My Writers Circle

Poets Corner => Review My Poetry => Topic started by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 04:39:11 AM

Title: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 04:39:11 AM
This has come up a few times before, but rather than search for an bump old threads, I thought I'd post it here.

It does come up occasionally, a poem is posted and the comment "this isn't poetry" is made.  I've made the comment myself on occasion (although I think I tend to say something waffley like, "This isn't what most people consider to be poetry" and then put in my usual caveat that I don't care what you call something, all that matters to me is whether or not I enjoyed reading it).

So, what do you all think?  What do you think is an essential for poetry?

Some think rhymes - I think definitely not, although I love musical poems with skilful rhymes.

Most say sensory engagement - but I have occasionally come across quite abstract poems that really made me think and ponder, so perhaps it's not essential (for me anyway)

I'd love to make it a given that a poem is written for the reader and not the writer - but the fact is that some people do seem to have a knack of writing very engaging I-poems.

I do definitely think that poetry should be multi-layered - that it should say more than just the words on the page.  But that at the moment is the only essential I can think of.  And some might disagree with me on that too :)

Anyone care to discuss?
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 20, 2007, 11:39:38 AM
It's poetry if it has line breaks.
Nope.

It's poetry is someone says it is.
Nope, though it's closer.

It's poetry if someone insults it.
Bingo.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 11:42:26 AM
I should perhaps clarify - this post isn't meant as a contradiction to anyone who's ever posted the comment "this isn't poetry" on this board.  I'm just genuinely curious.  Sometimes someone will say, "this is real poetry!" to something I find a bit dull or even bad, other times I'll think something is quirky and fun and see it get a comment like "this prose with line breaks, not poetry" (more on other boards than this one, to be fair).

I just wanted to get the discussion going - what do you think makes something poetry or not?  What are your "must haves"?
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 11:43:01 AM
It's poetry if someone insults it.
Bingo.

Well then, everything must be poetry because you can find someone to insult just about anything.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 20, 2007, 11:45:42 AM
Everything is poetry, then. I've heard people say some weird things about prose. Not just the affectionate, This is true poetry, man, well written.

But, alas, I think it's more to do with the author. If they think it's poetry, and it looks even a little bit like something that's come before it, then it must be.

However, poetry doesn't like the word Must, so it's all relative.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: eric on October 20, 2007, 11:56:37 AM
I think it's more productive to think in terms of good poetry or bad poetry.  Poetry as a discipline is so amorphous it's hard to get our heads around.  The definition that sticks in my mind is that a poem is an arrangement of words that evokes an emotion or emotions different than what is stated on the paper.  So, sure, I agree with your one essential.  But some people write things that are just one layer thick and call them poems all the time, even though technically they're not--and sometimes these can be argued to bring up feelings or thoughts beyond themselves anyway.  It's hard to draw the line, and in the long run it doesn't matter. 

On the other hand, disgusting displays of verbal vomit can spew forth from otherwise fine poets. We have seen this at least since Sappho (although she was better at it), so it's no new phenomenon.  I think any fair assessment of this stuff is that it's poetry all right, but that it's bad, bad, bad.  There are quirky elements in some of this, but the frequent lack of perspective is tiresome.  Still, I would by no means say this is not poetry.

Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 11:59:40 AM
repeats, this is not meant to be a discussion of whether Jeremy's last piece was or wasn't poetry.

Not wanting to stifle free speech if that's what y'all want to talk about, I just wanted to clarify that that isn't what I meant to debate by posting this thread.  Perhaps I should have waited a bit before posting this - it just resparked the question in my head and I thought it might provoke some interesting discussion.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 20, 2007, 12:00:38 PM
It's all about ego, then. I've said it to others, but, when I refer to Poetry sometimes, I only mean the good poetry.

Such as, the difference between a poem and poetry. Like prose and fiction. I can write good prose -- currently, I cannot write good fiction.

"bad, bad, bad"

Well.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 20, 2007, 12:01:55 PM
I'm confused by your statement, Jeremy. The 'alas' suggests that you don't think something is poetry just because the author thinks it is, and yet you then say that 'it's all relative.'

Whatever you meant, I don't think it's relative. On the surface it may seem to be, in that someone may read more than the first lines of a poem because of being drawn to it in some way. But deep down a poem will be saying something in the only way it can be said, otherwise why not simply write what you want to say in prose?

