After I posted my blog entry on Facebook yesterday, a long, fascinating discussion ensued about prose poems vs. flash fiction, what makes a poem a poem and prose prose, and why it matters. It gave me a lot to think about. I'll sort of continue that discussion here, with my next poem.
This poem was inspired by a flash fiction piece I wrote that will appear Tuesday for the grand re-launch of All Together Now, the tangent-based fiction blog I started with Leta and Gena. (Shameless plug.) Actually, I can't really say it's a fiction blog. It's mostly fiction, but there's poetry and experimental forms on there, too. So I took the story that I wrote for Tuesday and arranged it as I imagine it might be arranged if it were a poem:
Grounds for Divorce
washing-machined bras, warped
personalities, lifted from
weight watchers, always watching
credit card debt, a newfound interest in religion
hamburger helper, conflicting astrological signs
The final stanza is copied verbatim from my flash fiction piece, except that it's arranged as a stanza as opposed to a paragraph. (Hey Zach--I finally wrote one without sentences!) Now, the first thing I noticed--and you'll have to take my word for it, as you don't get to read the story until Tuesday--is that the story is sort of darkly funny, whereas this poem is sad.
Why did the poem turn out sad, but the story turned out funny? I wrote them both, they're based off the same idea. If I wanted to, I'm sure I could write the story as sad using prose. The story is written in an off-the-cuff, spoken manner, like a one-sided conversation. Does that make a difference? The titles are different. Does that make a difference? Would it make a difference if I wrote the story as a list?
Grounds for Divorce
- Bad breath
- Unchanged toilet paper rolls
- Washing machine-warped bras
- Watching porn with me
- Watching porn without me
- Cats--scratching, allergies
- Old mattress
- Weight watchers
- Credit card debt
- Newfound interest in religion
- Hamburger Helper
- Conflicting astrological signs
Conclusion: form matters. I'm at a loss, though--I'm confused as to how I'd make the poem funny. (I don't consider the list a poem. I write list stories all the time. But maybe somebody else does consider it a poem.) Poems can obviously be funny. I've read funny poems. Maybe this story just does not make for a funny poem. Maybe this story isn't a story when it's in the form of a poem--maybe the poem is just a written picture of something more static, a single situation, and the situation is sad, even if you tell it in a funny way. Or something. Thoughts?