Poetry and Prose-poems

What is the difference besides formatting?


Dear Peter Markus,


John Robert Colombo, a Toronto poet and a well-known Canadian writer thought the difference between poetry and prose poetry had to do with their roots:  poetry was originally sung, prose poems, such as Homer's, recited.


He found supporting evidence from Northrup Frye’s "Notebook 33":

"The conclusion doubtless is that poetry descends from
ritual & prose from myth, & it's through myth & prose that we get most
directly to the Word .... "


In Plymouth I remarked that the difference between a prose poem and poetry is in the formatting.  At least that is what is apparent on the surface.  You mentioned the poetic elements, the repetitions, rhymes and rhythms each tend to erase the differences.  But these devices are physical attributes which, if these indeed erase all differences, still leave the formatting.


Reading through your book, The Singing Fish, I notice there are underlying mythological themes:  the father as God who doesn't wince seeing nails driven into his Son's palms (and the Son doesn't wince  either!); the Sister as Moon Goddess; “The Fish That Walked on Water;” and the entire American myth of fishing with one's father:  Christian, Pagan, American myths.


At the same time, you prove yourself right and erase the differences between the two by including ritual:  nailing (hands, fish heads).  Even the boys' names turn out to be Biblical: Jimmy and John, with the latter having his head cut off.  Good Christian rituals that make their way deep into our subconscious until we can only sing them.


Thank you for making me think about prose poetry!


Daniel Kolos

July 31, 2007


Some Prose poems written during Peter Markus’ presentation at the Blushing Sky poetry Workshop in Plymouth, Michigan on July 21, 2007:


What about Punctuating a Poem?


A Prose-Poem by Daniel Kolos


“A comma or a period is pause enough.”  Peter Markus, voiced at the Blushing Sky poetry workshop in Plymouth, Michigan, July 21, 2007


I contemplate the comma, gracefully poised at the end a word, a road sigh (sic) on the literary highway:  PAUSE!  There is not a child who has not received its license to write and, therefore, should know how to use a comma.  Yet, many a poet I know, and some dead, who write without punctuation.  They look at me straight in the eye and wait.  “Wait for it!  You’ve come to the end of a line of poetry.  Are you stupid?  Do you need a sign?  You wannabe run over by a natural, untamed pause and just lie there next to the line, waiting for eternity?  Because once written, that comma becomes fossilized.  It sits there, useless, while words with their ambiguous meaning go on engaging your intellect for ever.  And don’t even bother to ask me about a period.  If you don’t know where the poem stops, you have an eternal life complex and better get in touch with your mortality!  A need for a full stop is like putting a nail in your own coffin when you can’t tell you’ve died.” 


Eat your heart out, Peter Markus!


Note:  This prose-poem was written and recited at the Blushing Sky poetry workshop in Plymouth, Michigan, July 21, 2007 with Peter Markus present!


Poet on Steroids


Daniel Kolos


Though my pen leaves these marks on this paper, my words will now lift that house right off its foundations, put it in my left hand and do thirty lifts to strengthen the muscles of my imagination.  The people in the house are upset and press their face into the window, waiting for the downward momentum to stop in order to ask me to give them a break: “It’s Sunday afternoon and we would like to enjoy our leisure.”


I stop to consider that the gyms are closed and poets must work out whenever they can, but how am I going to convince Joe Blow here that he is perfectly safe?


“Tell you what.  You go back to watching telly and I will only think about lifting your house.”


“OK, just don’t forget to put it back exactly where... Hey!! Hey you!!! What the...???”


The sounds recede as the page comes to its end, the tea waits to be sipped and the house with its upset inhabitants becomes just another story.  I turn the page.


July 21, 2007

Plymouth, MI

at the Blushing Sky poetry workshop



The Prose Poem


Daniel Kolos


Just between you and me

I am a pro-prose poet

and propose the sentence

to carry the poem

of my sentience.


Where else can I

expose myself,

body and soul,

and not feel foolish?


But I am not a fool,

not an anti-poet writer,

a fighter to fill a page

to avoid waste.

save money with

the economy of words.


          Poetry demands discipline wherein rhyme and rhythm join forces with sound and depth to exploit life and death, love and loss and go on to reduce the stream of consciousness to a trickling brook of dense meaning and short structure.

          Fracture the sentence and break my heart, not to mention my attention-span and let my eyes scam for possibilities beyond my abilities.




July 21, 2007

Plymouth,  MI

at the Blushing Sky poetry workshop


Other Prose Poems by Daniel Kolos: