Listening to Poets


Should poetry be heard and not seen?

In most, though not all, historic literary traditions, verse is distinguished from prose by the fact that the lines or stanzas are identified as such by recurrent patterns of sound (quantity, accent, rhyme, or assonance) which are independent of both the syntax and the meaning. This strict definition of verse excludes rhythmic prose like ancient Hebrew poetry and the free verse of Walt Whitman, in which the “verses” or lines are defined not by fixed, recurrent sound patterns, as in Greek hexameters or English heroic couplets, but rather by syntactical devices used in conventional prose as well, like parallelism.

Lyz's writing has been published in the New York Times Motherlode, Jezebel, Aeon, Pacific Standard, and others. Her book on midwestern churches is forthcoming from Indiana University Press. She has her MFA from Lesley and skulks about on Twitter @lyzl. Lyz is a member of The Rumpus Advisory Board and a full-time staff writer for the Columbia Journalism Review. More from this author →