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The very term prose can only be understood by contrasting it against the term verse. Verse is writing that is divided up according to meter and rhyme; prose is simply ordinary writing or speech, as it normally emerges from people who are just trying to communicate something. Prose can be more or less lyrical (i.e. close to poetry), or more or less dull; but the point is that prose is not explicitly structured in the way that verse is.  

Explaining a prose

Prose is a type of poetry that relies less on rhythm and rhyme. It uses common language that is easier to read, write, and speak. 

Webster’s Dictionary defines prose as “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing; a literary medium distinguished from poetry especially by its greater irregularity and variety of rhythm and its closer correspondence to the patterns of everyday speech; a dull or ordinary style, quality, or condition.”

While not as formal as research paper writing, prose is considerably more serious in tone than poetry. Many artists consider this a non-entertaining form of poetry, while others don’t consider it poetry and believe it is a way for unartistic people to write.

Learning how to write

Prose is less formal than traditional poetry. It doesn’t rely on gimmicks, structure, or advanced skills. However, the creativity element is harder to deliver.

Rather than short, tight, and artistic words and lines, prose uses full sentences and structures those sentences into paragraph style. Traditional poetry uses lines, while prose relies more on essay style. Essay writers are more comfortable using prose rather than poetry.

Poets using prose to write their art rarely use rhymes or metaphor. Prose writers tend to use more realistic tone.

Here is an example of a famous prose written by Gary Young:

“I discovered a journal in the children's ward, and read, I'm a mother, and my little boy has cancer. Further on, a girl has written, this is my nineteenth operation. She says, sometimes it's easier to write than to talk, and I'm so afraid. She's offered me a page in the book. My son is sleeping in the room next door. This afternoon, I held my whole weight to his body while a doctor drove needles deep into his leg. My son screamed, Daddy, they're hurting me, don't let them hurt me, make them stop. I want to write, how brave you are, but I need a little courage of my own, so I write, forgive me, I know I let them hurt you, please don't worry. If I have to, I can do it again.”

Authors of prose

Aloysius Bertrand is often considered the father of modern prose. He first published Gaspard de la nuit in 1842. Despite the recognition given to Bertrand, as well as Maurice de Guerin, who wrote around 1835, the first deliberate prose poems appeared in France during the 18th Century as writers turned to prose in reaction to the strict rules of versification by the Academy.

Although dozens of French writers experimented with the prose poem in the 1700s, it was not until Baudelaire's work appeared in 1855 that the prose poem gained wide recognition. However, it was Rimbaud's book of prose poetry Illuminations, published in 1886, that would stand as his greatest work, and among the best examples of the prose poem. 

Additional practitioners of the prose poem (or a close relative) include Edgar Allen Poe, Max Jacob, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Amy Lowell, Gertrude Stein, and T.S. Eliot. Among contemporary practitioners of the prose poem are: Russell Edson, Robert Bly, Charles Simic, and Rosmarie Waldrop.

Modern prose can be found in many places. There are nightclubs that have open sessions for prose. These sessions are either prewritten or a freestyle. Some researchers even say rap and Country music are forms of prose that incorporated elements from traditionally poetry as well.

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