Response & Bio
Question 12. Robert Bly suggests that the prose poem is more "democratic" than other forms of verse. He argues that verse written in traditional forms are all about "control," and in a way reinforce human being's supposed domination over chaos. The prose poem, Bly suggests, in contrast, is the form that best expresses 20th century ideas of democracy in the sense that it is concerned with sensibility and intelligence, as opposed to order and power. To what extent do you agree with Bly's assessment?
Bly has also stated (at "The Prose Poem" panel at the 1997 AWP conference) that the prose poem is good for him because it brings him down a notch and allows him to feel less victorious. In addition, he asserted that the prose poem is a feminine form because it is like an ear or a vessel. You know: receptive.
I believe that much prose poetry in the U.S. reads like it has been backed into a tight corner by narrow, tired definitions: derivative and ironic-unto-death. And yet I also see signs of life in prose poems that acknowledge the form's contour and exploit it, drawing attention to the pressurized conditions of confinement. These poems, written by women, are distinctly unfeminine. They are boxy things that mock the allure of curvature and hurl themselves through space like bricks to shatter the entitlement that beg relief from the burden of domination and the stresses of victory.
In the spirit of quoting poets, let me conclude with the words of Laura Sullivan. "I write prose poems because they are healthier than steroids."
Holly Iglesias' work has appeared in journals including Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, Del Sol Review, The Prose Poem, The Massachusetts Review and U.S. Latino Review. She was awarded an individual artist grant for poetry by the Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2000, as well as the Frank O'Hara Award from Thorngate Road Press for Good Long Enough.
Her book, Hands-On Saints, was recently released by Quale Press. She lives in western Massachusetts where she coordinates a middle-school peer mediation program.