- Robert Roman
My Own Private Ulysses: The Six-Word Prose Poem
“Well, here come James Joyce the writer, drunk again with Ernest Hemingway.” – Nora Barnacle
The ancestry of the Six-Word Story is diluted with debate and debunkery.
The apocryphal origin story of “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” is pure Hemingway. Supposedly, Ernest scrawled his super sad hexad on a napkin to win a bet at the Algonquin Hotel’s “vicious circle.” This precarious provenance was solidified through retellings and sanctified on stage in John De Groot’s play, “Papa.”
Several versions of the sextet appear in print prior to Hemingway’s alleged authorship. But what are we without our lore and legends? In the spirit of fabulation, let’s embrace the cheapest of double-negative debate tactics: the “evidence” does not prove Hemingway did not birth the eight-syllable sextuplet.
Plus, Hemingway’s words regarding Ulysses, “Joyce has written a most goddamn wonderful book,” make him a friend with benefits of the doubt.
What better excuse to double down on a hundred-year-old wager and create a fresh, new form. The Hemingway Half-Dozen Prose Poem.
Stay tuned for the balderdash backstory of this unprecedented literary invention.
Same bunkum time, same baloney channel.