Albert Mobilio

Response & Bio

Question 5. 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?

You've written a page-long description of the man at the newstand in which you imagine what he might think about all day as he peers out from his metal box. Please choose a label for what you've done from the two provided below:

Prose poem: Indecisive. Perplexing. Oxymoronic. Definitely not fiction. Perilously close to... poetry. And therefore: unmarketable. Neither fish nor fowl, yet it still smells of something vaguely French. "I stayed home last night. Made some tea and got lost in some great prose poems." Sorry, never going hear that one. More likely: "Is this part of something longer?" Well, is it?

Flash fiction: They've got pep! Plot! Flash! Very saleable. Short short, mercifully short stories for readers on the run. Readers with lots of demands on their overtaxed attention spans. "Oh, the micro-fictions are great. For the subway. Right before bed. Whenever you've got a minute or two." Flash! Flash Fiction! Oooooh! And then: Ummm. Was it good for you, too?


Albert Mobilio received a Whiting Writer's Award in 2000. He books include Bendable Siege, The Geographics, and Me with Animal Towering. Portions of "The Handbook of Phrenology" were published as an artist book with etchings by Hilary Lorenz. .

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