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Passions in Poetry

Forgetting what we've learned about poetry...

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Nan
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Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA


0 posted 06-27-99 07:53 PM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

I have to disagree with you, my friend, Haskins...

I feel strongly that both free and blank verse do, indeed, hold legitimate places in the annals fine poetry - but...
The best works written in these unstructured formats will utilize extensive literary imagery to enhance the reader's enjoyment.

If you are a proponent of metered, rhyming verse (and I admit that I am), practice it - write more - and refine your skills. There's nothing like a good sonnet, pantoum, or villanelle.

Poetry that is written with a rhyme scheme, but lacks a contiguous meter, does not flow properly. That is what makes a poem sound "forced". Conversely, a poem with flawless trimeter, tetrameter, pentameter, etc... along with a specific rhyme scheme - sings like a rhapsody.

Never forget what you've learned about structured poetry. Do write your free verse - But learn the value of simile, metaphor, personification, malapropism, etc...

Become one with iambics, trochaics, and anapestics.... You'll be astounded at your own ability to write....

William Shakespeare hasn't survived nearly 500 years of literary fame by accident....

Nancy Ness





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Nan's Morsels
netpoets.net/nan/index.html


Tim
Senior Member
since 06-08-99
Posts 1801


1 posted 06-28-99 12:51 PM       View Profile for Tim   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tim

I could not even begin to get into an intellectual discussion about poetry with either Nan or Haskins, since I don't understand even half of the terminology they employ. All I can say is that to me, the beauty of poetry is being able to express yourself within the art form. To me, the hardest poetry to write is haiku. I feel fairly comfortable in my ability to count to seventeen, but I am unable to capture the essence of creating a vision where ever syllable and thought must be in perfect harmony. I spend as much time in the classical section of Passions as anywhere else, because to me, that is poetry in its purest form. While I recognize the value of free verse, it it somewhat akin to classical versus atonal music to me. You can appreciate atonal music, but you experience the classics. Just a few thoughts from a non-intellectual aspiring poet.
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


2 posted 11-09-1999 03:02 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Where is the beginning to this one? It feels like I've entered into something mid-thread? Okay, it was a long time ago but if anybody can help here, I would appreciate.

And yes I plan to comment here as well.

Brad
Ron
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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


3 posted 11-09-1999 03:12 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

You seem to be in the habit of stretching my memory muscles tonight, Brad.

But, as I recall, William Haskins (a very talented poet) made a comment that he didn't care for structured poetry because it too often seemed "forced."

Now, that should certainly elicit a comment or two?
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


4 posted 11-11-1999 06:18 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I have a theory. It may be a stupid one but I'm going to place it on two or three posts here and see if anybody disagrees:

Free verse is not the problem.
Strucured verse is not the problem.
Blank verse is not the problem.

The reason the majority no longer reads poetry is the domination of the lyric mode. Everybody is writing about themselves and nobody (except us) wants to read it anymore.

Poetry's strength is in rediscovering the narrative mode.

In telling stories.

But I could be wrong,
Brad

PS Marq, if you read this, yes it's very similar to your idea about story poetry. Is it the same thing. I don't know.
rich-pa
Member
since 02-07-2000
Posts 325
New Orleans, Louisiana


5 posted 02-09-2000 11:14 PM       View Profile for rich-pa   Email rich-pa   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rich-pa

the strength of poetry is in how well it conveys universal meaning that stands up against the test of time, not in it's structure, i'm sure eliot will last as long as shakespeare
jbouder
Member Elite
since 09-18-99
Posts 2641
Whole Sort Of Genl Mish Mash


6 posted 02-10-2000 06:24 AM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Brad may be onto something.  Perhaps greeting cards are the culprits; what do you think?

Most of what I write is verse (as opposed to free-verse) and I am in the minority here, I think.  The problem that I have with those who say "I don't like structured poetry because too often it seems too forced" is that they probably have not made a serious attempt at writing good, structured poetry.  Besides being a little misleading, I think a statement like this tends to send a poet up the slippery slope of thinking he or she has nothing to learn from writing in traditional formats.  Additionally, such a statement is overly general.  It would be like me saying, "I don't like free-verse because too often it seems like whittled down prose forced into stanzas."  Both statements beg the question as they stand.

Just my opinion.

Nan:

Are you trying to start a war?  The verse/free-verse debate in the Forums is a hotter one than religion will ever be!    


