Abstraction, hybrid forms, and contemporary leaps have been part of American poetry for well over a century. When considering the origin of such moves, many point to Modernism and the creative fracture that resulted from World War I, the period after, and a few key players and/or landmark poems that shaped the poetic era. Ezra Pound’s “make it new” dictum. T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and use of collage. Langston Hughes’s synthesis of jazz and the African American experience. And there are others. Often neglected in this conversation, thinking of “make it new,” is the prose poem. Perhaps it is the shape of the prose poem: that squat paragraph of text. Perhaps it is the misconception that because the prose poem does not typically include white space, redactions, form, erasure, Dali-like leaps and juxtapositions, etc. that it is safer, even boring in comparison to its more lithe brother, verse. However, the prose poem offers just as much opportunity for expression and possibility as poetry that is viewed as modern. In the introduction to Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present, editor David Lehman describes the capabilities of the genre. “In the prose poem the poet can appropriate such unlikely models as the newspaper article, the memo, the list, the parable, the speech, the dialogue. It is a form that sets store by its use of the demotic, its willingness to locate sources of poetry defiantly far from the spring on Mount Helicon sacred to the muses” (13). From this explanation, one could conceive that the prose poem is less intimidating and more accessible for writers while offering the same freedoms as traditional verse.
The prose poem, in fact, offers more freedoms because of its orientation; it straddles the line between poetry and prose; it can look like micro-fiction; it can resemble a shorter short story. It can be a poem broken down like a deck of cards. The jacks, jokers, and diamonds are still there, the red and blacks and unlikely runs, but the structure is less precarious. Orientation, in this context, also refers to the line unit. The line of the poem is equivalent to the line/sentence of the prose poem, which means that the behavior of the line unit in a prose poem has an inherent duality that affords the poet greater control with tempo. Sometimes, the line descends quickly, sonically and unexpectedly, like a skier over a surprise field of moguls; other times, it is a build of information consistent with more narrative-driven prose. There is less foreshadowing in a prose poem than in verse because sentences surrounded by other sentences provide more “cover” than lines coupled with lines on their own island or stanza. Through selected examples of exemplary prose poems from the last two centuries, it is possible to chart the prose poem’s evolution and value as a vessel of poetry—a vessel that is malleable, creative, and rich with possibility.
Although he did not invent the prose poem, French poet Charles Baudelaire recognized its potential in the 1850s. Associated with the Symbolist movement by many and commonly grouped with other revolutionaries like Rimbaud (though he preceded him), Baudelaire used the prose poem not so much to freeze a musical moment/image in time like poems from Les Fleurs du Mal, but rather to communicate an experience. The prose poem, here, becomes a philosophy for living rather than a lyric poem that prioritizes image and music. From “Intoxication”: “One must forever be drunken: that is the sole question of importance. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time that bruises your shoulders and bends you to the earth, you must be drunken without cease. But how? With wine, with poetry, with virtue, with what you please…” (Project Gutenburg). This poem reads more like the beginning of a manifesto. There are poetic characteristics of “Intoxication,” such as the increased pace of with complemented by the rhyme of cease and please. Baudelaire later returns to a variation of this line: “With wine, with poetry, with virtue, with or what you will,” using repetition in a way that is reminiscent of the second line of couplets in the ghazal form, their synthesis of variation and repetition, which is analogous to the prose poem’s hybrid status. Both contemporary verse and the prose poem highlight image as a driver of the poem, and image, here, is still given due treatment. “And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass by a moat, or in the dull loneliness of your chamber, you should waken up, your intoxication ready lessened or gone, ask of the wind…” (Gutenburg). Grass is naturally green, so “green grass” is unnecessary. But green provides a vividness and a counterbalance to the waning drunkenness of the 19th century wanderer of this poem. Poetic prose in action.
In Baudelaire’s absinthe-filled era, poetry was not yet focused on a direct treatment of the poet’s experience. Confessional poetry was not a thing; more often, a poet presented a lens through which to relay experience, or he/she/they wrote about an object or a concept in the third person. Prose poetry from the early part of the twentieth century begins to close the gap between persona and real time experience. Chicago-based poet Fenton Johnson wrote prose poems at a time when more African Americans were publishing creative work and with deserved commercial success. In Johnson’s prose poems one witnesses the plight of African Americans, the irony of the church, and the difficult balance of what was then quotidian life. These are poems imaginatively constructed, with surprising levity. This is “Tired,” a poem from a collection called African Nights.
