There's only two things that really matter to me in this life/blog: that I help promote the prose-poem as literary form, and that people read me! So I thought it might be nice to start talking to some other writers working in the form, starting with Arlene Ang. If Six Little Things was Hollywood Squares -- which it isn't -- Arlene would be its Paul Lynde, which she isn't. I am not yet very articulate about what I feel makes an effective prose poem but from the moment I read one of Arlene's submissions, I recognized in her work an exemplary representation of those qualities of allusion and compactness, surrealism and specificity, visual evocation and linguistic playfulness that, to me, define the genre. She has appeared in 3 of Six Little Thing's 14 issues, which is like 21% or something. I've never met her, although seeing pictures of her on Facebook has finally convinced me that she is real. She lives in Spinea, Italy, which now that I actually see it on a map is close enough to Venice that maybe I'll plan to pop in to visit some day! (Picture at left is where Arlene works!)
Arlene Ang is the author of four poetry collections, the most recent being a collaborative work with Valerie Fox, Bundles of Letters Including A, V and Epsilon (Texture Press, 2008). She received the 2006 Frogmore Poetry Prize and the 2008 Juked Poetry Prize. For additional information, visit her website: www.leafscape.org.
1. What is your latest project?
Right now I'm just happy to be writing every day. But some old projects, like the novel I was writing with Valerie Fox and the serial sonnets (Petrarchan) based on Chopin's Preludes need to be, at some point, finished.
2. What are, to you, the characteristics of a satisfying prose poem?
Six little things: (1) surreality, (2) inventive language, (3) general weirdness, (4) element of surprise, (5) steady or rapid heartbeat, (6) ability to provoke thought and/or carnal feelings in the reader.
3. How has living in a non-English-speaking country affected your writing?
One thing's for sure: I can't do slang, only bookworm English. And it's limiting when it comes to fiction and dialogue.
4. What is your favorite object in your home?
My two-year-old laptop. But this doesn't mean it loves me back.
5. I think I told you that at one early point I worried that "Arlene Ang" was a pseudonym along the lines of the great Australian poet Ern Malley, and that one day a very conservative traditionalist poet would proclaim that he or she had written the works of "Arlene Ang" as a spoof, lambasting all the editors who had published these works. What did you think of that?
I was particularly tickled. Being an invented character whose works are ghostwritten by more than one person is priceless. As a child, I actually wanted to evolve into multiple personalities but the mental grafting didn't take.
6. If the internet had never existed, what kind of writer would you be?
I'd be a public washroom graffiti writer. The kind that gets fined and imprisoned for being a public nuisance.