#TPQ5: JOSE HERNANDEZ DIAZ

Of Form & Gather (U of Notre Dame Press, 2017) by Felicia Zamora

This collection is a hybrid of poetry and prose poetry. Zamora’s work is experimental/refined. She utilizes fragmentation and the semicolon in order to mimic breakage and ultimately fusion. The author cleverly incorporates scientific jargon; moreover, the musicality and grace shine through in this trailblazing collection. Zamora is a singular talent and necessary voice in Latinx letters; in American letters.

I Remember Nightfall (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017) by Marosa di Giorgio

Di Giorgio, like a magician, makes the strange seem beautiful. She might be describing something seemingly mundane like a walk in a meadow and then suddenly there is a man with “the head of a hare.” Or she will recall a time in her childhood when strange beings lived in the trees by her garden house; as if such a thing was normal. Although there is surreal imagery in the book, it doesn’t feel forced or weird for the sake of being weird. Skillfully, Di Giorgio often employs more than one paragraph, usually two or three, almost reading like micro-stories.

The World Doesn’t End (Mariner Books, 1989) by Charles Simic

These are cleverly crafted fabulist prose poems. Simic has wisdom beyond the surface; these prose poems make you think and laugh out loud at the same time. These prose poems are fascinating for their unusual perspective and existential angst, all likely influenced by Simic’s growing up in war-torn Europe.

Dome of the Hidden Pavilion (Ecco, 2016) by James Tate

These page-long prose poems consist of a hapless protagonist in absurd/surreal scenarios. Tate’s prose poems are told in a stripped-down, unassuming manner. Then about a third of the way in, the reader starts to notice something is strange or off. Average Joe types, seemingly from Middle America, get taken along for rides in Kafkaesque predicaments. Also, there is often a strange or tender moment at the end of Tate’s prose poems which really enables the work to stand out.

Porridge (Press 53, 2016) by Richard Garcia

Garcia honors the tradition of the fairy tale, but these are better suited for adults w/an appetite for sarcasm and duende. His prose poems are as entertaining as they are mysterious. Garcia ranks up there with some of the best prose poets of our time: an innovative fabulist.


Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. His poetry, prose poetry, and flash fiction appear in The Acentos Review, Bat City Review, Bennington Review, Cincinnati Review, Huizache, Iowa Review, The Nation, New World Writing, The Progressive, Witness, and in the Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. His chapbook of prose poems is forthcoming in Spring 2020 with Texas Review Press.

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