SENTENCE YOURSELF TO ... SENTENCE 8!
Issue 8 of SENTENCE: A JOURNAL OF PROSE POETICS is now out, and includes "A Forum on the Prose Poem"--I'm in good company with other commentators:
Robert Alexander, Nin Andrews, Sally Ashton, Steven Bradbury, Susan Briante, Christopher Buckley, Jeffrey Davis, Michel Delville, Paul Dickey, Ann Fisher-Wirth, Elisabeth Frost, Gloria Frym, Jeff Harrison, Bob Heman, Brooke Horvath, George Kalamaras, Janet Kaplan, David Lazar, Rachel Loden, Gian Lombardo, Robert Hill Long, Amy Newman, Renee Rossi, Nikki Santilli, Catherine Sasanov, Daryl Scroggins, Terese Svoboda, Eileen Tabios, G. C. Waldrep, Charles Harper Webb, and Gary Young.
While you might need to peruse the issue itself for the others' contributions, I am about Poetry-As-Gift and so happy to reproduce my commentary below:
RE. THE PROSE POEM
I love abstract expressionism, specifically in painting the way brushstrokes can seem—through their energy—to extend past the edge of canvas. As if a canvas cannot contain the painting. It’s an observation that led me to prose poetry because of the form’s lack of a line-break. In prose poetry, I not only wrote long lines that became a paragraph but attempted lines that seem to continue past their last words (for the same reason, in some prose poems I deleted the ending period to the last sentences). I came to love the prose poem for finding in its form the ability to present a poem that cannot be contained by the page.
Perhaps this mirrors how the poetry experience can continue past the reading of a poem—how a poem might inspire further reflection and even action.
In later explorations, however, I realized that the poem’s ending is just part of the story. The beginning of energy (or lack thereof of a “beginning” or “end” to energy whose edges need not exist) might also be explored—I manifested this exploration by writing paragraphs that can be published in one order but also shuffled out of order (e.g. in poetry readings) and, due partly to their abstraction, are still effective if they emotionally resonate with their audience.
Perhaps this mirrors how the poetry experience is subjective, and sometimes cannot be contained by narrative linearity.
In my experience then, the prose poem has shown itself to be a form [sufficiently supple to be one] of infinite expanse.
It'd be interesting to see how other prose poem practitioners approach the form. And if you want to correlate moi poetics to the actual poems, feel free of course to check out my Selected Prose Poem project, THE THORN ROSARY, which encompasses 12 years of writing prose poems.