David Giannini: Poets Who Write Prose Poems

This is the fifth in our series of essays on Poets Who Write Prose. First we featured Richard Hoffman.  Last week we featured J.D. Scrimgeour who told us about writing the  musical “Only Human.”  Michelle Gillett wrote on being a newspaper columnist. Lauren Wolk wrote on being a novelist.

On Prosepoetry

David Giannini1.

Prosepoetry (as I spell it) is a sort of Dutch door on a cabin in the woods. The larger, heavier, lower half is prose; the upper shorter half is poetry. One key unlocks both, while a vertical bolt unlocks the poetry that then can swing on its own hinge. One may look in or out upon things, but the same things viewed from the top door take on different significance since the bottom half, if remaining shut, may serve to protect. For instance, one may vocally chase a bear from the upper door while feeling protected by the lower one; or one may invite a dog or an owl to come closer and, if friendly, the dog may come through the door of prose, an entry-point no self-serving owl would ever enter. Owl enters through the top. It enters through the opening of poetry, silently at first, then what a hoot! There may be more owls in poetry, therefore. One makes an attempt to invite dog and owl at the same time, train them until they desire to go together, not exactly like lovers, but steady. It seems an impossible relationship, but it is really one on the path to the resolution of paradox, and it has a certain scruffy plausibility in training. Neither dog nor owl will speak of marriage, only sex and syntax. The wag occasionally ruffles feathers. The beak is mightier than the muzzle, and more precise. They are contained in a rectangle, a page, but their true shapes, when viewed together, live inside it as one from which the shadow of an angel is sometimes cast. To view is to listen. Listening is also a door.

2.

Not everyone can take daily injections of snake venom, as one Mr. Haast did, receive 173 venomous snake bites in his lifetime, and live to age 100. That ambition aside, there is always a desert to cross in a paragraph or so, those blocks. Entering such terrain, poetry is the embedded reporter in the blocky vehicle called prosepoem; without the vehicle that poetry could not be found; even when found it may be blown apart, leaving some of the sentences transformed, wriggling and venomous, phonemes with fangs. Not everyone can take daily injections, many are bitten and die early; but some of the poetry might live to age 100 or older. That ambition aside, why not sing of frittatas in the kitchen? Or else just hide.

 

David Giannini’s most recently published collections of poetry include AZ TWO (Adastra Press,) a “Featured Book” in the 2009 Massachusetts Poetry Festival; INVERSE MIRROR, a collaboration with artist, Judith Koppel (Feral Press/Prehensile Pencil, 2012;) WHEN WE SAVOR WHAT IS SIMPLY THERE (Feral Press/Prehensile Pencil, 2013;) and RIM/WAVE (two full-length poetry collections in one book from Quale Press, 2012) and SPAN of THREAD, a full-length collection of his prose poems due from Cervena Barva Press in 2014. Awards include: Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Awards; The Osa and Lee Mays Award For Poetry; an award for prosepoetry from the University of Florida; and a 2009 Finalist Award from the Naugatuck Review. He co-founded Compass Center, the first rehabilitation clubhouse for severely and chronically mentally ill adults in the northwest corner of Connecticut. He is the Coordinator of Writers Read, an ongoing series of monthly readings by poets and fiction writers presenting at The Good Purpose Gallery in Lee, MA.

Comments

  1. Nicely expressed David- and it makes me feel like reading in a barn in Holland- anything, as long as it is well expressed. What about a double Dutch oven, in which to boil prose into poetry?

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  1. […] This is the sixth in our series of essays on Poets Who Write Prose. First we featured Richard Hoffman.  Then we featured J.D. Scrimgeour who told us about writing the  musical “Only Human.”  Michelle Gillett wrote on being a newspaper columnist. Lauren Wolk wrote on being a novelist. And David Giannini wrote on poets who write prosepoems. […]