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Passions in Poetry

A poetry / prose comment

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Kevin Taylor
Member
since 12-23-1999
Posts 192
near Vancouver, BC, Canada


0 posted 11-04-2001 03:03 PM       View Profile for Kevin Taylor   Email Kevin Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Kevin Taylor's Home Page   View IP for Kevin Taylor

I find it amusing that some folks who maintain that the term "poetry" is impossible to define by other than connotation so readily define prose.

My personal politics on these matters are:

A poem is finite.
Poetry is not.
Sometimes they travel together.

Prose is a form. Poetry doesn't care what form you use.


Kevin

Poetry is the achievement of Art
through language, rhythm and form.

Poetry is the art of Achievement
through language, rhythm and form.


[This message has been edited by kevintaylor (edited 11-05-2001).]

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


1 posted 11-04-2001 09:39 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I don't get this.

Why not say a short story, a novel, or an essay is finite.

literature is not.

Sometimes they travel together.

The biggest problem I see here is that by confusing poetry (the kind of stuff that Barnes and Noble puts in their poetry section) with 'poetry' is that you get people arguing that breaking something into lines is good by definition.

And why haven't you considered the distinction between verse and poetry -- a distinction that I'd just as soon do away with because most people just don't get it ( see the confusion between poetry and 'poetry' above.   )

Brad

[This message has been edited by Brad (edited 11-04-2001).]

Stephanos
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since 07-31-2000
Posts 3496
Statesboro, GA, USA


2 posted 11-04-2001 10:01 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Hmmm... not so sure about this quote, though you have made some points.


"Prose is a form. Poetry doesn't care what form you use. "


If any one of these two types of writing are more "free" of form, it is prose, hands down.  It is free from any metrical consideration (other than paragraphs, chapters, etc).  Poetry may not care what form you use... but it cares very much that you use a form.  It pretty much insists.  And by the way, Free Verse is a form also, albeit a more sneaky one.  Judson Jerome wrote, "It (Free Verse) is the use of form to convey the illusion of spontenaity".  I emphatically agree.  All poetry is metrical in the sense that it can be versified.  And what gives it away is the line breaks.  No matter how "liberated" a poem is, it has definite line breaks.  A choice was made by the poet where to  make the "cuts".  Cutting implies form.  The closest thing to poetry without form is prose poetry, where line breaks are not emphasized.  But then it's form is the form of prose.  Paragraphs in such poems dictate the form instead of lines.  

But all this leads back to my first statement ...   "if any one of these two types of writing are more free of form...".  Notice I said "if".   Prose is also bound by forms of different styles of prose writing.  Paragraphical, non-paragraphical, novels, short-stories, editorials, articles, etc...  Wow, even writing that makes me realize that neither prose nor poetry are ever free of form.  But form in my opinion does not restrict, it liberates and brings a sharpening of the nebulous.  It always reduces the hazy into  high resolution.... whether that be blank verse, free-verse, sonnets, or Senryu.  It opens up a world of possiblities and gives us the concrete to work with.  Poetry is concrete.

The simplest definition of poetry is "metrical writing".  This is totally accurate, even though there is much more to be said in regard to what makes poetry good or bad.

Stephen.
Kevin Taylor
Member
since 12-23-1999
Posts 192
near Vancouver, BC, Canada


3 posted 11-05-2001 04:28 AM       View Profile for Kevin Taylor   Email Kevin Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Kevin Taylor's Home Page   View IP for Kevin Taylor

"Why not say a short story, a novel, or an essay is finite."

Because I wasn't talking about them.  Separately they are finite.

"literature is not."

Well that depends. That which exists or has existed as a body of work is finite. That which is to come is possibly finite but I doubt it. (Hope springs eternal and all that)

My point was that a poem does not poetry make. Verse is not necessarily poetry. Any form is simply a form and absent the art it is at best a craft. What I mean is that the poem is on the page. The poetry is not. It is what the poet and audience create.  A poem is finite. Poetry is not. It is not material.

If a poem is written:

I hated bugs
but slugs
I dug

I would deny that was art, or poetry. But it is a poem.

If I wrote it as a single line of verse:

I hated bugs but slugs I dug

it is an even poorer poem but is not poetry.

I completely concur that line breaks and any other device or form or element does not make a product poetry. It may be an example of craftsmanship or charlatanship.