We all at some time have nightmare, drink-ridden, mentally jumbled thoughts to which only we are privy. But if we want others to understand us and appreciate those thoughts that are precious to us, then we have to couch them in a manner that will be apprehensible by those we wish to inform, entertain, reach, or whatever is our purpose in writing.  

To me poetry is more than an indulgence, it is also a responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves to describe our mental experience as accurately as possible. A poem may seem to be distasteful to the reader, but so long as it touches him or her in an authentic way, a way that reveals our experience to him in its totality, it will be a poem. If it is merely distasteful, then the effort has been wasted.
 
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 20, 2007, 12:04:35 PM
Relative;

to intention. As you say, it's about intention.

I read your poetry, love, and I think it's poor. Does that mean you've failed? By your statement, then yes.

Such a blanket isn't good, though. The truest poets wrote for themselves before anyone else, and come luck, someone else liked it.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 20, 2007, 12:07:18 PM
Example.

Limerick. If it has these breaks, it's poetry. Does it have to make sense in the least? Sound good? Evoke emotion? No.

Because it's a limerick.

Free verse, something different, and thus far, no one's bothered to say it.

This is poetry
cuz I say
so.

Technically, it is.

people who say something isn't poetry, are being rude, probably stupid. Too lazy to say It's not Good rather than It just Ain't.

Now, are we finished?
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 12:09:59 PM
The truest poets wrote for themselves before anyone else, and come luck, someone else liked it.

I'm not sure that's a universally true statement.  It's surely true for some poets.  Harohalola for example has said that he writes for himself, and hopes that it will move others as well - and certainly many do appreciate his poems.  Charles Olsen (who was considered a visionary at the time) as well, claimed to write only for himself.  But equally I think a lot of extremely talented poets are motivated by wanting to understand how they can affect (move, inspire, entertain, what have you) others - certainly that is the impression I get whenever I read interviews with some of my favourite poets.  I think it's rarer for someone to write a good poem when they discount their audience.  not impossible, but less likely.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 20, 2007, 12:14:26 PM
Alright, but the people who do that (Success or not); wouldn't they have the purest motivation to write what you think is poetry (As in, you, not just anyone) Such as, the emotion?

I don't write with a thematic emotion in mind, usually. Most of my stuff is fueled by sonics.

Is it not poetry for it? Well, sonics is a part of it. I mean, Jabberwocky was a poem. It had strophes, breaks, sounds, and a title. It even (Tell allie this) provoked an emotion of indignation, that someone would write such nonsense. Since then, though, I've seen it as poetry.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 20, 2007, 12:24:32 PM


Yes, if I set out to reach people with my poetry, to have them experience what I'm feeling, then it is a failure for me if they don't experience this.

Of course, if I claim to write only for myself, then it doesn't matter that others don't experience what I'm experiencing, so all my poems will be successful and I will be a genius. That's the safest way to go. :)

Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 20, 2007, 06:37:39 PM
What’s this, write it for themselves bollocks? Surely we would never know if they did. If you want to write something for yourself, do so then keep it in your pocket. The end.

If you publish, in any format, you are an attention seeker just like me! And if you are an attention seeker then you have one of two motives:

1)   to entertain

or
 
2)   to show how clever you are

There is not enough of 1 and too much of 2 in my view.

Don’t get me wrong on this, Just because most people don’t get something it does not mean it is in category 2; you may just have a very small audience. It is all about the writer’s motivation.

What was the question again?  :-\

Citabria
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 20, 2007, 06:45:33 PM
There could be some great poetry that's written for the poet, no one else. People have found someone's poetry after she died, and it's to some acclaim. It's not bad poetry, it's just not written for anyone else.

Doesn't mean it's dim or pretentious.

I'd rather write the bad stuff I used to write because I was happier with it.

The vast majority of published stuff is bad. It's just a percentage, a figure, but I believe it to be true.

It's an art. Publishing should not be the end.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 20, 2007, 07:02:22 PM
Quote
There could be some great poetry that's written for the poet, no one else. People have found someone's poetry after she died, and it's to some acclaim. It's not bad poetry, it's just not written for anyone else.

Doesn't mean it's dim or pretentious.

