History of the Prose Poem

Summer 2014

Yaul Perez-Stable Husni : Comparative Literature, Creative Writing Minor

Mentor: Charles Altieri, English

Past attempts to define the prose poem as a genre depend on the oppositional status of prose and poetry, thinking then of the prose poem as a space for synthesis. However, because these accounts imagine stable definitions of prose and poetry, specific prose poems can only invokeā€”and not reconfigureā€”those definitions. Through literary analysis, I will trace the development of the prose poem in American literature in the twentieth century, with attention to how individual literary texts rework the aforementioned opposition between prose and poetry, and how these texts in turn inform and challenge our concepts of genre.

I am grateful to SURF and the Anselm Fund not only for the time, but also for the freedom it affords undergraduates like myself. During the summer, I will begin the research that I intend to turn into my Comparative Literature honors thesis. I will be spending my time reading and writing in Berkeley; my daily activities will not differ much from my academic responsibilities during the semester. But because this research is self-directed, I will be free to follow hunches, make mistakes, and ultimately, arrive at a richer understanding of my topic.