Friday, April 8, 2011

Poetry Tips: The Definition of Prose

After reading the guidelines to White Knuckle Press I wondered how to explain to readers the difference between a poem and a prose poem. I often think of prose as poetry presented in paragraph form but that is not a real definition.

Below are definitions I have discovered that explain the definition of Prose:

From the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms, Prose:
prose poem, a short composition employing the rhythmic cadences and other devices of free verse (such as poetic imagery and figures) but printed wholly or partly in the format of prose, i.e. with a right‐hand margin instead of regular line breaks. This genre emerged in France during the 19th century, notably in Charles Baudelaire's Spleen de Paris (1869) and Arthur Rimbaud's Les Illuminations (1886); a significant English sequence of prose poems is Geoffrey Hill's Mercian Hymns (1971). A prose poem is a self contained work usually similar to a lyric, whereas poetic prose may occur intermittently within a longer prose work.
(I think this is the best definition I found)

My Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Prose:

The ordinary language people use in speaking or writing

(I think this is the worst definition I’ve found)

So there you have it, two definitions, one more helpful than the other.

Good luck to all of you who write prose, please drop by again next week…


snow said...

Mary Oliver has some very good prose poems including one title "March."

Poet Hound said...

Mary Oliver is wonderful isn't she?

Art Durkee said...

I appreciated the link and discussion of prose-poems, something I've been writing and writing about for a long time. Some prose-poem sets I keep coming back to:

Jim Harrison: "Letters to Yesenin"

Robert Hass: "Human Wishes"

Odysseas Elytis: "Eros, Eros, Eros" (trans. Olga Broumas)

marco218 said...

Poetic diction, prose style.

To me, "prose poetry" is a fusion of both approaches.

Most prose poetry is a paragraph or two, but there are entire novels written that way. Good ones, in fact.

snow said...

Yes, Poet Hound Mary is great.