Writing Poetry, Writing Prose

Shirley Radcliff Bruton

Today we have one of my favorite authors, Shirley Radcliff Bruton. To me, she is the quintessential poet who recently began to meander over into pose. But, no matter what she writes, poetry or prose, she adds an element of elegance, a delving into the deepest parts of our psyches, a poetic drumbeat that echoes in every word. What she writes grabs hold of you with the gentlest, kindest of hands, and doesn’t let go. Here she talks about writing both poetry and prose.

Writing poetry is a gift. Writing prose is a learning process. I have an idea in mind when I write in both genres, it’s just that one flows easier than the other.

I had a wonderful introduction into fiction writing by Susan Tuttle. Susan’s writing class took me down a non-intuitive road. I felt like my mind was exploding, trying to grasp what she was saying and then apply it to her short writing exercises. She was kind and patient.

Susan is a great observer, challenging me every step of the way. Even though sometimes I don’t like to hear it, most often I learn a great deal from her and my rewrites. The Friday Night Writers’ Group, of which she is a memberis another source of learning. We all treat each other with great respect, while not holding back our critiques. They’re wonderful teachers!

I recently read A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. What a brilliant writer. You drop into this story like room temperature butter to toast. I was totally captivated. I watched the movie (same name) twice on Netflix. He writes for YA audiences.

It still amazes me, but I have two books of prose coming out this year:

is a book for 5 years and up. It’s an illustrated picture book. The main character is Z, a multi-ethnic old woman, who lives in a cabin within a forest. is psychic and practices her native rituals. She is also in tune with the natural world and teaches Milo, a gifted boy of 5, her way of life. The story is told by Milo, now an adult, to his daughter, Sara.

Jake is a YA story about a middle-aged woman who’s lost both her husband and son in a tragic accident. She finds connection to life again by befriending a teenage boy, Jake, who connects with no one, except insects. It takes place in 1961-2.

Thank you, Shirley, for a fascinating look into your journey from poetry to prose. I know I’m looking forward to reading both Z’s and Jake’s stories.

Shirley’s book of poetry, This ‘N That, written with author Debra Davis Hinkle, is available on Amazon. Check it out. You’ll get Shirley’s lyrical, intuitive poetry as well as Debra’s heart-grabbing, cogent poems. What more could one ask for in a poetry book?


About Susan Tuttle

Susan Tuttle is a professional freelance editor, writing instructor and multi-award winning author of 21 books—6 nonfiction on writing (Write It Right), 6 suspense novels and 7 collections of award-winning short stories. She also has stories in both volumes of "Deadlines", the new anthology from the Central Coast Chapter of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Tales from a Rocky Coast, and the SLO NightWriter anthology. Under the pen name Susan Grace O'Neill, she is the author of the Journey With Jesus series: Lord, Let Me Grow (Parables) vol. 1, and Lord, Let Me Walk (Lent). She is currently working on volume #2 of her Skylark P.I. series (a PI with paranormal abilities), as well as 2 YA fantasy series. And she teaches fiction writing in both the morning and afternoon every Wednesday. Email her if you're interested in joining her class. And follow her on Twitter and FaceBook.