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Alternative title: Prose Poetry
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... no. 46 October 2017 of TEXT Special Issue Website Series est. 2000 TEXT Special Issue Website Series
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'Just a couple of decades ago, prose poetry occupied a very minor corner of the poetry spectrum, although many major poets have published works in that form. As early as the mid-1970s, anthologies of prose poems were emerging in the USA, but they were preceded by work produced in Europe: the nineteenth-century Romantic Fragment (which was quickly adopted by British Romantics), and then the early twentieth-century experiments, and particularly the poetic avant garde in France. Now it is becoming (almost) a staple; across Australia and internationally, major poets are adding the prose poem form to their oeuvre, and though few dedicated publications yet exist, prose poems are salting the competitions, collections, anthologies and literary journals. International poets too are extending into the prose poem, exploring its affordances.' (Monica Carroll, Shane Strange and Jen Webb: Introduction)

Notes

  •  Only literary material by Australian authors individually indexed. Other material in this issue includes:

    The prose poem and the microessay by Michel Delville

    What titles tell us: The prose poem in the little magazines of early modernism by Margueritte S Murphy

    The prose poem and the comic: on Russell Edson’s ‘The Manual of Sleep’ by Peter Johnson

    Poetic sequencing and multi-aspect prose-poetry by Lisa Matthews

    Earmarks: Fragments from the notebooks by PQR Anderson

    The Prose Poetry Project: an introduction and five vignettes

    Three poems by PQR Anderson

    Prose poem by Oliver Comins, Carrie Etter, Niloofar Fanaiyan, Oz Hardwick, Rupert Loydell, Nigel McLoughlin, Andrew Melrose, Alvin Pang, 

Contents

* Contents derived from the 2017 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Tracing the Prose Poem: an Introduction, Jen Webb , Shane Strange , Monica Carroll , single work criticism

'Just a couple of decades ago, prose poetry occupied a very minor corner of the poetry spectrum, although many major poets have published works in that form. As early as the mid-1970s, anthologies of prose poems were emerging in the USA, but they were preceded by work produced in Europe: the nineteenth-century Romantic Fragment (which was quickly adopted by British Romantics), and then the early twentieth-century experiments, and particularly the poetic avant garde in France. Now it is becoming (almost) a staple; across Australia and internationally, major poets are adding the prose poem form to their oeuvre, and though few dedicated publications yet exist, prose poems are salting the competitions, collections, anthologies and literary journals. International poets too are extending into the prose poem, exploring its affordances.'  (Introduction)

Unsounding the Darkness, Dominique Hecq , single work criticism

'This paper addresses the question of genre in an attempt to circumscribe the prose poem as a coding of adjacencies of prose and poetry. Its starting point is that both poetry and prose are loose groupings, internally divided by heterogeneous and sometimes obscure criteria inherited from Aristotelian poetics and Latin approaches to prosody. It singles out Charles Baudelaire as the first practitioner of the form because he was self-conscious enough about his creative practice to have committed his thoughts on paper in what reads like a proto-manifesto for the prose poem. ‘Unsounding the darkness’ does not purport to propose a taxonomy of the prose poem, but rather argues for the kinship between prose poetry and the prose poem, conceiving as it does of prose poetry as a form that evolves from an encounter with place and time. The prose poem is a product of that form, inheriting the lyric quality of poetry and the prosaic quality of prose fiction in the conviction of rhythm. The paper seeks to open up questions as to the validity of the distinction between prose poetry and the prose poem in the twenty-first century. It argues for a continuum of erasures rather than for new taxonomies.'  (Publication abstract)

Erasure and Gift: Alan Loney’s Prose Poetry, Owen Bullock , single work criticism

'Characteristics of the prose poem emphasised by Stephen Fredman include a focus on language for its own sake, openness and the employment of the long poem. These facets are strongly present in Alan Loney’s prose poem sequences ‘The erasure tapes’ (1994) and ‘Gifts’ (2005). The paper argues that these concepts are intimately connected. It evaluates the link between prose poetry and postmodernism and between language and the idea of open writing as it relates to postmodernism and its appropriation of the long poem. The erasure in question in Loney’s masterwork could be that of memory, meaning, or connection; yet meaning and connectivity are handled differently in the long poem form, and build sense and connection in different ways, through juxtaposition, accumulation and the questioning of perspective in the individual’s response to lang uage and its unavoidable wedding with memory. The prose poem offers a diversity of tools and structures, via the sentence and sentence fragment, supremely useful for practitioners of poetry who wish to extend their range.' (Publication abstract)

‘Words about Words Make Sure Self’ : Ania Walwicz and a Politics of Prose Poetry, Alyson Miller , single work criticism

