Seen on these playlists
I—a habitual writer of sequences, and particularly of untitled prose poem sequences—have been trying to write an Individual Poem. I’m interested in the single moment, but I distrust it. So I met myself halfway in this playlist and looked for prose poems with titles, whose main unit was the punctuated sentence. We start with Yona Harvey’s “Q.," whose sentences catch Harvey’s wonderful & particular rhythm, and with Ashley Toliver’s exquisite emotional miniature, “Housekeeping.” But, as usually happens when I write with constraints, they crack a bit by the end. In Jenny Xie’s haibun “Corfu” we see how a line break differently holds tension from the sentence, and in Trace Peterson’s funny and whip-smart HRT poem “The Valleys are so Lush and Steep” the propulsive energy of the sentence travels across each section break. Each of these poems find potential in the focused attention to the texture of their language that a prose form provides.View playlist
ELEGYMy grandfather’s grave in scorched grass has two names in the gravestone’s granite: one with strokes—silent and once forbidden; the other lettered—a stowaway vowel between one aspirate, one liquid. Speech wears the written in the speaker’s absence to stay the sound & breath’s passing. I read that the wood, for Thoreau, was resonator Sundays when towns tolled bells—Lincoln, Acton, Bedford, or Concord. Pines with resin reverbed in sap what wind sent. A Chinese immigrant, on his Pacific-crossing, carried coaching papers for the memorizing. Approaching the island station, these pages were tossed to sea. A moon’s light in a ship’s wake might make a similar papertrail. My grandfather, aboard at twelve, practiced a paper-name. What ensued was a debt of sound.