By Michel Delville
Delville reassesses the work of established prose poets in relation to the history of modern poetry and introduces writings by some whose work in the form has so far escaped mainstream critical attention (Sherwood Anderson, Kenneth Patchen, Russell Edson). He describes the genre's European origins and the work of several early representatives of a modern tradition of the prose lyric (Charles Baudelaire, Max Jacob, Franz Kafka, and James Joyce).
By applying a broad range of theory to the history of the prose poem, Delville adds evidence to its reputation as a norm-breaking form by writing within, against, and across existing genres and traditions. He shows that the history of the contemporary prose poem is, in many respects, the record of its efforts to question both the nature of the "poetic" or "lyric" mode and the aesthetic and ideological foundations of a variety of other genres and subgenres.