I’d been thinking about prose poetry for some time before I bought The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry, back in March. What I mean is, this wasn’t one of those whim-purchases that I generally specialize in. It was a gap in my library that had niggled at my consciousness for some time.
The choices I’d found by trawling the internet were not extensive, but all looked interesting. I whittled my list down by deciding I wasn’t looking for a historical perspective. I’d discovered plenty of well-written articles and essays about that on-line, and then there was a call for submissions for an anthology by The Valley Press. It had a 2018 deadline, but I followed the links and found that the anthology had been published in 2019.
The blurb for it said, ‘Prose poetry is at the cutting edge of contemporary writing, freeing words from the bounds of traditional poetic grammar and bringing the magic of verse to flash fiction.’ That sounded like the writing I was looking for.
Of course, it’s easy to make promises, and I wasn’t so sure about the claim that this volume was ‘ambitious‘ and ‘ground-breaking‘. It felt like a heavy sales pitch, for an anthology promoting brevity.
Maybe prose-poetry needs a harder sell. It is, after all, a hybrid form.
When I mention prose-poetry in classes, many readers haven’t heard of it. Often, those who have aren’t sure what it is. Few have bought any.
If asked, my advice to readers who are looking for adventure, is to try an anthology. That way, we meet lots of different authors, and there are likely to be at least one or two pieces of writing that we will be glad to have read. Single author collections are fine if you’re already familiar with their form, and style, but risky if you’re new to them. Most of my risks are cheap, found in the second hand market.
I thought about that, back in March, when I was dithering over buying this anthology. Do I support writers, as consistently as I do charity shops?
Lately, my buying habit has been so focused on catching up with reading I’ve missed, that I’ve not thought about what’s new. Most of my books are ten years old, or more, and that age-gap is likely to increase as my shelves continue to overflow.
I don’t want my reading to keep up with my book buying. I like slipping across decades and centuries, styles, forms and genres. My bookshelves are also an anthology. They hold enough of a variety that I can dip in at random, choose by purpose, or turn to another title if a first choice doesn’t supply what I’m looking for.
Why else would I want to keep so many books?