prose v. poetry, feat. the slowest teller in america

You can’t keep prose in your mind. And prose... in some ways doesn’t love the world. It’s a disappearance from the world, for me. I think for a great prose writer that’s not true. But for me it takes me further away. It creates a world that sort of blots out the everyday. Whereas poetry, I think when you read a great poem you can put it down and be more awake and more enlivened, or as Shelley said “Poetry should make us more human”...

Prose favours information... and poetry favours music... What you get from poetry that you don’t get from prose (or what I get... from lyric poetry which is mostly what I read these days, or short narratives, poems of a page or less) is a whole artistic experience about as big as my hand. You can download the whole thing into your head and be standing in a line with the slowest teller in America, and you’re with John Keats, you become a citizen of the city of ideas.

- Mary Karr, from a reading and discussion by Karr and Stuart Dybek, recorded as part of the Poetry Lectures podcast series. Listen to the whole reading here.

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