Intern Blog: Paradoxical Prose Poetry – Where to Start?

by Anneliz Marie Erese

When I was in the sixth grade, I started writing diary entries in the back of a notebook filled with quotes, song lyrics and my friends’ answers to a questionnaire I circulated around the class. (What is your favourite colour? What is your motto in life?)

A decade later, and my diary entries have evolved into an online journal on Tumblr which I refer to as ‘vignettes’ or ‘flashes’, because they are too short and underdeveloped to be called a story. From explaining my day in tedious detail to drawing more inwardly and reflecting on my experiences, my diary entries have come to resemble a poem without the line breaks.

It was when I came to Australia to start my master’s degree that a friend lent me a book that she called prose poetry. When I began reading it, I was struck with overwhelming relief that the kind of writing I have been doing for the past couple of years had, in fact, been in existence for a long time.

The following collections are some of the books that I would recommend to people who, like me, are intrigued by this form but don’t know where to start:

Le Spleen de Paris – Charles Baudelaire

Prose poetry became famous after French writer Charles Baudelaire’s collection was posthumously published in 1869. They read like micro stories set in urban Paris – quite interesting if you are into French fables. Since the book’s publication, the form has influenced many writers in Europe, America and other parts of the world.

Palace of Culture – Ania Walwicz

Walwicz uses a lot of repetition in her poetry, which challenges a reader’s expectations and makes it feel almost surreal. The book touches on the theme of popular culture and uses a musical language which is mesmerising.

Smoke encrypted whispers – Samuel Wagan Watson

Wagan Watson is an Australian indigenous poet inspired by his origin, culture and childhood memories.  His collection is an ode to his roots and takes the reader to suburban Brisbane – a great read on a cold, winter afternoon.

Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine

Once you start reading Citizen by Jamaican immigrant Claudia Rankine, you won’t be able to put it down. It is one angry book that has a laser focus on racism and discrimination in America. It is astounding in its observation of subtle racist remarks through vignettes and an in-depth exploration of important figures like tennis superstar Serena Williams.

Why God is A Woman – Nin Andrews

Andrews’s book reads like a novel in prose poetry. Why God is A Woman is set on a utopian island, where men are ruled by women. It is a clever play on patriarchy and a thought-provoking collection that makes one think long and hard about the kind of world we live in.


Learn more about Anneliz here.

Anneliz Marie Erese is MWF’s Program Intern. She studies Writing and Literature at Deakin University. She also likes organising and planning using Excel spreadsheets and creating dream boards for her future home.