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Passions in Poetry

What is unpoetic?

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ChristianSpeaks
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0 posted 01-22-2007 11:19 AM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks


So I have heard the term "unpoetic" several times over the past few weeks. I looked it up and could not find a definition for the term nor an entry in any major dictionary. So here are the definitions for "poetic."


Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
1. possessing the qualities or charm of poetry: poetic descriptions of nature.
2. of or pertaining to a poet or poets.
3. characteristic of or befitting a poet: poetic feeling; poetic insight.
4. endowed with the faculty or feeling of a poet: a poetic eulogist.
5. having or showing the sensibility of a poet: a poetic lover.
6. of or pertaining to poetry: poetic literature.
7. of the nature of or resembling poetry: a poetic composition; poetic drama; poetic imagination.
8. celebrated in poetry, as a place.
9. providing a subject for poetry.
10. of or pertaining to literature in verse form.
–noun
11. poetics.

Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.
American Heritage Dictionary - Cite This Source
po·et·ic   (p?-?t'?k)  Pronunciation Key      
adj.  
Of or relating to poetry: poetic works.
Having a quality or style characteristic of poetry: poetic diction.
Suitable as a subject for poetry: a poetic romance.
Of, relating to, or befitting a poet: poetic insight.
Characterized by romantic imagery: "Turner's vision of the rainbow . . . was poetic, and he knew it" (Lawrence Gowing).

n.   The theory or practice of writing poetry; poetics.


The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
WordNet - Cite This Source
poetic

adjective
1. of or relating to poetry; "poetic works"; "a poetic romance"
2. characterized by romantic imagery; "Turner's vision of the rainbow...was poetic"
3. of or relating to poets; "poetic insight"
4. characteristic of or befitting poetry; "poetic diction"

WordNet® 2.1, © 2005 Princeton University
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary (Beta Version) - Cite This Source
poetic [pou?etik] adjective
of, like, or suitable for, a poem
Example: a poetic expression

Do any of these definition ring true to you? Do you find that these definitions miss the point of what is poetic? What would be a opposite of these definitions. Does your poetry fall into what is commonly known as poetic?

cs
Juju
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1 posted 01-22-2007 04:34 PM       View Profile for Juju   Email Juju   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Juju's Home Page   View IP for Juju

Hey CS!!!

Well Un poetic is basically a piece of writing that posses none of the rules that make something poetic.  I generally hate that term, because allot of people need to be trained to write poems poetically.  And when some one calls someone un poetic, sometimes people confuse a skill with a talent. Hence taking it as they don't have talent.  My guess is good poetry is 35%skill, 35%talent, 30% voice/authenticity.

  Personally, I like the rule of thumb show don't tell

for example (The sentence by its self)
1.Maybe He/She's shallow  

2.If I was a book would you read me,
or would I collect dust,
until you find something prettier to look at  

Now given that the structure was terrible in the second one, comparing the two the second one has the same message, a mental picture, and sets a mood.

Typically I like to see structure in poetry.  Structure and imagery separates a story, from  a memo.  I can't wait to se what others say.

Lots of love,

-Juju


  

-Juju

-"So you found a girl
Who thinks really deep thougts
What's so amazing about really deep thoughts " Silent all these Years, Tori Amos

[This message has been edited by Juju (01-23-2007 07:48 PM).]

Brad
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2 posted 01-22-2007 05:36 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I think the problem here is that 'poetic' has two meanings. On the one hand, it is the adjective form of poetry. On the other, it means something like transcendent (which in itself is vague).

You combine the two and what do you get? A belief that adding line breaks (Really just an added bit of punctuation) to a piece of writing means a lot more than it should. We have the same problem with prosaic by the way.
Essorant
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3 posted 01-23-2007 01:16 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

First of all you need to ask "What is poetry?"

When you know what poetry is, then you will know what has characteristics or manners thereof, and is "poetic".  And then also, what doesn't have or is lacking those characteristics or manners, "unpoetic"

rwood
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4 posted 01-23-2007 06:38 AM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Math.

Math can be a poetic subject in a poem.