'This paper examines how Ania Walwicz uses the protean nature of the prose poem as a medium through which to subvert traditional notions of identity, especially in terms of anxieties about gender and sexuality. According to Dominique Hecq (2009), the prose poem is able to negotiate ‘between notions of a public language of prose and a marginal language of poetry, thereby … enacting particularly complex modes of engagement between subjectivity and the world’. This paper argues that it is the slippery and transformative nature of the prose poem that lends itself so neatly to a politics of subversion. As a ‘borderline genre’ (Hecq 2009), the prose poem occupies an ambiguous space – it is self-conscious and critical yet immersive and seductive; a medium that offers a deceptive simplicity, or a shocking confrontation with otherness. Oftentimes, the prose poem is capable of both in the same instance. By exploring the prose poetry of Walwicz, this paper contends that rather than being understood as a ‘disturbing and elusive’ literary oddity (Delville 1998), the prose poem can be seen to contest formal traditions of both narrative and identity.'  (Publication abstract)

Witches’ Butter, Golden Spindles, Bell-shaped Mottlegill : The Multiple Identities of the Prose Poem, Mags Webster , single work criticism

'This paper explores the challenge of ineffability, with a focus on prose poetry. It considers the strengths of the prose poem in offering a semantic or communicative means (Spackman 2012) of drawing closer to the unsayable, and situates this exploration in the wider context of apophasis, a centuries-old rhetorical device developed to deal, in language, with what lies beyond language. Investigating the nature and identity of prose poetry, the paper examines a prose poem by Yusef Komunyakaa, discussing its efficacy in relation to an apophatic approach to technique and form. Adopting a creative voice, and weaving prose poetry throughout the discussion, this paper also endeavours to show the overlap of creative process and practice within a research context, executed through the combination of form, idea, reflection and enquiry. In offering an amalgam of prose and poetry, the critical and the creative, this paper is not only reflecting on the situated experience of apophasis with regard to prose poetry, but also actively employing it.'  (Publication abstract)

Flash Fiction, Prose Poetry and Ambiguity : The Distinction between Flash Fiction and Prose Poetry on Ambiguous Terms, Cathryn Perazzo , Sif Dal , single work criticism

'Flash fiction invites the reader to co-create the story themselves. We propose that a level of ambiguity in the flash fiction text is germane. In flash fiction, ambiguity is created through the brevity of the piece with the purposeful exclusion of exposition, for instance, in a similar manner to prose poetry. We wonder, therefore, about the overlap, if any, between notions of ambiguity in flash fiction and prose poetry? Are the mechanisms of ambiguity employed in prose poetry any different from that of flash fiction? What elements are left ambiguous, and what is purposely left out? What are the differences between the two forms, if not on ambiguous terms? We propose imagination as the counterpoint to ambiguity.' (Publication abstract)

Poetry After the Epic : Migratory Prose/questing Poetics, A. Frances Johnson , single work criticism

'This essay offers an exegetical reflection on research that underpinned poems drafted over a six-month period. For a recent writing residency at the Australia Council BR Whiting Studio in Rome, I devised a prose poetry project critiquing the often negative representational politics of recent global population movements into southern Italy. I researched the Italian political context and undertook field trips in order to evoke the influx of refugees and asylum seekers into Italy’s urban centres. The challenge was to portray individual human stories in poetical yet ethically activated ways in relation to depictions of others. This essay therefore explores what ‘counter-framing’ (Maley 2016: 193) of journeys and experiences of refugees and asylum seekers might be possible through the contemporary ‘voice’ of the prose poem. How might the prose poem, over and above, or in tandem with, other poetic modes, enact poetic and political counterframing of people movements?' (Publication abstract)

Found Poetry as Literary Cartography : Mapping Australia with Prose Poems, Sue Joseph , single work criticism

'Found poetry is lyrical collage, with rules. Borrowing from other writers – from different writings, artefacts, sources – it must always attribute and reference accurately. This paper is derived from the beginnings of a research project into Australian legacy newspaper stories and found poetry as prose poetry, explaining the rationale behind the bigger project. Ethnographic in texture at its edges, the research project sets out to create poetic renditions of regional news of the day, circumnavigating the continent. My aim is to produce a cadenced and lyrical nonfiction transcript of Australian life, inspired by and appropriated from regional legacy media, while it still exists.

'The beginning of the research was a recce journey to the centre of Australia in 2016. Currently, the outcomes of the recce are six poems, five of which are nonfiction prose poems. Contextualising found poetry within the prose poetry genre – a long debated and hybrid space – the theoretical elements of this paper underpin its creative offerings.' (Publication abstract)

Eyes inside Words : Prose Poetry, Imagism, Aesthetic Empathy and Autobiographical Memory, Paul Hetherington , Cassandra Atherton , single work criticism

'One of the features of contemporary prose poetry is that it often makes conspicuous use of imagery, in some cases drawing on techniques pursued by the Imagist movement in the early 20th century. In Ezra Pound’s words, the Imagists were interested in ‘art that bears true witness … art that is most precise’. Contemporary prose poets frequently try to honour the spirit of Pound’s comment as they make images in their prose poems and, in doing so, providing readers with a way of imaginatively entering their works, enabling them to read them ‘from within’. Visual imagery in prose poetry provides a pathway through which readers are able to achieve aesthetic empathy with such works, allowing them to read these works as if their propositions are actually and presently the case. While the same may be said for poetry more generally, we argue that it is especially the case in prose poetry, where the rectangular form draws the reader into a room-like space. This tends to generate a compressed sense of timespace and thus intensify the effects of imagery and its connections to autobiographical memory. In the absence of line breaks and the kinds of closure associated with lineated poetry, visual imagery also helps crystallise the utterance of prose poems, bringing it into focus – almost as if prose poems see and, in turn, are able to be seen through.'  (Publication abstract)

