On Prose Poems

I was reading Christine Swint’s blog; she had posted her Day 6 Poem of the APPF, and I marvel at how she responds both to a poem she read by Lucia Perillo and takes ideas and creates a wonderful new prose poem about, as she says, “crows, sort of about women and what they wear.”  

In the poem, the blackness of crows comes in “black jeans and a sooty vest” and in “shoe-polish” hued hair.  Black is fashion and danger; crows themselves are often considered harbingers of death in mythology, and they eat carrion.

And twice the word “murder” appears in Christine’s poem,  which is interesting because it highlights the connection between death and crows, but it is also characterized as belonging to “her,” the female “crow” on the poem.  Is this crow a victim, or has she committed murder?   But she is not dead–indeed this crow “dances the Merengue with the others.”  

Christine’s poem is wonderful and strange, which to me is always the hallmark of a strong prose poem–a form that is completely mysterious to me.   I’ve tried writing prose poems.  They are, like my attempts at fiction, not to be borne.  And yet I am drawn to them–prose poems will usually quickly find a home in Chickenpinata (although we haven’t received many of them).  I probably ought to read some books about them as a form and educate myself. 

I’m not really sure why I like them–except, I wonder if it has to do with the fact that they are generally chock full of things–it’s a little bit harder to be abstract, I think, when you are writing a kind of paragraph of words that all have to be poetic.  I really admire those, like Christine, who can write them well.  You should all check her blog and read “This Crow is Not a Fashion Model.”

Speaking of the APPF, I sent off my Day 3.  I realize, when I mentioned in an early blog post about a “starter poem,” that was really Day 1.  So instead of having written 4 poems by today, I’ve only written 3.  That’s ok, as long as I come up with something for tomorrow.

I bought this postcard book called Hidden Love:  Art and Homosexuality, which has some really amazing art prints in it, and which I’ve decided will comprise the majority of the postcards I send.  (Some pictures are basically crotch shots of male genitalia, which is less impressive, and actually I worry that I could even send them in the mail–with my luck, they’d be flagged for pornography.)

But the poem I want to write for tomorrow is based on the painting Apollo and Cyparissus by Claude -Marie Dubufe (1790-1864).  If I’d been thinking, I would have written down the titles of the art on the two other postcards I’ve already sent, but alas and alack.  Anyway, I’ll keep up with it now.

I still haven’t received any postcards yet, but then when it comes to the USPS, I am cursed, so I won’t start worrying that I’ve been forgotten by other Poetry Postcard people until Friday.

So far, here are the titles of the poems I’ve sent:

8/1  “Folk Tale”

8/2  “Garden Variety”

8/3  “Competition”

1 thought on “On Prose Poems

  1. JC, thanks for taking the time to write about my poem! You are so smart, and know a lot about symbols and mythology. I wish I had that kind of background to inform my poems.

    Jamey Dunham has written a book that might help you, although I haven’t read it (it’s brand new).

    He also wrote a great collection of prose poems, called The Bible of Lost Pets.

    Have fun writing your poem tomorrow!

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