A Box of Bees

Exploring the Prose Poem

What the everloving f*ck is a prose poem? In his essay “Prose Poem,” Robert Hass writes the following of this slippery, genre-defying and historic form: “All you have to do is read the scholars to see that it is impossible to define. Prose using all the techniques of poetry except meter, lineation, and rhyme? But there are no techniques special to poetry except meter, lineation, and rhyme.” In this six-week online class, we’ll explore the unique narrative, discursive and textural possibilities inherent within the form of the prose poem, while also reading and writing divergent texts that might otherwise be defined as “poetic prose,” “poems that are also essays,” “flash fictions” and “prose/verse hybrids” such as the haibun. The class will be structured around weekly writing and revision prompts, guided by readings by poets and prose stylists such as Virginia Woolf, Robert Hass, Arthur Rimbaud, Carolyn Forché, Mary Jo Bang, Khadijah Queen, Terrance Hayes, Francis Ponge, Eileen Myles, Layli Long Soldier, John Ashbery and Claudia Rankine, among others. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.

Workshop Details


Emily Skillings is the author of Fort Not (The Song Cave, 2017), which Publishers Weekly called a “fabulously eccentric, hypnotic, and hypervigilant debut,” as well as two chapbooks: Backchannel (Poor Claudia) and Linnaeus: The 26 Sexual Practices of Plants (No, Dear/ Small Anchor Press). Recent poems can be found or are forthcoming in Poetry, Harper’s, Boston Review, Brooklyn Rail, BOMB, Hyperallergic, LitHub and Jubilat. The recipient of a 2017 Pushcart Prize, Skillings is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist poetry collective, small press and event series. She received her MFA from Columbia University, where she was a creative writing teaching fellow, and has taught creative writing elsewhere at Yale University, Parsons School of Design and Poets House.