The Prose Poem: Thinking Inside the Box
In this course we’ll examine the form called “a veritable literary hybrid” by Charles Simic, the only poet to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for a collection of prose poetry (famously, in 1990, for The World Doesn’t End).
To get a sense of the prose poem’s history and the many voices writing in this genre, we’ll read selections from Great American Prose Poems and The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry. We’ll also study four full-length books of prose poetry by Holly Iglesias, Eula Biss, David Keplinger, and Gary Young, a poet now publishing exclusively in this form who explains, “What I wanted from my poetry [was] a horizontal rather than a vertical structure, a poem that one might walk along rather than fall through.”
Part of our focus when reading will be to note how the prose poem can accommodate almost any subject, from the comic, pleasurable, or absurd to the difficult, heartbreaking, or seemingly inexplicable. Working within this form, writers sometimes loosen up and break out of their usual habits; through in- and out-of-class writing assignments, students will be challenged to do the same.