Favorite Lines from The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (get it? Lines!)

  • “I’ve always felt that line breaks would destroy the drifting and circular intelligence of these poems, the way they move through thought and into silence, from rumination to description and back again. For lack of a better term, they feel horizontal in their rhetorical designs, like waves rushing up the beach, slowly flattening out into foam and a thin sheet of water, then receding back into the depths.” — James Harms, on Killarney Clary
  • “For me, the prose poem is capacious and interior. Like a mirror, it holds as much as the world it reflects. I love to step inside. Things are a little strange in there, yes. But you don’t have to stay in that one room, or even that house. You can keep walking, and find all manner of thing. The ocean, for example, is right outside the door.” — Jeffrey Skinner
  • “…form and voice within the prose poem are not separate; they are seed and tree.” — Alexander Long
  • “If for human beings the most crucial division is that between life and death, and the original genre division is that between poetry and prose, then matters of life and death must lie very near to what makes the prose poem. …The prose poem sits close to the rot.” — Mark Wallace
  • “I tend to head instinctively into prose when a poem has become too much about line breaks or some insisted-upon metaphor keeps shrugging its shoulders. There’s something about the writing of a prose poem that seems to promise open land and distance in which you can lose yourself.” — Nancy Eimers

 

    CPS: Notes Toward a Report

    A poet will read to an audience of one if necessary, and do so with thanks for the opportunity, but nothing beats the energy of a full house — we continue to be so grateful for such great attendance. Great poets, great audiences, etc. etc. etc..

    Melody Gee has a sweet smile and conversational reading style.  The perfect amount of patter & prologue to her poems. The poems she read were all from her book, Each Crumbling House, and showed off her skill at varied voices and subjects. I introduced her, so I spent a lot of time with her book prior to her reading, time richly spent. Melody’s a 7 months pregnant, ebullient presence.

    Jennifer Sweeney’s reading of “Today’s Lesson: Landscapes” from How to Live on Bread and Music I found particularly meaningful and relevant as the mother to at least one wildly imaginative child. It details an academy-minded art teacher’s instruction to a room of second-graders, and illustrates a common failing of well-meant adults: an almost compulsive need to direct a child’s creative process.

    One of my favorite parts of the night was when Tricia introduced Jennifer. Tricia is a friend I met through SheWrites, who turns out to (kind of) live in my neighborhood of western Mass., and happens to be friends with Jennifer from a lifetime ago! All my galaxies colliding.

    Barbara Ras‘s poems are capacious, intelligent, funny, great fun to read and and even more fun to have read to you. Her wit bolted warmly through the room, what a delight, the perfect closing note. Then I had the good fortune to talk shop with Barbara at dinner later (we went to a fab new place in town, the Blue Rock Restaurant, loved it!) — she directs Trinity University Press — I love discussing the book business anyway, and books especially. The night ended all too soon.

    If you haven’t visited our website, maybe you don’t know: we’ve been compiling a video archive of the CPS readings, little by little. So if you’ve lamented having to miss any of our wonderful guests, check it out.

    Next month we have Aracelis Girmay and Ross Gay — even though that will mean it’s December already (ACK!), I can’t wait!

    *

    Couple posts back I talked about prose poems and mentioned one anthology; here’s another that’s been on my radar that I wanted to mention, too, especially as it’s described as “half critical study and half anthology” on the website. It’s The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice, edited by Gary L. McDowell and F. Daniel Rzicznek. Looks comprehensive and eminently helpful, with a terrific cover to boot. I’ll order it from my library and let you know what I think.