Prose poetry is a genre I was introduced to a year ago when reading poetry by James Galvin. His poems intrigued me and forced me to ask what the definition of prose poetry really is. The guest editor of CUE’s thin volume (the entire journal can fit snugly into the pocket of my fall coat), Jason Zuzga, defines it as being the “self in process […] in prose proper […] something like Montaigne thinking on the page in an essay.” His words are an apt description for the prose poetry in this volume. On an initial glance at the form of these seventeen poems, some look like carefully placed lines of free verse and others appear almost as stream of consciousness paragraphs. On further inspection, all contain writers’ detailed observations – though maybe not quite as astute as Montaigne’s – on the visible universe that enlightens the invisible thoughts and emotions.
On this theme, I’ll note three of my favorite poems in this volume. In John Taggart’s “Horse,” the horse is a metaphor for a human being: “can the horse make its way / become a horse of the high mountain ridges layers of mist beneath the ridges / not alone but apart / a horse making its way along the ridges moody flute sounds rising from the settlements.” The crank and piston are personified at the end of “Piston” by Sam Petulla: “Oh my what anonymity, moaned the crank to the piston, are these here our Pittsburgh dreams? Yes maybe, said the piston. These are our finite days, our purse occasionally stamped with prayers, mirrors that radiate glass.” In “Signals and Songs,” Regan Good uses images of birds to point out religious themes: “In the snow, a cardinal lands on a red twig, Stuck through the bones with hunger. Mortal shock of the cardinal Bright as blood in the ghosting snow – Soul’s bloody rhetorical knot.”
CUE went a long way in convincing me that a genre of prose poems is legitimate; each poem contains elongated images that stimulate thought making each of the prose poems in this issue definitely worth reading.