Peter Conners & Mark Tursi
Issue II Questions On The PP/FF Forms
Each contributor was presented with the following list of questions and asked to write a roughly 250 word response to whatever question resonated most with them. Their answers were as varied as the work they produce, and, we believe, equally as thrilling.
- Sean Thomas Dougherty has stated that "For the Flash Fiction, I find it hard to believe - or yet to read one I find successful - that includes more than 2 or 3 characters... or is driven by more than one dominant voice or includes more than one or two scenes. "Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Dougherty's assertation? Can you think of any writers who have successfully gone beyond these borders?
- Reflecting upon the idea of "genreless writing" or "writing that finds its own form" Cole Swensen has said that, " a genre becomes a target, tying down the other end of the piece; the beginning is necessarily tied down to the writer; if the free end gets tied down too soon, options would be missed. Writing without genre would be writing without this target, without a receiving end, with in some way must add up to 'without a reader.'" What writers past and present have proceeded furthest down the road of "genreless writing" and what, if any, constraints have they broken in doing so? What doors have they opened? Or just this: is genreless writing possible?
- Holly Iglesias describes prose poetry written by women to be " distinctly unfeminine. 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." Following the lines of Cole Swensen's examination of "genreless writing" is it possible to have genderless writing? Or does all writing, perhaps, contain kernels of identity and/or gender issues at its roots? How might Christopher Kennedy's description of writing prose poetry as, " a more direct flow from my unconscious to the page... a more accurate representation of who I am than any of the verse I've written" enter prose poetry, quite specifically, into this argument? Is all writing political?
- Here Daryl Scroggins describes a reader encountering a prose poem: " when the excitement hits, it rings through the reader's suddenly undefended psyche with a sound that is both familiar and strange - news from a new world that oddly contains one's history." His response is similar in tone to Janet Lowenbach: " Prose poems expose life because they delve beneath the surface into the borderless things." How does a good prose poem get inside of you? What sorts of life and humanity are they best at revealing? Which authors get in there the best? What other colors, sensations, associations can you relate to reading a good pp or ff?
- 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?
- Pedro Ponce has said that his prose poem hero is, " Barry Yourgrau because he invests the minutiae of everyday life - a family dinner, a chance meeting, a fireside nap in an armchair - with the suggestive logic and imagery of dreams." Who is your pp/ff hero? What do they do that makes them so distinct from other pp/ff writers?
- Rosmarie Waldrop says that, " Perhaps the greatest challenge of the prose poem (as opposed to "flash fiction") is to compensate for the absence of the margin. I try to place the margin, the emptiness inside the text. I cultivate cuts, discontinuity, leaps, shifts of reference, etc. 'Gap gardening,' I have called it, and my main tool for it is collage." What, if any, specific tools do you use when crafting a pp/ff?
- Nin Andrews asks, " When you compose your valentine to the world,/What does it say?/I love you forever?/Kiss my ass?/Or everything depends on the weather?" Well... how about it?