Prose Poetry: An Introduction

With Professor Paul Hetherington
Princeton University Press, forthcoming

The purpose of our book is threefold. First, it will provide systematic analysis of the prose poetry form, focusing on the historical trajectory of its use in America, Europe, Australia and beyond. Second, it will offer extensive and rigorous discussion of the key characteristics of prose poetry, such as fragmentation, closure, momentum and metonymy in an effort to define the taxonomy of the form. Third, it will analyze a selection of key prose poems across time from the works of the American poets of the 1950s and 1960s to the most recent work from the International Prose Poetry Institute’s Prose Poetry Project, the largest repository of solely prose poetry, internationally. This book will fill the gap in current scholarship on prose poetry by providing a comprehensive and detailed study of the prose poem; the first of its kind.

Three essays from this collection have already been published in refereed journals.


Satsukiki: The Atomic Bomb Maidens

atomicbombmaidensThis book is supported by an Australia Council Grant.

This book of prose poetry explores the plight of the Hiroshima Maidens with a secondary narrative exploring absence, brokenness, speechlessness and the atomic sublime.


Boston – A Fantasy

With Paul Hetherington

O'SheaTracing the life of Ziegfeld Follies dancer, Helen O’Shea, from archives held at Emerson College, Boston, this book of prose poetry and fragments reanimates her fantasies of Boston from insider and outsider points of view. It fuses ideas of Boston neighbourhoods with transformation and phantasmagoria in the shape of O’Shea’s Leda and the Swan dance.

A critical paper on this project will be presented at the Great Writing conference in London in 2018.


Hiroshima’s Legacy

The book was sparked by the desire to explain and analyze the ways that the bomb has been remembered, and how the Japanese and the American people live with these memories. It will be divided into two sections. The first will comprise an exploration of politics and history—the way that the people of Hiroshima coped with and memorialized the bomb, and an analysis of attempts by historians and politicians to remember and explain the bomb. The second section will focus on literary and artistic responses to the bomb. This includes the way the bomb was written about in poetry and prose, first by bomb survivors (in Japanese, hibakusha), and then by newer writers who were not present or even born when the bomb was dropped.


Rooms and Spaces

With Paul Hetherington

This book of prose poems considers how prose poetry may be considered ‘poetic’; how it may be room-like and condensed; or open and highly suggestive (sometimes both at once); and how prose poetry is intertextual and polysemous. Prose poetry may be generically problematic but the authors suggest that this may make it an exemplary post-postmodern form; and that reading prose poetry may provide significant insights into how unstable genre boundaries really are.

A critical paper on this project can be found in New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing


Hibakusha Poets as Public Intellectuals

sadako-kuriharaNoam Chomsky has argued that the most effective public intellectuals are dissident intellectuals who act from the margins.  The US censorship of public discussion of the bombings during the Allied Occupation of Japan ensured that the public did not understand all that had occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  This lack of discussion about the A-bomb and the scientific testing on hibakusha saw them stigmatised, however this marginalisation makes them powerful public intellectuals.  Hibakusha poets such as Toge and Kurihara offer a kind of authentic ‘evidencing’ and recording of the horror of the events of the atomic bombing.   The simplicity and accessibility of these poems are essential to the public dissemination of their message, however this has worked against their preservation in the literary canon.  This is, in part, because the literary canon prioritises a greater sophistication of language and range of poetic techniques.  This book examines the way in which hibakusha poets can be recognised as public intellectuals.  It hinges on a number of considerations centred on public intellectualism, canonicity and use of language.


Miyazaki Hayao as Reluctant Public Intellectual

Hayao_MiyazakiThis book of essays analyses the Studio Ghibli anime that is written and directed by Miyazaki: Castle in the Sky, Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, Porco Rosso, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbour Totoro, Spirited Away, The Wind Rises and the short film, Mr Dough and the Egg Princess.

While Miyazaki is reclusive, he is in constant filmic dialogue with his audience, and it is through his anime that his views as an intellectual are made public.  He emphasises the importance of Japanese community and environment in his anime and illustrates that although the Japanese mostly live in urban environments, they have a deep reverence for nature.  This is seen in the enduring appeal of Shinto.  Miyazaki recalls a time before nature was threatened by technology and pollution and uses an appeal to memory, imagination and the younger generation to buffer the negative impact of innovation.

Sketch Notes with artist and publisher, Phil Day.


This project is described as, ‘prose poems by Cassandra Atherton and picture paintings by Phil Day’.

They are limited edition art books with prose poems. Sketch Notes was purchased by the Victorian State Library, National Library of Australia, Deakin University library and the Baillieu Library.


Whimsy (novel)


This novel, in its early stages, explores the relationship between the protagonist Whimsy, Cleveland Amory and his cat Polar Bear.  Whimsy owns a no-kill cat shelter in Virginia and forms a relationship with one of America’s most memorable dilettantes and animal rights crusaders.  Amory’s famous books include, The Cat Who Came For Christmas and The Bostonians.  Atherton references his publications in her novel.