Thursday, February 15, 2007


In the introduction to the Selected Poems of James Wright, Robert Bly said of the prose poem, "Wright adapted his language to the prose poem, he asked it to convey his new mood of praise." Stephen Yenser said of the same, "Wright's version of the prose poem with its tolerance for loose ends, its appetite for digression, its fugitive unity, seems exactly the form to contain journal passages without warping them. What happens in such pieces is that the bud of the actual blossoms into the extravagant flower of vision." This is exactly why I love prose poetry--that seamless bending of story into poetry, life into verse. Many of the poems I write take this shape organically...and what a freeing experience to create this way--just a flirtation with language, word, and lyric without restrictions of form. For some people, form is everything and I respect this. I can honor it even as I slip away to write flagrant prose poem pieces in my cheap unlined notebook. Form and structure have their holy place--and in the vessel of a structured poem, I've seen the divine. I wouldn't have studied language and writing in college (nor would I be able to teach it now) if I didn't. But the prose poem has its place, to flesh out the skeletal be joyous and messy and wild.

Wright, whose poetry breathes into me, has prompted the question: "What makes that poetry? I don't get it," from countless students. He battled depression, was hospitalized and treated with electroshock therapy, fought a lifelong battle with alcoholism. This is a man who knew pain, suffering, the taste of sorrow. Yet when he was well he moved into longer prose poems, in part, as the introduction noted--because they gave him greater room to share his gratitude.

from The Gift of Change
by Richard Wright
Of all of the creatures, they seem to know best the art of sunning
themselves. Without brooding unhappily, they understand where
the best shades are. It is next to impossible to catch them and
imprison them in the usual human ways, because they live in
perpetual surrender: they love to become whatever it is that gazes upon
them or holds them. They can turn as precisely green as the faintest
hint of moss-shadow thirty seconds after noon, or a little gray
knitted into silver of drying algae buoyed up ashore and abandoned
there to the random wind of children's feet in flight.

When I write in this form, my heart pounds--half-guilty, like I'm getting away with something. Using it helps me to hone my fiction writing, flexes that muscle. Knowing as I do the gift of change in and out of genres, I don't wedge myself into the label of "novelist", "poet", "essayist", or "reviewer". I might tell you I'm a writer to be safe, but really I am just a person using words to express mercurial emotion, bittersweet experience, and an undeniable gratitude.

the ice storm yesterday

two of my children finding a random, just-by-chance Valentine's something
in the little one's mug of hot chocolate after playing in the snow

what they found...and I cannot explain it...our mini-Valentine's "miracle"

what the oldest was doing instead of discovering a hot chocolate heart

the words from my Valentine (sorry, Ladies...he's taken)



Blogger paris parfait said...

Delia, this is wonderful! I'm not sure why I'm finding writing prose poetry so foreign - so often writing - especially yours - is poetic. But it seems weird (writing it, not reading it). You've done a wonderful job! Love the magic Valentine's heart, lovely photos and beautiful message. xo

11:35 AM  
Blogger acukiki said...

I love your red cardboard Valentine (I have a thing for cardboard, don't quite know what/why) and I love your Valentines day heart miracle. Isn't the world wonderful with surprises like this? xo

1:55 PM  
Blogger la vie en rose said...

i'm not familiar with richard i'm intrigued...

ps--fabulous photos...i especially love the one of your oldest...the lighting is delicious...

2:28 PM  
Blogger Poet with a Day Job said...

God, what an amazing entry - thanks for sharing. Loving the ice storm shot and the valentine! So sweet!

4:19 PM  
Blogger January said...

So much attention goes to Wright's illness and his relationship with his son that it's easy to forget he was a brilliant poet. I love Yenser's quote about the prose poem, "...its tolerance for loose ends, its appetite for digression, its fugitive unity, seems exactly the form to contain journal passages without warping them."

I love the valentine's poem and card. That's one to cherish forever.

7:06 PM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

Lovely! Your whole post seems poetic. Glad to be here. I like the card too.


7:33 AM  
Blogger gkgirl said...

loved this whole piece
but especially
the chance finding
of a lone hot chocolate heart...

10:08 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

I love this whole post! That little heart is magic. Your babies are beautiful. And the one from your love...awww!

Made me smile. Thank you.

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

Don't you always feel like you're getting away with something when you write ~ whatever the genre?

1:04 PM  
Blogger daisies said...

how wonderful, all of it like a lovely piece of chocolate magic filled with love : )

3:38 PM  
Blogger Crafty Green Poet said...

Interesting post and nice photos- especially the hot chocolate heart!!

10:36 AM  

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