I am tired of work; I am tired of building up somebody else’s
Let us take a rest, M’Lissy Jane.
I will go down to the Last Chance Saloon, drink a gallon or
two of gin, shoot a game or two of dice and sleep the
rest of the night on one of Mike’s barrels.
I am tired of civilization. (Struggle & Song 108)
In the poem, “I” is operative, but there is a “you” who is mentioned as well, the woman to whom the poet is married, M’Lissy Jane. “You will spend your days forgetting you married me…” (108). The back and forth between the point-of-view of the poet, presumably Johnson, and M’Lissy Jane, brings the reader closer to the narrative because the reader feels the evidence of their existence—not to mention the larger weight of racial injustice. This is a prose poem that resembles a work of micro-fiction, a letter, a parable… Consider the appearance of the following sentences from Johnson’s prose poem, composed as verse:
I will go down to the Last Chance Saloon
drink a gallon or two of gin,
shoot a game or two of dice and
sleep the rest of the night on one of Mike’s barrels. (108)
The voice in these lines is unhurried and tells rather than shows. This telling is more consistent in a prose poem where narrative, rather than acoustics and indeterminant calculations, draws the reader in. It is not that all prose poems are narrative-driven and engage the reader; nor do all contemporary poems require acute mental gymnastics to appreciate their experience. But the conversational mode of this excerpt from “Tired” combined with its listing quality (i.e.,“I will do this, that, and the other thing) make prose a suitable vessel. There is a sense that the contemporary poem, suspended on the page, must perform. One knows there is limited time to clinch one’s poetic point. Whereas Baudelaire’s poem investigates the louche landscape of the sublime, Johnson’s poem is closer to the “I” who experienced racism and marginalization. By operating from a more universal “I,” the poem orients from a micro and macro view.
The evolution of the prose poem is not a level trajectory where one sees a move toward confessional, sometimes radical changes in the form as time accelerates toward the twenty-first century. Current events, schools (Harlem and Chicago Renaissance, The New York School, later iterations of it, and more), as well as the personality of the poet, make for a nonlinear evolution of the form. While prose poems were granted an unofficial permission to be confessional in the 20th century, at times, other vantages/choices proved to be just as interesting. Between 1914 and 1930, the advent of Modernism and Surrealism opened up the possibilities of what a prose poem could be. Poems in Gertrude Stein’s collection Tender Buttons achieve tension due to a play on language. From “A Box”:
Out of kindness comes redness and out of rudeness comes rapid same
question. Out of an eye comes research, out of selection comes
painful cattle. So then the order is that a white way of being round is
something suggesting a pin and it is disappointing, it is not, it is so… (poets.org)
In Real Sofistikashun, Tony Hoagland describes the compositional poem as having “a greater preoccupation with language pattern than with content” as well as it [the compositional poem] having “a corollary sense of arbitrariness or interchangeability of the referent: it might make little difference of example, whether the poem said “trowel” instead of “towel” or “diverge”instead of “submerge” (132). Repetition is its friend. Subject matter can be arbitrary. The poem can be rearranged, often without damaging the framework of the poem (132).
In Stein’s poem, there is a repetition of sound and phrasing (i.e., “ness,” “out of,” “ing,” and more) that energizes the contents of this box. Whether “painful cattle” acts as a pointing device toward a theme or idea may be unclear, but the phrase is unexpected and has energy. If one were to switch the sentence “Out of kindness” with “Out of an eye,” the poem, likely, would not suffer. To switch out lines in other poems (poems that are not compositional in nature) would likely harm those poems due to the attention a poet typically pays to line breaks, meter (formal or not), sound, image, and more. In lineated poetry, the line is taut—more often than not—and not rearrangeable without damage. In essence, the way Stein achieves tension through shrewd play with language would be more difficult to replicate in other styles of poetry.
