Category Archives: Prose Poem

What is a prose poem?

Prose poetry is a relatively new poetic form, unlike forms we’ve already studied, like the sonnet or the ballad.   A prose poem is a poem written in prose (ordinary written language) rather than verse.  How does this work?

Typical features of a prose poem:

  • it works with sentences rather than lines
  • it can look like a paragraph or fragmented short story but acts like a poem
  • it still uses similes, metaphors, figurative language
  • it still relies on connotative meanings of words
  • it does away with the line as the unit of composition
  • it can be modeled on other kinds of writing, for example a dialogue, a shopping list, a memo, a newspaper article

Also, we may also want to think about a prose poem as:

  • a poetic form that blurs boundaries
  • a poetic form that is a hybrid form
  • a poetic form that some consider subversive, less privileged: why?
  • a poetic form that has developed fairly recently and become more popular in the 21st century

Definition adapted from Lehman, David. Best American Prose Poems. NY: Scribner, 2003.