"And why haven't you considered the distinction between verse and poetry -- a distinction that I'd just as soon do away with because most people just don't get it ( see the confusion between poetry and 'poetry' above.    )"

Because I didn't think I needed to. Verse is a device or a form element or simply a category of literature. It is a good non-judgmental term for all the confusion surrounding what constitutes poetry etc.

"If any one of these two types of writing are more "free" of form, it is prose, hands down. "

But no less a form. ex. It requires a grammar and punctuation more rigidly held than verse.

"It is free from any metrical consideration (other than paragraphs, chapters, etc).  Poetry may not care what form you use... but it cares very much that you use a form."

Absolutely but I never said it didn't require a form to manifest itself (wooo.. poetry as an entity...)

Form is enforced even down to the basic units, words. But just because I have a car and drive a car doesn't make me a car. Just because poetry is invoked by words doesn't make the poetry words. Or the words, poetry.

"All poetry is metrical in the sense that it can be versified. "

Not true. At least not as absolutely as that. Haiku, for example, may not follow any recognizable meter. It may only have a natural but unrepeated rhythm because of its shortness. Iambic haiku would be possibly but not the norm.

I should define what I mean by form. Sorry, I forgot to do that. Form is the interface - the manner of communication - and includes the physical attributes of the poem: shape, style etc as well as presentation. It may be spoken, printed, concrete, free form or otherwise. Styles of poetry such as the sonnet or blank verse etc are part of form as you say. But it is broader than just "limerick".

"Wow, even writing that makes me realize that neither prose nor poetry are ever free of form.  But form in my opinion does not restrict, it liberates and brings a sharpening of the nebulous. "

Absolutely.

"Poetry is concrete."

Only if you define poetry as the form it has.  I differentiate there. So I'll have to disagree and say that a poem is concrete. I'd agree with that. It's like saying it's finite.

"The simplest definition of poetry is "metrical writing".  This is totally accurate.."

Metrical? No.  Haiku is not necessarily metrical.  But it has rhythm, which is far more complex than meter.

But even there, rhythmic writing is not enough to qualify. Otherwise "cat bat drat fat hat mat" would be in. In my opinion it requires two other elements. Poetry is the achievement of art through language, rhythm and form. If you drop out one or more element you will not achieve poetry. Leaving them all in is no guarantee either. But these are the primary elements. That's another topic though.

Kevin

Poetry is the achievement of Art
through language, rhythm and form.

Poetry is the art of Achievement
through language, rhythm and form.

Local Rebel
Member Ascendant
since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


4 posted 11-05-2001 11:35 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Everything is poetry -- some is good, some is bad... we all get to choose which is which... maybe?
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


5 posted 11-05-2001 12:27 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

[Haiku]

"But it has rhythm, which is far more complex than meter."

Really? I'd love for you to break it down.

Rhythm is not a secret. It is something you feel.

What do you feel?

If you can't describe it, you mean nothing.

You feel nothing.

but of course that would be difficult for you to feel.

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


6 posted 11-05-2001 12:40 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I'm saying haiku (Japanese style) has no rhythm in the way rhythm works for "us".
Kevin Taylor
Member
since 12-23-1999
Posts 192
near Vancouver, BC, Canada


7 posted 11-05-2001 04:18 PM       View Profile for Kevin Taylor   Email Kevin Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Kevin Taylor's Home Page   View IP for Kevin Taylor

Local Rebel: Everything is poetry -- some is good, some is bad... we all get to choose which is which... maybe?

You can choose anything you please but the "everything is poetry" philosophy is weak.


Brad: [Haiku]
"But it has rhythm, which is far more complex than meter."
Really? I'd love for you to break it down.
Rhythm is not a secret. It is something you feel.
What do you feel?
If you can't describe it, you mean nothing.
You feel nothing.
but of course that would be difficult for you to feel.

Rhythm is a little broader than that. A person may have a sense of rhythm without the ability to identify all of its components. But that's a red herring to the "haiku has rhythm" question.

You added: I'm saying haiku (Japanese style) has no rhythm in the way rhythm works for "us".

I just said haiku and you may well be right for non Japanese haiku to say that it has no rhythm that works for "us" because I don't know who your "us" is made up of.  

To answer your question, here is a very basic look at Japanese rhythm.

Furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto, "An old pond: a frog jumps into the water the sound" Basho.

Japanese rhythm is established by "haku" which usually consists of a consonant and then a vowel sound.