But, mathematical symbols do not possess poetic qualities (to me.) Though when recited, one can attach a formal poetic structure, and there are methods in formulation where poetry comes in handy for learning or teaching. Accounting, in itself, is listing without attention to voice, metaphor, rhyme scheme, mood, etc. or anything outside the field of data and values. Meter and rhythm would be individually induced? Though the accountant can enforce a style derivative of poetry and add all sorts of charm to the equation. Bottom lines have the most important voice in accounting, and that's what can become poetic to the ears and to the wallet.  

so math isn't devoid of poetics, but when I'm writing out an equation, they won't let me be "creative" with it. Ha.

though, poetically: music, lyrics, and poetry depend on mathematics for structure and sound.

I think it depends entirely on personal perspective.
Stephanos
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5 posted 01-24-2007 12:32 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad:
quote:
You combine the two and what do you get? A belief that adding line breaks (Really just an added bit of punctuation) to a piece of writing means a lot more than it should. We have the same problem with prosaic by the way.


I think one of the beauties of poetry (in the sense of your second definition) is that it defies precise definition and yet most people know it when they see it.  


Stephen.  
Essorant
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6 posted 01-24-2007 12:13 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

That is because it has so many forms.  It is like love.
Essorant
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7 posted 01-24-2007 05:07 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant


The words poet, poem, poesy, poetic, and poetry, all come from Greek.  They originally had the implication of "making, creation", and then more specifically a "a poetic making or creation"

ποιειν [poiein] "to make, to create (anything); to compose a poem"

ποιητης [poietes] "a maker (of anything); a poet"

ποιημα [poiema] "anything made or done; a poem"
(Plural: ποιηματα [poiemata] "creations; poemata")

ποιησις [poiesis] "a making, a creation (of anything); poesy"

ποιητικος [poietikos] "creative; poetic"

(also used as a noun as in "poetics")

ποιητρια [poietria] "poetess"

Essorant
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8 posted 01-24-2007 06:15 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant



Look at the first line of the Septuagint.  There is the verb that is related to poetry describing  the very creation of the heaven and earth:


Εν αρχη εποιησεν `ο θεος τον ουρανον και την γην
En  arche   epoiesan   ho  theos  ton   ouranon   kai   ten   gen.
|     |        |       |     |     |      |        |     |     |
In beginning  made    the   God   the   heaven   and   the  earth.


The words ouranos "heaven" and ge "earth" and their corresponding forms of the word "the" show up with an -n to indicate they are direct objects of the word epoiesan "made".
  
The e- at the beginning of the word is a handy little addition to indicate past tense.


Brad
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9 posted 01-24-2007 06:35 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I think most people know a poem when they see one, I also think they use 'unpoetic' when their predictions go awry on what a poem should say.

Essorant
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10 posted 01-24-2007 06:53 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

quote:
I think most people know a poem when they see one

I am not sure about that.  Try this experiment someday in a place where most people speak English: Write some freeverse down on paper without any line breaks.  Then write a form verse with meter and rhyme out on paper without any line breaks, so that both of them appear to the eye to be prose.  Now go up to someone on the street and ask him to read both of them and say what he thinks.  I bet you very very few, if any, shall recognize that the freeverse one is a poem.  But most shall recognize right away that the one with meter and rhyme is a poem.

Brad
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11 posted 01-24-2007 07:03 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Put anything in a line break form and before they read it, most people will think it's a poem. That is the expectation.

I start from that point. You start from the second impression: when the expectation is either met or not.

ChristianSpeaks
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12 posted 01-25-2007 11:13 AM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

But now we are getting away from the first question. Let's step away from formatting because then you are getting into what a poem looks like not what is poetic. I could craft a very careful grocery list in the proper format and Joe Blow on the street would call it a poem if it fit the picture in his head for what a poem should look like.

It seems to me from what Ess said
quote:
First of all you need to ask "What is poetry?"

When you know what poetry is, then you will know what has characteristics or manners thereof, and is "poetic".  And then also, what doesn't have or is lacking those characteristics or manners, "unpoetic"


That the definition of poetic is very personal. That would support the definition of poetry which, when looked up, provides the same lack of defining character and thus requires a personal view to solidify the term.

So, what about this? Can we say that somebody else's writing is unpoetic?

cs
Brad
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13 posted 01-25-2007 02:38 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Of course, you can call another person's poem unpoetic. You can do that either through visual or aural association. The point, however, is not that it is subjective but that one's subjective judgement is already based on non-subjective factors (line breaks, metrics, rhyme schemes etc.).

