June 15th, 2012 / 3:23 pm

Prose Poetry etc

‘All which is not prose is verse; and all which is not verse is prose.’ (Molliere)

‘The prose poem has the unusual distinction of being regarded with suspicion not only by the usual haters of poetry, but also by many poets themselves.’ (Charles Simic)

‘From the reader’s view, a poem is more demanding than prose.’ (Mark Strand)

‘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)

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

‘I wish our clever young poets would remember my homely definitions of prose and poetry; that is, prose=words in their best order; poetry=the best words in the best order.’ (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

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

‘The prose poem is a useless whore.’ (Aoody Wallen)

‘I had long since given up, however, on the notion of reading a long and complex prose poem.’ (Mark Roberts)

‘But I look upon my ultimate form as being a poetic prose. When you read it, it appears to be prose, but within the prose you have embedded the techniques of poetry.’ (Story Musgrave)

‘The prose poem as a lantern, an illuminated container, casting images and phrases needed but barely understood.’ (Martha Kinney)

‘Marriage – a book of which the first chapter is written in poetry and the remaining chapters in prose.’ (Beverly Nichols)

‘I’ve been writing a lot of prose poems. And I probably have a dozen I can live with. Many of them are comic; there are several that are serious. The first one I ever wrote was in Amsterdam. It was a long time ago, I would say thirty years ago. My wife had gone off with a friend, and my kids had gone off to get stoned, and I had time. There was a park named Vondelpark, named after a poet, and I went there. I’m a guy who writes a lot. I enjoy writing; I feel I should be writing, keep my hand in it. So I started writing something, and I wrote a little piece about a Dutch doctor that I knew and loved. And it was the first good prose poem I ever wrote. And then I wrote a couple more, and they weren’t any good (I published them, but they stunk).’ (Philip Levine)

‘It has often been observed that the repercussion of poetic language on prose language can be considered a decisive cut of a whip.’ (Eugenio Montale)

‘When prose gets too stylized and out of control–and Stein is sometimes a good example–when you don’t know what the hell is going on, then it’s kind of boring.’ (Rick Moody)

‘The last few months I’ve been obsessed with taking photographs of miniatures inside of ice cubes.’ (Matthea Harvey)

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  1. alan

      Good selection, but where is: “Who among us has not, in his days of ambition, dreamed the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without rhythm or rhyme, supple and agile enough to adapt to the lyrical movements of the soul, to the undulations of daydreams, to the leaps of consciousness?).” Baudelaire,  preface to “Le Spleen de Paris”

  2. Trey

      Russell Edson might be god.

  3. sam salvador

      where’s the basket?

  4. reynard

      when you can’t put a name with a voice any more than you can recognize a piece of food left to beach in the sink from a long ago meal when the water drains like a leak & life seems suddenly very full of salad, but someone somewhere is screaming bloody murder in the very next room & their voice will not leave you the fuck alone

  5. shaun gannon

      let people prose poems

  6. Brendan

      The only hip person on the list is Molliere.

  7. leapsloth14

       i “like” and wow you’re wrong

  8. leapsloth14

       Right over the fucking cab

  9. BDR

      That’s hole nine, metal tee, Druid, Baltimore. 

  10. Clark Theriot

      Anything else?

  11. leapsloth14

       Well done. Yes and yes.

  12. leapsloth14

       Well done. Yes and yes.

  13. leapsloth14

       ? Do you need a Lincoln Town Car?

  14. leapsloth14

       ? Do you need a Lincoln Town Car?

  15. Joan Markson

      “A poetry freed from the definitions of poetry, and a prose free from the necessities of fiction; a personal form disciplined not by other literature but by unhappiness; thus a way to be happy.” -Russell Edson

  16. Dixon Jones

      “Many of our enthusiastic prose-poem composers haven’t yet learned that the essence of the prose poem is not the absence of lines but the presence of wit.” –Robert Bly, The Winged Energy of Delight: Selected Translations, 2004

  17. Brian G. Fay

      My favorite thoughts on the Prose Poem come from David Shumate (my favorite prose poet):In an interview conducted with Dave Smith in 1971 (now listed on “Modern American Poetry’s” website), William Stafford responded to a question regarding the distinction between traditional poetry and the prose poem by saying, “If it is put in prose form on the page without the line-breaks then you have given up some of the opportunities that there are for acrobatic swingings from line to line and emphasizing certain words or phrases. But you gain something in that the reader will feel that you are not trying to bamboozle him with white space. Of course, I like prose myself. Not just prose poems, but prose. So the prose poems don’t worry me. You gain something and lose something.”I am drawn to Stafford’s suggestion that the prose poem is an honest form which renounces using white space to “bamboozle” a reader and instead forces heavier reliance on other poetic conventions. I am also drawn to the relative homeliness of the prose poem. Its inelegance. A blob in the shape of the state of Kansas. A bulbous dirigible hovering there at the top of the page. Most of the assembled spectators would think it could never fly. But cut the tethers. And stand back. If it’s crafted well, it will hover out over the fields in defiance of all poetic gravity and leave the crowd in awe. But beware. It all pivots on the engineering. And the gases that lift it. The Hindenburg is in ashes.http://webdelsol.com/Double_Room/issue_six/David_Shumate.htm

  18. A good, solid, deftly-executed poem: « Digital Sun

      […] Inspired by a recent debate of sorts… […]

  19. Stephen Anderson
  20. Robert Verdon

      prose is poetry, poetry prose, and neither pay much

  21. Christopher M Davis

      Thank you, sir, for pointing that out.