In its elemental form, poetry is a feeling that overcomes a writer, like a fever. It is instinctual, of the spirit, of the building blocks of sound, pattern, rhythm, and word.
I believe that poetry is embedded in everything, like primordial DNA that longs to be uncoded, and, for some, it is second nature to decode it. They are the babies that stop crying when they hear someone speak in lofty tongues. They are the infants whose eyes shine with knowing when lyrics are read or mantras chanted, even though they do not understand the words yet.
Often those babies or children grow up to become poets. They decode words like mathematicians decode numbers.
Some study the craft of writing. They want to paint pictures like Bob Ross painted landscapes or follow a paint-by-numbers scheme. These people become novelists.
A novel is a craft that can be designed quite beautifully but must follow fundamental building blocks and rules that apply. I’ve just read the Story Grid method of writing, and the poet in me rebelled. It wanted to cling to sound, rhythm, and essence so desperately that I had to give it some respite. Many of my novels and short stories contain poems, not because they need them, but because the part of me that longs for the elemental nature of what I love so much must be satisfied.
One more simile, because perhaps the juxtaposition of the topic requires it, poetry is like cooking; novel writing is like baking. You know a good meal when you’ve had one. The cook follows his heart, and not a recipe. Some of the best foods are a mish-mash of whatever is left to work with. On the contrary, bakers must follow a craft. The measurements and ratios must be exact or might end up making stone-hard loaves of bread, or mushy cakes. Novelists must be like bakers. They must abide by ratios and measurements to produce a manuscript that works.