If you see a grocery list in your pocket, you probably won't ask whether it is poetic. If you see a grocery list in Poetry magazine, you probably will.

The problem with calling something unpoetic is not that it is subjective (If you ask someone's opinion -- if you post on an open forum -- that is what you want by definition.), the problem with unpoetic is that those non-subjective factors are never clarified.

Why aren't they clarified?

Personally, I think it's an attempt to avoid giving an opinion altogether.
ChristianSpeaks
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14 posted 01-25-2007 04:05 PM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

So if those non-subjective factors were clarified wouldn't that strip the creativity from the form? Truly, turning poetry in to an equation?

I see what you're saying and I am sorry to agree in questions, but that's how it make me think.

So using that nonclarified subjective anti-definition we could say that my free-verse is unpoetic and Ess's form and meter is poetic, but we have nothing that would prove that objectively. So should we ever critique a poems poetic-ness? (is that a word - oh and I just use Ess as an example of a formal writer and by no means pass judgement on his work)

cs
Brad
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15 posted 01-25-2007 05:23 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

If someone says that you're free verse is unpoetic and Essorant's is -- essentially because one is a series of iambs and one is not -- I am always stuck with a simple question:

Why not say you prefer metered verse?

I see nothing wrong with that. But it seems the height of ego to argue that one is poetry or poetic and the other is not. The irony is that if I'm right about this then the arrogance is the result, not of actually wanting to exclude free verse from the poetic, but because you are insecure in stating your own opinions.

But let's say we're talking about someone who has read poetry daily for most of his or her life (a professor or a pro), let's say they are arrogant and mean, "I know it when I see it and this isn't it."

What do we do with that?

Honestly, some of the best advice I've ever gotten has been like that, but I don't think it works on the internet. We are a faceless bunch, you don't know who I am, I don't know who you are, and until you know this person is Pinsky or Bloom, or 'Reg'(a minor poet from the SF area who tore me down and spit my stuff onto the pavement  -- I learned a lot from him), I would be very weary of accepting advice from those who talk the talk without knowing if they walk the walk.

For better or worse, we tend to think that objective statements have more weight than subjective ones and yet in poetry don't all we really want to know is what people think and feel while reading our stuff?

It's kind of like making dinner for someone and then asking, "Did you like it?"

"It was spaghetti with a pesto sauce."

And so you're stuck asking the question, "What does that mean?"
Ron
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16 posted 01-25-2007 07:48 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Personally, I think it's an attempt to avoid giving an opinion altogether.

I couldn't agree more.
serenity blaze
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17 posted 01-25-2007 08:06 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

From "Memoirs of a Geisha":

Narrator (Old Sayuri): At the temple, there is a poem called "Lost" carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read Loss, only feel it.

* * *

I wish I had written that.


    
rwood
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18 posted 01-25-2007 10:16 PM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

Brad~

quote:
is not that it is subjective but that one's subjective judgment is already based on non-subjective factors (line breaks, metrics, rhyme schemes etc.)



I partially disagree

I think external factors are both non-subjective and subjective, due to the nature of human perception of words and sound. Words and sounds are facts that become internalized or expressed to each his/her own. Aren't we subjectively drawn in by the externals?  If the externals are stimuli that naturally compel one to fall into the meter or a rhythm or a universally appealing thing? Whereby we also lean away if it goes against our preference.

Is it possible the objectives are not clarified, because we involuntarily have a preference that may or may not be openly expressed? properly? or have no opinion at all because we are unmoved?

Stephanos
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19 posted 01-25-2007 11:28 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
The problem with calling something unpoetic is not that it is subjective (If you ask someone's opinion -- if you post on an open forum -- that is what you want by definition.), the problem with unpoetic is that those non-subjective factors are never clarified.

Why aren't they clarified?



Let me try then.


I would say "unpoetic" would describe a failure to demonstrate those qualities which most have traditionally associated with poetry and poets.  These include: imaginative wording, cleverness, insight, steering away from overtness, avoiding hopeless obscurity, and the ability to make the mundane seem profound and the profound even more profound.  Of course these qualities are general and subjective, and they can also describe great prose as well.  But they would be considered especially poetic when they also are demonstrated along with the unique mechanics of verse (whether free or metered I care not).


