The Prose Poetry Project was created by the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) in November 2014, with the aim of collaboratively exploring the form and composition of prose poetry. The ongoing project aims to produce both creative and research outcomes stemming from the resurgence of interest in the prose poem. It was initiated as a simple email exchange of prose poems between three founding members, with additional poets invited to join over the following months. There were no stipulations except that everyone was expected to write at least three prose poems within the year. At no stage was a definition of prose poetry imposed, or even suggested, despite the fact that some members of the group had never written prose poetry before. Through the process of making and sharing, however, various models emerged.
The project was first showcased and discussed at an event within the Poetry on the Move festival in Canberra, 7 September 2015. At that stage, ten months from its inception, the project had accumulated over 600 poems. It ranged across four universities, two countries and eighteen poets (three of whom had yet to contribute). Six of those poets spoke at the event about the influence of the project on their personal practice, encouraged to do so in whatever manner they considered appropriate. Their various reflections, here collated, include: the challenges and delights of working within a form where all rules are suspended; the (questionable) distinction between the prose poem and flash fiction; the relationship with haibun; the nature of endings and a poem’s limits; and the way in which prose poems may elude some readers’ resistance to poetry in its more recognisable guise. In all these considerations, there is recognition of the benefits of working within a group, and of collaborative, creative play.