An introduction to prose poetry.
Poetry is a vast landscape, populated with numerous different types of poems from totally free verse to sonnets to haiku. Prose poetry is uncommon due to the fact that its kind differs the nature of poetry, which is writing in verse.
Prior to we examine prose poetry, we first must understand the distinction in between prose and poetry.
Merriam-Websters Dictionary defines prose as follows:
Essentially, prose is routine text– words formed into sentences that are formed into paragraphs. While prose can be balanced and musical, its not written in meter or rhyme. The vast majority of writing is prose, from essays and short articles to novels and books of nonfiction.
a: the ordinary language people utilize in speaking or writing
b: a literary medium differentiated from poetry especially by its higher abnormality and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech
A specifying feature of poetry is that its written in verse. Merriam-Websters Dictionary provides several definitions of verse:.
1: a line of metrical writing.
2a: ( 1) metrical language (2 ): metrical writing differentiated from poetry specifically by its lower level of strength (3 ): poetry2b: poem2c: a body of metrical writing (as of a period or country).
Have a look at the following excerpt from Campbell McGraths appropriately entitled ” The Prose Poem”:.
Although most poetry is written in verse, structure alone does not specify poetry. We can take the other elements of poetry and then improve the writing into sentences and paragraphs. Thats how you get prose poetry.
According to Wikipedia, “a prose poem looks like prose, reads as poetry, yet does not have line breaks connected with poetry however utilizes … fragmentation, repetition, rhyme and compression and … poetry signs, metaphor, and figures of speech. Prose poetry … is essentially a hybrid or blend of [prose and poetry]”.
Verse is metrical and composed in stanzas. Like poetry, songs are typically written verse, which is why some parts of a song are called verses. Rather of sentences that form paragraphs, which are used to compose prose, poetry is made up with metrical lines that form stanzas.
What is Prose Poetry? Heres an Example.
In the beginning, prose poetry looks like an oxymoron. If prose is defined by being made up of sentences and paragraphs and poetry is defined as being made up of verse, would not it be impossible to create something called prose poetry?
The new form carried into the 20th century, with American poets writing prose poetry in the 1950s and 60s, including Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and Robert Bly, to call a couple of. And Charles Simic won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1989 collection, The World Doesnt End, that included prose poems.
On the map it is rectilinear and precise as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this limit line or rough margin, a shallow swale that cups a basic drip of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a terrifying assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, hairs of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the range, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of healthy and green plants lined up in close order, row upon row upon row.
Composing Prose Poetry.
A Little History.
Prose poetry can be traced back to the haibun, a Japanese type of prose poetry seen during the 17th century. Western prose poetry emerged in the early 19th century as a rebellion versus standard poetic structures. Poets such as Aloysious Bertrand, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Stéphane Mallarmé used prose poetry as a method to defy the conventions of the day. Throughout the 19th century, poets continued to accept the form.
However, prose poetry was not accepted by all. T.S. Eliot opposed prose poetry, arguing that it lacked the rhythm and musical patterns of verse.
Naturally, they produced a form that defied the very guidelines that define poetry. To understand prose poetry, we need to look beyond structure and analyze other elements that specify poetry: the creative use of language and imagery, economics of language, and wordplay.
Some of the most well-know poets to compose in prose include Hans Christian Andersen, Rainer Maria Rilke, Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman, H.P. Lovecraft, and Gertrude Stein.
composing that creates a concentrated creative awareness of experience in language selected and organized to develop a specific emotional action through rhythm, noise, and significance.
Why write prose poetry? Why would a poet favor sentences and paragraphs over the conventional structure of verses and stanzas?
To understand prose poetry, we need to look beyond structure and analyze other aspects that define poetry: the innovative use of language and images, economics of language, and wordplay. Most poetry is written in verse, structure alone does not specify poetry. According to Wikipedia, “a prose poem appears as prose, checks out as poetry, yet lacks line breaks associated with poetry however utilizes … fragmentation, rhyme, repeating and compression and … poetry symbols, metaphor, and figures of speech. Prose poetry can be traced back to the haibun, a Japanese kind of prose poetry seen throughout the 17th century.
Instead of sentences that form paragraphs, which are used to write prose, poetry is made up with metrical lines that form verses.
Do you ever write prose poetry? Share your ideas by leaving a comment, and keep composing poetry.
Your poem might inform an abstract story that you feel checks out much better in paragraphs as opposed to verse. Paragraphs result in a different flow than lines and verses, and the prose structure may provide the reader with a better feel for the rhythm of your poem.