There are other variations in haku such as: vowel; semivowel + vowel; consonant + vowel; consonant + semivowel + vowel. Other special haku are formed by: long vowel; choked sound; syllabic nasal.

Japanese accent is based on pitch. English accent is based on stress.

How come I can't find any poems you've written, Brad? I wanted to see your philosophy at work.



Kevin

Poetry is the achievement of Art
through language, rhythm and form.

Poetry is the art of Achievement
through language, rhythm and form.


[This message has been edited by kevintaylor (edited 11-05-2001).]

Local Rebel
Member Ascendant
since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


8 posted 11-05-2001 05:28 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

If by weak you mean 'amorphous', I'd agree.

If you mean 'unsubstantiated', I'd also agree.

If you mean I'm lazy because I didn't substantiate my premise, I'd agree.

If you mean my premise would be difficult to prove, I'd disagree.

If you mean even after I proved it this conversation would not have been advanced any further, I'd agree.

Of course, I have my own philosophy on poetry
http://www.geocities.com/nighthawke700/poetry.htm

and isn't that the fun of poetry?

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 11-05-2001).]

Kevin Taylor
Member
since 12-23-1999
Posts 192
near Vancouver, BC, Canada


9 posted 11-05-2001 07:17 PM       View Profile for Kevin Taylor   Email Kevin Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Kevin Taylor's Home Page   View IP for Kevin Taylor

By weak I meant unconvincing.

Local Rebel: If you mean my premise would be difficult to prove, I'd disagree.

OK. Devil's dare. How would you prove it.

> Of course, I have my own philosophy on poetry http://www.geocities.com/nighthawke700/poetry.htm and isn't that the fun of poetry?

Thanks for the link. I read your page and your 10 Commandments of Poetry. I would adhere to 5, 7, possibly 8, and 10. The others, while they may be good ideas, are too arbitrary for me.

Kevin

Poetry is the achievement of Art
through language, rhythm and form.

Poetry is the art of Achievement
through language, rhythm and form.

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


10 posted 11-05-2001 07:28 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Sorry for my own amorphous explanation above. I have no idea what you mean by pitch, Japanese is considered a monotonal language with no differentiation in stress or pitch or tone when it comes to the way the word is spoken.

Now if you want to disagree with that, that's fine -- I know linguists who believe that Japanese is tonal ( I also know linguists who believe, like Chinese, that English is tonal).

And that's all I was trying to get at with regards to 'feel' (meaning palpable, something you can point to).

As far as my own stuff, I'm stuck writing a Wasteland kind of thing (so much so that I stole some lines from Eliot). I can't wait until I actually stop/finish it and go back to writing something fun (ya gotta do what ya gotta do).

Here's an earlier piece:

Focus

Focusing on the hairs of my index finger,
I examine these cattails in the shallow
Swamp near the shore, feel the beads
Of perspiration explode on my forehead,
Pray for a shower or an outside enema --
Anything that rubs these cells from my skin.

This pungence has no central orifice, it surrounds
And overwhelms, it depresses in the same way
The gale from a tropical storm invigorates
It creates the need for its own extinction,
Leaves those forced to function in its presence
A question without courage that cannot be thought,
A question squashed in plumes of baby powder.

No, methane is a greenhouse gas but the greenhouse
Misnomer misses the loss in extirpation
In the same way that repetitive bathroom humor
Inhibits and denies a different kind of laughter.
I am bored with truth, transcendence, and rapture,
With the same routine hygiene and linear progression.

No, let me trip and fall
Into a desiccated wetland
Or be sprayed with a yellow-brown muck
While I finish changing
The diaper on my daughter.


--Sorry, time to do what the poem says.  

More later,
Brad

PS LR is right. The moment you go transcendental in definition, the moment anything goes.

I prefer the banal definition.

Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


11 posted 11-05-2001 11:40 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

rofl@brad and the diaper... been there my friend...

ok this is actually pretty easy Kevin...

aside from Funk and Wagnall's or Webster's definitions -- we can start with yours.

"Poetry doesn't care what form you use."

If this is true (and I would tend to agree) then any form can be poetry.

If any form can be poetry then every form is poetry.

If every form is poetry then everything (written) is poetry.

If we go to F&W for expanded definitions--

Poetry
1. The art or craft of writing poems.

