From the archive: WHO WAS YOUR FIRST?

File:Beowulf and the dragon.jpgI don’t remember the first time I heard about such a thing as a novel in verse, I suspect it was sometime in my teens, perhaps hearing about Dante’s INFERNO or Milton’s PARADISE LOST. Both of course are classified as “epic poems” among others such as Homer’s ODYSSEY or BEOWULF. I dabbled in reading epic poems in my late teens and twenties. I’m sure I thought I was a literary genius but to be honest, I’m pretty sure I never really “got” them.

I eventually wrote for film and television, then novels for kids. I kind of forgot all about reading “literature” and therefore any classic that hadn’t captured my fancy as a pretentious undergrad was now unlikely to ever make it back onto my TBR pile. The classic epic poems were relegated to the SRBPW (should read but probably won’t) pile.

Then a few years ago I read an article about Sonya Sones and her then latest book ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES. Quite apart from having a deliciously ironic title I was surprised to learn this book was in verse. A novel in verse? Like BEOWULF? For teens? I was intrigued and a few days later Amazon kindly delivered this book to my door. I breezed through it, enjoying it very much but was fascinated to discover that it was essentially a collection of narratively linked poems rather than an epic verse. I was amazed how well it worked.

Since then I have read dozens of novels in verse and written one of my own, AUDACIOUS which will be published in 2013. My verse novel reading coordinates with all my other reading in that I mostly read YA and MG. However I AM branching more adult material lately (I read the whole Games of Thrones series for example) so in the next few weeks I’ll be reading a couple of verse novels written for adults too: Ellen Hopkins’s TRIANGLES  and THE MARLOWE PAPERS by Ros Barber both slated for publication in the next few months.

What was YOUR first verse novel?



5 thoughts on “From the archive: WHO WAS YOUR FIRST?

  1. My first was Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. I didn’t even know it was a novel in verse at the time I read it because I was unfamiliar with that format. Last year I read Bronx Masquerade and realized there were novels written in poems. I was hooked!

  2. I’m not sure which one it was, but I’m pretty sure it was a Lisa Schroeder book. I know Laura’s first was this year, Love & Leftovers and she wrote a funny blog post about it that was basically, “Oh… this isn’t like the stuff I had to read in school!”

  3. Mine was Love & Leftovers, which I didn’t even know was in verse when I picked it up. It ended up being a very pleasant surprise. Since then, I’ve only read one more verse novel, which was Defy the Stars by Stephanie Parent. However in the new year, I’ll definitely be reading more! I have a list! 😀

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