Samuel Peralta here…
For you I wish that these poems were rubies,
borne by my own caravan from Xi’an out of Shaanxi,
through Persia, along the northern Silk Road
– S. Peralta
Last year, I found myself in a bookstore, admiring the poetry of Margaret Atwood. She has, at last count, around twenty volumes of poems.
From the shelf I pulled out “The Journals of Susanna Moodie” and leafed through pages of indescribable beauty, pain, insight. Every poem was a poem I wish I’d written.
And yet, of Atwood’s array of volumes on the shelf, all iconic titles – “The Edible Woman”, “The Journals of Susanna Moodie”, “Surfacing”, “Life Before Man”, “The Handmaid’s Tale”, “Cat’s Eye”, “The Robber Bride”, “Alias Grace”, “The Blind Assassin”, “Oryx and Crake”, “The Year of the Flood”, “MaddAddam” – none were poetry, save one.
Or are they? Atwood’s prose reads beautifully, almost as if it was poetry.
A prose poem is a piece that appears to be prose – with no line breaks or verses – but which reads as if it were poetry. Prose poetry pieces maintain poetic qualities and utilize poetic techniques – such as symbolism, imagery, alliteration, rhyme.
A prose poem may be anywhere from a few lines, to the length of – I now believe – a book.
The appearance of the prose poem form in Charles Baudelaire’s works was a grenade hurled into the border between poetry and prose. After his example, the form spread through a number of adept practitioners, including Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, William Carlos Williams and Gertrude Stein.
Each writer expanded the scope of the prose poem, and to this day a number of contemporary writers are still exploring the boundaries of this form.
Reading the works of Kazuo Ishiguro, works like “Never Let Me Go”, I have come to believe that poetry can be found everywhere, even in the novel.
Radio is like telepathy. When you first tune in, you’re flooded with static, ambient noise, the almost-too-strong blare of someone else’s song. You know roughly where you want to be, though – the music you’re looking for – so you turn the dial to scan for that frequency that brings you the swell of strings. You pass through the peak signals of other transmitters, hear snatches of lives – some beautiful, some mundane – excerpted melodies, thoughts, monologues… Slowly, you push into the envelope of the target’s thoughts. Perhaps you go a little too far, and the signal drops, enough that you know you’ve vectored off. You back up triangulation, just a touch, and you’re there. Mozart.
– S. Peralta
That extract, hopefully a prose poem, is from the latest draft of my work – a novel of speculative fiction about a telepath, a man able to breach the labyrinth of the human mind – called “The Labyrinth Man”.
This article is my last as a regular writer at dVerse.
My comrades-at-arms, my fellow travellers, my friends – I have come to love this place, and the people who fill it, more perhaps than any other community I’ve been a part of.
As with all of us, I juggle a day job, and family, and my poetry life… and many other things as well.
I sit on corporate boards, write songs for bands, and lately I’ve paid my (relative) success in poetry forward by investing in over 40 independent films, including as associate and executive producer of six films, one of which just premiered in London.
Some of you will know that I’ve tried to write novels – some in verse – but over the years, I’ve failed again and again.
I admit to watching in envy as some of my friends completed their novels, and I struggled. (I still bought their books, though, and some were excellent.)
Last year, in that bookstore, I looked at that shelf, at Atwood’s array of celebrated novels, her neglected poetry volumes, and despaired. Until now.
Somehow “Labyrinth Man” has taken a life of its own. And I have to embrace it…
And so I take my leave.
It’s been an amazing, brilliant run, and I thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie at dVerse. I’ve been impressed with the commitment that the community has made to poetry – and especially the dVerse team, shepherded by Brian and Claudia (thank you all so very much!).
Each and every one of you – with every word, with every line, with every verse – pushes back the chaos, rediscovers what is beautiful in the world, breathes life and voice to a movement that I’m incredibly proud and happy to have been a small part of.
The question, O me! so sad, recurring–What good amid these,
O me, O life?
That you are here–that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
– W. Whitman
Thank you all, and au revoir.
Tonight, I invite you to contribute your own prose poem. Press the button. Share, visit, dream.
And please, make sure I can stay in touch. Click here to join my free list. The best is yet to come.
Samuel Peralta – on Twitter as @Semaphore – is the award-winning author of five titles in The Semaphore Collection – Sonata Vampirica, Sonnets from the Labrador, How More Beautiful You Are, Tango Desolado and War and Ablution – all Amazon Kindle #1 Hot New Releases, and best sellers, in poetry.
Copyright (c) Samuel Peralta. All rights reserved.
Images public domain / via WikiMedia Commons or as attributed.