Prose Poems

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“Prose poems are poems in blocks of type, usually one paragraph or sometimes two. The prose poem looks like prose (prose is fiction and creative nonfiction, work that is formatted in traditional paragraphs). Sometimes there are characters, but not always; a prose poem can be all description. It has to be read with the same amount of concentration as a poem, because the stage setup we are comfortable with in fiction — scenes, characters, images playing out in our mind’s eye in real time — may not exist. There may be strange, surprising, or surreal situations. The prose poem may not be a story at all; it might be pure emotion and feeling and description. A prose poem usually employs the heightened language of poetry: images, sounds, and feelings, with more overt rhythm to the words.

Heather Sellers, The Practice of Creative Writing

In Creative Writing, we wrote prose poems riffing off the definition of one word, in the style of A. Van Jordan’s “Afterglow” 


negro*kill*skate \~\ 1. One who is not only successful within the skateboarding community but also shreds, demolishes, dominates and kills his competitors 2. A person who does not care what people say, cause he’s damn sure gonna do it anyway: This is the depiction of practice makes perfect\This is to all the mistakes cause one day they’ll be worth it\This is the griptape to keep my feet in place\This street skating from place to place\This is the speeding up to keep up the pace\This is the busted lip to add to the bruises on my face\This is the long nights, the early mornings to learn new tricks and trying not give up on em\Where I’ve skated so hard my Nike shoes start to distress on their own\Where as the sun sets the park begins to close and it’s time to head home\And I untie my shoes\breathing heavily\in my silver Toyota I lay back ready to hop on my board again.

— Oscar Nshimirimana


Extra \~\ adj 1. Beyond or more than what’s expected. 2. Feeling of proving oneself because no one bothers to listen. Listen to its cries of attention that it spares from that person, place, or thing. /Why you have to be so extra?/Forcing  itself out in the open because its desperate for attention./Fighting within that inner peace. But because the attention is needed so bad. It gets what it want. /Like a little kid screaming for its bottle. Making it determined to do whatever it takes to get it. Feeding off that it gets bigger, bigger and BIGGER. I can be extra!!

— Chastity Smith


Cuz\~\ 1. A justification for my actions. 2. A way to hide behind a cloak of mystery when I don’t have a reason. A reason to have people wonder why I do what I do and what type of person I really am. A way to confuse my parents when I feel they ask too many questions. I use cuz to make the puzzles to situations incomplete. Cuz is my cover up, my devious partner in crime. A bad habit.

— Elijah Bivins


Martyr\~\ n. 1. A person who voluntarily suffers from the Greek for witness: as in one who is witness to. Also: someone made brand new. 2. What they have made of me\related to: the person I am pretending to be. 3. Someone who has lived too long in cataclysm\ and within just the right amount of masochism. 4. All of the mothers who stay\never compelled to leave\even when he hit you with the ashtray\for their babes they sleep next to the lion each night\slowly eaten alive like Catholics in the ancient fight\The refusal to renounce\and all that it surmounts\When he asks for a sacrifice and you don’t even falter\saying praise be to you, god of a blood-stained altar\What I’d do for your glory oh Lord\the lengths to which I would go to preserve your holy word\gladly die at the end of your sword\as long as everyone remembers me after

— Clare Whyte

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The following poem contains a word that many consider offensive. In writing this poem, students were encouraged to pick a loaded word that carries weight for them. This poem fit all parameters of the assignment and emphasizes the negative connotations of this word. 

Nigger\~\ noun 1. A derogatory term devaluing one of a darker skin color: the victims of prejudices, subject to cruelty far beyond the works of the devil himself 2. The name given to me by my oppressors and neglecters reducing me to the level of an animal declaring me 3/5ths of a human being in the American constitution\This whip to my back\With a branding on my chest to match\This fire lit the match that sparked a hatred inside of them for the skin I’m in\This hanging from the trees where the leaves have fallen\This cotton sort as pollen that I am allergic to not only the pollen but the lies the lies told and twisted tied, tied around my neck like the nooses that took the lives of real eyes that recognized real lies\This is the taking of my land\This is the denial of my religion\This is the harsh reality my people were forced to live in\This is over 300 years of tears\This is the feeling of true fear, where that saying sticks and and stones may break my bones doesn’t apply, because I promise that words hurt worse than broken bones.

— Samar Slaughter

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Love\~\ adj 1. The feeling when you see a newborn’s brand new smile. 2. The taste of chicken as the season coats your taste buds\Walking down the aisle with your wings out and red carpet flowing behind you to grasp the breath to say, I do.\Warm crisp wind blowing your face with the spring sun shining against your face and the smell of barbeque flowing up your nose.\Hearing the sincere words of him say, I love you.\Singing in front of people who appreciate the uniqueness of your voice.\Looking in the mirror. His last name.

— Kayla Rollins


Chicana\~\ n. 1. A Mexican-American girl born in the United States. 2. The daughter of immigrants\a girl who doesn’t belong to just one world but two yet doesn’t quite fit in either\a mix breed\a mutt\a human being who is given circumstances that mean she has to work harder than anyone else to be equal, because she is not only\female\minority\first generation American 3. a Fighter\a Survivor\a Conquerer

Adriana Sophia


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