Please, help me find more prose poetry dealing with love, sex, community, spirituality?
August 8, 2008 1:55 AM   Subscribe

I just discovered prose poetry in the form of Anne Carson's "Autobiography of Red". Help me find more prose poetry I might like, especially dealing with the topics of love, sex, community or spirituality. Thanks.
posted by franklen to Writing & Language (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Elizabeth Smart, "By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept"
posted by runincircles at 2:26 AM on August 8, 2008

a search for prose poems at yields this.

Charles Baudelaire wrote a lot of prose poems; if your French is good you'll love them. They're all here in French.

More prosaically, many King Missile lyrics tend to take the form of prose poems. Have fun.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:33 AM on August 8, 2008

Oh, I forgot the epic of prose poems: Christopher Smart's Jubilate Agno ("Rejoice in the Lamb"), written while he was locked up in Bedlam in the mid-1700s. Since his madness took the form of religious abstraction, it has a lot of spirituality stuff-- but the best known fragment is the one where he talks about his cat Jeoffry.

(Reading the rest will net you treasures like the language of flowers, why men have horns and the Great Flabber Dabber Flat Clapping Fish With Hands.)
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:45 AM on August 8, 2008

Carson's "Glass, Irony, and God" is even better than "The Autobiography of Red," if you're interested in reading more of her.
posted by millipede at 7:11 AM on August 8, 2008

Seconding Baudelaire. He's juicy even in translation.

The anthology Great American Prose Poems is really solid and will give you a nice overview of poets writing in the form. It's much more diverse than many of the anthologies that David Lehman's edited and should give you an introduction of more poets to look into more deeply.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:16 AM on August 8, 2008

Prose poetry is a pretty big subgenre, but it occurs to me you might be interested in Laura Chester (her site is, Black Sparrow Press is - she's published a lot and some is poetry, some prose-poetry, and some collections of short stories.
posted by aught at 8:22 AM on August 8, 2008

Russell Edson, though his work is less, ah, prosaic than Carson's. And seconding the anthology PhoBWanKenobi mentioned and "Glass, Irony and God."
posted by whir at 8:24 AM on August 8, 2008

You might like Carole Maso's AVA. It's usually shelved in fiction, but definitely walks the line between poetry and prose, and deals with all of the topics you've mentioned. It found Ann Carson thanks to the recommendation of someone who noticed how much I liked Maso, so there's definitely an affinity there.
posted by dizziest at 10:04 AM on August 8, 2008

Best answer: Autobiography of Red is better defined as a verse novel than as prose poetry. (Jubilate Agno is not prose poetry at all, it's anaphoric free verse.) I make this distinction not to be pedantic, but because changing your terms may help you optimize your search. A lot of modern prose poetry falls into the category of surrealist flash-fiction, which is not really what you're looking for. You may have better luck looking for verse novels, such as Vikram Seth's The Golden Gate, or more generally poetic novels, such as Nightwood, the aforementioned Ava, and any of Jeanette Winterson's work. By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is another great recommendation. Alternately, you could try poetry collections which maintain a strong narrative arc, such as Mary Jo Bang's Louise in Love. You would probably also enjoy Anne Carson's other collections, such as The Beauty of the Husband.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 1:24 PM on August 8, 2008

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