8: The Circulation, Delivery, and Spreadability of Prose Poetry

I was initially drawn to prose poetry because of the way it intersects the power of language and the beauty of poetic techniques. As described by poets.org, “While it lacks the line breaks associated with poetry, the prose poem maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme” (Poetic Forms). Prose poetry ranges widely in its length and subject matter.

As Vivian mentions in her post, the combination of old and new forms of technology have helped prose poetry circulate in both print and digital media. In “Why Media Spreads”, the concept of user-generated content proves to be important in the development of how media is shared, specifically in the digital age. Prose poetry definitely fits into this category of user-generated content, because the poetry is written and published by its author. At the moment, prose poetry is being circulated digitally more than it is being circulated in print. This may be because of the infamous “ease of access” aspect of the internet, or the fact that people simply do not want to spend money and time on a book-length work of prose poetry.

Social media has a lot to do with the circulation, delivery, and spreadability of prose poetry. Currently, social media platforms such as twitter, Tumblr, and even Instagram have drawn poets to publish their work. There are even literary journals, such as Escarp, that will send you a text message with a poem rather than publish an issue of their collective work. This unique method of delivery mimics the short, easy to access and read aspects of social media sites like Twitter. People are also still circulating and delivering texts through print platforms such as books or literary journals. Claudia Rankine’s Citizen is a good example of prose poetry made popular through print, although many of her poetry has been digitized to reach a larger audience.

Jenkins et al states that “spreadability assumes a world where mass content is continually repositioned as it enters different niche communities” (Jenkins et al). There is an aspect of this in prose poetry in the fact that its form and length are so flexible. Poets are choosing to make their poetry fit the platform that they want to share it in. For example, a literary journal allows for a much long piece of prose poetry than a tweet does. This flexibility in length also helps with the spreadability because it makes more people willing to stop and read, based on the length of the poem, most poetry that is spread online is short, which allows more people to read and share it quickly. In the fast-paced electronic world we live in, it is very valuable that prose poetry is able to adapt to meet the needs of its online audience.

Prose poetry is a perfect example of the ways in which print and digital platforms differ when it comes to circulation, delivery, and spreadability; however, I’m not sure the genre would be so successful without both of these platforms. Prose poetry reaches such a large audience because it has the privilege of being circulated, delivered, and spread on both print and digital platforms, and both methods are crucial to its popularity and growth.

Word Count: 570

Works Cited:

“Poetic Forms.” Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, 1 Feb. 2018, www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/prose-poem-poetic-form.

“Why Media Spreads .” SPREADABLE MEDIA: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture, by Henry Jenkins et al., NEW YORK UNIV PRESS, 2018, pp. 1–46.