Of all the poetic forms, prose poetry may be the most controversial. After all, free verse and most experimental poetry still contain line breaks. But prose poems often look like a short short story or a long (even if poetic) paragraph. (One of my favorite prose poets, Nin Andrews, wrote a piece on prose poems in the 2012 Poet’s Market.)
The rules are simple and straightforward:
- Write a poem.
- Don’t break your lines.
Some poets will argue that you can’t do one without the other, but after reading prose poems by Robert Bly, Nin Andrews, and Denise Duhamel, I think it’s possible. As the poet, your challenge is to make the reader believe that a lump of text with no line breaks is still a poem too.
Instead of sharing my own attempt at this form, check out these examples:
- My Invisible Valentine, by Nin Andrews (scroll down a little)
- The Threat, by Denise Duhamel
- The List of Famous Hats, by James Tate