Is prosaic poetry bad?

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Thread: Is prosaic poetry bad?

  1. #1

    Is prosaic poetry bad?

    I recently bought the selection of what Simon Armitage describes as poetry, called 'Seeing Stars'. If you pick it up, you will see that the pieces are most definitely not poetry. And yet, if you read them, you will see they are.

    In interviews with poets, they're asked if they consider form important. They say that when people first start writing poetry, they will drift to poetic forms, like sonnets, and will find it very restrictive. A lot of poetry I read I would normally critique as 'too prosaic', if they ever popped up on these forums, and yet they are accomplished pieces.

    So is prosaic poetry negative? Does it have to have the strictest of flow and rhythm, and can it not simply be purple prose cut into jagged lines?

  2. #2
    Prosaic poetry isn't necessarily bad but bad poetry is frequently prosaic.

  3. #3
    WF Veteran Bachelorette's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    In a lone grave on Gormenghast Mountain... ;_;
    Interesting. I just bought and finished reading a book called "Great American Prose Poems." Maybe I'm a bit more liberal-minded when it comes to the razor's edge distinction between prose and poetry, but I happen to think that prose poems are a perfectly valid style/genre. They go as far back as Shakespeare, technically, as much of the prose found in his plays is essentially poetic.

    Trying to define it, though, is a slippery slope. When does a piece stop being, say, flash fiction and start being poetry? I think it has a lot to do with a reader's reaction to it, which makes it a highly subjective form and therefore difficult, maybe even impossible, to define. I do, however, know writers who reject the idea of prose poetry altogether because they believe that a poem is primarily dependent on form.

    Personally, I think that puts unnecessary restrictions on what a poem can be. I also think that, more than any other style, prose poetry depends more on the reaction of the reader than on the writer's own intent, which is the reason why it's such a tricky subject. A writer may intend for a piece to be a prose poem, but if the reader sees it as a short story, or flash fiction, or whatever, then it becomes a short story TO THAT READER. Prose poetry, therefore, does not even exist for some people, regardless of the writer's intent. I find that fascinating, and I think it's part of what attracts me to the form.

  4. #4
    WF Veteran Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Jul 2009
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    Two definitions I like:

    Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. ~Edgar Allan Poe

    Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful. ~Rita Dove

    Prosaic or not, if it fits one of these definitions, it is a good poem.
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  5. #5
    As prosaic has several definitions ranging from humdrum to prosy, from earthbound to unglamouous, we are left with a puzzle. Many an unglamourous poem is fantastic; Crow by Ted Hughes is definitely not a glamourous poem. If using the word prosaic in the sense of well intentioned but quite boring, then I can think of more than one famous poem which fits that bill as far as I'm concerned. Pays yer money, takes yer choice...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  6. #6
    Prosiac, I was on a prosiac kick, but then I changed to some other meds and felt much better.

    How I spell relief, atavan.

    I can, you can
    we all can
    with atavan.

    atavan ice cream

    I's scream
    you's scream
    we's all scream
    for's ice cream, pick up a tub of Atavan Ices cream today.

    Now, what was the topic, I forgot.


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