Response & Bio
Question 5. Denise Duhamel clearly states, " There may be a difference between flash fiction and prose poems, but I believe the researchers still haven't found the genes to differentiate them." In agreement, Thom Ward says that, " I have no idea what the true or sustaining definition of a prose poem or flash fiction is. Nor do I plan on ruminating over the issue." How about it? What specific genes (or, let's say, traits) have you found to differentiate between prose poetry and flash fiction? Further, Jonathan Carr says that the only restrictions writing a pp/ff entail are, "Those that the authors place on themselves." Do you believe that writing a pp/ff assumes certain accepted conventions and/or restrictions? If not, how does this idea relate to Cole Swensen's genreless writing? (see question #2). Or, like Thom Ward, do you find it useless to ruminate over the issue?
To my mind, this attempt to distinguish prose poetry from flash fiction from short shorts is nothing more than an exercise in tautology. It's not a matter of name-calling, but intentthe willful defeat of the line's gravity. If the paragraph implies action and development, if it implies sequence, progression, accretion toward an overall meaning, then the paragraph surely is the Trojan horse for prose poetry. The prose poem disarms by its very appearance. At night, as everyone sleeps, the imagination creeps out and opens the gates to the city. It hands us a torch and says come on in.
Morgan Lucas Schuldt teaches Creative Writing at the University of Arizona where he is also co-editor of CUE: A Journal of Prose Poetry. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Chelsea, CutBank, Quarter After Eight, the Notre Dame Review, Sentence and West Branch. He may be contacted at email@example.com.