Briefly: Kevin Prufer On the Uses of Narrative

by Joeri Bosma

Every year at the AWP book fair, I happen across a poetry collection that was published several years before and I’m outraged (outraged! I tell you) that it has taken me so long to encounter this poet’s work. Last year it was Rough Cradle by Betsy Sholl. This year, I’ve consider calling several friends and leaving threatening voice messages regarding the fact that nobody thought to say “Saeed, Kevin Prufer’s work is stunning. You need to read everything he’s written and then get some of his lines tattooed on your forearm in Palatino font.” Seriously, National Anthem is painfully beautiful and isn’t that all I’ve ever wanted from a poetry collection? The mere thought of reading his most recent collection makes me want to moonwalk.

Anyway, expect that I’ll be mentioning Prufer quite often from here on out. Let’s start with a quote from his micro-interview for the Kenyon Review, shall we?

I’m not uninterested in communicating “emotional concepts” – but I like to imagine that poetry is also a very subtle, powerful vehicle for the communication of ideas that might extend beyond what is felt.  I like the notion that we know who we are (as individuals, as members of a larger society, as part of a culture) through our interaction with narrative and our imposition of narrative on our lives—and that poetry might participate in this.

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