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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Prose and Form and Reentry

HTML Giant has a collection of quotes on prose poetry, as well as prose versus poetry.

A couple of years ago I struggled with a desire to write a prose poem and no idea how to do it. It's good to know I'm not the only one:

‘My own formal literary education has not accorded much regard to what in English are referred to as ‘prose poems,’ and I am not at all sure what the genre is supposed to entail.’ (W.S. Merwin)

‘However, if a poem can be reduced to a prose sentence, there can’t be much to it.’ (James Schuyler)

And yet the form has its proponents:

‘There is a shorter distance from the unconscious to the Prose Poem than from the unconscious to most poems in verse.’ (Michael Benedikt)

‘A poetry freed from the definition of poetry, and a prose free of the necessities of fiction.’ (Russell Edson)

I did eventually write a few prose poems. Well, actually, after much research, I realized that I had already written some prose poems and not even known it, as I had expected the form to be a single paragraph block that I recognized from many prose poems I had read.

It's good to try new forms. This week I finished a cento, and I really enjoyed it. I was stymied in my writing because of just finishing my first semester of online study which coincided with my first semester in many years back in the classroom as a teacher, and poetry fell by the wayside (as did this blog). And so I hadn't been writing much and was having trouble getting back into it, and as usual, pursuing a form with its structures and its strictures was the right way for me to edge back in. A cento, with its collage form of other people's lines, was really low-risk but still creative and got me revved up.

Now I have an idea for a poem to write the usual way.

It's pouring rain here, and it's my older son's birthday morning. He's in the other room putting together a model ship he wanted for his birthday, happily at work. I just noticed my pajamas are inside out--slept all night in them that way. I feel like I'm coming out of a long period of automatic pilot and back into the world. And what a world it is.

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