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Passions in Poetry

What is Poetry?

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


0 posted 10-10-1999 03:01 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I don't know who said this first but I've heard it often enough:

A poem is not about something, it is something.


It seems I've gotten into a little trouble recently for trying to act on this statement.

So, anybody have any ideas on what it means?

Brad
JP
Senior Member
since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


1 posted 10-10-1999 04:27 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Poetry, whether it be structured verse, or free verse, is a sculpture of words. A crafting of linguistic art.

To write a good story is to relay something in a palatable and clear fashion. To make a point, foretell events, or relate thought, in a manner which pleases the mind and leaves little room for interpretation of intent.

To write a poem is an act of pure inspiration. To mold language in such a fashion that the mere form itself becomes art. The meaning is secondary (which may be true, but I don't like it).

A well crafted poem is in and of itself, the work - although, in my mind, a well crafted poem with depth of feeling and profundity of thought is a masterpeice.

------------------
Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

Nicole
Senior Member
since 06-23-99
Posts 1896
Florida


2 posted 10-10-1999 12:01 PM       View Profile for Nicole   Email Nicole   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Nicole

Basically, poetry is a form of communication. Communication is successful when a person conveys what they want to communitcate, and it is received and understood by another person.

That's stripping away all the good/bad, why's, how's and what have you.
JP
Senior Member
since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


3 posted 10-10-1999 09:03 PM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Successful communication is much more than the bare bones vision you've laid before us Satiate... much much more.

------------------
Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

Nicole
Senior Member
since 06-23-99
Posts 1896
Florida


4 posted 10-10-1999 09:27 PM       View Profile for Nicole   Email Nicole   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Nicole

Oh, I know JP..I know. What I stated above, like I said, is the basics.
Nicole
Senior Member
since 06-23-99
Posts 1896
Florida


5 posted 10-10-1999 11:03 PM       View Profile for Nicole   Email Nicole   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Nicole

Ok...let me amend what I just said. I know there's more to communication, I am just frightfully unaware of the giant scope of it all. Which, ironically, was pointed out to me just after I made that last post. I stepped away from the computer and had a complete communication breakdown with someone who's known me for over half my life.
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


6 posted 10-12-1999 07:15 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

JP,
There is a tendency to see this phrase in exactly the terms you describe and TS Elliot has said that the first time he reads a poem, he doesn't really understand it (one wonders if he was reading his own stuff at times) but I think it means something different. When a poem is written, it becomes it's own thing, it's own meaning through the use of the words.

There is a strong tendency here and elsewhere to see the language as secondary to the meaning -- the intent behind the language as more important. Yet, as I think Satiate is trying to point out, it's just not that simple. As much as your feelings and thoughts determine your words, those words will determine your thoughts and feelings. As a result, if a poem is written about a break up, for example, it becomes a different thing than that break up and can be looked at as different, separate from that 'real event'. Don't look behind the words, look at the words and see if those
words create any feeling for you.

Content and form should never be split up because neither can exist without the other.

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


7 posted 10-12-1999 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

Content and form should never be split up because neither can exist without the other.

Say what? So the break-up didn't really happen? Boy, I wish I had known that thirty years ago! I could still be dating my sweet sixteen, childhood sweetheart...
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


8 posted 10-12-1999 08:22 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ron,
Sorry about your childhood sweetheart (I'm quite glad none of my early relationships worked but that's another story -- I plan to write poems about those years ).

I honestly think that high school education is the problem here; they have taken a useful critical technique developed in the early and mid-twentieth century (the New Criticism in the US and the Formalists in Europe) and turned it into some sort of dogma while at the same time can't quite extricate themselves from authorial intent. Of course, a great poem must be absolutely planned by the author.

I, with a few others, remember asking my high school teacher if we could study Coleridge's Kubla Kahn in class. She said she couldn't teach it because it was based on an opium ecstacy and therefore had no meaning. Now, you can study it in a number of different ways and all of them seem valid to me but what was more important was that we, the students, saw it as interesting and worth examining in detail. But, because it didn't fit with certain pre-set ideas on what a 'deep' poem is supposed to be, our feelings were squashed. We saw something there and I don't think we were wrong.

Reading a poem is about what you, the reader, feel, not what the writer felt.

Or am I just espousing still another theory that will turn into a dogma?

I don't know.
Brad
Ron
Administrator
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US


9 posted 10-12-1999 09:23 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Brad, if I believed that was true I think I would stop writing. What would be the point?

I will grant you that a writer always puts more into a work than he fully realizes or intends. That's why writing is both a personal discovery and a personal revelation. But I submit to you, if a writer can't at a minimum get across his intent (through content and form) then the writer simply isn't doing their job. And their job is very simply to communicate their feelings in the only way possible - by evoking those feelings in another human being. If a poem evokes feelings other than those intended, it may well be a pleasing poem - but it has nonetheless failed.

I agree that the education system is faulty. But I think the analysis of poems, accomplished in any manner, will remain a problem as long as the motivation for the analysis is skewed. We are taught to tear a poem apart to discern the poet's intent. Instead, I think we should feel the intent and then try to discover how the writer accomplished it.

