My prose poem ‘In the Mall’ was selected as an entry in the Microflix Writers Awards and was available to be chosen by filmmakers for adaption to a short film for the 2019 Microflix Awards. The theme was ‘sound’.
Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.
‘In the Mall‘:
In a café inside a mall in Sydney a small curly-topped girl sobbed and sobbed. She sat on her father’s lap, stabbing her finger into a slice of banana bread. Her dad soothed, whispered, coaxed. What would you like, Tara? He cut into his poached egg. Toast? he cajoled. The girl sobbed more loudly, wailing, coughing, staring out into the mall. I want my mum. She cuddled a pink soft piglet. Our eyes scanned the glass display of croissants, pies and pastries. I loved every carb that did not pass my lips. I loved the sobbing child who heard no one else in that cafe but herself, whose lungs fought hard to reach a soaring, sorrowful pitch. What have you got? an elderly woman asked her. Still crying, the child held up her toy. Her father gave up on his poached eggs and carried her out, still wailing. We went and sat at the table with the stabbed-at bread her finger had made and swept the moist crumbs into a heap.
Copyright (c) Libby Sommer 2019
Have a read of my prose poem, ‘The Cellist’ first published in Quadrant September 2020.
Hope you enjoy it.
I was grudgingly ancient. Not older, wiser and ancient. But easily recognisable as ancient. Skin was the culprit – the human body’s largest organ. I had his mobile number and he had mine, the cellist from the seniors’ dating site. I examined its configuration. Was there a pattern I needed to decode? I hated initiating, but he needed reassurance. It might take him forever to ring. Composing a text, my palms sweated. My heart thumped. Was he okay with texting? I hated my impatience. I hated my unexpected fragility. I sent the text. Yesterday’s meet-up was fun. I’d like to go for a ride on your motorbike sometime, although the helmet will squash my hair.
Then I worried I’d gone too far. My legs wrapped around him on a bike? I sounded like a whore. A desperado. A woman too long without a man. His reply was immediate. Had he been holding the phone in his hand? We can start with a short ride around the block. I’ve got a large helmet. Everyone gets hat hair.
I don’t want you to go on his motorbike, my daughter warned. I’ll go for a ride on his bike, my granddaughter offered. What sort of boat’s he got? A tinnie or a sail boat? asked my grandson. I googled: ‘what to expect when riding pillion’. Hang on. Brace for braking and acceleration by holding on to the rider’s waist. Bikes must lean to corner. Relax. Tyres provide plenty of grip.
We had dinner, exchanged silly jokes, leaned towards each other, went back to my place – and had incredible sex. The sensitivity of a stringed instrumentalist was really something else. If I knew how, I would have burst into song.
Copyright 2020 Libby Sommer
Have a read of my prose poem ‘The Ladder and Its Dangers’. It was longlisted for the 2019 joanne burns Microlit Award available for inclusion in a range of multi-platform activities organised by Spineless Wonders including #storybombing NWF20, podcasts, live performance and the Microflix Awards.
Hope you enjoy it.
The Ladder and Its Dangers:
It’s dizzying up there. You climb to the top shelves for whatever your mood requires: on loneliness, weight reduction, a book of Basho’s Haiku and find half a dozen books you forgot you had which side tracks the initial quest, since now that you’ve located them you have to consider them. Will I ever reread this, recycle it in the street library? Of course, your reading interests are very different from the interests you had when you placed it alphabetically on the shelf. Perhaps your interests have moved in a different direction now, maybe they’ve become more multi-cultural. Perhaps you think continuing to read Anita Brookner and her stories of loss and aloneness are not the best choice for you anymore. Your quest takes on a sedentary nature as you sit on the floor to search the lower shelves, scanning titles and author names. Possibly by now you’ve been up and down the ladder several times and been peering upwards for extended periods cutting off the blood supply to your neck. And you’ve stood up too quickly from the floor and are feeling totally off balance. Now you need to consider blood sugar levels, blood pressure, PEOPLE OVER SIXTY SHOULDN’T CLIMB LADDERS. Discombobulated for a while, you’re too preoccupied to recall what sent you up the ladder in the first place.
Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer
My prose poem ‘Amber Puppy’ was first published in Quadrant magazine in September 2019. Have a read. I do enjoy this short form of writing, a cross between a poem and a prose piece, although, according to Wikipedia, prose poetry is poetry written in prose form instead of verse form, while preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis, and emotional effects.
Have a look and tell me what you think:
What can an amber puppy mean in a world of Siris and driverless cars?
I was older, one of the Baby Boomers. Life was a series of warnings: Don’t fall over rugs or loose cords, don’t overeat, don’t go to bed before nine, drink coffee after midday, watch too much Netflix. When the new puppy arrived one birthday, rich brown as a raisin, I heard it shadowing me: Don’t trip on the dog’s lead.
There was much to be anxious about. One day, walking through the park – the rain had eased, spring waterfalls spilled into the creek, soon we would cool off under the trees – I lost my grip on the lead. Into the bushes he fled, disappearing into green. Since when did parks swallow small dogs? I drove home in a frantic car. My best friend. I’d loved him and he’d loved me.
