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Passions in Poetry

Poets, poetry and genetics

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warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


0 posted 04-03-2000 12:18 AM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

We all know people who are very talented creatively, and those who have no creativity whatsoever. It has been said that creativity is genetic. Do you think that precludes one who doesn't recieve the gene from becoming a poet? Can anyone who reads, writes, and has cognitive abilities learn to compose good poetry?


 the poet's pen...gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name ~ Shakespeare


[This message has been edited by warmhrt (edited 04-03-2000).]
StarrGazer
Senior Member
since 03-05-2000
Posts 696
Texas


1 posted 04-03-2000 02:19 AM       View Profile for StarrGazer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for StarrGazer

I believe that everyone posesses the ability to write, manybe not blockbuster, bestseller type material... but the ability to pen words to paper.  
As for the "creativity gene" ... my opinion on that is perhaps the gene does exist, but writing, reading, etc are learned behaviors.  If a parent reads a child is more likely to read following that example. This is not always true, for I have known many people who have unleashed creativity coming from not so creative homes. This is just my opinion of course.
As for good poetry... the definitions of good poetry range so much from one person to another is it the meter, the rhyme, the flow, the overall message that makes the poem good? (maybe that is another subject entirely)
It has always been my opinion that anyone can write poetry, when people tell me they can't I encourage them to try.  The results may not be the best piece of poetry ever written but they get in touch with feelings and emotions and express a part of themselves through writing.
I've long wondered if all this genetic research is a good thing or bad thing... I shudder to think of the possible senarios ..."I can't write I'm missing that gene" thats not a message I'd want to send to my children or anyone's children for that matter. I think I'd rather stick with the old "There is no crime in trying" mindset.
And that my friend is enough of my ramblings sorry my keyboard just got away from me  


 Mystical being
which makes ink flow
Surround me in
your incandescent glow
Fill my brain with
thoughts and rhyme
As I try to capture
but a moment in time
~Shan~

warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


2 posted 04-03-2000 01:07 PM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

Starr,

I certainly agree that anyone can be taught the "mechanics" of poetry, and that the questions I posed have questions within them. So, for discussion's sake, when I said "become a poet", we'll say one who's been widely published...well-known.
Does that clarify it enough to be able to think about the query, which essentially is: Is creativity a necessary factor in writing "good" poetry, and in becoming a well-known poet, or can one who lacks creativity learn to become a good poet?  

 the poet's pen...gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name ~ Shakespeare




[This message has been edited by warmhrt (edited 04-03-2000).]
StarrGazer
Senior Member
since 03-05-2000
Posts 696
Texas


3 posted 04-03-2000 02:08 PM       View Profile for StarrGazer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for StarrGazer

Ok, from that stand point I would definately thing creativity is necessary. In order to cover subjects that have been covered countless times in the past, the poet must use creativity to shed a new light on the subject and capture the reader's interest.And, while I think it might be possible to "learn" creativity I think that the attempt in itself would perhaps leave the poem lacking in some aspects compared to the poet who is already creative and knows how to harness that creativity in and write from that well. So in essence creativity is a very important factor in poetry, be it a learned behavior or natural instinct.      

 Mystical being
which makes ink flow
Surround me in
your incandescent glow
Fill my brain with
thoughts and rhyme
As I try to capture
but a moment in time
~Shan~

Tony Di Bart
Member
since 01-26-2000
Posts 163
Toronto, Canada


4 posted 04-03-2000 10:23 PM       View Profile for Tony Di Bart   Email Tony Di Bart   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tony Di Bart

Hello

I think that I will put my two cents in now. I think genetics has very little to do with creativity.  I think creativity comes from conditioning or lack of it if you like.  The most creative and brilliant minds have been gifted with ability to see things where everyone else looks and sees nothing.  I think creativity has more to do with stripping away layers of conditioning than some magic leonardo, or William gene. I also think that everyone can create something wonderful and masterful, only if they are willing to sacrifice all for it.  All great artist have done so.  The ink becomes their blood, their life.

So I think genetics has very little to do with it.

SEE YA

warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


5 posted 04-03-2000 11:44 PM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

Tony,

I disagree with your statement that creativity has nothing to do with genetics.
What about the fact that so many of the immortal poets, artists and composers had a family history of depressive illnesses and they, too, suffered from them? I'm not saying that everyone possessing creativity has a depressive illness, just that there's been a link shown between the two. (Kay Redfield Jamison's book, "Touched with Fire")
So, if there exists that genetic link, I believe there is also one for creativity. One may never know they had this talent, if it is not applied and worked with. And of course, there would be different degrees of creativity.

