‘Unconscionable Mystification’?: Rooms, Spaces and the Prose Poem

Paul HETHERINGTON, Cassandra Atherton

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Since the 19th century, when a number of French writers-most conspicuously Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud-introduced what we may think of as the modern prose poem into European literature, prose poetry has been part of a debate about the contemporary usefulness of existing literary modes and genres. While early French practitioners partly used the form to problematise traditional poetic prosody, once this aim was achieved prose poetry remained a significant contemporary literary form. In the context of contemporary developments in prose poetry, this article discusses John Frow's observations that texts are able to perform or modify a genre, or only partly fulfil generic expectations, or be comprised of more than one genre. It also discusses the authors Rooms and Spaces project, which explores ways in which prose poetry may be considered poetic; how it may be room-like and condensed; or open and highly suggestive (sometimes both at once); and how prose poetry is intertextual and polysemous. Prose poetry may be generically problematic but the authors suggest that this may make it an exemplary post-postmodern form; and that reading prose poetry may provide significant insights into how unstable genre boundaries really are.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)265-281
    Number of pages17
    JournalNew Writing
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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