The North Star State has had a poet laureate since 1934, but the position wasn't made official until recently (2007). Why?
In 2005, then-Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed a Minnesota poet laureate bill, citing fears that an official poet laureate would lead to "a state mime, interpretive dancer or potter." Read more about it at the Library of Congress.
Robert Bly is only the third to hold the lifetime post.
I love his poem "Conversation with a Mouse," which is in the Poetry Speaks to Children anthology. If you've never discussed that poem with little ones, you're in for a treat!
My friend Christine Stewart of the Maryland State Arts Council and I were having a "warm" Facebook discussion about prose poems. (Read a definition of the term at the Academy of American Poets.)
She says, stop being lazy and work your line breaks.
I say, some narratives lend themselves to the form. If you force them into poetic lines, you pull the threads out of the story. Build them into a short fiction piece, the images lose their focus.
What do you think? In the era of Flash Fiction, is there a place for prose poems?
Here is a prose poem by Robert Bly to help you ponder the question.
by Robert Bly
Lifting my coffee cup, I notice a caterpillar crawling over my sheet of ten-cent airmail stamps. The head is black as a Chinese box. Nine soft accordions follow it around, with a waving motion, like a flabby mountain. Skinny brushes used to clean pop bottles rise from some of its shoulders. As I pick up the sheet of stamps, the caterpillar advances around and around the edge, and I see his feet: three pairs under the head, four spongelike pairs under the middle body, and two final pairs at the tip, pink as a puppy's hind legs. As he walks, he rears, six pairs of legs off the stamp, waving around the air! One of the sponge pairs, and the last two tail pairs, the reserve feet, hold on anxiously.
Read the rest of the poem here.
Still haven't decided? Here's an extra prose poem -- one of my favorites -- "A Story about the Body" by Robert Hass, with commentary by Robert Pinsky.
My friend Jama Rattigan is hosting Poetry Friday at her wonderful blog, Alphabet Soup today. Stop by for something poetic and tasty!