Before sharing this week’s (completely and totally optional) idea, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who participates in Poetry Thursday for all you’ve brought to the project. Liz and I look forward to the coming months, when we plan to roll out even more exciting elements that we hope you will enjoy.

I also want to thank Liz for everything she’s brought to the project, including the original idea, which she shared in February 2006, of inviting bloggers to share poetry on their blogs. This week marks the one-year anniversary of Poetry Thursday, and what better way to celebrate it than to give Liz a shout out to let her know how much we all appreciate her sharing that invitation on her blog, an invitation that has gone from a few brave people starting to talk about and share poetry to more than 200 participants making Poetry Thursday the community it has become.

* * *

This week’s (completely and totally optional) idea is prose poetry. I have to admit, as I pointed out on my blog last week, that I’m not entirely sure what a prose poem is. I know there are writers who detest the form and don’t think of it as a true form of poetry. I know that when I have asked several poets to define it, they’ve either been unable to provide a definition or have made it clear they wanted to change the topic.

I also know the basics about prose poems: They have no line breaks, and in that way seem more like prose than poetry. However, they employ the tools of poetry (e.g. metaphor, imagery, rhyme, rhythm) to convey whatever is being conveyed.

It’s clear prose poems walk a fine line between prose and poetry, but beyond their basic definition, what makes a prose poem a prose poem? What makes one a success and another a failure? Writing a prose poem certainly isn’t as simple as removing all the line breaks from a regular poem. It’s also not as simply as writing a short prose piece with a little bit of heightened language. We might know a good prose poem when we see one, but writing one can prove to be incredibly challenging.

This week, you might want to take a look at prose poetry. If you are familiar with this form, you could share your definition of it or talk about what ingredients result in a successful prose poem. You could also discuss why some writers regard this form with such contempt. If you are new to prose poetry, you could look into this form and share what you’ve learned about it. And, of course, you can always write a prose poem and share it this week (or anytime in the future) as your Poetry Thursday contribution.

16 Responses to “this week’s (completely and totally optional) idea — prose poetry”

  1. 1 bgfay

    This is excellent. I started reading prose poems years ago and then returned to them again late last fall when I read Garrison Keillor’s _Good Poems for Hard Times_ which included three prose poems by David Shumate. I searched the web for more of Shumate’s stuff, some of which can be found here.

    I understand the hostility to prose poetry in the same way that I understand the hostility to poets such as Billy Collins and the types of poetry that Keillor includes in his Good Poems collections. There is a hierarchy in the poetry world that seeks to segregate good from bad, real from fake, true from false. The distinctions are all personal decisions–we know what we like, what feels real, and where our truth lies–but the attempts to codify such matters continue.

    The prose poem is best explained for me by a response from Shumate to something William Stafford said. You can read it here. In it Shumate says, “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. ”

    Get to know the prose poem. It’s a beautiful thing.

    And please excuse the length of this post. I’ll make my entry for Thursday much shorter.

  2. 2 G

    Big challenge but great idea! I hope I can come through on this one…

  3. 3 Dana

    bgfay, don’t be sorry about your long comment. It’s great.

  4. 4 bgfay

    As always you are awfully nice to me. Thank you.

  5. 5 Kelly

    I think my style has always leaned more towards prose, but you be the judge. And with this challenge, I offer my first submission: “Time”.

  6. 6 RJ

    When I do prose poems I don’t ever consciously set out to write one–it just happens as I work through and revise. I let the work dictate where the poem goes and what it eventually is. Sometimes it’s the impulse to write longer lines. Sometimes it’s because I want to do a narrative. It’s all conditional, contingent on the individual poem. And I’d say that also holds true for what makes a successful (in my eyes) prose poem. For me it’s usually a combination of rhythm and sound and a sense of urgency.

  7. 7 GeL(Emerald Eyes)

    Happy 1 year Blogaversary, Liz and Dana!
    Good prompt. We’re iced in, so I may lose internet again, but I love using the prompts later, too. Thank you Liz and Dana for the added stimulation of the background preface information.
    Thank you to bgfay for that comment full of more info.
    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

  8. 8 gautami

    I am happy about this prompt. Very interesting. As a matter of fact, a few of the pieces I wrote as prose has been taken as poetry.


  9. 9 qazse

    Dana and Liz, Congratulations to you both! You have introduced me to many fine poems and writers. I think everyone has something to say and you provide one way in which to do it. That makes your endeavor limitless.

    I commend all the fine writers who have been here all along providing creative and compelling content on a consistent basis. And here is to those who continue to take the plunge… that is what it is all about - people doing more than just watching.

    Regarding the discussion of prose poetry, it perplexes me when an artist denies or condemns the work of another. That is a problem with ego, I believe.

    best regards and a Happy Valentine’s Day to all from the snowy Endless Mountains of NE Pennsylvania!

  10. 10 qazse

    to bgfay, thank you

  11. 11 Whirling Dervish

    Hello everyone,

    Here is my contribution this week–I took the plunge I tried my hand at a form of prose poetry I learned about in a class I took last term: letter poetry. And a note of warning- I realize that some people may find this poem inflamatory and rude; please know it is not directed at anyone or anything “real”- it is only trying to rid myself of some feelings of rejection.

  12. 12 poetry thursday

    Hi everyone, please wait until the Thursday post to leave your link. Otherwise, nobody will see it over on this post.

  13. 13 Tia Azulay

    Hi everyone, here’s what I hope will be admitted as a prose poem (it doesn’t fit into any other category that I know of!):

  14. 14 Carole Alexander

    I’ve been struggling with prose poems for some time and have to admit that I don’t really see the point of them. perhaps, I just haven’t read the right ones. Anyway, I’ve had a go at writing one. I’ve justified the text at both margins because otherwise I feel it might as well just be a little packet of prose.

  15. 15 Beloved Dreamer

    I’d love to read some of the Prose my fellow poets came up with but can’t seem to find them. I am very sorry to have missed this one but I was in the hospital and just got home yesterday.
    What am I doing wrong that I can’t find the poems on the main page?
    I am glad to be back and hope I can to this week poem
    Happy One Year! This site has been a joy for me.


  1. 1 we love prose poems, we love them not … love them, love them not at Poetry Thursday

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