Letting a Poem Breathe by Kaia Hobson

In September, Creative Writing was led by our assistant director, Ploi Pirapokin, in a two-week flash fiction unit. During the unit, I realized that flash fiction is what my poetry tends to imitate. During the workshopping sessions at the beginning of the year, I was often told that my poetry could also take the form of a piece of prose, but thought little of it, either expanding the poem I had written, or ignoring the comments altogether. When I do write poetry, sometimes I feel as though I’m cramming too many situations and ideas into a single piece. I try to stop myself, remembering to hone in on the small and to move the focus outwards as I write, but sitting down to write poetry is usually comprised of me frantically sifting through whatever I’ve thrown up onto the page, trying to find that one concise nugget of a poem. When asked to write a 500-1000 word flash fiction piece, I immediately saw it as an opportunity to drop the sifter and make use of the wiggle room I found in prose and flash fiction.

If I had ever accidentally written flash fiction before, I definitely did not know I was doing it at the time. I wasn’t aware that this writing style was its own entity, nor did I realize how much I would enjoy it. Writing my final piece for this unit felt like finally learning the name of a song that you’ve liked for some time. I was able to let all my ideas breathe, and sit comfortably with the knowledge that I could include everything I wanted to express without the piece feeling unfocused and scattered. Although I do sometimes appreciate the discipline that the structure of poetry requires, the greater freedom provided by the flash fiction genre allowed me to feel comfortable with expressing the volume of ideas that would otherwise detract from the essence of my poetry. I look forward to using flash fiction as a vehicle for those times when the brevity of a poem feels inadequate.


Kaia Hobson, Class of 2021

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