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Response & Bio Andrew Neuendorf

Question #1) In issue #3 of Double Room, Ron Silliman suggests that it is erroneous to assume “that a signature feature of the prose poem is its brevity.” He calls this misguided assumption, Jacob’s fallacy, and he further argues that considering the differences between the prose poem and the flash fiction is “like trying to identify the border between, say, Korean & Portuguese, similar insofar as each is a language.” Do you agree with Silliman’s assessment? In contrast, Ava Chin suggests that she wrote flash fiction during a period when she was extremely overworked: “their jarring method and brevity, their element of surprise, lent themselves well to my shortened yet heightened attention span.” Chin seems to suggest that the brevity aided and enabled a new kind of invention for her. Do you think that prose poetry and flash fiction do have some kind of compression or brevity as a related characteristic? When you write in this form, the pp/ff, do you place any space or length restrictions on yourself?

My current obsession as a reader is John Ashbery’s “The System,” a prose poem that wanders through fifty pages parodying a variety of prose discourses, including metaphysical speculation, historical analysis, self-help manuals, and apocalyptic prophecy. The length of this poem is appropriate because part of Ashbery’s goal is to reclaim, on poetry’s behalf, genres or modes of discourse that poetry has abandoned in favor of courting the conventional (and frequently confessional) lyric poem and its characteristic brevity. Any reader who notices the page length, paragraph format, and justified margins of the “The System” and expects a lucid essay or linear plot will quickly twist an ankle stepping in the rabbit hole. This, however, is minimal punishment compared to the reading experience awaiting anyone foolish enough to dive in head first.

Due to its poetic aims, “The System” requires a sprawling, expansive form; shorter prose poems, on the other hand, can explore ground that Ashbery would likely plow right through, such as succinct, epiphanic leaps, like when you return from vacation to discover a pig has been living in your refrigerator. You wonder, What did he eat first, the bacon or the ham? And how, without the aid of opposable thumbs, did he manage to open the milk?


Andrew Neuendorf has just finished his first year in the MFA program at Texas State University-San Marcos, where he is currently awaiting official censure for refusing to break his lines. The prose poems in this issue of Double Room represent his first journal publications. Andrew lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Melissa.