What Is a Prose Poem?

reading from Wild poetry anthology in bookstore


What is a prose poem?

‘Though the name of the form may appear to be a contradiction, the prose poem essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry. In the first issue of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, editor Peter Johnson explained, “Just as black humor straddles the fine line between comedy and tragedy, so the prose poem plants one foot in prose, the other in poetry, both heels resting precariously on banana peels.”

‘While it lacks the line breaks associated with poetry, the prose poem maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme. The prose poem can range in length from a few lines to several pages long, and it may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects.’ -The Academy of American Poets

I rather enjoy writing prose poetry and am slowly (very slowly) working on a collection of published short pieces. Here is one of my Flash Fictions (a close relative of the Prose Poem), first published in Quadrant magazine, October 2014. Hope you like it.

Tell Me About What Happened On New Year’s Eve

I’d looked out the top-floor hospital window towards Coogee to the night sky lit by fireworks and saw the miserable face of the moon and thought that I’d never felt as detached from life as at that moment.  At the same time, I realised that I probably felt so despicable due to the weeks spent lying in hospital and the excruciatingly slow and painful road to recovery.   By sheer force of will, I stopped looking at the dark mirror of the moon.  No one could have told me how much the distant celebrations, the sound of the explosions and the changing shapes and colours of the fireworks could jolt me into the present and away from the unbearable lethargy, the severed muscles and tendons and the nausea caused by the drugs and pain killers.  Was it that I could sense, without glancing up again, that clouds were making their way across the moon and that made me realise:  how would it be to feel this would be your last new year?

Copyright © Libby Sommer


4 thoughts on “What Is a Prose Poem?

  1. Libby, I’ve never heard of prose poem as an official format but so happy this exists! Often when attempting poetry it will drift somewhere between prose and poetry … this is something to explore. I love your flash fiction piece, incredibly powerful, descriptive and wow, what an ending.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much for reading my post. wow, i’ve been able to introduce you to something new. excellent. i find these shorter pieces a relief from working away on a book length manuscript that takes many years to write. i’m so pleased you appreciated my flash fiction piece. wonderful to have your response. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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