Agreed.  :)

But …

Quote
The truest poets wrote for themselves before anyone else, and come luck, someone else liked it.

Means …

“I had a wank in the mall and hoped the shoppers would get some small pleasure from it.”

Nope! You did it solely for your own dubious reasons.

EDIT: I consider the line above in green to be poetry. Deny it if you will.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 07:08:01 PM
I wonder if this argument isn't getting a bit off track?

It is possible that someone might write for themselves, and have others appreciate it as well.  It is possible that someone would write for themselves, and come up with things others despise.  I think where the argument is getting muddied is that if you put it out for review, the implication is that you are writing for others.  Not everyone (impossible) but someone besides yourself.  Otherwise, why put it out there?  

I agree that publishing should not be the end, but I do think reaching your target audience should be.  And if your target audience is only yourself, then there's no need to do anything more than keep in it your diary and savour it, as you'll have already reached that audience.

I think the art is learning how to reach people, how to translate whatever it was that thrilled you enough to prompt you to write into something affects another person in the way you intended (hopefully to the same or similar extent that you did).

Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 20, 2007, 07:10:47 PM
Quote
EDIT: I consider the line above in green to be poetry. Deny it if you will.


Found!!


I had a wank in the mall
and hoped.

The shoppers would get some
small pleasure from it.

Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 20, 2007, 07:18:24 PM
I think that may be one of my better pieces.  :P

C
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 21, 2007, 05:02:15 AM
I don't write with a thematic emotion in mind, usually. Most of my stuff is fueled by sonics.

I meant to comment on this earlier.  I think you should try writing with a theme, experience, or emotion in mind. If it's just fuelled by sonics, you'd be better off writing music - much greater range of instruments/sounds than can be achieved with just a voice.  I agree that your stuff sounds great when read aloud, but I want the whole shebang when I read poetry:  meaning, experience, insight, emotion - and if it sounds great too, then I'm in heaven.  If I just want sonics, I'll play some music.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Jeremy on October 21, 2007, 10:54:35 AM
f*ck the world and be nice to her in the morning.
   --rap song
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 21, 2007, 08:32:21 PM
Hey All - I'm gonna' briefly weigh-in, not my usual tack, here, but since Sat made a reference to my Work...

Are we speaking (no pun) of "Poems," or Poetry?  B/c someone learns to move the pieces on a chessboard; learns some guitar chords; boils water... you see my drift!  This may seem antithetical (& I'll take the certain-to-be hits), but any ArtForm must conform to an "historical" structure, of sorts, that which has gotten (consciously or not) the Artist to his/her position.  Now, there are certainly those "geniuses" whom seem, like chimera, to appear sylph-like with seemingly novelle scribendi, perhaps, like Jimi Hendrix, Mozart, or T.S. Eliot... but even there, traces of forbearance is detected.  Shakespeare?  Well, there was Marlowe (& Dryden).  So, what IS Poetry?  The Maestro - my Voice Teacher - was fond of reminding, "Singing is (beautiful) speech on Pitch."  One definition of  Poetry is/are speakings in a beautiful, & unusual way, encompassing form... "Poems" are the subduction, the difference bet. "Liking and Love."  As Sat reiterated, I Write for myself; with an everpresent notion to expansiveness to the Human community's sentience & symbiosis for meaning.  Thx -   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: eric on October 21, 2007, 11:23:45 PM
I think Hem. has given us an eloquent and insightful essay on poetry.  I agree with what he says. 

That said, I have to add that I agree with Saturnine that poetry is communication (if only to one's self and the muses).  Hem. may write for himself, as he says, but he also surely writes (and well) to communicate with those who follow him.  His latest exchange with IJG seems to show this.  Just a note.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 22, 2007, 03:51:35 AM
If I refer to my “dictionary for thicko’s” (tis ever by my side) I find:

Poetry: the art of writing poems

Poem: imaginative piece of writing in rhythmic lines

Obfuscate: make something confusing
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 22, 2007, 04:11:15 AM
Okay.  Now define "imaginative".  One could argue that whenever you produce a bit of writing, however banal and nondescript it may seem to others, you are using your imagination and therefore being "imaginative"

Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 22, 2007, 06:25:49 AM
Sattie

Those dimwits that complied my dictionary had not read your posting on abstraction so we must forgive them.  :D

Maybe though, this is the crux of the problem. If you’re a poetry-pundit, then you will have seen so much poetry that your own idea of “imaginative” gets pushed further and further into the realms of the ridiculous.

