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.