Today I welcome fellow fantasy author Kay Kauffman to the blog. As well as writing fantasy, she’s also the author of two books of poetry – Tuesday Daydreams and A Song for All Seasons – and she’s here to tell us why poetry and fantasy have more in common than you might think …
When asked about my writing, I’m most inclined to talk about my fantasy series. I’ve poured my heart, my soul, and ten years of my life into it, so why shouldn’t I talk about it? Oh, right – because despite a decade of hard work and sacrifice, it’s still unfinished. I really should do something about that …
I’m also a poet, and I’ve found that you can’t write poetry and fantasy without one influencing the other. You might not realize it, but the two genres have a lot in common.
Seriously – when you think of poetry, what comes to mind? Angsty teenage declarations of love and/or misery? Shakespeare? All that stuff about rhyme and meter that your teachers tried to cram into your gray matter back in school?
I think of all those things, but I also think about fate – destiny. I think of epic battles against savage beasties. I think of long and perilous voyages at sea, full of gods and monsters of all shapes and sizes; trips to Hell and back; the fall of man … The list could go on forever.
But wait a minute – savage beasts? Epic battles? Endless voyages? Those are the stuff of fantasy, right?
Well, yes. But they are also the stuff of poetry. Don’t believe me? Check out Beowulf. Look up The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid. Take a trip to Hell with Dante and visit paradise with Milton. People have been telling fantastic tales in verse form for millennia.
Heck, I’ve even taken a crack at it.
I write poetry to give voice to my heart. My days of writing angsty love poems soaked in abject misery are well behind me, and much of my poetry consists of a struggle to capture in words the intense, overwhelming beauty of the world around me. But I like to think that writing poetry has made me a better fantasy writer.
See, I write fantasy because it’s fun to let my imagination run wild with what-ifs. And what better place to explore what-ifs than a world of your own making, a world where anything is truly possible? But no matter how thrilling the story, if your words can’t ensnare a reader, the number of mythical beings or legendary journeys your hero faces won’t matter, and this is where poetry comes in.
Writing poetry has forced me to be more conscious than ever of the words I use and how I use them. When writing haiku, I have only seventeen syllables in which to get my point across. That limits my word choice to a degree, but it also opens up a world of possibilities. Poetry is full of heightened emotion, and heightened language to describe that emotion, but then so is fantasy.
By choosing my words carefully, I can convey a stronger image in fewer words, creating a better rhythm. Flow is even more noticeable in poetry than in fiction, simply because most poems are shorter than most novels. For example, which do you prefer:
“Poppycock!” the king scoffed,
And he turned to leave.
“Come along, son – I
Want to reach town before the eve.”
“Hogwash!” the king scoffed.
“Come along, son – let us away.
I want to reach Riss
Ere the end of the day.”
While I personally prefer the king’s exclamation in the first example, the second one has a better flow.
Either way, fantasy and poetry both require a different way of looking at the world around you, a different way of thinking in general. I spent months playing around with the poem excerpted above, and often I had to consider different ways of wording my sentences – using unusual constructions and the like. It was difficult, but ultimately beneficial, I think. And I can’t lie – I felt a little like Shakespeare, which is kind of awesome.
Not that I’m by any means in the same league as the Bard of Stratford. But one of the things that always struck me about his work was how he played with language, and it’s one of the many things I find exciting about a life in words.
Now, to get back to my latest fantastical ballad …
As a girl, Kay dreamed of being swept off her feet by her one true love. At the age of 24, it finally happened … and he’s never let her forget it. A mild-mannered secretary by day and a determined word-wrangler by night, she battles the twin evils of distraction and procrastination in order to write fantastical tales of wuv … twue wuv … with a few haiku thrown in for good measure.
The author of Tuesday Daydreams: A Journal in Verse and A Song for All Seasons: A Journal in Verse, Kay is currently hard at work on the first book in a fantasy trilogy. She resides in the midst of an Iowa corn field with her devoted husband and his mighty red pen; four crazy, cute kids; and an assortment of adorably small, furry animals.
Tuesday Daydreams captures the life and imagination of the author in vivid detail, touching on joy and loss, life’s everyday hassles, and the many faces of Mother Nature. A Song for All Seasons paints vivid pictures of the Iowa landscape in all its glory, in addition to intimate portraits of family life. From frost-covered windowpanes and snowy vistas to rolling green fields and bright blue skies, each poem is a peek into a fading world of untamed beauty. If you’d like to pick up your own copy of Tuesday Daydreams or A Song for All Seasons, you can find them at Amazon, Amazon UK, Createspace, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble.
Care to save her from the chaos? You can find Kay in all the usual places:
At her blog, where she shares random pictures and silly poems; on Facebook, where she shares things about cats and books; on Twitter, where she shares whatever pops into her head; on Pinterest, where she shares delicious recipes and images from her fantasy world; on Instagram, where she shares pictures of pretty sunsets; and on Tumblr, where she shares all of the above.