but the author who conveys all the messages he wants to say into poetry is a talented person.
 

Terra

Senior Member
I'm dipping my big toe into the poetry forums because my home group mentors have said I write in a 'melodic and flowing' style. I have gleaned a handful of narrative poems from short stories I've written, and expanded several short stories from poems I've written -- it's just playing around mind you, but I enjoy trying new things to figure out where I fit in the writing world. I learn best from hands-on experience, and I think the poetry forums will help me develop a style I seem to naturally write in.
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
That's not ironical at all. For some reason sonnets and flowery language are mentioned in one sentence very often (and I don't mean you :) ). But that doesn't have to be the case. Indeed, Blank Verse already helps you a lot, because it removes the chains of end rhyme. It does however not remove the iambic pentameter requirement (or any other formal form).
For my own book I only have here and there a poem that might be classified as an end-rhyme poem. I prefer Free Verse, even though I have a 'classical' poetry education.

___________________________

Wiki has a surprisingly thorough and historically accurate article on the introduction, evolution, and internal nature of the Sonnet from its Sicilian origin in the 13th Century to contemporary usage. Can a sonnet be a successful narrative poem, that is, present a successful story within the constraints of its pre-conceived form?? Of course it can. The word i Italian means "little song." Stories can be told in extremely short span (American Destroyer Captain in WWII , at a time when Allied radio transmissions were to be kept to a minimum: "sighted submarine sank same.") The issue does, however, devolve to a simple question, posed by Darren-- why bother? Where's the beef? What is the net gain to YOU of taking a stylized traditional form, perhaps playing with the expected beat, eschewing end rhyme, and adding another couple of lines? Through it all, telling a story.

It is very demanding to tell a story satisfying to a reader in 14, 15, or 16 lines. Perhaps that's why sonnet ​sequences were so popular in the heyday of the form in the 16th and 17th Centuries.

Introducing the sonnet sequence dodges rather than 'answers' the OP, but if the Elizabethans felt the need for MANY sonnets to tell a story . . . does that suggest limitations on the single sonnet as a 'tool' for narrative poetry? Of course, the sonnet sequences of the Elizabethan period were written within or in the dying decades of the tradition of courtly love, noted for its hyperbolic excesses. Hyperbole is hardly a platform for succinctness.

Our expert on the sonnet is James, who might book onto this thread.
 
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