Just as there are many drivers of prose poems including language, image, hybridization, and more, there is also opportunity to use prose as honest coverage for one’s subject as a painter might paint scenes to capture his/her/their hometown. One might think of the many paintings that Cézanne completed of the countryside surrounding Aix-en-Provence as well as the familiar humans and objects he encountered. Sometimes, he would paint the same scene or “thing” over thirty times to try to extract its essence. Poets can do the same thing, essentially, with prose by creating a montage of scenes, snippets of conversation, vivid descriptions bordering on the ekphrastic, and poetic prose to create a kind of time capsule of what it was like to live, struggle, and love at a given time in history. Gwendolyn Brooks, an important poet often affiliated with the Chicago Renaissance, does just that in her first book A Street in Bronzeville. In it she uses the prose poem to depict everyday scenes of Black urban life from her native Chicago. There are characters who are named such as Sadie and Maud and others who are not, such as a Bronzeville mother. Whereas Fenton Johnson situates himself a bit closer to the prose in African Nights (though not in a confessional mode), Brooks’s vantage is more third person omniscient. She moves from poem to poem (“The Mother,” “The Bean Eaters,” “We Real Cool,” and more) to fill in the cumulative experience of living on this street in The Windy City. In “The Lovers of the Poor,” she brings into keener focus “the Ladies from the Ladies’ Betterment League” who have come to donate money to the poor (a.k.a. Black poor) and the ladies’ motives for being altruistic.
Herein they kiss and coddle and assault
Anew and dearly in the innocence
With which they baffle nature. Who are full,
Sleek, tender-clad, fit, fiftyish, a-glow, all
Sweetly abortive, hinting at fat fruit,
Judge it high time that fiftyish fingers felt
Beneath the lovelier planes of enterprise. (Struggle & Song 277)
To situate words like kiss and coddle next to assault reveals the ulterior motive of these ladies in helping the Black urban poor on that street in Bronzeville. By beginning the poem with a description of the ladies, their paradoxical qualities, these lovers of the poor, Brooks foreshadows the setting in which they put themselves to work. Also, the description of the ladies seems pulled from the time capsule of the semi-enlightened 1950s and the white privilege that then defined the American Dream. The implication is that the people who inhabit this dwelling (not the ladies) are not full and do not baffle nature by being something other than who they are. Later in the poem, one’s suspicions are confirmed.
But it’s all so bad! and entirely too much for them.
The stench; the urine, cabbage, and dead beans,
Dead porridges of assorted dusty grains,
The old smoke, heavy diapers, and, they’re told,
Something called chitterlings. The darkness… (277)
Though the poem is written as a longer, single block of prose, Brooks structures the prose poem in three parts and in this order: a description of the ladies arriving, a description of what they encounter (not so nice), and a comparison of the worlds the ladies and their counterparts inhabit: one with books, art galleries, and perfume; the other with the smell of onions and the sight of old wood. This is a story, rich with contrast and realization, adroitly handled and poetically inspired. However, filling in the cumulative experience of a street in Bronzeville does not mean employing poetic techniques that highlight rhetoric instead of narrative or leaps instead of turns. Perhaps one’s point in writing a collection should match the technique in which he/she/they uses to bind it. Assuming Brooks wanted to introduce more people to a Black community living in Chicago, and that she did not want to write nonfiction, poetic prose, situated between poetry and sentence-based narrative, seems an appropriate scaffolding.
As mentioned, a way to distinguish between poetry and prose poetry is their respective reliance on the line or the sentence as the “cell” or building block of the work. To make an unusual analogy to the Kinsey scale, with 0 being exclusively heterosexual and 6 being exclusively homosexual, well, few poetically inclined pieces register at either 0 or 6; their orientation is somewhere in between. While Brooks’s “Lovers of the Poor” leans closer to poetry than prose, Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa’s The Book of Disquiet is definitely in the prose camp and for no other reason than his diary, a series of nomadic journal entries from Lisbon in the 1930s, is a collection of sentences, confessional and philosophical, beautifully and painfully wrought. The concern of his work is not technique, though Pessoa is regarded as a fine writer and technique is a part of his writing. “I hate incorrect syntax like a man to beat” (9). The journal entries do not follow a chronological order; they do not follow a narrative arc or theme—nor do they contain a plot. These entries are musings, weather reports from the streets of Lisbon. Most entries have a date that is as random as Pessoa’s thoughts for the day. The book was written by one of Pessoa’s heteronyms, Bernardo Soares, who is described as a “semi-mutation” of Pessoa. From [9.28.1932]:
For a long time — I don’t know if it’s a matter of days or months — I haven’t written down a single impression; I’m not thinking, therefore I’m not existing. I have forgotten who I am; I don’t know how to write because I don’t know how to be. Because of an oblique sleep, I was someone else. Knowing that I don’t remember myself is waking up. (117)
Sometimes, Pessoa meanders; other times, he offers an aphoristic point of view using declarative sentences. From [6.27.1930] “Life for us is what we conceive it. For the peasant, whose little farm is everything to him, that farm is an empire. For the Caesar whose empire is too small for him, that empire is a little farm (89).” Other times, he settles on personalities from his office, one of the few points of social contact for this heteronymic Portuguese poet.
Most poetry books in the twenty-first century build around a theme. In this way, there is an incentive to keep reading. An astute reader can not only spot a second subject in many of the poems or interesting associations and word play to keep him/her/them going, but that person can also begin to glean a cumulative sense of the work. An expository essay writer incentivizes a paper by including a thesis; many contemporary poets incentivize their collections by creatively building around theme. Pessoa does none of this. His prose is more concerned with release and an investigation of his home city of Lisbon. There is an “I don’t care” quality to his prose insofar as it discusses, openly, his feelings, frailties, and hypotheses. Though Pessoa wrote many poems and in different styles—styles his heteronyms embodied—he does not prioritize playful precision in The Book of Disquiet. He instructs a diary, a diary filled with sentences that cannot escape his rhythms as a writer and poet, and his poetic prose creates a kind of map of Lisbon. From [4.4.30]: “The black sky in the southern background of the Tagus [river in Lisbon] was sinisterly black against the vividly white wings of the sea gulls in nervous flight” (97). This sentence is one of many that orients a reader to the larger Lisbon landscape. It is also a sentence of image and contrast, rhetorical strategies that a poet utilizes in his/her/their work. One can almost picture Pessoa, notebook in hand, dipping his toe in Tagus River while writing this entry, his body and words situated somewhere in the borderland between poetry and prose.
By definition, a complete sentence (at least in the English language) must have a subject and a predicate. In addition, many writers also use fragments to speed up an idea or indicate a reversal. “Everyone was going to the party. But not Steve.” Though there are components of language that every sentence must have, there is also room for variation in sentence style. Just as poets might use repetition as a device, a prose poet can do that, but he/she/they can also use cumulative syntax to create rhythm, repetition, and a build toward a subject. Francis Christiansen, a grammarian from the 1960s, defines the cumulative sentence by providing an example of it in “A Generative Rhetoric of the Sentence.”
The main clause, which may or may not have a sentence modifier before it, advances the discussion, but the additions move backwards, as in this clause, to modify the statement of the main clause but more often to explicate or exemplify it so that the sentence has a flowing and ebbing movement, advancing to a new position, then pausing to consolidate it, leaping and lingering as the popular ballad does. (156)
The “flowing and ebbing movement” mentioned by Christiansen creates a tension that one can hear and that keeps one reading. The distance between prose poetry and the cumulative sentence is a manageable one. If the poet pays attention to both “the building” that Christiansen mentions in his definition of the cumulative sentence and poetic flourishes that make prose prose poetry, then who’s to say that the writer can’t do both?
A line does not play by the same rules. There are no requirements that it must include a subject, a verb, and so on. One exception: If a poet is writing in meter such as iambic pentameter, then the line must be a certain number of feet, and there is an order of stressed vs. unstressed syllables. Otherwise, there are no rules, only preferences that are at the discretion of the poet. Certainly, there is a freedom associated with being able to write what one wants. If one wanted to write in verse and achieve cumulative syntax, however, the distance is wider and less manageable than a prose writer wanting to do the same thing. The reason for that: the line’s rhythms do not wait for the full stop, for the period. There is internal wordplay, alliteration, image and more that, in a good poem, arrest one’s attention before relinquishing it to return to flow of the poem. The rhythms of the cumulative model start and stop at the end of the sentence—or clause. In essence, the rhythms of cumulative syntax are closer to the rhythms of prose than verse; therefore, in theory, it is easier for the prose poet to adopt the cumulative model because there is less distance, less editing, less manipulation required.
