What makes prose a poem?


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Thread: What makes prose a poem?

  1. #1

    What makes prose a poem?

    I am curious. What is a prose poem or is it just 'purple prose'?

    Please can you share examples and explain why they are poems and not prose.

    ETA I've read some prose labelled poems and I'm left scratching my head.

    Here is an example

    https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/still-life-rayfish
    Last edited by PiP; May 6th, 2017 at 09:48 PM.
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  2. #2
    Poetic stylistic choices. I think that's what makes prose poetry poetry. Because, for prose poetry to be poetry it needs the characteristics of poetry right? I believe prose poetry needs to have a poetic rhythm, language play, a focus on images rather than traditional narrative etc. You cannot just willy nilly toss together a couple paragraphs and call it "prose poetry" you need to actually take time and formulate it to have the characteristics of poetry, because if it doesn't have the characteristics, how can it be considered poetry?
    "He slides into second with a stand-up double." - Jerry Coleman
    "Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth." - Lou Gehrig
    "After Jackie Robinson, the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson." - Reggie Jackson
    "Your Holiness, I'm Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal." - Joe Medwick to Pope Pius XII
    "I think Tim Wakefield would even say tonight that Tim Wakefield got to Tim Wakefield tonight." - Tim McCarver

  3. #3

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by PiP View Post
    So does the poem I've linked to have these characteristics?
    https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/still-life-rayfish
    While I'm not a classical poet, but I'm pretty sure it does. It has a focus on the images in the poem, specifically on the rayfish and it's importance over the arching piece of prose. See, I'm not a poet so I cannot really comment on the flow of the piece so large, since I focus more on a straight prose rhythm rather than a poetic meter or anything like that, but it flows like poetry. And there is definitive language play.
    "He slides into second with a stand-up double." - Jerry Coleman
    "Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth." - Lou Gehrig
    "After Jackie Robinson, the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson." - Reggie Jackson
    "Your Holiness, I'm Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal." - Joe Medwick to Pope Pius XII
    "I think Tim Wakefield would even say tonight that Tim Wakefield got to Tim Wakefield tonight." - Tim McCarver

  5. #5
    But doesn't prose use meter as well so it flows? If not it would be clunky and disjointed. Prose also uses such devices as similes and metaphors.

    So if we take

    Soutine attempts to keep the color of his first carcasses fresh with buckets of blood. The neighbors hate the stench and the flies but he continues to pour blood over the bodies until he is ordered by the police to stop. Only then does he use formaldehyde. He isn’t preserving the flesh, just refreshing it, maintaining the life-color of the carcass and painting that blood as lush. He is not emulating and there is no reminiscence.
    What is poetic about this?
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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by PiP View Post
    But doesn't prose have meter as well so it flows? If not it would be clunky and disjointed. Prose also uses such devices as similes and metaphors.

    So if we take



    What is poetic about this?
    Well, I just did a more refined search, since my initial observations were a baseline of what prose poetry is. Prose poetry is a piece of work that contains both poetic and prose characteristics. So the point still runs true: If it doesn't have the characteristics, how can it be considered one or both? So, prose poetry is a work that contains both a poetic meter, with poetic language, metaphors, whilst focusing on images along with having the choice to advance a narrative, whilst also not being written in classic poetic verse.

    So to answer your question: It's not supposed to be poetic.

    That's my fault there, I kind of assumed that poetic prose was just a poem expanded into more detail when it a completely different fish. Prose poetry has the option to advance the narrative and it looks like classic prose (aka written in paragraphs), while focusing on the characteristics of poetry like images, instances of poetic meter, and contains language play.

    Again, whoopsie on my assumption.
    "He slides into second with a stand-up double." - Jerry Coleman
    "Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth." - Lou Gehrig
    "After Jackie Robinson, the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson." - Reggie Jackson
    "Your Holiness, I'm Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal." - Joe Medwick to Pope Pius XII
    "I think Tim Wakefield would even say tonight that Tim Wakefield got to Tim Wakefield tonight." - Tim McCarver

  7. #7
    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by Ptolemy View Post
    So to answer your question: It's not supposed to be poetic.
    So if it's not meant to be poetic I wonder why it is called prose poetry?

    Researching further examples I've found a poem by Campbell Mcgrath which is actually called 'The Prose Poem'
    https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/prose-poem


