Tag Archives: Prose poems

Giraffe

Seren Books had a brief 50% discount offer, so at the end of July I dashed to the website to make a purchase. In the library at Ty Newydd I’d seen a copy of In a different light, Translations into English of fourteen contemporary Dutch-language poets. Scrolling I suddenly spotted a picture of a giraffe!

giraffe-cover.jpeg

Bryony Littlefair was the Winner of the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition. Seren Books published her pamphlet last year. In her testimonial Myra Schneider says Her work, with its unexpected imagery and juxtapositions, is witty, ironic, frank, and poignant. Giraffe is a striking debut collection.

There are some intriguing titles: The year she asked for a scrubbing brush for Christmas; Poem in which not everything is lost; Visitations of a future self; The meaning of employable.

The tone of the poems is conversational, but Bryony has a clear eye for the detail. Dear Anne Monroe, Healthcare Assistant celebrates the “quiet beauty” of NHS nurses in Archway where the light is piss-yellow and everyone is angry. In The sadness of giftshops we see the owner’s thin, teal scarf, smattered with small white horses and the way she writes down everything she sells on a plain sheet of A4.

I enjoyed reading Bryony’s pamphlet, including the memorable poem Maybe this is why women get to live longer.  Here is a woman in a wrap dress/and brown hair tied loosely at the nape/of her neck, slack as an otter’s tail.  This woman is listening to a man with the thick/tufty eyebrows of a politics professor -/permanently raised, as if hung by them/to a washing line -.

The title poem is the last poem of the book, placed opposite Sertraline. It was previously published in Popshot Magazine, and I appreciate Bryony’s permission to share Giraffe with you.

Giraffe

When you feel better from this – and you will – it will be quiet and
unremarkable, like walking into the next room. It might sting a little, like
warmth leaking into cold-numbed hands. When you feel better, it will
be the slow clearing of static from the radio. It will be a film set when
the director yells cut! When you feel better, you will take: a plastic spoon
for your coffee foam, free chocolates from the gleaming oak reception
desk, the bus on sunny days, your own sweet time. When you feel better,
it will be like walking barefoot on cool, smooth planks of wood, still
damp from last night’s rain. It will be the holy silence when the tap stops
dripping. The moment a tap finally starts to make sense. When you feel
better, you will still suffer, but your sadness will be graspable, roadworthy,
have handlebars. When you feel better, you will not always be happy,
but when happiness does come, it will be long-legged, sun-dappled:
a giraffe.

 

Prose Poems

Submit your prose poems to Anne Caldwell who is editing an anthology for Valley Press. You can send up to three prose poems, each 300 words maximum. You need to be resident in the UK. The closing date is 3 September so there is time to create new work, though submissions may have been published elsewhere.

On https://www.prose-poetry.uk Anne explains what attracted her to prose poems and how this project came about. The site also has a definition of prose poems by Carrie Etter. She sees them as “circling or inhabiting a mood or idea, perhaps remaining in one place (although not static) rather than moving from A to B as a poem does”.

The Poetry Foundation gives their definition as “A prose composition that, while not broken into verse lines, demonstrates other traits, such as symbols, metaphors and other figures of speech”. Other key components are fragmentation, repetition, compression and rhyme.

I rather like the definition by Peter Johnson, Editor of The Prose Poem: An International Journal: “Just as black humour straddles the fine line between comedy and tragedy, so the prose poem plants one foot in prose, the other in poetry, both heels resting precariously on banana peels.”

It was good to see that the Anthology of Ver Poets 2018 Open Competition included two prose poems by Juliet Troy: Gold Umbrella and Meltwater which was Highly Commended.

My collection Another life includes three short prose poems. The maximum page width meant I had to edit two poems carefully to shorten the lines. I was not entirely happy with how one of them finally appeared on the page, but it couldn’t be helped. The prose poem Still casting a shadow is on this site.