The Shared Surface – Jane Monson
The prose poem offers the expectation of prose (linear syntax, an interest in narrative sequence and doing, and a by-no-means universal preference for metonym over metaphor) while looking to evoke the experience of poetry (looser syntax, less interest in narrative and more in being, and a preference for metaphor). The Shared Surface takes the table as its main subject and offers various incidents, mostly domestic, around it. Around the table, and on it, are gathered local storms and discords between husband and wife and husband and family, but rather than simply giving accounts of events that might or might not have occurred in real life, Monson uses the table as a setting for metaphorical events. These involve glances at fairy tale, at surreal transformations and symbolic objects. There is a destabilisation in the normal relations between objects and events. It is gently done but it still unsettles. There is a cumulative power in the poems, the sense of a story that seems to be unfolding although it is mostly folding back on itself. Poetry is a way of understanding the world in its psychological and linguistic complexity by moving between speech and song. That is what the book does. – George Szirtes
Jane Monson lives in Cambridge as a poet, independent researcher and Specialist Mentor for disabled students at the University of Cambridge. Previously she was an Associate Lecturer in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University. Her PhD is on the prose poetry of Francis Ponge and she has an MA in Creative Writing (poetry) from UEA. She edited This Line is not for Turning (2011), the anthology of contemporary British prose poetry which Pascale Petit praised as ‘ground-breaking’, and has more recently edited British Prose Poetry: The Poems without Lines (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). She is widely anthologised in the UK and her prose poetry and reviews have been featured UK-wide and internationally in Westerly, Fortnightly Review, Envoi, Aesthetica, Magma and Poetry London. Jane’s first collection with Cinnamon was Speaking Without Tongues (2010). Cassandra Atherton, award-winning Australian prose poet and international expert and critic of the form has referred to Jane as ‘the fairy godmother of prose poetry.’
Jane’s forthcoming prose poetry collection with Cinnamon Press, in Spring 2022, is The Chalk Butterfly.
Jane’s work in prose poetry features widely, including:
‘One Foot; Many Places: The Prose Poem’s Art of Standing Still While Travelling,’ Prose Poetry in Theory and Practice, eds. Paul Hardwick and Anne Caldwell (forthcoming with Routledge).
‘The Prose Poem and the Anti-Novel: Unsettling Form in Nathalie Sarraute’s Tropismes’, EUP Companion to the Prose Poem, eds., Michel Delville and Mary Ann Caws (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2021).
Six Poets; Many Voices, Disability Feature, Westerly Magazine, (Crawley WA, Faculty of Arts, University of Western Australia, 2019).
‘Square of Light: The Artist is Present’, in The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry, eds., Anne Caldwell and Oz Hardwick (Calder Press, 2019).
‘Via Negativa’, in The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem: From Baudelaire to Anne Carson, ed., Jeremy Noel-Tod (Penguin, 2018).