Terrified of appearing un-imaginative our HPP (hero-poetry-pundit) stretches the bounds of language and format until he/she ends up with a magnificent suit of emperor’s new clothes. HPP will of course be extremely clever and so can easily justify (through sophistry) the flashing of the emperor’s arse to the public.

Tabbie
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 22, 2007, 06:44:14 AM
Maybe though, this is the crux of the problem. If you’re a poetry-pundit, then you will have seen so much poetry that your own idea of “imaginative” gets pushed further and further into the realms of the ridiculous.

May be true for some.  But if you read the top poetry publications and anthologies, I think you'll find that very little of it falls within the realms of the ridiculous. 

Quite often when you see something that looks like it's trying too hard, it's from someone who's just starting out, knows that they don't like trite greeting card sentiments, but haven't yet found their voice, so go on about dripping knives and maggoted flesh and (other imagery chosen strictly for shock value rather than meaning), and use lots of obscure faux-creepy words.  it's sort of the poetic equivalent of becoming a goth.  Most well-respected poets don't do it, although they may have succumbed temporarily in their teens and early twenties ;)

Of course, having said that, there's an audience for just about everything, and the ENC phenomenon you mentioned definitely exists too.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 22, 2007, 03:24:42 PM
Life is a poem
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 22, 2007, 03:41:23 PM
Fordy,

I’ve not seen you since the incident with the inflatable doll!  ;D

What sort of poem is your life dude? Does it have a refrain?

Citabria  :)
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: thatollie on October 22, 2007, 03:46:23 PM
Hey, Fordy's cool. He inspired chapter 19 of my novel, and has my everlasting thanks.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 22, 2007, 03:57:33 PM
Life is a poem

well, that I agree with 100%
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 22, 2007, 03:58:53 PM
Fordy,

I’ve not seen you since the incident with the inflatable doll!  ;D

What sort of poem is your life dude? Does it have a refrain?

Citabria  :)


A few words
scribbled quick
a poem
not

A few breaths
drawn daily
a life
not
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 22, 2007, 04:41:02 PM
Hey - I believe "Fordy" is an acronym for Fortuitous-Omnipresence-Regardless-(of)-Disparaging-Yap!

"An unexamined Life is not worth Living" (Socrates)/"An unexamined Poem is not (worth Writing), let alone, Poetry!" (H.e.m). - H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 22, 2007, 06:49:20 PM
I think that's one of the best poems I've ever seen on this board, fordy. :)
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 22, 2007, 07:24:59 PM
Allie - Dost thou know the Fable of King Richard the Crudesader in the tent of Saladin, & the spontaneous contest-of-might 'twixt the Caliburn-wielding Richard & the curved-Rapiered Saladin/the Iron Bar vs. the Eastern Silk Veil?  Well, who d'ya' think emerged mightier... Richard or Fordy!   H'H./H.e.m. 
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 22, 2007, 07:39:52 PM
A few beans
boiled quickly
a stew
not
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 22, 2007, 09:01:51 PM
I think that's one of the best poems I've ever seen on this board, fordy. :)

And therein you prove my point Allie; poetry, like beauty, is in the eye (ear) of the beholder.  Poetry cannot be written, only received.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 22, 2007, 09:17:02 PM
A few beans
boiled quickly
a stew
not


A small thing,
given lightly
a fresh
smile
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 22, 2007, 10:14:56 PM
-TRUTH OF FOOLS -

NAY, WHAT ROPES THE WIND
WHICH CANNOT ENSLAVE SPIRIT?
STRICTURE BE DAMNED!

                                H.e.m.
                                12.14.MMiv.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 22, 2007, 11:04:00 PM
My words are but brush strokes on the canvas of your mind.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 23, 2007, 03:30:38 AM
Definitely fordy would win, H. The other guy wouldn't have stopped talking when he'd be pierced to the heart. :)
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 23, 2007, 04:44:01 AM
Quote
A small thing,
given lightly
a fresh
smile

A large thing
given regularly
a happy
wife
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 23, 2007, 05:10:07 AM
A large thing
given regularly
a happy
wife


A macho boast
spoken openly
makes one
doubt

Anyone else want to play? ...
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Gyppo on October 23, 2007, 05:13:46 AM
A large thing
given regularly
a happy
wife


A large ego
stroked regularly
a smug
grin
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Gyppo on October 23, 2007, 05:15:15 AM
My words are but brush strokes on the canvas of your mind.

