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?
Silliman’s assertion that brevity is not a “signature
feature” of the prose poem is absolutely correct. There
is no reason for writers or readers of the prose poem to expect
it to be shorter—or longer, for that matter—than
a poem in verse.
When I write, I write the poem that must
at that moment be written. Whether it is a poem with line
breaks or a poem in
prose, it is a piece that has no space or length restrictions—it
is a force of language and imagination driving itself forward,
that I assist in its drive forward, that I shape as it shapes
itself, that I work into being what it is, what it needs
to be. This is the form with which I concern myself—the
form the poem itself dictates.
Sarah Elisabeth Freeman’s poems and prose poems have
appeared in various journals, including recent issues of The
Iowa Review and the Seattle Review. A graduate of the Iowa
Writers’ Workshop and recipient of a grant from the Iowa
Arts Council, she now lives in Portland, Oregon.