Unpacking the Prose Poem
A favorite of the French symbolists and contemporary poets alike, the prose poem is an enigmatic, hybrid creature that wields the techniques of poetry but foregoes its line breaks. The poet James Tate went as far as to suggest that its paragraphs could trick the reader "into glimpsing a little sliver of eternity." In the first half of the workshop, we will read and study examples by Natalie Diaz, José Olivarez, Aracelis Girmay, and Robin Coste Lewis. In the second, we will turn to writing exercises that will help us generate and share our own prose poems.
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Maya C. Popa
Maya C. Popa is a Romanian-American poet and author of Wound is the Origin of Wonder (W. W. Norton, 2022), and American Faith (Sarabande, 2019), which was a recipient of the North American Book Prize and a runner-up in the Kathryn A. Morton Prize judged by Ocean Vuong. She is also the author of two chapbooks, both from the Diagram Chapbook Series: You Always Wished the Animals Would Leave and The Bees Have Been Canceled, which was a PBS Summer Choice.
About American Faith, Deborah Landau says, “Maya Popa’s clear-eyed lyrics register with steady power a spectrum of 21st-century violences. In poems that take on the devastating pressure of climate change, gun violence, and our threatened democracy, Popa uses her gift to grieve and in grieving forge song. Revelatory yet emphatically unsentimental, Popa’s unflinching distillations illuminate the facets of our broken world; there is much wisdom here, and grace, and heart.” And of her poetry Publishers Weekly reflects, “Child of immigrants, teacher, woman in a vulnerable body, the speakers of Popa’s poems seek to set the record straight, knowing how little anyone listens—to poetry, of course, but to other people in general. Popa’s questing and questioning lyric poems are kind company amid the uncertainty of the modern world.”
A selection of poems from her manuscript in progress received 2nd place in The Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize judged by John Burnside and Gillian Clarke, and she was recently Highly Commended in the Bridport Prize.
Popa is the recipient of awards from the Poetry Foundation, the Oxford Poetry Society, the Hippocrates Society in London, and the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland, among others. She is the Poetry Reviews Editor at Publishers Weekly and teaches poetry at NYU. She is director of creative writing at the Nightingale-Bamford school where she oversees visiting writers, workshops, and readings.
She holds degrees from Oxford University, NYU, and Barnard College and is currently pursuing her PhD on the role of wonder in poetry at Goldsmiths, University of London.