The prose poem does not deserve to be treated like a lesser form of poetry because it uses sentences to establish its breath. Many famous poets have written prose poetry; it’s just that verse, overall, gets more attention. Prose poetry is also closer to flash fiction and genres outside of poetry’s domain. But there are similarities between poetry and prose, too; some that are described here, that remind writers of the freedom that creative writing provides. As mentioned, both genres use image, rhythm, and language. Too, poetry and prose acknowledge others’ work for inspiration in the form of intertextuality. Poet Wanda Coleman wrote poetry and prose, and in this instance, uses Allen Ginsberg’s “Supermarket in California” to describe how different an experience shopping in a supermarket can be as a Black American. From “Supermarket Surfer”:
what bohunkian images i have of you
crash against my niggernoggin as i shiver and stroll
long air-conditioned aisles at 2 a.m. the liquor
1 under lock and key. (Poetry Foundation)
Compare the beginning of that poem with the beginning of Ginsberg’s “Supermarket in California”:
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations! (Poetry Foundation)
In Coleman’s poem, she thinks of Ginsberg and his poem walking through a sterile supermarket, feeling she is under surveillance—a truth and a creative intertextual take in that it presents a stark contrast to the original. The tone of Ginsberg’s poem is also introspective, but more relaxed in the sense that it enjoys the privilege to be relaxed, to dance with the absurd in invoking the long dead Whitman, to be meta, to do what it wants. In Ginsberg’s poem, the produce and containers of food are impressive, waiting to be enjoyed by him or other shoppers, though it is less clear whether the landscape is figurative, a projection in which he can commune with Whitman’s ghost. “I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,” and later, “We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy tasting artichokes/, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the cashier (PF). In “Supermarket Surfer,” Coleman describes her encounter with the cashier as inevitable, and her heart as a “frozen delicacy” (PF).
While both poems use the sentence as a building block, Coleman’s poem is quicker and largely avoids capitalization—only Walt and Disney are capitalized, not I, perhaps to show the divide between how small Coleman feels in this setting and the environment that keeps tabs on her. The poem also uses terms from Ginsberg’s poem: neon and absurd, for example, but the context is different. Ginsberg’s poem registers a surprise with the transition to his father in the last paragraph and with the mythological reference to Lethe in the last sentence. Thus, “Supermarket Surfer” expands on “A Supermarket in California,” but not in the way one might expect. Often, intertextual references are laudatory, if understated. There is a reason a poet acknowledges another’s work in his/her/their poem. It could be hypothesized that Coleman was no doubt inspired by Ginsberg and his poem, but felt compelled to take it in a different direction; a direction where prose was a suitable vehicle for the message; a direction where culture informs one’s response.
While Ginsberg’s poem was published first, in 1955 with the publication of Howl, Coleman’s poem came later, and could be classified as a “call and response,” according to Craig Werner in his book A Change Is Gonna Come. Typically, a call and response involves a more immediate reaction, one that can be “verbal, musical, physical—anything that communicates with the leader or the rest of the group. The response can affirm, argue, redirect the dialogue, raise a new question” (11). In this way, the response promotes conversation and can, itself, become a new call. That Coleman seeks to “redirect” the original work is not in question; too, in keeping with the central premise of this paper, one must consider the nature of a verbal, musical, or physical response as it relates to poetry and prose. Now, a verbal, musical, or physical response can vary widely in terms of its direct nature. John Ashbery, a celebrated American poet, once remarked that he would like to write poetry that conceals the quantities of its origins. In essence, what went into a poem would remain a mystery, only the sublime of its cumulative effect could be measured. A response can be direct or indirect, verbal or nonverbal; however, a response in “call and response” must not lose the thread of the original call; moreover, the response is likely to be similar in structure to the original call. Ginsberg’s poem was written in prose; Coleman’s poem was written in prose. In this way, it channels and acknowledges the original while embarking on new terrain. The subject-verb-object components of a sentence (at least in American English) involve a more complete “what happened” than a line of verse, which does not contain the familiar SVO acronym. In A Change Is Gonna Come, author Craig Werner mentions that the “core of gospel politics lies in the ‘call and response’ principle of African-American culture” (11).
While Coleman uses call and response to offer a new perspective on Ginsberg’s poem, there is an understanding that, at some level, there has been an ongoing response to the prose poem since its inception in the 1850s. This “response” is different than call and response as mentioned by Werner and as developed by African Americans over the centuries. How popular the evolution of the prose poem is subjective, but hopefully the mile markers contained in this paper identify a few stars—in major constellations and elsewhere in the firmament of poetic prose—that will illuminate where the form has been and where the form is going.