I know you'll shred this Brad, but at least I tried.





Stephen.  
ChristianSpeaks
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20 posted 01-26-2007 11:16 AM       View Profile for ChristianSpeaks   Email ChristianSpeaks   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for ChristianSpeaks

quote:
I would say "unpoetic" would describe a failure to demonstrate those qualities which most have traditionally associated with poetry and poets.


But then you go back to the subjectivity thing. You would have to say:

I would say "unpoetic" would describe a failure to demonstrate TO ME OR IN A WAY I CAN UNDERSTAND those qualities which most have traditionally associated with poetry and poets.

I'll go back to the previous question: Can we definitively say that someone else's work is unpoetic?
jbouder
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21 posted 01-26-2007 08:46 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

CS:

I think the first question you must ask is whether it is proper to have a definitive standard against which to judge an alleged poem as poetic or unpoetic.  Aristotle found many connections between poetry and rhetoric, but cited their respective purposes as being a key to recognizing the difference between the two.  I'm not sure I buy this entirely, but it does provide a convenient framework.

I think it is fun to try to push the boundaries of poetry, and aim to redefine what others argue are fixed qualities of poetry.  Rather than being caught up in the negative, wouldn't it be more interesting to explore just how broad the definition of poetry can be?

Jim
Essorant
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22 posted 01-27-2007 09:06 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Well, I never hid my opinion about forms.  My opinion still stands as it was expressed here here:


"I won't hide the fact that I find freeverse an inferior form of writing poetry when held up in comparison with traditional, wellwritten formverse in English.   In my opinion it is a bit of a delusion to paint it out as if it is an "equal" tool.  I simply don't see this "tool" doing as well as the tools of such poets as the Beowulf-Poet, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Pope, and Poe and so many others, that heightened poetry so strongly thro stress-meter, syllable-stress meter, and rhyme.  They had much more than good ideas, but they heightened the language as much as possible to bring forth ideas and words in as eloquent a way as possible.  People today may go that distance as well if they dared to be so ambitious and heighten language as much as possible by using such forms.  But since freeverse basically "frees" itself from those, it also lacks the long historical support of them.  That doesn't mean it doesn't have its own more individual strength, but that individual strength is is not as strong as the traditional forms already so strongly proven thro many ages."

As far as judging a poem as "unpoetic", I think it is like saying a man is "bald" or "blind".  Many if not most that we call "bald" or "blind" still have some hair and some sight.  Just like "bald" or "blind" we often use the word unpoetic (and poetic) intensively, not to indicate an absolute absence of something, but a predominace of an inability or absence of something.  In other words unpoetic may usually refer to something "not very poetic" instead of something "not poetic at all"

Brad
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23 posted 01-27-2007 06:17 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
I think external factors are both non-subjective and subjective, due to the nature of human perception of words and sound. Words and sounds are facts that become internalized or expressed to each his/her own. Aren't we subjectively drawn in by the externals?  If the externals are stimuli that naturally compel one to fall into the meter or a rhythm or a universally appealing thing? Whereby we also lean away if it goes against our preference.


If I understand this, yes. I hesitate because of 'to each his/her own'. Language is still at bottom a social exercise (with idiosyncrasies of course); its beginning may be arbitrary, but its use is not. I simply do not see how one can look at the tradition of poetry in English and not conclude that following and rebelling against the tradition are both 'poetic'.

Does that mean anything goes?

No, I don't think so if only because we'll be stuck with the same thing over and over again -- a continual reinventing of the wheel -- precisely because of the following:

quote:
Is it possible the objectives are not clarified, because we involuntarily have a preference that may or may not be openly expressed? properly? or have no opinion at all because we are unmoved?


I think that's right on the money. The only point I'm trying to make is why not simply say that?

I like it but I don't know why.

I don't like it but I don't know why.

I am unmoved. I don't know why.

Or hazard a guess as to why these things happen.

What has been neglected in this discussion so far is the idea of a target audience. You don't write for everyman, you can't. You write for a specific audience and that audience isn't always the audience you're going to get.

Brad
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24 posted 01-27-2007 06:21 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Jim,

How much more expansion do you need?

Stephen and Essorant,

What do you do with the King James Bible?

 
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