Sunday, September 11, 2011

Verse Novel in Miniature*

Walking in Clifton Hill
River dank,
Blossoms sweet with promises
I meet...myself

My young self walks past
Meets my eyes and looks away
She does not know me.

I have become
In these familiar streets
A stranger to myself

Though there's things to do,
This day I tread in her steps,
Watch her daily life

She visits the shops
Buys bread and cheese
Takes an hour
To choose a video
And then goes home
Through yellow light

Three cats drape themselves
In the garden, at the door,
Their eyes blink open.

My husband to be
Young like the child of my husband
On the front porch lights up

They smoke cigarettes
And weave dreams from smoke and air
In the park across the road
I am in darkness

The park around me
Grows greener, richer, deeper
Until I am all but lost
to myself.
She looks out at the dark.

*This semester I am teaching a Young Adult fiction group as part of the creative encounters subject at Melbourne Uni. Last week we did a class on verse novels. We talked about voice in YA fiction and how the verse novel as a genre foregrounds voice.

'I sing the song of myself,' wrote Walt Whitman.

I think this is why the verse novel has been so readily adapted for the YA market. We experimented with the form through writing exercises (or provocations as one student called them) and because I was encouraging the students to be very honest and personal (the verse novel strips back descriptive writing and tends to convey in a simple pared back way raw emotional experience), I participated. I set them the task of writing a verse novel in haiku. As you can see I have departed from rigid syllable structures in terms of haiku. I haven't really edited what I wrote in class, so this is, indeed, very raw.


  1. It felt like me, and I have been thinking so much about not knowing the selves in my past. Thank you. I love your poetry, when you post it.

  2. Oh, that's lovely Penni.