Fanny Bay Fat Oyster Prose Poetry Workshop
(thank you to Judy LeBlanc and the Fat Oyster Reading series for sponsoring this workshop.)
The Monster Children of Prose Poetry
Charles Simic says that prose poetry is “the monster child of two incompatible strategies, the lyric and the narrative.” I think it’s the tension between those impulses that energizes prose poems, which are basically poems without the line breaks, written as short blocks of text. This form can allow writers to follow a thread of thought more directly, without particular regard for simile, metaphor or other poetic conventions. I liken them to small windows that frame a part of a day, or daydream. The instructor (me) will bring prompts to stimulate writing. We’ll write prose poems together, share fragments of text to discuss, and write some more.
The first poem, Scenes From a Marriage, by Cornelia Hoogland, is presented in both lyric and prose form, for discussion purposes in the workshop. The poems that follow are taken from David Lehman's Great American Prose Poems, and the internet.
Charles Baudelaire in 1862 is said to have invented the prose poem described as an:
WRITING task is to write twenty lines or sentences, using, if you wish, some of these PROMPTS. Suggestions only! The "mystery" referred to below is one each participant found in a children's picture book he or she brought to the workshop. The task was to find a picture book with a mystery that spoke to the participant. Picture books, as aesthetic objects, are full of tiny intrigues--take a look for yourself.
QUALITIES OF POEMS (remember that qualities are often recognizable only after the poem is written. Use this list to help you edit your poem, to consider other directions, points of view, or shifts in form and/or content).