Michael Symmons, writing in The Guardian, “explores the unstable ground between poetry and prose with his top 10 verse novels.”
Hm. All kinds of bells of resonance are ringing madly in my head. Why on earth? Do I really think I want to/can/should write a verse novel?
Whatever the case may be, some reading is evidently in order. I think I’ll start this project by exploring the following four recommendations from Symmons’ Top 10 Verse Novels list:
3. The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
Already an accomplished poet, Seth flexed his narrative muscles here before embarking on ‘A Suitable Boy’. A witty and urbane San Francisco story.
4. Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Barrett Browning spent at least a decade conceiving and crafting this story of a struggling poet and her agonies about her vocation. Her work gave the verse novel a radical edge, raising issues about poverty, women in society and the role and value of art.
7. Shamrock Tea by Ciaran Carson
Carson is one of Ireland’s greatest writers, author of award-winning poetry books and novels. Though they are published in their distinct categories, many of his books could hold their own in either camp. His mastery of the long poetic line enables him to build stories and characters in the most wonderful lyric poetry.
8. The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson
Canadian poet Anne Carson’s tracing of a single love affair through to the breakdown of a marriage has won her many admirers. This book is an amazing balancing act – classical and colloquial, surreal but rooted in telling everyday details.