The days staggered past like drunks. I prayed silently, absorbed sunshine, climbed steps, wrote Letters to the Editor. Don’t panic, don’t shallow breathe, don’t think the worst – you could hear it all around. A reclining Buddha could show you how to deepen the breath. A bird call at first light could tell you when to get up. A storm could remember to fill the dams and the water tanks – I was meandering between the trees when I saw him scampering through the creek. Splashing around then shaking himself dry. A muddy escapee. A barking survivor.
Where had he been these three long days? I could wash him, wrap him in a towel, take him home. Unexpected good news could still happen. Dogs off-the-leash need to stay close to their mistresses. Trees shed their leaves in winter and dogs run away, but find their way back. Seventy-two hours later, what can an amber puppy tell you in a world of Botox and identity theft?
See the difference between holding on and losing your grip.
Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer
So what is a prose poem? According to the Poetry Foundation, a prose poem is a prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.
If you are able to distill meaning in a very short form, you may enjoy writing prose poetry.
Have a read of my prose poem Sixteen Is A Very Difficult Age, You Know, first published in Quadrant magazine September 2018.
Sixteen Is a Very Difficult Age, You Know
Well yes it is. This time of year isn’t easy either. It has most of us by the neck. You don’t want to get sick at Christmas. They said he needs six weeks of intensive therapy then they’ll decide about medication. How – when everything’s closed till February? Yes, he’s up and down. Better some days, but hardly ever. They said hide all the tablets and remove the kitchen knives. I ring or text to see how he’s going. He doesn’t always pick up. Don’t refer to the incident. Wait for him to say something. Well, he doesn’t say much though he’ll let me give him a hug – sometimes. So here I am trying to gather his forgotten dreams from the air. They’re drifting just outside my reach.
Copyright © 2018 Libby Sommer
My prose poem THE CELLIST has been accepted for publication in Quadrant magazine.
And another prose poem THE LADDER AND ITS DANGERS was recently longlisted for the 2019 joanne burns Microlit Award. It will be available for inclusion in a range of multi-platform activities organised by Spineless Wonders including #storybombingNWF20, podcasts, live performance and the Microflix Awards.
I love the short short form: prose poems, microlit, flash fiction. I’m putting together a new collection of my published short form stories and prose poems. The working title is SMALL FICTIONS. What do you think?
Prolific widely-published flash fiction writer Meg Pokrass says on Facebook that:
‘The more I become involved in the editorial side of the microfiction form, the more it becomes mysterious to me. The more it seems like some kind of freaky magic. After reading thousands of stories for Best Microfiction, all I can say is that there is no formula. The other thing I can say is that we must use who we are when we write. Trying to perfect a “style” is useless. Making something that feels like you, something only you can possibly see that way, works wonders. The secret seems to be in revealing who you are through the life of a character or two, which somehow mysteriously makes us see something unusual about the world itself. Finding your own expression of something we all have felt before, in some sly and startling way that hooks us.’ – Meg Pokrass
Great advice. Agree?
There’s my name on the cover of September Quadrant. First time I’ve made it to the cover under Poetry. This month it’s a prose poem titled AMBER PUPPY. I share the honour with poets Jamie Grant, Isi Unikowski, Francine Rochford, James Ackburst, Tim Train, Ugo Rotellini and Andrew Lansdown.
And there’s the white envelope containing my cheque. Halleluja!
So what is a prose poem?
Dictionary: a piece of imaginative poetic writing in prose.
Poetry Foundation: A prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols, metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry …
Wikipedia: Prose poetry is poetry written in prose form instead of verse form, while preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis, and emotional effects.
Academy of American Poets: 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.
I love writing prose poems. They are definitely my preferred writing form just now.
Have a read of AMBER PUPPY. Quadrant magazine is available in newsagents, some book stores, online and in libraries.
The Poetry Foundation describes a prose poem as a prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits such as symbols,metaphors, and other figures of speech common to poetry.
I’m thrilled to tell you that my latest prose poem, TASTE is published in this month’s Quadrant magazine.
I rather like poems about minor calamities, bursts of tiny delights, the sun warming the tender skin of the elderly. Also, the way palm fronds conduct themselves during a southerly, dishevelled, exposing the softness of their billowing arms. Pastries in display cases do something for me too. Even cupcakes iced in gelato colours, adorned with miniature decorations … Can you see my preference for the words ‘miniature’ and ‘tiny’, an inclination towards the distilled in a world favouring often the big and the overwhelming? People with the patience to follow a complex recipe – well, that’s not me, but I like to taste what they cook. Babies in prams kicking chubby legs make me hover – how difficult not to take a bite. If you write something about a paper straw, I will be fascinated. You could try a ladybird, a pocket-size umbrella. The generalised angst of the human condition, however, may be hard for me to get a handle on. Watch that man with the disabled daughter moisten his finger after her cupcake is eaten and relish the last crumbs. Consider the rainbow-coloured wristband tied to a letterbox on the way to the park or the miniature plastic bucket and spade we found half-hidden on the beach at Bronte and packed with us for years on every visit to the sea.
First published in Quadrant.
Copyright © Libby Sommer
A big thank you to Literary Editor, Professor Barry Spurr (Australia’s first Professor of Poetry) for accepting my poem. I am honored to be included alongside talented poets Geoff Page, Sean Wayman, Jane Blanchard, Nicholas Hasluck, James Curran, Mark O’Connor and Peach Klimkiewicz.
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