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Response & Bio Robert Strong

14) G.C. Waldrep on relationships, nostalgia, and cutlery: “I have been told, often, that I couldn’t write a short story if my life depended on it. I believe this, and therefore anything that I write in a short prose form is a prose poem, rather than flash fiction. I have this hazy idea that the interface between flash fiction and the prose poem has something to do with narrative. I am nostalgic for narrative. I miss it, and wish it would return to my life in some fresh, nuanced form. But I suspect when and if it does it will come with a knife, a la Brian Evenson.”

But G.C. (G.? . . . Mr. Waldrep) also writes (also rightly) in his response that “Writing, then, cannot be non-narrative, either in the act or in the result (the text).” Between these two Waldreps is, I think, a reader. Which makes a reader-sandwich on Waldrep, no matter how you knife it with a Brian. Yes—I can write a poem that has no narrative. But my mind is constantly making some even as I write, and they attach better again to the words when I go back to read. Yes—narratives happen. When we hear something, we think about it. It’s how we manage to avoid getting hit by the bus. On second thought: he got hit by the bus. There is that defunct old-school plot maxim: the gun you show in the first act had better go off by the last. What is wonderful about pp/ff is that the word “gun” should go off in the reader’s head. What kind of narrative is that?

For one thing, it’s the result of words touching each other more roughly and rubbing off some extra connotation. More contagion & combustible. More frottage without the white space and silence. It’s like riding the subway versus taking a cab. It’s less dear.

And sometimes linebreaks are stupid. Especially when I’m on the subway (which won’t shut up). Anyone who says different is a sucker: bebop is a prose poem. These are modern musics. As Bin Ramke wrote in DR #2, “the tiny announcements which are line-ends in ‘standard’ verse [are] sometimes, often, annoying, arbitrary, and ultimately misleading.” He means these days. And I mean like a call to the dancefloor you just wouldn’t dance to. The here & now is a world, not of horses & butterchurns God bless ‘em, but of cars & stripmalls. In this rhythm we live in, there is often no need for linebreaks (and sometimes they need be present to project things everywhere). Yes—we do still breathe. But not the same. No way.


Robert Strong lives north of the Adirondack park. His poems and reviews can be found in the current issues of Elixir, Boston Review, and Denver Quarterly. He is completing a gang of prose poems that is, so far, 89 Undelineated Theories of Just So Many Moments.