SARAH VEST – STAFF WRITER
Some people see poetry as confusing, jumbled, and hard to understand — or at least that’s Robert Miltner’s impression. That idea is exactly what Miltner, as Week One’s poet-in-residence with Chautauqua Writers’ Center, is trying to get away from by writing prose poems.
“People are more comfortable reading sentences than they are lines that have line breaks,” Miltner said. “So the prose is more accessible.”
“The trick is, you use sentences and the sentence rhythms but also rework those sentences to bring in the imagery of poetry, the sound of poetry, the metaphor, the similes, all these poetic techniques that make the prose do really interesting tricks.”
Miltner has written two books of prose poetry, Hotel Utopia and Orpheus & Echo, as well as two prose poetry chapbooks titled Against the Simple and Eurydice Rising. Miltner is also the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for Poetry, an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship at Vermont Studio Center, and a writing residency at The Wassaic Project.
He will be giving a Brown Bag talk at 12:15 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 28 on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch titled “The Double Room: Two Places at the Same Time.” The title calls to mind what Miltner thinks is one of the assets of prose poetry.
“It’s a great way for poets who want to do something new in their work to try that, or start to learn how to do prose poetry, and then cross over and start to write little fictions,” said Miltner, who is a professor emeritus at Kent State University. “It’s a big room with lots of doors.”