((Poetic prose and the Prosodic Unit) (a commentary or essay))
What is Poetic Prose?
The prose poem (poetic prose) is as old as the hills—well at least as old as poetry itself; that is to say, it is not a new invention as many would have you believe.
It is, in its most oversimplified definition, a short story, a fable. In its more complete form, it is an image centred, or cantered on an object. It is often expressed in layers. It nourishes the spirit, or should. To make, or create it, it is a work of art, and most difficult, more so than a metered poem—so I feel, in that a metered poem is a click to a box. Whereas, the prose poem has two tails—each different than the other; the poets mind has to adjust to this. Here the mind cannot leave the subject, and the poet’s mind cannot be concealed.
Poetic Prose Form!
Often the poetic prose poem—has the same subject throughout; it is like a one-way highway. Another form, one sets the tone in the first sentence, and then alters it as s/he descends, as the mood changes in the poem. Thus, the mind with the words is set. Let me repeat, the focus is on an unchanging element or subject—in the prosodic unit, it is not the stanza but the sentence. Let me give you an example:
A good haiku is evidence the poet has overcome polarities (large and small, human and animal, etc). Now let me create right here and now, a haiku for an example:
The wood in the hearth
gave home to a bird.
‘Wood-bird ‘Haiku ((No: 3040) (8-29-2011))
The writer or poet usually uses, or writes such divisions or polarities, when creating haikus in the presence of the object—if you want to know where the bird came from, you have to know the tree it perched on; or build its nest on. Saw the branch, this kind of observation opens the mind to give human surveillance and understanding, in the right way. In this case the wood in the hearth is more than wood, it was part of a bird’s home, a tree that had life, now it warms the body and the room that the body is in. This information cannot be made up, it is processed through the mind, and a creative mind says you have an active soul. You have created something much more than what you originally had—when the mind and the soul began working together.
Creative Senses in Poetic Prose
In prose poems, the poet can stay close to his creative senses for a lengthy time, in a tranquil setting (similar to a painter, as often I’ve seen, on the bridges crossing over to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, painting away as if in another world) instead of a metered storm (trying to put the perfect rhyme schema to an accentual meter form or syllabic meter form; example: dimeter, trimester, tetrameter, hexameter, and so on and so forth, which refers to lines of verse based on a syllabic length or duration in time—this can be a storm…) example:
I want to say what deaths love have come and gone,
I know only, that winter sang in you
A long while, that now sings in me as well.
‘Mother’s Winter’ Accentual-syllabic meter ((No: 3041) (8-29-2011))
In the poem ‘Mother’s Winter’ one is forced to give attention to certain words, the first line for example, creates less force, because death has come and gone for many people the poet has loved—now in lines two and three, the force becomes stronger, because the poet is saying, in essence, all previous loves are nil compared to his memory of her loving mother’s love for winter (as we see in the name of the poem: in particular). And now, that memory sings in the poet as well. The lines are fixed, to a ten syllabic meter, as in a sonnet.
The prose poem helps to balance the non-figurative; there are more freedoms for detail in the prose poem, more room for description, intimacy—the object is more exposed. What metered poetry cannot do, poetic prose can. In metered poetry, the mind often gives up and accepts what it has done…
The sonnet, although lovely in its structure, is too impersonal for poetic prose. I need not explain this if you have ever written a sonnet. Thus, it has many ancestors to please.
The Mind and Poet’s Responsibility (conclusion)
The first to second sentences of a prose poem, usually sets up the rhythm or sounds of the poem (the dynamics), the syllables are set in line, in motion. And as for reading the poem your mind expects this process to satisfy it.
The poet must pay mind to the reader, s/he expects it, and density demands it. A good poet will please the reader, or try—and in the process have an effect on the reader (is this not one of the main purposes for the poet?)
Let’s us hope no self-proclaimed mastermind or wiz-kid, tries to standardize the prose poem, with rigid patterns that may stagnate the poet’s mind, so it no longer expects excellence, and accepts mediocre: giving it boundaries and hurdles to crossover.
On the other hand, that does not give a licence for the poet to be sloppy in form, and to accept the middle-of-the-road (what we write and what the reader reads, goes into the mind and we are responsible for that, so let’s not put in garbage, or something putrid that causes a meltdown for a younger mind). The reader wants elegance and this is part of the poet’s job.
Dennis L. Siluk (Poet)