Playing with Time : Prose Poetry and the Elastic Moment, Paul Munden , single work criticism

'The prose poem typically presents itself in the guise of a paragraph, suggesting that readers treat it as such: a narrative fragment. As a narrative ‘unit’ it might be expected to focus on a relatively brief moment in time, a tightly framed episode. Its isolation (from any other fragments of the imaginary ‘whole’), however, would seem to drive its attentions according to principles different to most lengthier narrative prose. The passage of time that might, for a longer narrative, stretch across its entirety, becomes, in many cases, a feature of the prose poem’s concision – and particular power. The elastic treatment of the ‘moment’ – sometimes connecting with both distant past and future – can therefore be identified as one of the form’s defining, poetic characteristics; intriguingly, it is a characteristic owing its effect, in part at least, to the fluidity of prose. This paper surveys a particular body of prose poetry, produced under the auspices of the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), noting the prevalence of the elastic moment and considering the variety of techniques involved.' (Publication abstract)

Formless Form, or the Return of Form? Prose Poetry in Practice and Theory, Shane Strange , single work criticism

'Any study of prose poetry almost inevitably invokes the problem of genre. That is, generic uncertainty will always be of interest in a form that crosses a supposed boundary between prose and poetry and brings into play attempts at sharp demarcations and taxonomies with the aim of marking out territories of the poetic and the prosaic (and all stops between). In this paper, I would like to suggest that discussions of form in relation to prose poetry are symptomatic of larger struggles around form that have taken place at the level of critical practice. To do this, I suggest rather than a return of the prose poem form taken from a retro-fitting of poetic literary history, we might see the prose poem as a convergence with very short forms of prose fiction, and to look at the varying ways that these forms have been specified in their traditions. Secondly, I will look at the rise of ‘new formalism’ as a way of contextualising the critical background around which these arguments might be seen.' (Publication abstract)

‘Defiant Formlessness’ : Prose Poem as Process, Monica Carroll , Jen Webb , single work criticism

'In this paper we explore the prose poem with reference to two fields of discourse. The first is a collection of scholarly literature that addresses the prose poem as a form. The second is taken from research interviews we conducted with poets from around the English-speaking world, where the tendency of the discourse is not so much form, but concerns of activity. From our archival and interview research, we conclude that writers in general, and poets in particular, have a practical need to remain mobile, active and flexible in the activity of writing. Those who reject the signpost ‘prose poem’ may be understood as committed to a focus on writing, not specifically on form; and to making what they can with what they have at hand.

Blue Twilighti"Blue twilight unfurls its splendour, a Didionesque", Cassandra Atherton , single work poetry
From Seam, Owen Bullock , extract prose
From Tract, Anna Caldwell , single work prose
This Is the Dress, Monica Carroll , single work prose
Let Us Wreak All the Extraordinary Scene : Organs!, Justin Clemens , single work prose
The Social Work Intern, Jen Crawford , single work prose
Once When We Travelled, Lucy Dougan , single work prose
Mostly, Ross Gibson , single work prose

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Tracing the Prose Poem: an Introduction Jen Webb , Shane Strange , Monica Carroll , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , October no. 46 2017;

'Just a couple of decades ago, prose poetry occupied a very minor corner of the poetry spectrum, although many major poets have published works in that form. As early as the mid-1970s, anthologies of prose poems were emerging in the USA, but they were preceded by work produced in Europe: the nineteenth-century Romantic Fragment (which was quickly adopted by British Romantics), and then the early twentieth-century experiments, and particularly the poetic avant garde in France. Now it is becoming (almost) a staple; across Australia and internationally, major poets are adding the prose poem form to their oeuvre, and though few dedicated publications yet exist, prose poems are salting the competitions, collections, anthologies and literary journals. International poets too are extending into the prose poem, exploring its affordances.'  (Introduction)

Tracing the Prose Poem: an Introduction Jen Webb , Shane Strange , Monica Carroll , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , October no. 46 2017;

'Just a couple of decades ago, prose poetry occupied a very minor corner of the poetry spectrum, although many major poets have published works in that form. As early as the mid-1970s, anthologies of prose poems were emerging in the USA, but they were preceded by work produced in Europe: the nineteenth-century Romantic Fragment (which was quickly adopted by British Romantics), and then the early twentieth-century experiments, and particularly the poetic avant garde in France. Now it is becoming (almost) a staple; across Australia and internationally, major poets are adding the prose poem form to their oeuvre, and though few dedicated publications yet exist, prose poems are salting the competitions, collections, anthologies and literary journals. International poets too are extending into the prose poem, exploring its affordances.'  (Introduction)

Last amended 22 Feb 2018 12:44:32
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