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Prose PoetryAn Introduction$
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Paul Hetherington and Cassandra Atherton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180656

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180656.001.0001

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Ideas of Open Form and Closure in Prose Poetry

Ideas of Open Form and Closure in Prose Poetry

Chapter:
(p.79) Chapter 4 Ideas of Open Form and Closure in Prose Poetry
Source:
Prose Poetry
Author(s):

Paul Hetherington

Cassandra Atherton

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691180656.003.0004

This chapter focuses on ideas of open form and closure in prose poetry. While lineated lyric poetry is typically highly suggestive and open to various interpretations, it simultaneously tends toward conveying a sense of formal resolution and closure. The attention to formal elements in lineated lyric poetry, including the beginnings and endings of lines and the opening and closing of works, is very different from other kinds of less formalized writing — including prose poetry, where sentences are drawn together in paragraphs rather than separated. Prose poetry refuses lineated poetry's rhythmic closure even as it visually preempts its conclusion in the capacious white space that follows the last sentence of the paragraph. In other words, openness and closure are likely to be manifested very differently in lineated poems compared to prose poems. Prose poems have their own integrity as works, but their sense of completeness turns on their appeal to incompleteness in the same way as the literary fragment. Structurally, prose poetry's use of the sentence rather than the line as its unit of composition allows the poet to engage in “narrative digression.”

Keywords:   open form, closure, prose poetry, lineated lyric poetry, prose poems, literary fragment, narrative digression

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