Wednesday, February 18, 2009

AWP: prose poem vs. flash fiction

Me: still sick. It's a sinus thing. Yuck.

The AWP panel that claimed to discuss the differences between prose poems and flash fiction fell flat. Robert Olen Butler gave his personal definition, but no one else did. This may yet become a defining theory as he judges the Southeast Review's World's Best Short Short Fiction contest every year.

Butler's theory was that prose poems, like all poetry are about epiphanies, bright shining moments. And that flash fiction, like all fiction are narratives about yearning. The difference between long and short fiction is that the yearning becomes more condensed. That the moment when the character realizes the yearning is the end of the story in a piece of flash fiction. "Yearning" being his word for the deepest desires of the characters.

Ron Carlson said he always thought that he wrote stories not poems. But then someone approached him and asked to publish a collection of his poetry, so now Carlson supposes they're poems.

Highly Recommended