Brief Thoughts on the Prose Poem Form

I believe the prose poem can be an ideal form of expressing complexity: it exists as a “lump” of being, not spaced into digested piecemeal.  While a sentence itself is a linear existence, other sentences function directly lateral to that sentence.

I think the prose poem can express simultaneity, as there isn’t the overt sequential nature of linebreaks (granted, there still is sequence because sentences are in an order).

The simplicity of the prose poem form also allows it to harbor/counter the odd/bewildering more easily.  The form does put emphasis on content (and content as a unit/whole).

Of course, what I am saying above applies primarily for the prose poem form of a block of text.  But the prose poem can also be organized into sort of “paragraph-stanzas”: space could be inserted after a sentence or a few sentences, implying some sentences are more related than others (and such a relation can be open to interpretation, such as temporally related and/or topically related).  (See these two poems for an example.)

On a personal note, I began trying out the prose poem form to challenge myself to write poetry not dependent on linebreaks.  For me, the language therefore had to shift into greater wildness: some disregard for grammar, varying sentence lengths, shifting syntax, a proclivity to pun, more associative movements (inspired, I think, by the aforementioned prose poem sentences functioning laterally to each other), and greater risks overall in diction.

Whenever I have considered lineating such work as a form of revision, the result feels like it is “too much”: with the wildness already in the language itself, additional extra-lexical qualities involved in playing with form can make the work hectic.  Adding the complexity of enjambment might overcomplicate: sentences are not meant to be broken in the prose poem; the prose poem needs each sentence as a cogent, cohesive, pungent unit.

That said, I think the extra-lexical quality of space between sentences can be used, continuing to treat the sentence as a unit while still adjusting the clump-factor.

There’s more to be said of the prose poem, but this will do for now.

What do you see as benefits of the prose poem form?