Yes!

Gyppo
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 23, 2007, 05:21:55 AM
A macho boast
spoken openly
makes one
doubt

but …

A faint heart
never won
a fair
lady
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 23, 2007, 06:37:24 AM
Allie - Your Words speak to a Truth far greater than you may discern & percieve; as Saladin's scimitar sliced the weightless, floating scarf to halves, the blustering (humiliated) Saladin could but stand agape, reduced to an indiscernible puddle of muddled mutterings - a precious moment in the Literature of "reduction-division," indeed, " 'The Pen!' be mightier than the Sword!"   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: thatollie on October 23, 2007, 10:12:24 AM
Fordy inspired
A chapter written
Makes novel
not
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 23, 2007, 02:28:33 PM
After a bit of tracking down, the story of Richard and Saladin can be found here:

http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=evans&book=kings&story=richard

A Sat thread
hijacked thoroughly?
I hope
not
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 24, 2007, 03:57:49 AM
Fordy

An interesting little fable indeed. I have written a dumbed down version which I think may be suitable for the BBC’s culture show: …

King Dick (places shiny helmet on table): Heh Sally, look at my weapon.

Saladchin: (looks impressed): Wow! That’s massive and so hard. I bet you could bash through iron with that.

King Dick: Well get your weapon out then.

Saladchin: (produces weapon and waves it about a bit). So what do you think?

King Dick: (laughs) Blimey Sally, it’s curved just like a banana. Don’t wave it about like that, you’ll have some buggers eye out. Right I’m off out for a few pints with the Knights Templar. We thought we would try that new gay bar in town- you coming?

(They put there weapons away and head off to the lodge).

And just to un-hijack the thread …

I have a quote from my “Poetry for Uneducated Dimwits” book. It says,

“Poetry defies definition despite attempts by philosophers and poets to pin it down.”

Well if philosophers can’t define it what chance do we have?

Citabria

PS – I think I met your Norwegian cousin Fjordy the other day.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 24, 2007, 04:24:30 AM
Ah, but philosophers never set out to define anything, just to argue about its definition. And poets are not noted for their definitions, either, are they? Their observations are purely personal. :)
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 24, 2007, 04:32:25 AM
Fordy

I have a quote from my “Poetry for Uneducated Dimwits” book. It says,

“Poetry defies definition despite attempts by philosophers and poets to pin it down.”

Well if philosophers can’t define it what chance do we have?

Citabria

PS – I think I met your Norwegian cousin Fjordy the other day.


Since when has one philosopher been able to agree with h(im/er)self about anything? The philosopher's favourite phrase "... on the other hand ..."  As for poets agreeing about poetry, this forum is all the evidence I need present.  

We don't speak about our cousin. We are supposed to be shallow and easy to cross but ever since he took up with that Slarty Bartfast fellow, he's gone all deep and sullen on us - he's just not one of us any more.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 24, 2007, 04:41:30 AM
As for poets agreeing about poetry, this forum is all the evidence I need present.  

I wouldn't recommend using this forum as your only source of evidence.

People are no more likely to disagree about poetry than they are about anything else subjective (eg prose, art, music, etc).  It's like saying that you can't have an opinion about what you like to see in art because there are so many differing opinions out there. 

I don't like to label things "not poetry", but I do sometimes wonder why someone has chosen to write a poem when it seems like what they really wanted to do write was an essay.  Otherwise I tend to try to keep my opinions to I like or don't like this, and try to explain why through analysis of the basics.