If this is true, then one who does not possess creativity could learn to write poetry, where as, often, one who posseses creativity can write it without really learning...a natural talent, if you will. The same goes for music and art. I have a nephew who's played the piano by ear since the age of three. His younger sister shows no interest, and cannot play much of anything. She is surrounded by creativity, but displays no inclination towards it. My nephew can also write well, and sketches beautifully. I feel he has inherited creativity, along with being intelligent and sensitive. Those last two traits, which are usually seen in highly creative people, are also genetic.

The degree of creativity can vary greatly, with the most creative people excelling, if they apply themselves. Usually, though, those that are more creative than average,
choose to use it, rather than having to work hard at learning to use it. Those with little to no creative talent would probably have to be pushed into writing, music, or art.

I've gone on long enough...
Kris

 the poet's pen...gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name ~ Shakespeare
Tony Di Bart
Member
since 01-26-2000
Posts 163
Toronto, Canada


6 posted 04-04-2000 10:31 PM       View Profile for Tony Di Bart   Email Tony Di Bart   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Tony Di Bart

1st of all depression and creativity are linked but not genetically.  I think all great artist are depressed out of frustration or conviction.  I totally disagree with your interpretaion that artist are depressed.  Maybe there is a link between depression and creativity because most people who are depressed are loaners.  Therfore, being loaners they have no choice but to create and thus get better at their craft.  It is human nature to want to communicate.ie art is communication.

Your other well hidden point.  Artist are depressed, they come from depressed families, depressin is genetic, therefore artistic talent  is genetic.  NOT!  This argument hold no water.  There is a European saying that goes soemthing like this

" If you hang out with soemone that limps you  will also learn to limp"  If a child grows up in a depressed enviorment then he knows nothing but depression therefore that is waht he learns. Therefore, if the child lives with depressed artist he has a greater chance of being a depressed artist.

See Ya



warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


7 posted 04-05-2000 01:49 AM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

Tony,

There is more than one kind of depressive illness. Bipolar is one of them, and in the manic phases, those who are creative say their creativity is magnified. Check out the book, "Touched with Fire", or have you done research on this subject?

I did not say that there was a genetic link between depression and creativity. There is a genetic link to depressive ilnesses, though not everyone who has one is creative.
How would you account for the fact that writer's, poets, artists, and musicians have a much higher rate of these illnesses than the general public? That is why Byron said, "We of the craft are all crazy." He, by the way, was bipolar.

As far as environment goes, you can not be creative if you possess no creativity, no matter what environment you're in. If you have just some, you may become involved and interested, but that does not mean you'll be good at it, no matter how hard you work at it.

My father is very artistic, as is one of my sisters, but no one in my family wrote anything. I wrote to express my feelings, as some paint, or play an instrument. I believe I inherited that creativity. One of my daughters writes beautifully...she just started with journaling and moved right into poetry with no teaching. The other one  cannot write well, but she does make things (crafts).

Another thing I've noticed about writer's and poets is their heightened sensitivity,
and their ability to see things differently than others. Do you agree?  

 the poet's pen...gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name ~ Shakespeare


[This message has been edited by warmhrt (edited 04-05-2000).]
Tara Simms
Senior Member
since 08-12-99
Posts 1285
Honea Path, SC USA


8 posted 04-23-2000 04:01 AM       View Profile for Tara Simms   Email Tara Simms   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Tara Simms's Home Page   View IP for Tara Simms

I think creativity stems from feeling emotions more intensely than most.  That's not to say that everyone who is hypersensitive to their emotions are creative.  Some choose to suppress that, the creative ones choose to express it.  

Define creativity.  To me, it is the ability to take a technical skill to a greater plane, where you are not only achieving the obvious (putting words to paper, making sound with musical instruments) but expressing emotions. It's the gift of making others ~feel~ what you do through your art.  That is something that is totally subjective.  A poem, painting, song might bring tears to my eyes, tapping into something inside of me.  It could do absolutely nothing for you.

Anybody can learn how to play an instrument with proper training.  Put your fingers on the right keys/strings/holes and it will make sound.  Anybody can learn about the mechanics of poetry. There used to be a person here in Passions who wrote technically crafted poems.  Word choices, rhyme schemes and form were flawless.  But I found his work cold, empty, lifeless.  Devoid of feeling.  In my opinion, he lacked creativity.  However, there are many others who would disagree with me.

I am familiar with musical notes and terms.  Technically I could write a song.  When performed, there would be sound.  But would it be music?  That is for each listener to decide for themselves.