    On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of wildflowers and bracken. There is no fence, though here and there a weathered post asserts a former claim, strands of fallen wire taken by the dust. To the left a cornfield carries into the distance, dips and rises to the blue sky, a rolling plain of green and healthy plants aligned in close order, row upon row upon row. To the right, a field of wheat, a field of hay, young grasses breaking the soil, filling their allotted land with the rich, slow-waving spectacle of their grain. As for the farmers, they are, for the most part, indistinguishable: here the tractor is red, there yellow; here a pair of dirty hands, there a pair of dirty hands. They are cultivators of the soil. They grow crops by pattern, by acre, by foresight, by habit. What corn is to one, wheat is to the other, and though to some eyes the similarities outweigh the differences it would be as unthinkable for the second to commence planting corn as for the first to switch over to wheat. What happens in the gully between them is no concern of theirs, they say, so long as the plough stays out, the weeds stay in the ditch where they belong, though anyone would notice the wind-sewn cornstalks poking up their shaggy ears like young lovers run off into the bushes, and the kinship of these wild grasses with those the farmer cultivates is too obvious to mention, sage and dun-colored stalks hanging their noble heads, hoarding exotic burrs and seeds, and yet it is neither corn nor wheat that truly flourishes there, nor some jackalopian hybrid of the two. What grows in that place is possessed of a beauty all its own, ramshackle and unexpected, even in winter, when the wind hangs icicles from the skeletons of briars and small tracks cross the snow in search of forgotten grain; in the spring the little trickle of water swells to welcome frogs and minnows, a muskrat, a family of turtles, nesting doves in the verdant grass; in summer it is a thoroughfare for raccoons and opossums, field mice, swallows and black birds, migrating egrets, a passing fox; in autumn the geese avoid its abundance, seeking out windrows of toppled stalks, fatter grain more quickly discerned, more easily digested. Of those that travel the local road, few pay that fertile hollow any mind, even those with an eye for what blossoms, vetch and timothy, early forsythia, the fatted calf in the fallow field, the rabbit running for cover, the hawk’s descent from the lightning-struck tree. You’ve passed this way yourself many times, and can tell me, if you would, do the formal fields end where the valley begins, or does everything that surrounds us emerge from its embrace?




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  8. #8
    [QUOTE=PiP;2081441]

    So if it's not meant to be poetic I wonder why it is called prose poetry?

    I feel something is getting lost in translation here. Prose poetry is a mash of both having a choice of prose narrative and prose paragraphs, whilst incorporating the poetry characteristics of a poetic meter, word play, language usage and an emphasis of images. That's why it is called "prose poetry" because it is a poem that contains all of these characteristics of both prose and poetry.

    Here is an example of prose poetry by Gary Young called I Discovered A Journal

    'I discovered a journal in the children's ward, and read, I'm a mother, my little boy has cancer. Further on, a girl has written, this is my nineteenth operation. She says, sometimes it's easier to write than to talk, and I'm so afraid. She's offered me a page in the book. My son is sleeping in the room next door. This afternoon, I held my whole weight to his body while a doctor drove needles deep into his leg. My son screamed, Daddy, they're hurting me, don't let them hurt me, make them stop. I want to write, how brave you are, but I need a little courage of my own, so I write, forgive me, I know I let them hurt you, please don't worry. If I have to, I can do it again.'

    It looks like prose, but this one resists traditional narrative or character. The voice of the narrator is never expounded upon outside of that he is a father. It's not easy to interpret too and when read aloud, it has poetic rhythm and word play. There is clear consideration in the use of the words.

    The same rings true for the clip you posted, it's classified as prose poetry due to the mashing of both prose and poetry characteristics.

    See, I should also give a disclaimer, I'm trying my best to explain this, but I'm not a poet nor do I claim to be, so I'm kind of getting tripped up in this, because to be honest it looks like straight prose, but in all actuality, it isn't.
    "He slides into second with a stand-up double." - Jerry Coleman
    "Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth." - Lou Gehrig
    "After Jackie Robinson, the most important black in baseball history is Reggie Jackson." - Reggie Jackson
    "Your Holiness, I'm Joe Medwick. I, too, used to be a Cardinal." - Joe Medwick to Pope Pius XII
    "I think Tim Wakefield would even say tonight that Tim Wakefield got to Tim Wakefield tonight." - Tim McCarver

  9. #9
    The part of the first link you posted didn't feel poetic to me except for a tiny piece of internal rhyme which may have been incidental (flesh ... refreshing, ecorche - assuming this is pronounced how it looks ... auctioned, paintings ... banker). However, the link with this and poetry seems tenuous at best to my untrained eye. Although large chunks of it appear to have a meter of alternate beats, parts do not. This is probably the case with prose too.
    However, I don't know enough to come right out and say that it isn't poetry.


  10. #10
    Here's the dilemma:

    Prose and poetry.

    Realize right off
    there is poetic prose
    and
    there is prose poem

    Well they are going to look similar in form on the written page. Poetry tends to shorter than prose and generally written in verses. A prose poem can be versified or not. While prose is never versified.

    Prose tends to be longer than poetry and is written in sentences that run on together without any breath pauses as a rhythm.

    Now comes the glitch.

    Both depend on phrasing which cause pauses within the lines. With running sentences after one another as in prose the pause and become somewhat fuzzier.
    While in the more condensed language of poetry becomes far more apparent.

    Now there is another consideration of great concern. The metaphorical and figurative use of language.

    This definitely poetic, but poetic prose uses it as well.
    I would say however that poetry's use of figurative language and metaphor is predominately more condensed and driven;
    while prose will elongate the metaphor and less use of figurative language.

    Poetry is always about showing as much as you can in very few words,
    while prose as a whole can use pages on a single subject while actually telling its intent.

    So "more" condensed use of language using metaphors and other forms of figurative speech are far "more" poetic.

    When prose tells it isn't considered as something unusual.
    When poems show it isn't considered something unusual.
    But turn them around and you have a big problem.

    Now the prose poem: it will have more articles and pronouns in the text poetry in general. This makes it more prose like. And the sentences will wrap as well or sometimes be justified to a length and still allowed to wrap around as in the reading format. So lets have some examples. Below:

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