Prose Poetry and the City

7. März 2018 - 20:30

Prose Poetry and the City

Book presentation and discussion with Donna Stonecipher
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Prose Poetry and the City is an investigation into French poet Charles Baudelaire’s claim that he invented the prose poem “out of his explorations of huge cities.” Is the prose poem, then, an urban form? What does poetic form, if anything, have to do with the forms of cities? Michel de Certeau, in his seminal essay “Walking in the City,” refers to moving through the city as a “speech act.” This book takes him at his word, and looks at how the subject moves through the social space of the city and the social space of a poem, subjectively appropriating the objective givens of the city. The book explores theories of verticality and horizontality in writings on structural linguistics and architectural theory, as well as texts on urban studies, the sublime, and literary criticism on the prose poem, to finally revisit the question of why formal verse was ruptured in France and the United States at around the same time, but so differently, by Baudelaire and Walt Whitman, respectively: what can we learn by looking at the skylines of Paris and Manhattan—the long horizontal samenesses of Hausmannian apartment blocks vs. the individualism of vertical New York skyscrapers?

Donna Stonecipher
Prose Poetry and the City
Parlor Press 2018

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