Sunday, 29 March 2009

Prose Poetry:some definitions...

As so many people seem to struggle with the notion of the 'prose poem', I thought I might start a series of blogs exploring, what is prose poetry?

I thought I might start with a few quotes from other writers about how they define the prose poem:

'an impossible amalgamation of lyric poetry, anecdote, fairy tale, allegory, joke, journal entry, and many other kinds of prose. Prose poems are the culinary equivalent of peasant dishes, like paella and gumbo, which bring together a great variety of ingredients and flavors, and which in the end, thanks to the art of the cook, somehow blend. Except, the parallel is not exact. Prose poetry does not follow a recipe. The dishes it concocts are unpredictable and often vary from poem to poem.'
Charles Simic ~ 'A Long Course'


'A good prose poem is a statement that seeks sanity whilst it's author teeters on the edge of the abyss. The language will be simple, the images so direct, that oftentimes the reader will be torn with recognitions inside himself long before he is conscious of what is happening to him.'
Russell Edson ~ 'Portrait of the Writer as a Fat Man'


'On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row.
Campbell McGrath 'The Prose Poem' in No Boundaries: Prose Poems by 24 American Poets, edited by Ray Gonzalez.

'Writing a prose poem is a bit like trying to catch a fly in a dark room. The fly probably isn't even there, the fly is inside your head, still, you keep tripping over and bumping into things while in hot pursuit. The prose poem is a burst of language following a collision with a large piece of furniture.'
Charles Simic ~ 'The Poetry of Village Idiots'


He he. Does this help?

3 comments:

Tania Hershman said...

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, wondering if I am actually writing prose poems, and how I would know. I love these defitions, especially the Russell Edson one, although none of them have really helped me know what I am doing! Do they help you? Does it matter?

Michelle said...

What an interesting, amusing selection of definitions! Yes, please keep collecting them. I'm determined to see the light one day.

I love this:

"Prose poems are the culinary equivalent of peasant dishes, like paella and gumbo, which bring together a great variety of ingredients and flavors, and which in the end, thanks to the art of the cook, somehow blend."

And Edsons teetering on the edge of the abyss.

Thanks, Annie.

genesis6b said...

philosophical poetry blog
http://spectropoetics.com/