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Passions in Poetry

cliches

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eminor_angel
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0 posted 08-25-2003 06:22 PM       View Profile for eminor_angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for eminor_angel

What do you guys think about using cliches in poetry? I personally believe that it saps the originality and appeal, but maybe that's just me.


Sunshine
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1 posted 08-25-2003 06:42 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

I did a search under poetry AND discussion and some 94 spots came up for discussion of cliches.  Here's one of them.
http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum29/HTML/000615.html#26

After you do some reading, come back with your comments...
eminor_angel
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2 posted 08-25-2003 09:20 PM       View Profile for eminor_angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for eminor_angel

I think there are some phrases which are obviously cliche . . . that's mainly what i'm refering to. Things like, my heart beats a mile per minute, so quiet you can hear a pin drop,got your goat. Things like that. I don't believe that those belong in poetry, unless you use them with a unique spin to good effect . . . I'd still like the opinions of the more recent users, even though this topic has been discussed in the past. I hope that's okay, Sunshine, and thanks for the link.
Opeth
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3 posted 08-26-2003 02:51 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

What I find interesting to do is to take a cliche and change the meaning to give it either an expanded meaning or an alternative meaning.

[This message has been edited by Opeth (08-26-2003 02:52 PM).]

Wind
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4 posted 08-26-2003 05:35 PM       View Profile for Wind   Email Wind   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Wind

I really don't care. unless you invent your own language (grins) then every word you use has be used hurndreds of times. it really doesn't matter. all we do is tear the words apart and paste them together in another way. so cliches don't bother me.

insanity is not a crime

Ron
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5 posted 08-26-2003 07:40 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Sounds to me like we need a definition? Is a cliché simply something that has been said before? How many times does it need to be said before it becomes a cliché?
Marge Tindal
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6 posted 08-26-2003 08:22 PM       View Profile for Marge Tindal   Email Marge Tindal   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Marge Tindal's Home Page   View IP for Marge Tindal


Two ... but who's counting ?

~*When the heart grieves over what it has lost,
the spirit rejoices over what it has left.
- Sufi epigram
noles1@totcon.com   

Ron
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7 posted 08-26-2003 09:56 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

So, the second time it's uttered, it's not yet a cliché? But the third time is?

I realize you're at least half-joking, Marge, and that's fine. But my questions are serious ones. There are some who defend clichés in poetry as being inevitable, but one has to wonder if they really understand what it is they are defending. Others, especially in CA, are quick to point out a cliché, as if it is a mortal sin. But what is they are pointing out to us?

... but who's counting?

We've all certainly heard that same phrase, in pretty much this same context, used far more than just twice. Does that make it a cliché?


Essorant
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8 posted 08-27-2003 02:45 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

I think too much of anything will cloy after a while and wax full loathed.
Who may thanksgiving turkey have every night and enjoy it as freshly again and again, and again!  The turkey initially, intimitaly the lustily beloved meal now becomes a chore to engage in the eating--it is cliche.  Even thinking about it may make mind and stomach parbreak.
Or who may listen to christmas plaguy jingles and commercialism incessantly and not become fairly wearied out? I think of cliche as being like that--they are outwearied means and themes that we cloy us with.  We don't always mean to cloy us with something but nevertheless we get cloyed and the result is, cliche!
Essorant
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9 posted 08-27-2003 03:05 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Hey how did you add the accented e to cliche?  Is there an html tag...?

[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-27-2003 03:07 AM).]

Local Parasite
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10 posted 08-27-2003 11:00 AM       View Profile for Local Parasite   Email Local Parasite   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Local Parasite's Home Page   View IP for Local Parasite

There's a simple difference, Ron, and it's not difficult to understand.  In fact, I'll bet everyone already realizes it.  The problem with cliches is that you're taking something from memory, something you've heard before, and using it in your own poetry.  That is, a huge chunk of something you've heard before... not just a word or two, although even certain words can be cliche in a given context.

Not all cliches are phrases.  Cliches are also concepts that have been overused, and that obviously didn't take any creative work on the part of the author to come up with.

That's the problem with cliche, everyone... it's an easy way out.  A great big glaring scar on your poem that says "I couldn't think of something to say on my own so I used this thing that I've heard said somewhere before."

You've heard the phrase "Nothing New Under The Sun?"  I always thought of poetry as a way of refuting that.