Is the talent for a particular craft inherited?  I don't think so.  People choose to express their emotions in different ways.  Some people are visual; they paint and/or sculpt.  I am verbal; I write.  Do I consider myself to be creative?  Yes, I do.  To my knowledge, I am the only one in my family who writes.  Am I the only creative one? No.  My brother has an aptitude for playing musical instruments.  We both have our own brand of creativity, we just have our own outlet for our emotions.
warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


9 posted 04-23-2000 01:00 PM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

Tara,

I agree with many of your points, however, don't you think the tendency to be creative in a certain area depends upon the parts of the brain that influences what you do? If you feel you are creative, which I would define as possessing a rich imagination, and using it in an innovative or artistic manner, wouldn't that all be determined by your thought processes and neurotransmitters that send messages to every part of our body? I can write and paint, but, though I would love to play the piano, and have applied myself, I feel I did not inherit the genetic material to allow me to become a good pianist (or typist). I don't think it's that I chose to write...it was more the fact that I, and others, saw I was good at writing. If I had been able to play the piano well, I could have used that as an emotional and creative outlet. I would have actually preferred that, if I had a choice. I don't feel I do, thou, my creativity with words was predetermined, and I discovered it.

Has your brother ever tried writing, or have you played an instrument? If you had an aptitude for playing, it would draw you to that activity, and you would want to do it. Do you see what I'm saying?

Kris

 the poet's pen...gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name ~ Shakespeare
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


10 posted 04-23-2000 09:24 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

What bothers me here is not the Nature versus nurture argument which doesn't interest me all that much but the continuing Romantic notion of artists as geniuses/abnormals.  One, I think it deemphasizes the very real work that goes into 'art' of most kinds.  I remember talking with a group of school friends about what it takes to succeed in any field and we all agreed that it takes a certain amount of obsession (not necessarily the clinical kind).  If this is what you mean (probably not), I have no problems here.

Two, you have no problems saying that depressed or bi-polars are not always creative and I think it safe to say that we can find may writers who are not anymore disturbed than the rest of us -- Toni Morrison, Saul Bellow, Robert Pinsky, Richard Wilbur, Seamus Heaney are all more or less okay, aren't they?  My guess is that writers, when seen as a whole, are probably no more or less disturbed than the general population.

Ah, but it is this creative person were talking about, isn't it? I haven't read this book you mentioned, Kris, but I have heard of it (in a very similar debate actually) and wonder if it hasn't moved from the desriptive to the prescriptive: great art has to be created by unbalanced people, otherwise it isn't great art.

In other words, the psychological state of the artist becomes a determining factor in the judgement of what great art is.  This scares me because beginning artists may read into this and, because they want to be great artists, destroy their lives as a result.  I don't think this is necessary.

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


11 posted 04-23-2000 10:37 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I read this the other day in the New York Times and thought it might have some relevance here:


"Now, however, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley have learned a little about what went on inside the heads of some of the more creative artists and poets the world has known. The researchers have identified the mechanism by which absinthe, the liqueur of choice for the likes of van Gogh, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Toulouse-Lautrec and others -- indeed, for much of 19th-century French society -- affects the brain. It makes neurons fire like mad."

This liqueur is illegal in the United States and apparently in most places because prolonged use causes brain damage.

Brad
warmhrt
Senior Member
since 12-18-1999
Posts 1566


12 posted 04-23-2000 11:53 PM       View Profile for warmhrt   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for warmhrt

Brad,

You misinterpreted what I said. I was just pointing out that those conditions can be inherited, and if those that have them are also creative, that makes it more likely that the creativity was genetic.

I would never want to give any false impressions to any young person. The only issue I'm discussing here is creativity. We all know a great many creative people who are perfectly stable, upright, law-abiding contributers to society.

I feel that you are being very unfair by writing the following:

"I haven't read this book you mentioned, Kris, but I have heard of it (in a very similar debate actually) and wonder if it hasn't moved from the desriptive to the prescriptive: great art has to be created by unbalanced people, otherwise it isn't great art."

It is a great book...fascinating. I would recommend it to anyone. I have never stated anything close to what you say from "prescriptive" on to the end of the sentence, in fact, I have never implied such a thing. If you had read carefully, you would have seen that.

You also used the words "disturbed" and "unbalanced" to describe people with a genetic condition, which, nowadays, can be put into remission, or near remission, with the new neuroleptic drugs. You could be working side by side with such a person, and never know. Those were words of one with a stereotypical and stigmatizing view of "mental" illness. You're a very intelligent guy, Brad; please educate yourself a little more on the subject.

Kris

 the poet's pen...gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name ~ Shakespeare
Rosebud1229
Senior Member
since 04-05-2000
Posts 1829
North Carolina


13 posted 04-27-2000 11:12 PM       View Profile for Rosebud1229   Email Rosebud1229   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Rosebud1229

You ask if we all are capable or born to be a poet, this is something we may never know unless we try. To me poetry is really opening up your heart and mind, expressing yourself so the person reading it can dive in to your words and become connected with you. It is a gift I am quite sure, as I read words from William Shakespeare, I can see so much feeling in his words, they reach out and capture you just as a good novel entrances us into reading page after page. I do believe a good poet has to really open him or herself up in order for their words to correspond to the paper. This to me is what makes poetry.

 
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