I love the written word, but I spend most of my reading time consumed by a towering pile of novels.
Why is that, when there are so many other forms of literature out there?
As I type this, there’s a brand new First World War poetry collection to my right and a copy of a short story by a colleague to my left. Both will be on my reading list this weekend.
But I worry that I don’t know how to do poetry and short stories justice. I hurry through them, forgetting they will be brief – in comparison to a novel. I finish the last sentence and scour my memory looking for meaning. What was the point of that piece, there has to be a message.
I like poetry best when I stop to appreciate the beauty of the words and the way they flow together, the emphasis, everything that was left unsaid. Its brevity means that each word has a function; each word has been carefully chosen.
When a poem captures my imagination, it haunts me. I mouth the words to myself, repeating lines over and over. I want to write them all over the walls of my house.
Short stories are difficult. I can write a novel, but putting together a decent short story is so much harder. The best ones craft a compelling tale with few words, without being heavy handed. I admire anyone who can master that particular art.
Poetry and short stories aren’t as well loved as novels; they don’t make as much money or attract that attention. But they can reveal so much about life and love and even how to write.
What are your favourite poems, or the short stories you think everyone should read?