Faith is a fine invention
When gentlemen can see
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.
~~~Emily Dickinson

Ron
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11 posted 08-27-2003 01:09 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Cliches are also concepts that have been overused ...

Mmmm. Someone care to take that just a little farther? What kinds of concepts are often overused?

quote:
That's the problem with cliche, everyone... it's an easy way out.

But what's wrong with easy? I drive to the store not because I can't walk ten miles, but because it's easier. Isn't easy a good thing?
Essorant
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12 posted 08-27-2003 01:13 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Then again the saying "rosey fingered dawn" shows up myriads of times in Iliad but I never get tired of the suggestion of the rays of morning being like fingers with rosy touch.  Do you think that phrase/idea was cliche in Homer's time? Is it just unique in our day because few people refer to it that way? Perhaps he simply felt it was the (or his) most adequate and eloquent way of characterizing morning so was nothing loth to employ the phrase whenever he needed or pleased to describe morning.  
If you feel something perhaps often said or suggested is a best or most needful mean for an expression of yours overall why betake anything else?
Being different just for the sake of being different is such a cliche today.  


[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-27-2003 02:20 PM).]

eminor_angel
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13 posted 08-27-2003 01:21 PM       View Profile for eminor_angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for eminor_angel

I once read a definition of cliche as a phrase that has (generally) obscure origin, ei. rule of thumb, got your goat, etc. However, I think this is quite a narrow description of a broad topic.
Local Parasite
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14 posted 08-27-2003 05:00 PM       View Profile for Local Parasite   Email Local Parasite   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Local Parasite's Home Page   View IP for Local Parasite

Essorant, yeah, I also noticed Homer didn't seem to care how much he used something, at least in Iliad.  At least half of the similies he used compared something to a lion.  I started rolling my eyes every time I read something like "Diomed pounced, like a lion," or whatever... and just because a famous poet does it doesn't make it any less what it is.  It might not be cliche to compare something to a lion, but it's possible for one poet to use that analogy way, way too much, and I personally feel Homer did.  Then again, I've only read him in translation.

quote:
Mmmm. Someone care to take that just a little farther? What kinds of concepts are often overused?


Well, let's say for example a poem describing how someone's heart has been broken into a million pieces.  You could say that a thousand different ways and it'd still be cliche, because the metaphor of a heart literally breaking like glass has been done to death.  

quote:
But what's wrong with easy? I drive to the store not because I can't walk ten miles, but because it's easier. Isn't easy a good thing?


You like analogies, right?  So how's this... If we were both given swords and meant to have a swordfight, and I took out a gun halfway into it and shot you dead, would that make me a better swordsman?  No.  By your logic, however, I suppose it would.

It depends on what you're going for, Ron.  Some things, like a trip to the store, have a specific and simple goal in mind, with no regard given to the act itself... which is why the easiest way makes the most sense.  Walking or driving to the store, either way, you'll end up at home with whatever you went to the store to buy.  Poetry, on the other hand, is an exhibition of skill.  Have you heard the term "creative writing?"  Key word is "creative."  You're "creating" something.  Not copy-pasting something, but creating, out of your own imaginative mind.  

And as for the "easier is better" thing, well, that's a very dangerous way of thinking, although a good example of how American we all are.  Why is easier always better?  Doesn't it teach us to be lazy?  If I walk to the store instead of driving, maybe it'll help to keep me in shape?  Easier tends to have its drawbacks, and it tends to make us lazy.

Faith is a fine invention
When gentlemen can see
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.
~~~Emily Dickinson

Ron
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15 posted 08-27-2003 06:33 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Well, let's say for example a poem describing how someone's heart has been broken into a million pieces. You could say that a thousand different ways and it'd still be cliche, because the metaphor of a heart literally breaking like glass has been done to death. (emphasis added)


Bingo? Well, almost.

So, what is the underlying goal of a metaphor. How does a metaphor accomplish that goal? And why is a clichéd metaphor, pretty much by definition, a disruption of that goal?

quote:
If we were both given swords and meant to have a swordfight, and I took out a gun halfway into it and shot you dead, would that make me a better swordsman?


quote:
If I walk to the store instead of driving, maybe it'll help to keep me in shape?


If the goal of our fight was to prove who was the better swordsman, then using a gun would certainly not be the easiest way to do it. And, if the goal of going to the store was to stay in shape, driving my car wouldn't be the easiest way to do it. Whether "easy" is good or bad depends in large part on our underlying goals.

Which raises the obvious next question. Does every line or passage or image in a poem necessarily share a common goal? Or, more pointedly, does every line, passage or image deserve the same attention?
Essorant
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16 posted 08-28-2003 02:50 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Local Parasite,

"Well, let's say for example a poem describing how someone's heart has been broken into a million pieces. You could say that a thousand different ways and it'd still be cliche, because the metaphor of a heart literally breaking like glass has been done to death."

So if someone's feelings/heart truly do seem breaking like glass to you, you should yet eschew referring to it through that analogy for very fear of it being a cliche?  Are originalness and creativeness then more important than the strongest impression and accuracy?


[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-28-2003 03:05 AM).]

eminor_angel
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17 posted 08-28-2003 10:07 AM       View Profile for eminor_angel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for eminor_angel

"So if someone's feelings/heart truly do seem breaking like glass to you, you should yet eschew referring to it through that analogy for very fear of it being a cliche?  Are originalness and creativeness then more important than the strongest impression and accuracy?"