The prose poem can get more people interested in poetry again. Gone are the days when periodicals like Time Magazine devoted significant space to new books of poetry. Though SLAM, open mics, and the proliferation of MFA programs have increased interest in poetry, overall, it is not what people are reading in the electronic age. The prose poem is closer to what humans are writing in the 21st century: email, texts, notes, and more. This similarity in mediums can be pictured by considering the volume and style of content that is being produced. According to a report given to the National Council of Teachers of English, while writers are now plentiful, their intended audience may have changed:
With digital technology and, especially Web 2.0, it seems, writers are *everywhere*—on bulletin boards and in chat rooms and in emails and in text messages and on blogs responding to news reports and, indeed, reporting the news themselves as I-reporters. Such writing is what Deborah Brandt has called self-sponsored writing: a writing that belongs to the writer, not to an institution, with the result that people—students, senior citizens, employees, volunteers, family members, sensible and non-sensible people alike—want to compose and do—on the page and on the screen and on the network—to each other. (Yancey 4-5)
If more people are writing reviews, maintaining blogs, and reporting, unofficially, on what is trending, it stands to reason that this content resembles a squat body of text more than verse.
A sentence’s job is to convey information. In the English language, the sentence is ideally predicated on subject-verb-object, that is to say there is a doer, an action, and object that holds importance to the doer and/or action. “Paul converted his backyard into a community garden.” Paul: doer; converted: action; direct object: backyard; indirect object: community garden. One could imagine this sentence in a newsletter, an email, in different contexts. It is more difficult to conceive of this sentence in verse. That is to say, the kind of writing that is being produced now is closer to exposition than poetry with its attention to meter, line breaks, and unexpected evolution. While the prose poem is closer to poetry than exposition, it offers the same connective tissue.
Perhaps prose poetry can be a savior of poetry in the twenty-first century. As mentioned, one can look at MFA programs and open mics as proof that poetry has a foothold in the US; however, the present-day landscape is still not favorable to poetry. The landscape is largely electronic, global, and expedient; in higher education, humanities programs are being eliminated in favor of STEM. At least, STEM is being gradually replaced with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) as many realize the arts and the liberal arts imbue essential skills in humans for the workplace: creativity, critical thinking, adaptability, and flourish. If people realize that popular forms of writing such as texts, emails, and prose, can, with some effort, be turned poetic, and the distance between these popular mediums and prose poetry is not far away, then maybe, just maybe, there can be more poets among us (and some unlikely heroes, too).
The sampling of the aforementioned poems is done purely for the purpose of literary critique. The Great Smokies Review is a nonprofit literary journal that serves students and teachers of the Western North Carolina region and beyond.
Baudelaire, Charles. “‘Intoxication.’” Project Gutenburg, 2011, www.gutenberg.org/files/36287/36287-h/36287-h.htm.
Brooks, Gwendolyn. “The Lovers of the Poor.” African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song: A Library of America Anthology. Edited by Kevin Young, Library of America, 2020, p. 277.
Coleman, Wanda. “‘Supermarket Surfer.’” Poetry Foundation, 2021, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/155696/supermarket-surfer
Christensen, Francis. “A Generative Rhetoric of the Sentence.” College Composition and Communication, vol. 14, no. 3, 1963, p. 155. Crossref, doi:10.2307/355051
Ginsberg, Allen. “‘A Supermarket in California.’” Poetry Foundation, 2021, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47660/a-supermarket-in-california
Hoagland, Tony. Real Sofistikashun: Essays on Poetry and Craft. Saint Paul, Minn., Graywolf Press, 2006.
Johnson, Fenton. “Tired.” African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song: A Library of America Anthology. Edited by Kevin Young, Library of America, 2020, p. 108.
Lehman, David. Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. New York, Scribner Poetry, 2003.
Pessoa, Fernando. The Book of Disquiet. Translated by Alfred Mac Adam. First Edition, Boston, Exact Change, 1998.
Stein, Gertrude. “‘A Box.’” Poets.Org, 2021, poets.org/poem/tender-buttons-objects.
Werner, Craig. A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 2006.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake. Writing in the 21st Century: A Report from the National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of English, 2009.