2. Poems collectively.

3. The quality, effect, or spirit of a poem or of anything poetic.  

4. Something that resembles a poem in nature, form, or spirit.


If 3 is effected by form then see above, if 3 is effected by subject then...

What can be the subject of a poem?

Anything real or imaginary can be the subject of a poem.

If anything real or imaginary can be the subject of a poem then everything can be the subject of a poem.

If everything can be the subject of a poem then everything is poetry.

If 4 then;

An atom is found in nature.

An atom has rhythm and form

Having rhythm and form resembles a poem.

An atom is found in nature and resembles a poem therefore an atom is a poem.

Everything is made of atoms.  An atom is a poem.  Therefore everything is a poem.

There could be more but why bother?

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 11-05-2001).]

Kevin Taylor
Member
since 12-23-1999
Posts 192
near Vancouver, BC, Canada


12 posted 11-06-2001 02:42 AM       View Profile for Kevin Taylor   Email Kevin Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Kevin Taylor's Home Page   View IP for Kevin Taylor

>"Poetry doesn't care what form you use."
>If this is true (and I would tend to agree) then any form can be poetry.
>If any form can be poetry then every form is poetry.
>If every form is poetry then everything (written) is poetry.

Except that I never said that poetry CAN BE any form. I said that it has no preference as to what form YOU use. I specifically said that a poem is a form (as, I maintain, is prose) but that poetry is not a poem, not tangible, not finite. A poem can be measured and metered etc. Poetry cannot be contained.

Now if someone goes around defining poetry as a poem or anything poetic then they can have it that way.

But I believe that a little differentiation is possible and a good thing.

Re: FW #3 - "The quality, effect, or spirit of a poem" says pretty much what I say it does: That a poem is not poetry. The spirit of the poem is poetry. Or the expressed quality (essence) is poetry. Or that the effect (that which is created in the universe or mind of the audience) is poetry. Not the poem.

Re: FW #4
>4. Something that resembles a poem in nature, form, or spirit.
>If 4 then;
>An atom is found in nature.
>An atom has rhythm and form
>Having rhythm and form resembles a poem.
>An atom is found in nature and resembles a poem therefore an atom is a poem.

An atom may have form and rhythm but it lacks the most important quality of a poem: It doesn't communicate. At least not to the average Joe. An atom is not a poem. Not unless you can get a single atom to carry a message. I suppose you could arbitrarily assign a message to an atom and thereby make it a poem. But even there we are back to the circular definitions of a poem is poetry is a poem. Except that another step called atom was inserted.

I'm unconvinced Mr. Reb.

But as long as you are, well, enjoy!

However, this will not go anywhere until we agree on terms. And the primary terms are not agreed upon. Poetry. And poem.

I disagree with the status quo on the matter. Guess I'm a rebel too  

Kevin

Poetry is the achievement of Art
through language, rhythm and form.

Poetry is the art of Achievement
through language, rhythm and form.

[This message has been edited by kevintaylor (edited 11-06-2001).]

Local Rebel
Member Ascendant
since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


13 posted 11-06-2001 02:58 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

It's not really a matter of whether or not an atom communicates with you... that's the subjectivity of it -- to you the atom may be bad poetry -- to Einstein it may be perfect poetry.

The perfectly thrown touchdown pass may be poetry to the offense -- but not to the defense.

William Wallace may have been a warrior poet to his kinsman and Mel Gibson -- to the English he was just a barbarian.

And who said there is a disagreement over a difference between poetry and a poem?

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 11-06-2001).]

Kevin Taylor
Member
since 12-23-1999
Posts 192
near Vancouver, BC, Canada


14 posted 11-06-2001 05:07 AM       View Profile for Kevin Taylor   Email Kevin Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Kevin Taylor's Home Page   View IP for Kevin Taylor

>It's not really a matter of whether or not an atom communicates with you... that's the subjectivity of it -- to you the atom may be bad poetry -- to Einstein it may be perfect poetry.

I said that it mattered whether an atom communicates. I said that it doesn't communicate anything at all. At least not to the average Joe.

To me the atom is not poetry at all. If it is to you and Einstein, then, as I said, enjoy.

>And who said there is a disagreement over a difference between poetry and a poem?

I did. I don't agree that a poem is necessarily poetry at all and I don't agree that poetry is anything finite. And by that I don't mean that poetry is an infinity of things. It is not finite because it is not material. I've said this a few times in this string already.

