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Sentence - 2004

If it has ever occurred to you to wonder where exactly one might draw the line between poetry and prose, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself engrossed by Sentence, amongst whose litany of stated objectives you’ll find: “to explore the gray areas around the prose poem,” and to “publish work that extends our perception of what the ‘prose poem’ is or can be.” And even if it’s never occurred to you to worry about “the distinction between the prose poem and poetic prose,” you’ll still find yourself engrossed—I can practically promise. What I find most admirable about Sentence (in addition to its refreshing physical format and inviting design) is the fact that, despite its ostensible scholastic objectives, Sentence is simply dedicated to celebrating good work, be it genre-defying or genre-demonstrative. If categorical ambiguities abound, so be it; rigid academic definition becomes highly irrelevant, as does boundary-pushing, and then—beauty of beauties: boring theory gives way to rabble-rousing creativity! Somehow, this potentially didactic journal has avoided all the pitfalls of its, perhaps more grimly cerebral, brethren. Even the “Colloquium on the Prose Poem” featured here runs amok against the dread (i.e. oh-no-not-more-graduate-school-blather) inspired in this reader when an essentially creative journal detours into pedantry. “I, like most prose poem makers,” says Deanna Kern Ludwin in that part of the journal, “am less interested in nomenclature than in the wild prose poem ride.” And instead of useless labels, what her “(Mostly) Personal History” on the prose poem has given us is the edifying first-hand insight of a word-practitioner. There’s a regular bounty of brilliant work in this issue too. To mention but one, Robert Lowes’ piece “The Unity of a Paragraph,” which begins: “The topic for this paragraph is the need for one topic per paragraph,” and devolves happily into complete comic metafiction…er, meta-prose-poem…er, meta-who-cares-because-it-works! “This paragraph is a tombstone bearing a name. A row of tombstones is a chapter. A cemetery of tombstones is a book. Lay down your flowers and walk away.” Sentence may be a journal that thrives in the “gray areas” of creative writing, but its contents are far from colorless. It’s a vibrant, vital publication. [Sentence, c/o Firewheel Editions, P.O. Box 793677, Dallas TX, 75379. E-mail: . Single issue $10.] –Mark Cunningham

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Review Posted on September 30, 2005

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