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'Unconscionable mystification'? : rooms, spaces and the prose poem
journal contributionposted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by P Hetherington, Cassandra AthertonCassandra Atherton
Since the 19th century, when a number of French writers—most conspicuously Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud—introduced what we may think of as the modern prose poem into European literature, prose poetry has been part of a significant debate about the contemporary usefulness of existing literary modes and genres. While early French practitioners partly used the form to subvert and problematise traditional poetic prosody, once this aim was achieved prose poetry remained a significant contemporary literary form, achieving wide acceptance. In the context of contemporary developments and manifestations of prose poetry, this article discusses John Frow’s comments that texts might “‘perform’ a genre, or modify it in ‘using’ it, or only partially realise a generic form, or … be composed of a mix of different genres” (2015: 11). It also discusses the authors’ Rooms and Spaces project, which explores—and exemplifies through its component of creative practice—ways in which prose poetry may be considered “poetic”; how the forms of prose poetry may be room-like and condensed; or open and highly suggestive (sometimes both at once); how prose poetry is intertextual and polysemous; and how prose poetry frequently conveys a sense of completeness despite tending to be fragmentary. Prose poetry may generically problematic but the authors suggest that this may make it an exemplary post-postmodern form of writing; and that reading prose poetry may provide significant insights into understanding how unstable genre boundaries really are.