Write A Prose Poem

Write a prose poem, a prose poem is written in paragraph form, so it must differentiate itself from standard prose by relying on sound, word play, and other stylistic features we associate with poetry. Like what you saw frequently in Harryette Mullen’s work(attached jpge.)

Greenstreet’s book incorporates personal material in a highly oblique way, making it difficult to know what ghosts are haunting the poem, but making it clear that there are things she would rather leave to the reader’s imagination. You will write a poem imbued with personal material that is masked or hidden. 

Brainstorm for the experiment as follows:

1) Think about a topic you know a lot about and write down specialized words associated with that topic. Maybe you know a lot about painting, dance, martial arts, banking, or coffee. Write down as many words as you can think of from the special vocabulary associated with this field.

2) Think about the place you know very well and write down words that relate to it / are important to it. The street you grew up on, the place you learned to drive, the place you would go after school, where you had your first kiss, the buildings, parks, landmarks, and meaningful spots that define this place for you.

3) For a few nights in a row, when you wake up, try to describe one of your dreams using only 7 words. My friend Terri Witek put out a call for 7-word dreams on Facebook and got this one back: “An unknown verb arrives in my mouth.” Another might be “A crow pecks holes in my shoe” or “People keep falling up into pale trees.”

4) Pick up a book and open it at random. Press the spine-ends of the pages together, peeling the edges in your hands apart so that you make words from one page touch words on the opposite page. You are burying words in the gutter and excavating them. Look at the places where words touch searching for interesting pairs and write these down. You can create new words or take word-pairs, whatever excites you.

Write a poem in which you weave together items 1-4 to tell a tale that hides facts behind mystery. Incorporate the word “Tale” into your title. Write your poem using “we” or “they” instead of “I.” If the collective really doesn’t work, then switch to the first person. Don’t worry about telling a whole narrative in a single poem. Greenstreet takes a whole book (and this book is part of a series!) to tell her tale. This can be impressionistic. Try using repetition to weave your tale together.

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