Among people who actually study this stuff, there are broad levels of agreement (the things I put in my sticky are considered absolute basics that 95% of of people who teach poetry with agree with - they aren't my own original ideas by a long shot - and I was skeptical, until I realised that most poems I like do in fact follow those rulees.  And when I don't like something so much, often it's because it deviates from them).  So, it's not even really that subjective - just like you can say that 90% of people probably won't call a bunch of discordant notes a song, still there are people who can listen to "industrial" music or random piano clashings and pronounce it genius.  Doesn't mean it is or isn't, but neither does it mean that music theorists are wrong or just talking from personal opinion when they say that 90% of people prefer to hear this combination of notes than that.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 24, 2007, 04:44:29 AM
ps, before someone comes back with anything that tries to say that I am suggesting the opposite:  I totally agree that someone can break all the "rules" and end up producing a work of genius.  I don't mean to suggest that they are immutable rules - but someone lacking that talent or genius or whatever you want to call it breaks the same rules, and most often it produces a poor poem.  Personally I hate most of the "rules" for prose writers, and don't like the snappy chick lit style that is considered tight and clean and acceptable in today's environment.  You get differing opinions on anything subjective.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 24, 2007, 05:20:16 AM
Fordy

Quote
ever since he took up with that Slarty Bartfast fellow, he's gone all deep and sullen on us - he's just not one of us any more.

I did wonder why he just kept muttering, “Fort-two, forty-two.”

Others,

What is poetry? I would like to propose a solution:

Let’s assume someone writes something that looks like total twaddle and then claims it is poetry. If they have a track record of writing poetry that has been more generally accepted, then we should give them the benefit of the doubt (sort of like Picasso). BUT if they have only ever produced twaddle and show no ability whatsoever for more traditional forms, then we should consider them twaddlists.

Does that sound reasonable?

Citabria
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 24, 2007, 06:05:43 AM
"Twaddlists"  ;D

But on the other hand, even great poets are capable of producing twaddle or disappearing up their own behinds (subjective, yes, I appreciate)

I think (just a thought) - if someone's demonstrated that they understand the basics of technique and have studied form etc - then when they deviate from those accepted rules, you have to accept that they probably did it on purpose and not through ignorance.  So you dig a little deeper to see what they were trying to achieve.  You may still not like it once you understand what they were after, but it's worth looking for it.

And still, someone can deviate from the rules not knowing what they are, and due to their natural insight or intuition or talent or whatever you want to call it, can still produce something delightful.  I read something on another forum recently which I thought was completely charming, and broke about a zillion rules - still, I liked it because it was fresh and honest, and recreated that experience for me (in this case of being a naive young girl getting ready to go on her first date)

In any case, I always start with "Did I like this?" and not "Is this following the rules?" - I really don't give a damn how many "rules" something breaks if it moves me or makes me happy or makes me look at something in a new way.  If I read it and don't like it, I try and figure out what the author was trying to do, what moved them to write that poem, and then refer back to technique and see if any of the usual problems apply.  If I read it and like it, I may still dig a bit deeper to see if there are any suggestions which might help them develop their theme better, or further whatever aims they seemed to have when they wrote it (again, applying usual caveats that these things are all subjective, and any comments I give are just suggestions, for the writer to apply or not as they feel benefits their writing).
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 24, 2007, 08:38:21 AM
This will be on the same "Page" as Sat., I believe; briefly, for me, & subjectively-so, the "Music" (amongst the primary, "1st. there was Sound") has always come 1st., (why it took me the better part of my Life to appreciate the "Genius" of B. Dylan) as the visceral must permeate/"get-through" before I attend to the "message" (no surprise, here, why "Primitive" Cultures had little/or none of Written Language).  This, of course, upon introspection has also turned-up my familial acculturation, where "little" meaningful attention was given to overt "communication," another matter, though again, subjective.

But "Key" is Communication, & from our vantage point here, Screed "don't cut It," why the Morld is as It is!, the dumbing down...

Beauty through Form without "Form," whatever Intelligently moves, viscerally/inertially... "Art (Poetry), is Energy shaped by Intelligence! (Rimbaud?).   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 24, 2007, 11:45:51 AM
Fordy

What is poetry? I would like to propose a solution:


A solution? What is to solve? Someone writes; to you it's poetry, to me it's not. So what? Why the rush to lable and categorise? Let the writer write.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 24, 2007, 12:09:52 PM
...Uh, let the "games" continue to begin?  Hey, folks, Armageddon continuing in California (Kalinfernia), USA.   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 24, 2007, 12:11:40 PM
A solution? What is to solve? Someone writes; to you it's poetry, to me it's not. So what? Why the rush to lable and categorise? Let the writer write.

