According to good ole Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, we note the following about proem: from the Greek “pro-” (before) and “oimē” (song)
1) preliminary comment
But, here at PROEM, since language grows all of the time, we’re proposing it also means:
3) a genre which combines elements of the prosaic and the poetic
Note, we say genre because here at PROEM, we consider those things between verse and prose to fall within this third genre. Plus, the term “proem” favors neither the poetic nor the prosaic in contrast to how prose poem and flash fiction do, through their name, favor one genre over the other. In our family (you're welcome here), prose poems and flash fictions are both proems: prose and poem zoinked in the machine of language, emerging a hybrid.
Okay, but PROEM?
Since the proem has steadily been gaining popularity (notoriety?) in U.S. literary circles since the 1950s (We see you, James Wright, hanging with Allen in the watermelons, we see you, Jamaica Kincaid, talking with Barbara Guest in New York City, and don’t forget Gruff Aunt Gertrude Stein, speaking with Sherwood Anderson way back in the 1910s!), more and more journals have published them, some even exclusively. Ten or so years ago, you could find a number of print journals (as well as a couple online) and anthologies strictly devoted to prose poems, flash fictions, or some who wanted both. Think The Prose Poem, think Sentence, Double Room (online, yes), Quick Fiction, Paragraph, Wild Strawberries, and more (Thank you, Editors!). Those journals aren’t publishing anymore. Today, name a print journal that focuses primarily on proems? Anyone? Sure, most print journals nowadays regularly request prose poems and flash fictions, thanks (to some extent) to the groundbreaking by those journals we just named (Thanks again, Editors, and Proem Forebears). As Sam Sneed said in 1994: “U better recognize!” And, most journals today are.
So, PROEM gives you proems in your hot little hands (or, big cold hands). We want you to turn the page to get to the next sentence. We want you to get buffalo sauce on the pages because you kept the issue in your backpack and decided to take it out during lunch (We see you, Frank O'Hara!). We want you to share.
PROEM is a biannual international print journal with issues released each April and October. Issues are available for $10 each, and subscriptions are $18/year. We also take donations, which go toward providing contributor copies and publishing/distributing the magazine. Consider buying a subscription for your local library or a loved one or both!