Wherein I describe the difference between Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction

Poets hey? Still taking their shots, even in death!

Poets hey? Still taking their shots, even in death!

That’s a long title for a post!

At any rate – I get asked all the time as to what is the difference between poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. I’m not an academic writer and don’t have a handy definition of each to give you but like US Supreme Court Justice Potter said of obscenity “I know it when I see it”. I think it’s better if I provide an example of each to better illustrate the differences.

What follows is the same set of circumstances expressed as Creative Non-Fiction, Fiction, and Poetry.

Creative Non-Fiction: “I blame my lack of success on my father’s incipient alcoholism” followed by a lot of blah blah blah.

Fiction: Fiction runs more along the true and honest lines of “He swallowed the contents of the glass and took a look at the kid before setting the glass down. I don’t think the boy is mine he thought, before taking a long pull straight from the bottle and watching the little red-haired bastard cry. Again.”

Poetry: Hmmm … Look for backslashes. Poets are sneaky and often try to avoid rhymes but the backslashes will give it away i.e.

“Wine” he shouted/And oft did drink/While the bare twig cried ”Tis winter in this house/Be accursed, these cold miseries that have brought me low”/And each faced their separate way.

Even if a poet hides the backslashes you can practice inserting them and if it seems to “fit” – yeah – it’s fucking poetry alright. God save us all.

Anyways – there you have it.

Hey even though I don’t write poetry the example above is pretty damn good. I may have to go smoke a cigarette and I don’t even smoke.

Y’all stay awesome now,



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