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Response & Bio Nathan Parker

In response to the following section of Question #5) What poetic techniques do you find most interesting and instinctive in the prose poem?

What is most interesting to me about writing prose poems is that they have a concrete beginning and a clear end. (I speak just for myself here.) For some reason it has become uncool to do this in the lyric mode. I love how I feel upon finishing War and Peace, or The Old Man and the Sea, etc. So the task of clearly starting and clearly ending excites me very much. It is nice to permit oneself to emphatically shut a poem. Close the lid. My family and friends who are not poets tend to like my prose poems best and I think that this is the reason. They begin, they end. As your question asks, this happens instinctively when I work within the prose form.

Prose poems tend to be my favorite thing to come across when browsing through lit journals and reading through slush for Black Warrior Review. I think that this is because, ironically, they have a marked absence of pretense. I don't know, maybe they do tend to be absurd or surreal or witty or wacky or what-have-you, but after reading a bundle of good prose poems, no matter what their subject, I think the presence the careful reader soon becomes aware of is one of honest urgency. Sorrow, even.


Nathan Parker's recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, American Letters & Commentary, Octopus, and Quarterly West. He lives in Alabama with his wife, Christie, and 4-month old son, Noah. He will graduate this spring from the MFA program in poetry at the University of Alabama.