The gap between well-crafted prose, especially fiction, drama, or comedy, and the art of poetry has long tempted and then eluded writers. The definition of poetry as “slow prose” further complicates the issue, I suppose, although some see that end of the spectrum as limp verse – many elements make poetry, after all, and can take a piece far from simple conversation or logical progression. Just because something is structured in broken lines doesn’t raise it to music.
Well, that does point to the appearance of rap as standing somewhere between poetry and fully developed music, rather than chanting or a rhythm section … and opera did emerge out of an attempt to recover the tonal nature of ancient Greek language.
So the possibilities of the genre of prose poems stand as a provocation, and the trials can fascinate. As a rule, I’ve found shorter is sweeter – around a hundred words, max, lest you start writing paragraphs and the piece at hand lose its energy.
This year the Red Barn will be presenting a prose poem each Saturday, drawing on a collection published in 2018 at Thistle Finch. I am grateful to the editors of the following journals for giving some of the prose poems their first airing: Bounce Is Bard, Crack the Spine, Jerseyworks, Ray’s Road Review, Red Coral, The Screech Owl, The Singularity Review, Souvenir Lit Journal, Subliminal Interiors, and The Vein.
Most of them arise from correspondence in my years before relocating to the New Hampshire seacoast and thus represent events now somewhere back in my foggy past. The persons they’re addressed to in these whirlwinds are abstractions, more than actual individuals. What I do know is that I could not create these works today, my outlook is so different.
I hope you enjoy them.