Poetry has the capacity to allow many voices to speak and this is what makes the verse novel a unique form through which limiting understandings of the teenage experience can be challenged. Robert Petrone, Sophia Tatiana Sarigianides and Mark A Lewis seek to re-vision the assumptions that young people in general are naïve, self-interested, moody, hormonal, volatile, and risk takers. They have therefore introduced the term Youth Lens (Petrone et al 2014). This critical lens offers an approach to literary representations of adolescents and young adults that challenges ‘reductive, deficit views of young people; and [conceptualises] youth as complex, contradictory individuals, not fully determined by the body’ (ibid: 3). The multi-voiced verse novel enables explorations of real difference. An analysis of the multiple, distinct voices in Catherine Bateson’s poetic representations of adolescent experiences reveals the complexity of youth as a category. This paper will focus on how the voices in Bateson’s young adult verse novel His Name in Fire are made distinct through the lexicon and diction of the characters. An analysis of this text through a Youth Lens reveals that Bateson is attuned to a diverse range of personalities and experiences that constitute the category of youth.
Keywords: verse novel; poem cycle; voice; line breaks; syntax; lexicon