By Langdon Hammer
Since its origins in 19th-century French literature, the prose poem has been a bad child. The one rule it follows breaks the basic rule other poems obey: the prose poem must be written in prose—not in lines, not in verse. Everything else in the prose poem is up for grabs. It’s a type of poem that can take any shape: the essay, manifesto, meditation, diary entry, travelogue, letter, anecdote, parable, prayer, or parody, among other literary types.
Charles Baudelaire didn’t invent the form, but his Le Spleen de Paris (1869) permanently stamped it with his melancholy yet exuberant genius.
Login to view the full article
Need to register?
Already a subscriber through The American Scholar Digital or Print/Digital Combination?
Are you a Phi Beta Kappa sustaining member?
Langdon Hammer is the poetry editor for The American Scholar.