for the most part I agree with you fordy.  to me, I don't care what you call something, as long as it's a pleasure to read (or makes me think at least).  But people do make the comment from time to time (ie "this isn't poetry";  I've seen it made by at least 5 different posters on this board in the last few months), so I was interested in what people mean when they say that, and what people consider to be essential for them in poetry.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 24, 2007, 12:15:30 PM
This will be on the same "Page" as Sat., I believe; briefly, for me, & subjectively-so, the "Music" (amongst the primary, "1st. there was Sound") has always come 1st., (why it took me the better part of my Life to appreciate the "Genius" of B. Dylan) as the visceral must permeate/"get-through" before I attend to the "message" (no surprise, here, why "Primitive" Cultures had little/or none of Written Language).  This, of course, upon introspection has also turned-up my familial acculturation, where "little" meaningful attention was given to overt "communication," another matter, though again, subjective.

But "Key" is Communication, & from our vantage point here, Screed "don't cut It," why the Morld is as It is!, the dumbing down...

Beauty through Form without "Form," whatever Intelligently moves, viscerally/inertially... "Art (Poetry), is Energy shaped by Intelligence! (Rimbaud?).   H'H./H.e.m.

I can go with all of this  - thanks for this H.e.m.   :)

Music is perhaps subjective, and many people would insist that they don't need music in their poetry.  But I like as a minimum something that flows and has a cadence appropriate to the theme (ie that would include jarring language if the theme is jarring and more musical language where the theme is meant to entrance).
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 24, 2007, 12:50:44 PM
TY, Sat. - Further, is it not the Passion, nay, mission of the Artist to convey/portray the Sense(sual) (esp. Literature) from the Abstract to the Sentient? Few do It, & yet fewer have done It well, I think; not an overt liability, surely, but an inherent difficulty in making "Pie from Apparitions;"  This is my truck w/Critics, the inherent limitations with the aforementioned.  I would reference anyone to Hesse's Demian, the 2-3 Pages of passages describing a "Music Experience," which "Play" right from the Page!, an unequaled tour-de-force of "impossible" Abstraction to Sentience!  To wit, how does One effectively describe the "taste of pistachio!?"   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 24, 2007, 02:02:28 PM
TY, Sat. - Further, is it not the Passion, nay, mission of the Artist to convey/portray the Sense(sual) (esp. Literature) from the Abstract to the Sentient?

Absolutely!

Quote
This is my truck w/Critics, the inherent limitations with the aforementioned.  I would reference anyone to Hesse's Demian, the 2-3 Pages of passages describing a "Music Experience," which "Play" right from the Page!, an unequaled tour-de-force of "impossible" Abstraction to Sentience!  To wit, how does One effectively describe the "taste of pistachio!?"   H'H/H.e.m.

fair enough - and I understand why you feel this way.  You are confident of your voice, and know that there is a meaning in every letter you type.  Others however don't necessarily have this confidence, or don't know how to express themselves in a way that engages others.  No single person can ever say "this is the way", but there are certain techniques which are useful to know, even if only to say, "that's not what I want".

I suppose it's a bit like painting - you may want to go totally abstract, but if you don't, there are guidelines with respect to perspective, ratios, colour harmonies, symbolism, etc.  I feel that it's better to eschew these guidelines after you know they exist and why they're there rather than before.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Mark H on October 24, 2007, 02:36:09 PM
Fordy

Quote
A solution? What is to solve? Someone writes; to you it's poetry, to me it's not. So what? Why the rush to label and categorise? Let the writer write.

Personally I would never say something isn’t poetry. I might say I don’t like it or I might ignore it, but I wouldn’t tell a writer how to label his own work. I only offered a potential solution because the question was asked.  :)

M
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: fordy on October 24, 2007, 02:50:07 PM
...  But people do make the comment from time to time (ie "this isn't poetry";  I've seen it made by at least 5 different posters on this board in the last few months), so I was interested in what people mean when they say that, and what people consider to be essential for them in poetry.

Yes they do and and I wish they wouldn't!  

As I think you have pointed out before Sat, its fine to say that we like or don't like something - that's a perfectly valid personal opinion - but to attempt define something out of existence (this isn't poetry) because it offends our personal taste is simply intellectual fascism.  

In a general sense, I agree that it's important to understand the conventions of form, before you violate them (if only to form a defence against your detractors  :D)

Would a more fruitful question be; "What do you like in a poem?"

