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Top 10 verse novels | Sarah Crossan


From Homer’s classical epic to Kae Tempest’s mythic struggles in modern London, these books show that poetry can be more immediate than prose

Verse novels have been with us for millennia, yet when you publish one, many are surprised by your breach of the prose-novel tradition and also somewhat fearful of trying something new.

It is curious how we love poems as children, and as adults drag them out for weddings and funerals – and yet in our day-to-day lives feel poetry doesn’t belong to us. When I speak at events the overwhelming refrain from my audiences is that poetry is difficult and makes readers feel ignorant. But the verse novel, well that’s something slightly different. As a poet I write with melody in mind, but as a novelist, story is king, so if showing off with language will muddy my reader’s ability to engage with the characters, I scratch it out and try again, and most verse novelists I read do the same.

Related: Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan review – subversive spin on adultery

Here Is the Beehive by Sarah Crossan is published by Bloomsbury. To order a copy, go to guardianbookshop.com.

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