Jim
Brad
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since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


7 posted 02-10-2000 09:36 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I have to admit I don't know much about universals but Elliot often wrote narrative poems or at least set up a poem with a strong narrative ambience.

Jim,
This question is perrenial one for poetry. It comes down to what exactly poetry is. I agree with you and Nan, however, that even if you want to write in free verse, you still need to study traditional formats (and learn their strengths) and practice this stuff once in awhile.  Greeting Cards? Hmmmm, I wonder if that'll touch a debate on this one (I've tried and failed several times with this topic).  For the record, it is the lackluster, syrupy nature of the Greeting Card comment that turns a lot of people off. If a poem tries to appeal to everyone, it appeals to no one.

Just an opinion,
Brad
Ron
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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


8 posted 02-10-2000 11:52 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

This is a little frightening, but I think I actually find myself in agreement with Brad on the importance of narrative in poetry and the dangers of letting our work become so personal as to be either incomprehensible or just plain boring.

The main Passions site has become pretty popular, running a bit over one million visitors a month right now. When you consider that Yahoo, the most popular site on the Internet, hit 36 million visitors in December, you can see we're moving into the big leagues. By way of comparison on the other end of the spectrum, Poetry Super Highway (which is an excellent site and has been around three years) gets less than 3,000 visitors a month. Those of you with your own web site know just how difficult it can be to entice large numbers of people to read poetry. So what has made Passions different?

Judging by my email, one of the biggest factors has been the descriptions that accompany each and every poem. From day one, I've insisted that every author write a short paragraph or two to help provide insight into the reason the poem was written. I've encouraged them to be both honest and very personal. Don't tell me "it's about a man falling in love." Instead, tell me "this is how I feel when she walks into the room." Getting a good description (which is a misnomer) out of an author has often been like pulling teeth. Michael, for example, has admitted to me he hates writing them (yet, his descriptions are invariably among the best). A lot of poets feel their work should speak for itself, and stand alone or not at all. Maybe they're right. But not at Passions.

The descriptions, of course, turn every poem at Passions into a narrative tale. They provide insight and understanding often lacking in typical poetry. I have become increasingly convinced over the past year that a lot of people want to read and enjoy poetry, certainly as many or more than read prose (see, Brad, I knew we'd find something to disagree about  ). But they also want to understand what they read. Yes, there are many more people who read fiction than read poetry. But what kind of fiction? Most of the world resolutely avoids "literary" fiction (non-plot stories) - and those are probably the same ones avoiding poetry. They won't read what they don't understand.

In one sense, Passions caters to the lazy reader. Most people simply will not spend a few hours trying to wrestle meaning from a dozen lines of poetry (any more than they will a page of prose). In another sense, I cater to what I call the "soap opera" effect. People want to read about real people, in real situations. The narrative impact of our descriptions help fulfill both of those goals.

Does that suggest there is no room in this world for "meaningful" non-narrative poetry? Does it mean that Passions exists only for the lowest common denominator, the lazy soap-opera-fan reader? Of course not. I've always defined our audience at the main site as "people only learning to appreciate poetry." Not all of them will move beyond the greeting card genre. Not all of them will move beyond spoon-fed understanding. Not all of them will find the joy of discovering layers of subtlety and meaning in the best poetry.

But some of them will.

I also find myself agreeing with Brad (shudder) and others about the importance of learning both structured and non-structured techniques, regardless of which you choose as your own medium. But I'll carry that a step farther and insist it's equally important to learn the techniques of prose. I wish I had more time to spend in the Fiction Workshop. Better yet, I wish someone else would jump in there and take up where I've failed from lack of time. When I wrote the introduction to the Workshop I said that "Fiction and poetry are not separate mediums, but rather siblings within the family of writing." I firmly believe you cannot excel at one without understanding both.

Strive not to be a poet. Strive, instead, to be a writer.
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


9 posted 02-10-2000 10:53 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

This is indeed frightening. Don't get me wrong, convincing Ron that I'm right is fun (and I know I've done it at least once) and having Ron convince me that he's right (and, yes, that's happened. I just don't like to admit it   ) is fun. But, when we just out and out agree on something, I have to wonder if it's time for me to find more radical arguments.  

Anyway,

"But I'll carry that a step farther and insist it's equally important to learn the techniques of prose."

is something I wish I would have said.

Brad

 
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