Other Literary Forms
Although Francis Ponge did admit to writing poetry, he was reluctant to call his works poems, inventing instead other names for them, such as “prétextes,” “définitions-descriptions,” and “proêmes.” Most of his works are generally classified as prose poems, ranging from a few sentences in length to those which are book length, such as Soap. Certain of his texts, however, are not readily classifiable. Commentary on the act of writing poetry is a feature of many of Ponge’s works; the transcripts of his conversations with Philippe Sollers, for example, are prose texts about poetry, while a work such as “Le carnet du bois de pins” (“The Notebook of the Pine Woods”) is clearly a poetic piece which also features a level of meta-commentary about the act of writing. There are, however, other works, many of them contained in a volume titled Méthodes, that are basically theoretical works expounding Ponge’s aesthetic, but whose structural and poetic qualities effectively blur the distinction between theoretical work and literary text. Ponge’s interest in the creation of the literary text as process is evidenced by two of his other works, The Making of the Pré and Comment une figue de paroles et pourquoi (how a fig of words and why). In each of these two works, a comparatively short poem is preceded by the notes, doodles, dictionary definitions, preliminary drafts, and the like which chronicle the various stages of evolution toward the finished poem. Also worthy of mention, as constituting a separate literary form, are Ponge’s works of art criticism, which have been collected in the volume L’Atelier contemporain (the contemporary workshop), published in 1977.