BTW, my tounge was firmly in my cheek when I commented earlier about poets not agreeing on this board.  ;D
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on October 24, 2007, 02:56:01 PM
As I think you have pointed out before Sat, its fine to say that we like or don't like something - that's a perfectly valid personal opinion - but to attempt define something out of existence (this isn't poetry) because it offends our personal taste is simply intellectual fascism.  
...
Would a more fruitful question be; "What do you like in a poem?"

I agree 100%.  I'd change the title of this thread, except I'd have to change the opening post as well and none of the subsequent posts would make any sense.  Perhaps we should start a new thread?
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Leigh on October 24, 2007, 10:07:37 PM
'What makes something poetry"-?   

Potter Stewart: 'I know it when I see it'-!  ;D
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 25, 2007, 02:59:40 PM
Well, mea culpa. It was I who most recently made the offending comment, on a thread that has now been removed by the poet (not because of my comment, apparently). I did add that this was 'to my mind,' so it wasn't meant as a decree from some place on high. If anyone is interested, I said it out of total bewilderment at the piece of work I had just read and as an emotional release, since physically shaking the poet to get out the real poem wasn't possible, permissible or ethical.

I have written a lot of what I would call poetry, that is, it is poetry in the sense that it is a genuine attempt to convey my emotions and view of the world to readers in language that would not be suited to narrative form. However, I don't claim that it is good poetry, and know that many other people wouldn't even consider it to be poetry, because I tend to say things in too obvious a way, notwithstanding my desire to avoid true narrative. There probably are plenty of other reasons, too.

My statement could be seen as a 'cry for help' against those postings that happily label every poem 'fantastic,' 'genius' or whatever without offering any evidence as to why they think this. When I first joined MWC, I leaned perhaps too much towards honesty and gradually amended this stance. A spell on other writing sites (mainly fiction) has since reinstated my belief that a high degree of honest feedback is necessary for progress as a writer, whether fiction author or poet.

I think that the harshness of my comment may be mitigated somewhat by the fact that it was levelled at someone who wielded his own words like a sword when commenting on other people's work. I would not dream of saying this about the work of someone who did not so obviously hold his or her own work in such high regard. However, it has occurred to me that we should have a special anonymous board to which poets might surrender their precious works for similarly anonymous critical dissection and analysis. 

 



Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 25, 2007, 04:13:17 PM
Allie - I Read (& "Critiqued") "Autumn Light," so what'd'ya' mean!?... Know I mean?   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 25, 2007, 05:39:20 PM
I'm not sure, H. You read and critiqued Autumn Light and offered me constructive advice. That doesn't affect this discussion - at least, I can't see how it does. :)
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 25, 2007, 06:33:09 PM
Allie - For my ears & eyes, your Poem(s) is Poetry, by deduction/reduction (Writing spartan) anoints you A Poet!  Wear the mantle, It trumpets...   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Allie on October 25, 2007, 06:43:27 PM
Thank you, H. I accept the mantle, while harbouring no illusions under it. You know I enjoy your poems. :)
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: thatollie on October 25, 2007, 06:47:48 PM
What makes something poetry? The question was raised and I also have an idea, If people debate about it for longer than most people think it should be debated about, then it's gotta be poetry.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: HaroHalola on October 25, 2007, 07:01:07 PM
Allie - TY!   H'H./H.e.m.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: DGSquared on January 12, 2008, 11:28:21 PM
Fascinating thread.

I offer my simple, humble opinion.

Poetry is words on steroids.

Poetry is the artistry of words.

Poetry articulates meaning.

Poetry is an art form, which also forms art.     (Concrete, etc.)


             Poetry
         Word Artistry
Touching, moving, depicting
    The rendering of words
            Creation



~Deb :)
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: waterman54 on January 13, 2008, 12:50:57 PM
I just found this site and enjoyed reading through it. I think it is a very good topic for discussion.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: Amie on January 13, 2008, 05:42:02 PM
thatollie, I used to think you were a lovely person, but even as a joke, that comment is offensive.

edit: thatollie removed his comment following my comment.
Title: Re: the "What makes something poetry?" discussion
Post by: DGSquared on January 13, 2008, 06:01:37 PM
Ollie was offensive?




 “Curiouser and curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). 

~Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll