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Response and Bio Forrest Roth

Question #3: Again, regarding the lines and/or unity between prose poem and flash fiction, Gene Myers states, “The lines are, in fact, getting quite blurred. I almost think that the only telling difference between prose poetry and flash fiction is who wrote the piece. If James Tate wrote it, it is poetry. If Barry Yourgrau wrote it, it’s flash fiction.”

And for authors who remain a little more than anonymous, I’m not so certain what should they do. Besides using preface or subtitling each work, I suppose complete surrender to the blurry line of classification is their fate, unjust as it seems. As a fiction writer working with a Form closer to poetry than story, I wouldn’t begrudge having the luxury James Tate has—to interpret Myers’ example—guiding faithful readers along, shining a trustworthy flashlight on any unfamiliar landscapes he may show them, and have it be Poetry at the end. That Name precedes (or anticipates) Form appears one ideal solution to this debate, if only Names themselves could mean anything other than reputation, which, sadly, always begs for some comforting consistency.


Forrest Roth is the author of a novella, Line and Pause (BlazeVOX, 2006), and curates the COMMUNIQUE Flash Fiction reading series for the Just Buffalo Literary Center of Buffalo, New York. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Noon, Quick Fiction, Snow Monkey, Locus Novus, Paragraph, Elimae, Tin Parachute Postcard Review, and other publications.