In Jacket 2 – Vaughan Rapatahana on Bending the Genre: Flash fiction/prose poetry in Aotearoa New Zealand

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‘The creation of flash fiction/prose poetry is increasing exponentially in Aotearoa, New Zealand. It has always been around, but nowadays there are more exponents, more outlets, more coverage, more academic ‘acceptance’ of the form. It is a significant presence and — to me — a very valuable and viable method to further  w  i  d  e  n  the horizons of poetry and literature in this country. Which has always been the focus of these commentaries.

What is this form and why have I written flash fiction/prose poetry as a Siamese twin? Well, that is a good question. There is often no clear-cut distinction between prose poetry and flash or short fiction, most especially as — obviously — both are economical in terms of the number of words used, given that prose poems can sometimes extend well beyond the word limits defining flash fiction.

However, given the amorphousness here between such subgenres, flash fiction does attempt to tell a story, to at least set up a narrative with some characterization; to plot a plot if you will. This does not occlude storytelling via prose poetry, but the tendency of the latter is to also concentrate on not only the ‘traditional’ poetic tropes of imagery, yet also wordplay, unusual discourse, novelty of effect; to
s  t  r  e  t  c  h  poetry beyond the staid, into freedom from constraint. If in so doing, a prose poem seems to replicate a slice of flash fiction, it is a happy coincidence. This is a very simplistic overview, however, because the more I delve into the difference, the more I discern that there is no clear difference! ‘

Vaughan Rapatahana

 

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