Playing with Time: Prose poetry and the elastic moment


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The prose poem typically presents itself in the guise of a paragraph, suggesting that readers treat it as such: a narrative fragment. As a narrative ‘unit’ it might be expected to focus on a relatively brief moment in time, a tightly framed episode. Its isolation (from any other fragments of the imaginary ‘whole’), however, would seem to drive its attentions according to principles different to most lengthier narrative prose. The passage of time that might, for a longer narrative, stretch across its entirety, becomes, in many cases, a feature of the prose poem’s concision—and particular power. The elastic treatment of the ‘moment’—sometimes connecting with both distant past and future—can therefore be identified as one of the form’s defining, poetic characteristics; intriguingly, it is a characteristic owing its effect, in part at least, to the fluidity of prose. This paper surveys a particular body of prose poetry, produced under the auspices of the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI), noting the prevalence of the elastic moment and considering the variety of techniques involved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalTEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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