Historically these have been two separate genres. It seems even a handful of decades ago poets and fiction writers moved in separate circles, spoke divergent languages, sought different readers. In my creative writing grad school experience, a fiction writer couldn’t take a course in poetry. I tried.
This has changed. Evidence in the literature is clear. Poetry and prose are merging. And to the benefit of readers everywhere.
Here are a few exhibits of the evidence.
Apeirogon by Colum McCann, a novel. Published earlier this year, a personal and poetic telling of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, written in over 1500 short vignettes, some only a line long, others are lines repeated from another entry, one of them a simple outlined empty box.
“Only Child” by Billy Collins, a poem. The narrative, the longing-laden story of this piece causes the reader to forget its poetic form, even as its form carries weight.
Ru by Kim Thúy, a memoir in novel. One page chapters layered with images and riffs on images, the narrative flowing far below, pulling the reader unconsciously along.
And these are only a few. Now that you’re aware you’ll see them all around you.