And, yes, I know I'm opening up another can of worms. Every reader necessarily brings their own history to the reading of poetry. But, hey, that's another thread...
JP
Senior Member
since 05-25-99
Posts 1391
Loomis, CA


10 posted 10-13-1999 02:01 AM       View Profile for JP   Email JP   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit JP's Home Page   View IP for JP

Ron,

Somehow I think we came back to the idea of sculpture - specifically, modern sculpture. Where the form of the work is an intrical tool in the evocation of feeling.

I am not sure I agree with your views on poetic failure if the evocation of feeling is different than the writer's intent. While a poem about a sandwich might be read and deciphered as a work depicting the shallowness of man's existence, could be considered a failure if the idea of a sandwich never enters the reader's mind. I think the poem, if interpreted both ways is a rousing success.

The beauty of any art form is the ability of every single individual to draw from it their own idea, feeling, and sense of self. A work that forces the reader/viewer into a single construct of thought, is in my opinion, a failure.

------------------
Yesterday is ash, tomorrow is smoke; only today does the fire burn.
JP

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


11 posted 10-13-1999 02:15 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

I agree with everything you said, JP (well, I'm not too sure about the sandwich thingy ). Remember, I stipulated "at a minimum." The reader will absolutely bring more to the table than merely what the writer supplied. But if the reader walks away with less than the writer intended, then communication failed - even if the poem was beautiful.

Think of it this way: if we, as writers, don't have a responsibility to communicate, then we really don't have to bother putting any content into our poems. We can simply write beautiful, meaningless phrases and let the reader supply the message. And ya know what? I could program a computer to do that...
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


12 posted 10-13-1999 03:12 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I agree with JP as well. I also agree with Ron from a writer's point of view, I think it is important to communicate some idea, some feeling, some image that allows the writer to encapsulate his or her contradictory thoughts and feelings. On my poem, 'The Talk Show' I was recently asked to explain what I meant. I am however not sure how to respond.

I suppose I could say that I was just ranting on the sheer vacuity of mass media conversations -- philisophical sound bites (and the audience goes 'Ohhhh'), the problems in being judged by people who don't know you (in a sixty minute time frame), and the urgent need for quick fixes, answers, and conclusions that leave me less satisfied than if you just left the whole thing alone. On the other hand, I was also indulging in a tempered writer's fantasy that I would ever be famous enough to be on a talk show (even though I said small talk show, I pictured Jay Leno as the host). I was also trying to create the dizzying sensation of success/defeat at the same time: I wanted this but not like this. Furthermore, I wanted to look at the idea of public confessions and how sometimes I wonder if they are created more by the situation at that moment and not by some deep rooted problem (alcoholics don't get drunk on one drink but I tried to make it clear that the character was a little drunk on something and the ultimate dissatisfaction that comes from satisfying desire).

And there's some more stuff too I suppose.

I use the narrative mode for my poetry because it's the one I'm most comfortable with and feel that it allows me to express this stuff without having to explain everything. I also believe that it allows the expression of what can seem some pretty complex ideas at times(but that may be my own arrogance talking). I'm also a shameless self-promoter of my own poetry as I hope this post makes abundantly clear.

So what does my poem mean? What was my intent? I think that it changes so fast that it's hard for me to say. I worry that a reader of my poetry will start to look for the 'answer' to this question and either get bored or miss what I hope is the richness of any poem I write (I try to make it rich anyway). The funny thing is even as I reread my own poems, the meaning shifts for me.

As a reader, by getting away from the writer's intent (What are you trying to say?), I can look at the words themselves and make up my own mind about what it means. Now, I'm only going to do this if the poem works for me at some point, makes me feel or see something that I think is interesting. I don't worry about being right and I don't worry about being wrong. If the writer disagrees with what I say, I can either change my mind or reread the poem and try to persuade he/she and others that my opinion has validity. If I'm persuasive, the best the author can do is say "I didn't intend it that way" but my response would be "so" -- you can't own meaning and not even the author is ever completely in control of the words they use. If the author is persuasive, then I'll change my mind. Actually, if we move away from the sovereign reign of the author, two readers can have the same discussion. Who is right? Who is wrong? It doesn't matter. What matters is who is more persuasive.

I think a lot of people are still caught up in the 'riddle theory of poetics' and it makes reading poetry harder than it should be.

Why I write is a different question altogether and that, as well, is a topic for another thread.

Does this make any sense?
Brad
starchild
Member
since 10-22-1999
Posts 60
manchester, england


13 posted 10-27-1999 08:38 AM       View Profile for starchild   Email starchild   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for starchild

poetry as an art is the content
the feeling
the expressions on the readers face and the feelings within the reader.
it is the desperate grab for perfection
it is reluctantly admiting defeat.
it is something different to everyone and each time it is heard or read.
it is free, it evolves ont the paper
it bores into the brain of the unwitting obsever and breeds ugly or beautiful thoughts.

poetry as a science is form as a priority
grammar and punctuation and spelling
a code of letters
a story or puzzle
halted
there
beached and dying
dead
accepting not rebelling
a pension and slippers
for plastic people to discuss and give themselves credit for
i hate it
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


14 posted 10-27-1999 09:01 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Starchild,
Content and form are the same thing. It is wrong to divide them.
Is the only music you listen to made by people who don't know how to play the instruments?

If a reader can't understand what you wrote, does it matter what the content is?

If I wrote a poem in Korean or Japanese, would you honestly even attempt to read it?

Just some thoughts,
Brad
 
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