Come to the next One Page Poetry Circle on Tuesday, November 1 at 5:30 – 6:30 pm with a Prose Poem by a published poet. Address is below.
Prose poems lack the line breaks traditionally associated with poetry but have the intensity of language, succinctness, images, repetition, rhythm and perhaps even rhyme of poetry. The Japanese combined prose and poetry for the haibun in the seventeenth century. The French symbolist poets created the poetic form in the nineteenth century in reaction to the rigidity of the established form. Prose poetry continued in the early twentieth century most famously by Gertrude Stein and John Dos Passos then returned in the 50s and 60s with Charles Simic, James Wright, Bob Dylan, and others. Baudelaire, concludes in the ecstatic “Be Drunk”:
And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking… ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: “It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish.”
“A Supermarket in California,” one of Allen Ginsberg’s earliest forays into prose poetry, begins by invoking Whitman and Lorca, two poetry experimenters he admires:
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!—and you, García Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?
Much prose, whether from the Bible, William Faulkner, or James Joyce, resonates with poetry. The start of the latter’s Finnegans Wake seems to flow full circle, “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.”
We look forward to seeing the works you select for Prose Poems and to discussing them with you on November 1. Bring a poem of a known poet. Bring a friend. Show up and widen the circle! And in the meantime, we hope you will blog with us here at onepagepoetrycircle.wordpress.com.
The One Page Poetry Circle, sponsored by the New York Public Library is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library, 444 Amsterdam Avenue (81st Street), 3rd Fl. Handicap accessible.