Anyway, if everything is poetry and nothing is not, then the condition of not-poetry is itself poetry. And if poetry is also not poetry then nothing is poetry either.

Have a nice poem!

Kevin

Poetry is the achievement of Art
through language, rhythm and form.

Poetry is the art of Achievement
through language, rhythm and form.

Kevin Taylor
Member
since 12-23-1999
Posts 192
near Vancouver, BC, Canada


15 posted 11-06-2001 05:23 AM       View Profile for Kevin Taylor   Email Kevin Taylor   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Kevin Taylor's Home Page   View IP for Kevin Taylor

If you continue here I'd just like to let you know that I won't be back for a while and won't be able to respond. We're getting ready to move.

Thanks for the company.

Kevin

Poetry is the achievement of Art
through language, rhythm and form.

Poetry is the art of Achievement
through language, rhythm and form.

Local Rebel
Member Ascendant
since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


16 posted 11-06-2001 12:03 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

good luck with the move... happy packing...

did I also mention that I sometimes use a seven iron for chipping onto a large green... it provides less loft and more roll... ostensibly for better ball control...  

actually though -- the argument cannot follow that if everything is poetry nothing is poetry -- this would be like saying because all matter has mass then no matter has mass

no poem, in and of itself, has the capability of communicating -- it is interpreted by the reader -- who can read it because she understands its language - it can be a poem -- but until it is understood it is not poetry...
doreen peri
Member Rara Avis
since 05-25-99
Posts 8028
Virginia


17 posted 11-06-2001 04:42 PM       View Profile for doreen peri   Email doreen peri   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for doreen peri

i'm taking notes .... again...

it's all a poem..... everything is poetry.... somebody said that..... oh yeah! it was you, rebellious wing'ed poetic wonder... and it was me, too!!!!!! hehe *wink*

sorry, i don't have any more input
(bet none of you are sorry... lol)

it's been my philosophy for years.. it's all a poem........

ok, carry on... pretend i'm not here

ummm...... whaddya mean i didn't need to suggest that? *grin
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


18 posted 11-07-2001 04:54 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Well, it seems clear that Kevin wants to reserve poetry as a special term, a term that applies to an intangible 'feeling' but that doesn't necessarily result from the form of any one poem.

But other than communicative ability (an emphasis I like), I think it inevitably falls into the exact opposite of what he wants to get across.

I think the distinction causes more problems than it solves.

I just don't see how useful this is when trying to explain what poetry and literature in general actually does to you. In many ways, and even though I think it's flawed, I think the Sven post is closer to what happens than a pure reliance on the intangible.

As long as you drop the spiritual stuff, that is.  

Brad
Stephanos
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since 07-31-2000
Posts 3496
Statesboro, GA, USA


19 posted 11-08-2001 11:05 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I think it's putting "poetry" on some mystical plane that we should avoid... because all poetry really is ... is art.  So the thing that Kevin says is "not a poem", or "is not finite", is the intangible thing which poems express.  But that itself is not poetry.  It is the human spirit, or drama, or genius, or whatever.  It is YOU that your poetry expresses.  But the infinite needs "poetry" to become tangible and distilled.  It's like a snap-shot of New York which reduces a comparatively infinite and immeasurable thing into a small and measurable form.  So you say that poetry is the mystic part.  I guess I just disagree with your terms.  Because that same part can be expressed as music, painting, sculpting, etc...  I think poetry is just one avenue where that untameable part of us can be tamed.  

But in one way you are right.  Poetry is infinite in the sense that as long as people are being born who end up writing it, new poems will be written on and on.

I guess its a matter of definition.  Poetry to me is metrical writing (means measurable) which expresses humanity.

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


20 posted 11-11-2001 03:07 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephen,

I agree. We don't need to make poetry more than it is. In fact, I think it limits the experience when you place more on a poem than it should probably do. We need to concentrate on the tangible, the palpable, the feel of the words themselves. Let the rest come later.

Brad
Jericha Satchel
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since 11-04-2001
Posts 11


21 posted 11-12-2001 08:01 PM       View Profile for Jericha Satchel   Email Jericha Satchel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Jericha Satchel

Well - a lot of wind passing for wisdom here.

There's nothing mysterious about it. Poetry is an art form. Period. A poem is not necessarily art.
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


22 posted 11-12-2001 08:36 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Ahhh but what is an art form?

You're simply deferring the question.

Brad
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