Poets bat around a lot of jargon about poetry: sonnet, ballad, free verse, alliteration, slant rhyme, iambic pentameter, metaphor, simile, and many other terms, including prose poetry. Prose poetry is a somewhat illusive term, and some people with the reputation for being experts say that if you want to write prose, don’t call it poetry. Some poets, however, claim to write “prose poetry” in contrast to free verse poetry. Is there a real difference?

The term “prose” comes from the Latin, prosa (ōratiō), and meaning straightforward speech.  Prose poetry, then is straightforward writing that uses heightened imagery, metaphor, and/or emotional language. That can be said of much good writing that is not dubbed as poetry. There may be a fine line between the genre of prose and prose poetry. As well, the same line may be drawn between prose poetry and free verse poetry.

Prose poetry is typically associated with narrative, but it fuses poetic and prosaic elements. On the other hand, free verse poetry is terse and economical, utilizing the elements of surprise and flights of fancy.

Try writing two poems about the same subject, but using both of these forms…free verse and prose poetry.