writing exercise #6

Today we are going to borrow from the genre of poetry as we think about nature writing. If you are familiar with poetry, you know that many poets turn to nature for inspiration and spiritual awakening. An aspect of poetry that we would do well to imitate in our creative nonfiction is its obsession with detail—something we see in the way that poets (and nonfiction writers who write “poetically,” as Brian Doyle does) can pick one thing and write deeply and descriptively about it. We also look to poets as masters of word-choice. In a poem, every word matters, down to the letter at times. When we are writing descriptively, the same is true in our nonfiction.
Now, at this point especially in your revisions, you might have seen feedback from me instructing you to add poetic language. Well, today we’re going to look at some examples of poetic language that we can imitate. We’ll be looking at “Moss-Gathering” a poem by Theodore Roethke. (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/153471/moss-gathering.)
this is the link to see the article just to be reference as a guide.
Ask yourself—what makes this writing “poetic”?

I like this poem because it is written in sentences, though not all poems are. One of the aspects of poetry we see at work here, and we saw at work in Doyle’s essay, is that Roethke when Roethke uses a sentence, he does so in a creative, imaginative way. He uses only 2 sentences in the entire piece. His first sentence is long and descriptive—in the 53 words of the first sentence I count at least 20 descriptive words or phrases and as many objects. The sentence also is inverted, so we get the subject and verb late, and anticipation builds. Notice as well that in the second sentence there are many verbs so there is motion and action.

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It’s these kinds of decisions happening on the sentence- and word-levels that make this poem poetic. Not to mention poetic devices such as the ones that comes at the end—similes or comparison using like or as: “as if I had broken the natural order of things,” and “as if I had committed, against the whole scheme of life, a desecration.”

This kind of close-lens, intense, obsessive writing also allows readers to make metaphorical connections. Remember what Roorbach said about science essays? That, ““Science, or a particular moment in science, or a subject or object as viewed by science, becomes metaphorical, and yet another tool for the examination of the human condition”? Well, what you see in Roethke’s poem and Doyle’s essay, is just that, the object becoming metaphorical.

So, as you write and revise—and especially if you decide to write a nature essay, this is the kind of extremely detailed observation and thinking that goes into poetic writing. This is the kind of writing at work in Doyle’s essay as well, and it is part of what brings nature to life for the reader.

Okay, for the prompt. this what I need you to write about:

Write 5 sentences about nature of at least 50 words each. They don’t have to be a paragraph, they don’t have to be a poem. But, if you’re ambitious, they could be. Play around with description, word order, simile, and metaphor

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