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China Cowboy, Interview, run, The Bugging Watch

Interview with Liz Hildreth: Bookslut

Elizabeth Hildreth interviewed me over at Bookslut. She asked me lots of good questions, such as:

Liz: Something really notable about your work is how, to me at least, it can be defined so neatly as “prose poetry.” I read so many prose poems and I’m struck thinking either a) this is a lyric poem with the line breaks removed, b) this is a one-paragraph short story, c) this is a one-paragraph essay. If someone asked me to define a prose poem, I’m not entirely sure what I’d say, but I would use one of yours as an example. Here’s what I’m talking about from Run, from the poem “Nebulizer”:

Please in my new life I will mend this rubber seal my soul, a swollen rubber place. In my new life I will — he pulls the nebulizer off my face, a sunk space it stretches. It is so much like hell. I promise. In my new life.

Why does the form appeal to you and do you feel like these poems could have been written in any other form?

Kim: I find it impossible to assign any static definition to prose poetry, too. But, maybe like you, I know a prose poem when I see it. For me, it is not a call best made by weighing a work’s narrative versus lyric elements. And although prose poetry is often discussed in terms of its subversive origin, a primary point of this hybrid is its purposeful distinction from any origin. Sure, there are purists who regard the prose in prose poetry as pejorative, like a poem wearing a cheap prose wig and hollering, look at me! I am a poem without line breaks! I hate white space! But what it comes down to for me, most times, is very simply a feeling: an undeniable poetic underpinning in a work of prose. Like looking at a readymade and wondering, is it a toilet or is it art? I usually find answers to questions like these in my gut not my head.

And yes, absolutely the prose in Run or The Bugging Watch could have been written another way. Maybe someone else could give it a go? I do love a good remake.


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