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Response & Bio Paula Koneazny

Question #8) Chris Arigo on genre designations: “After Modernism literature fractured and pixilated into so many units that the urge to classify is often/usually frustrated. Historically, the prose poem is very young—much in the same way the novel is. As a result, the most radical pressure put on the genre has occurred fairly recently. These radical shifts require our scrutiny, not necessarily our classifying them.”

I agree with Chris Arigo that the “radical shifts” that many prose poems engage in “require our scrutiny, not necessarily our classifying them.” Personally, I resist classification of much that I write and think of it generically as “writing,” all the while recognizing that certain pieces demand (call out) to be labeled poems. I like the idea of diffuse or in-between genres that confound and illuminate in ways reminiscent of ambiguous and in-between genders. I want the borders to be blurred. For me, writing what eventually become prose poems (“indeterminate prose”?) involves focusing on the sentence (sometimes paragraph) and fragment, as well as certain narrative elements, at the same time as paying attention to more “poetic” concerns, such as word, rhythm, and image. I don’t see myself as engaged in story-telling, however, which may distance my writing from even the flashiest notion of the short story. On the other hand, I do like to loiter where certain novelists hang out, on a Super Playground well-equipped with all manner of digressions, asides, documents, dialogs and descriptions to climb around on.


Paula Koneazny’s poetry has appeared in Volt, Interim, Verse, Columbia Poetry Review and Spinning Jenny and is forthcoming in Luna. Her book reviews are featured periodically in American Book Review. She earns her living (schizophrenically) as a tax consultant in Sebastopol, CA.