DIFFERENCE BETWEEN POETRY AND OTHER LITERARY WORKS
By using specific relevant examples, from your experience describe the unique features/characteristics that distinguish poetry from other genres.
There is pleasure and enjoyment in reading poetry which makes it different from the prose genre of literature. How do you differentiate poetry from prose?
Poetry is a work of art that uses creative and imaginative language which arouses emotions to portray social realities to the intended audience. Poetry as a literaly genre differs from other genres in many ways.
This essay disuses some of the features that differentiate poetry from other literary genres like; plays, novels or short stories.
Poetry is arranged in form of verses and stanzas. Unlike prose which is arranged in long sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, in form of a book, poetry is represented in the form of verses which are grouped together to form stanzas. Example the following is a stanza with three verses.
Yet more my pain
Shall suffocate oppression.
Poetry employs language economy. Unlike prose which uses long sentences that form paragraphs, chapters and a whole book, poetry on the other hand employs language economy.
This is to say words are carefully chosen so that very few words present much information. For example in a short poem like “Building the nation” we can establish themes like; classes, hypocrisy, marginalization, misuse of public resources, poverty etc
Poetry is rich in figures of speech and sound devices. Unlike prose poetry makes frequent use of figures of speech such as hyperbole, personification, simile, metaphors and other but additionally poetry has sound devices like, alliteration, assonance, consonance, rhymes, refrain, anadiplosis etc.
for example Alliteration “Highly delicate diplomatic duties…” in Building the Nation” or a Refrain “Atieno yo” in A Freedom Song”.
Poetry employs poetic license. Unlike, prose which mostly follows standard rules like punctuation, sentence structure etc. Poetry has the freedom/permission to
break/violate certain grammatical rules to achieve a poetic effect. Look at the following verses, “Forward they go” instead of “They go forward” in “Sunrise”, “I too am America” instead of “I am an American too” in “I too sing America”, “away they go…” instead of “they go away” in “When I Say I Love You”
Poetry is rhythmical. Unlike prose poetry is arranged in form of regular beats that make it possible to be sung. There are regular beats that fall on stressed and unstressed syllables that make the poem easy to be sung.
Stressed syllables cause rising sound while unstressed syllables cause a falling sound. By alternating the rise and fall of sounds the poet creates rhythm.
In poetry the character is the persona and rarely bears a name. Unlike prose which has many characters with names performing different roles, poetry hardly has characters with names.
With exception of few narrative poems like “A freedom song” most personas in many poems are named after their jobs, relationship or the class they belong to. Example, in “Building the nation” the persona is the driver. He is named after his job.
Poetry is meant to be sung or recited. Unlike novels which are meant to be read, and plays which are meant to be performed, poetry is meant to be sung or recited.
Poems are patterned in a way that they can be sung or recited that’s why they have sound devices like rhymes, alliteration, consonance, assonance, reiteration, and refrain which bring about music and add effect to the poem.
Poetry uses imaginative language. Poetry employs imagery and symbolism that makes the reader to dig deeper to uncover the underlying meaning. Some words carry an extra meaning in poetry apart from their literal meaning.
Consider for instance words like “little bird, and “honey bee”, in Mwaikusa’s “When I say I Love you” they might be representing girls/women also he used imagery like “sweetness” (image of taste), soft soil, standing hard (image of touch), All these make the poem enjoyable.
Poetry arouses emotions and feelings. Unlike prose, poetry appeals to the five senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound. The poem can move someone’s emotions and they cry or laugh. It can make you annoyed, angry, sad, embarrassed, sympathetic or amused, excited, and happy.
For example the poem “If we Must Die”
McKay and “Your Pain” by A Guebuza arouse the feeling of hatred against the white people.
Poetry has the first letter of each line capitalized (In Most poems). Unlike prose in which capitalization occurs only at the beginning of a new sentence or proper nouns, in most poems the first letter of each line is capitalized.
This happens even when the sentence is still in progress. Look at the following stanza from Okot’s “The graceful giraffe cannot become a monkey”
Ostrich plumes differ From chicken feathers, A monkey’s tail
Is different from that of a giraffe…
As a way of conclusion however it should be noted that the different features discussed above are not necessarily to be found in every poem. Some poems contain some features and lack others. But there are some features which are found in almost every poem.