Bio & Response

Peter Richards

Peter Richards is the author of two poetry collections: OUBLIETTE (Verse Press/2001) and NUDE SIREN (Verse Press/2003).

Question #3: Regarding differentiation between flash fiction and prose poetry, Tony Leuzzi wrote, “If the writing contains a compressed plot, with character and motive, then I am inclined to think, ‘flash fiction.’ If the reading experience forces me into unexpected directions, where a loss of control is expected, then I am probably in the realm of a prose poem.” Peter Johnson also noted, “ I agree with Todorov when he says that all genres come from previous genres, but that doesn’t mean Schlegel was wrong when he said, “ Every poem is a genre in itself.” What criteria do you use to distinguish between prose poems and flash fictions? Is Schlegel correct in his assessment? If so, is there any point in designating genre?

FLASH FICTION? I remember having a bad reaction the first time I heard the term. I guess I’m suspicious of those efforts which seek to classify literature according to a school, a movement, or worst of all an aesthetic condition said to exist after Modernism. Whether these terms come imposed by the poets themselves or are the schemes of a critic looking at poetry from the outside, I find most designations to be restrictive and promotional in nature. Prose poem-- for me it works so well because it prescribes little else but the form.