That's precisely the problem with cliches: their accuracy and effect are toned down because of their lack of originality. And yes, creativeness is of utmost importance! After all, cliche phrases are not the product of the writer's imagination; rather, they belong to other people.

Opeth
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18 posted 08-29-2003 06:48 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Example of a cliche:

"She is at the end of her rope."

The meaning, of course, is based on hopelessness for a given situation.

But, how about taking the meaning a little further by using some creativity in one's writing, such as this:

"She can't even climb to the end of her rope."


A modified cliche makes it no longer a cliche, imo.

Essorant
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19 posted 08-29-2003 12:16 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

What about like this:

It frays her rope
and grip on hope

[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-29-2003 12:17 PM).]

Opeth
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20 posted 08-29-2003 12:35 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Yep. I would consider that a modified cliche, hence it is an original writing and no longer a cliche.
Local Parasite
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21 posted 08-29-2003 01:13 PM       View Profile for Local Parasite   Email Local Parasite   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Local Parasite's Home Page   View IP for Local Parasite

quote:
So, what is the underlying goal of a metaphor. How does a metaphor accomplish that goal? And why is a clichéd metaphor, pretty much by definition, a disruption of that goal?


It's not.  The cliche doesn't disrupt the "goal" of the metaphor, it disrupts the "goal" of the entire poem.  You can easily disagree with me on the fact that the goal of poetry is to create something imaginative, creative and original, which I firmly believe and I'll bet quite a few other poets will agree with.  The goal of the metaphor has nothing to do with it.

quote:
If the goal of our fight was to prove who was the better swordsman, then using a gun would certainly not be the easiest way to do it. And, if the goal of going to the store was to stay in shape, driving my car wouldn't be the easiest way to do it. Whether "easy" is good or bad depends in large part on our underlying goals.


And if the goal is writing a creative poem, then using cliche is certainly no way of going about that.  Glad you agree with me.  

quote:
Which raises the obvious next question. Does every line or passage or image in a poem necessarily share a common goal? Or, more pointedly, does every line, passage or image deserve the same attention?


If you call each line of a poem "poetry," then yes, there's a common goal:  the goal of writing a poem.  As I've said, the cliche defeats the goal of the entire poem as a whole, and not just some individual aspect of the poem.  If your goal is to touch someone deeply, and you could best accomplish that with the use of some cliche, then perhaps it's not that cliche has a place in poetry but, rather, that poetry is not the best way to go in this particular instance?

Cliches can be useful, sure, just not in poetry.  Poetry requires an element of creativity and imagination in order for it to have any merit.  You're free to get all democratic on me and say something like "you can't define poetry," but that's something I'm not willing to buy.  Words like "art" and "poetry" get so abused these days and it's truly very sad.


Faith is a fine invention
When gentlemen can see
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.
~~~Emily Dickinson

[This message has been edited by Local Parasite (08-29-2003 01:16 PM).]

Local Parasite
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22 posted 08-29-2003 01:14 PM       View Profile for Local Parasite   Email Local Parasite   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Local Parasite's Home Page   View IP for Local Parasite

quote:
So if someone's feelings/heart truly do seem breaking like glass to you, you should yet eschew referring to it through that analogy for very fear of it being a cliche?  Are originalness and creativeness then more important than the strongest impression and accuracy?


In poetry, yes.  If you're going for a strong impression and accuracy, by all means string together a few cliches, but don't call it poetry... what's poetic about reciting something from memory?

Faith is a fine invention
When gentlemen can see
But microscopes are prudent
In an emergency.
~~~Emily Dickinson

Essorant
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23 posted 08-29-2003 02:54 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

It's ok...I have a secret access to river lethe so whenever I run out of alternatives I just fetch a lethe-draught and besprinkle it on the reader so he forgets what he is reading is cliche...  It is very  handy.  But sometimes I sprinkle all too much and then he forgets how to read altogether...it's annoying when that happens!


[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-29-2003 03:06 PM).]

Ron
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24 posted 08-29-2003 07:05 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
You can easily disagree with me on the fact that the goal of poetry is to create something imaginative, creative and original, which I firmly believe and I'll bet quite a few other poets will agree with.

Then why use words, sentences, grammar, or punctuation? Those have all been pretty much done to death, don't you think, and leave much less room for imagination, creativity and originality than would, uh, gobbledygook. If those are your only goals, there seems little point in confining yourself to common language. There is nothing in your specification, after all, that suggests your poetry should be comprehensible?

Once in a while, I like to drop the top on the Miata and go for a long, relaxing drive. I think that's a bit what you're suggesting poetry should be, Brian. Usually, though, when I get in the Miata, I have a specific someplace I want to go. The car may be necessary to get me there, but in spite of that, I don't confuse the vehicle with the destination.
 
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