Exceptional Prose Poetry From Around the Web: June 2021
Here’s a short selection, from our own Jose, of some of the best new prose poems that hit the web this June. These five poets, both established and emerging, deserve your attention and support—featuring work from Ellen June Wright in The Missouri Review, Azure Velez in The Acentos Review, Benjamin Niespodziany in Graviton, Sarah Beth Childers in The Cincinnati Review (MiCRo Series) and Debra Kang Dean in Pithead Chapel. Hope everyone enjoys these exceptional prose poems; we are truly living in a thriving poetry age.
By Ellen June Wright in The Missouri Review.
Thank God for those who did not look away.
I admire the way Wright juxtaposes Auden’s ideas on the indifference of society with the thoughtful actions of the folks who recorded and confronted George Floyd’s killer. The fact that the prose poem addresses Auden, and in turn America, is on point and empowering. This prose poem shows that the genre isn’t always just about absurd or meaningless scenarios; some can have all too real personal meaning and social context.
I Sit in a Restaurant and Wonder Where All the Black People Are
By Azure Velez in Acentos Review.
my mother hasn’t been home to jamaica in years, flights are expensive. she reminisces about the mango tree her aunt had and the wide open fields her brothers would play football in.
Hard-hitting prose poem written in the minimalist style (all lowercase). This prose poem confronts what it is like to be othered in society, always visible, all-too visible to society. The prose poem also deals with White folks routinely assuming we are the stereotypes they hear about us. Powerful work in a always relevant Latinx journal.
By Benjamin Niespodziany in Graviton.
He held it captive and threatened to smash it if the world didn’t meet his unruly demands.
A humorously absurd prose poem about a part-time ocean thief. This prose poem plays with far-fetched ideas (in a stripped down, deadpan manner) like world domination as if it were truly possible. In fact, however, all the villain really wants is his own island and a fridge full of blueberries. Niespodziany’s prose poems are always an adventure and an exercise in the existential questions of the day. Bravo!
By Sarah Beth Childers in The Cincinnati Review (MiCRo Series).
For two years, I crept into my husband’s grandfather’s bedroom to check if he was dead. Robert and I lived with Granddad, a ninety-something World War II pilot and retired petroleum engineer who offered a napkin to everyone who sat at his table.
A touching, realistic prose poem about a family’s simultaneous care for their aging grandfather and their newborn daughter. Again, not all prose poems are fantastical, some have speaker’s with traumatic stories and characters. In this prose poem, Childers utilizes ten lines or stanzas to tell her familial story. CR’s MiCRo Series is always reliable when it comes to quality prose poems and flash fiction.
How to Make a Scene in a Time of a Pandemic
By Debra Kang Dean in Pithead Chapel.
Put two people in a bar—well, no, not there. Make it a small room. Are they facing each other, or are their backs turned? If they’re facing each other, what’s on their faces?
Reminiscent of the wacky, scattered-brain times we live in. This prose poems plays with the serious idea of how to cope in a pandemic. Pithead Chapel, one of the few literary journals to consistently publish prose poems, is definitely worth reading on a monthly basis. Bravo!
Jose Hernandez Diaz
Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020). His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, Georgia Review, Iowa Review, The Nation, Poetry and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. Currently, he is an Associate Editor at Frontier and Guest Editor at Palette Poetry.