5 NEW Verse Novels for grown-ups

They’re novels! They’re poems!
They’re glorious forums
For talented writers to show off their prowess
At meter and rhythm and plots that will wow us.


Yeah, okay, I’m no Novel-in-Verse writer, but I read them and FIND them like a boss.

Most stuff in this format is for kids, but 5 recent offerings are written for ADULTS:

The Marlowe Papers
Ros Barber’s debut novel in blank verse envisions the life and staged death of Christopher Marlowe, a real guy who may or may not have been the real William Shakespeare. Winner of this year’s Desmond Elliott Prize.

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish
A somewhat erotic novel-in-stories by the late David Rakoff of NPR’s This American Life radio show. We follow as an old photograph changes hands, learning along the way the story of each person who possesses it.

Doggerel style.

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath
” A celebration, this is.” Stephanie Hemphill fittingly combines poetry with biography to capture the famous poet and novelist’s life story.

Hemphill has a bio of Mary Shelley, Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein, due out next month.

The Water Mage’s Daughter: A Novel of Love, Magic and War in Verse
McKenzie Bodkin’s sci-fi fantasy novel, written in iambic tetrameter, tells the story of a girl whose love affair– and very existence– were never meant to be. The blurb boasts assorted word- and math-based puzzles to solve, AND smart enough language to suggest keeping a dictionary handy.


The Wherewithal: A Novel in Verse

I, one
Henryk Stanislaw Wyrzykowski,
Head Clerk of Closed Files,
a department of one,
work . . .
In a forgotten well of ghostly sighs

Author Philip Schultz explores war themes via a dude hiding from one war while translating diary accounts of another. This one comes out early next year.

Bonus! YA crossover novel:

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist
Margarita Engle’s free verse fictionalized biography of Cuban poet and abolitionist “Tula” Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda. Tula fought against her own arranged marriage, fell in love with a slave, and bravely stood up against the regime that marginalized them all.

Recommended for high schoolers, but if, like me, you’re unfamiliar with Cuban history circa mid-1800s, this looks like a great intro.

Need more? Check out this boss-like list of prose-poem gold nuggets, circa 2012 and earlier:

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