Introduction to Prose Poetry Seminar with Carrie Etter

Had a brilliant time recently at Carrie Etter‘s Introduction to Prose Poetry Seminar at the Richard Jefferies Museum, Coate, Swindon.  What a fabulous setting for a writing event; atmospheric and quirky, with plenty of outside space to loiter in with a cup of tea and a notebook.  I’m really looking forward to attending more of Carrie’s, and other writers’, workshops and seminars here.  Bookings can be made via the organiser, writer Hilda Sheehan or there are details here.

Carrie began the session by talking about some definitions of Prose Poetry and the slippery relationship between the very short story, (micro-fiction, flash-fiction) and prose poetry.  She also talked about how the prose poem differs from the lined poem, “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”.

Carrie had selected a sampler of prose poems for us to read silently.  She chose well, offering a variety of styles and themes to demonstrate the potential of the prose poem.  Work selected included poems by Charles Simic, Charles H. Webb, Russell Edson, Carolyn Forche, Michael Donaghy and Richard Price.  The examples Carrie chose have made me want to read more of these poets.

Carrie also recommended the excellent This Line Is Not For Turning (An Anthology of Contemporary British Prose Poetry) Edited by Jane Monson and published by Cinnamon Press.  I bought this book a few months ago after reading a tempting review on the webzine, Ink, Sweat & Tears and some of my favourites, so far, are prose poems by Carrie herself, Pascale Petit, George Szirtes, David Gilbert, Luke Kennard and Sylvia Fairclough.

After a few warm up exercises and some lively discussions, Carrie guided us through a stimulating and challenging writing exercise centred on the Charles Simic poem ‘Church of Insomnia’.  This exercise unearthed the beginnings of a poem that I now want to develop further and Carrie has generously offered to read work submitted to her.  She has also emailed us several interesting articles relating to Prose Poetry since the course.

I’m delighted I was able to attend this seminar and can’t recommend it highly enough.  Would love to hear more about worthwhile workshops and courses others have attended recently.

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