My Writers Circle

Poets Corner => Review My Poetry => Topic started by: Hugh on November 29, 2009, 09:54:27 AM

Title: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on November 29, 2009, 09:54:27 AM
her smile
grabbed my heart

white teeth
in cocoa face

naked
starving
dehydrated
dying

her hand
reached out
begging
for anything

I gave her
all I had
some water

her smile
broke my heart




Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on November 29, 2009, 10:32:29 AM
hear, hear!  good job.  never thought I'd see this!
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: sideshunter on November 30, 2009, 06:28:43 AM
good work, like it.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on November 30, 2009, 06:45:44 AM
Eric. Thank you, good Sir. Life’s full of surprises, eh? I’ll try just about anything once, and if it’s total dross, well…

And sideshunter, glad you approve. Thanks.

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: John Yamrus on December 01, 2009, 02:05:39 PM
you need a stanza break after "heart" and "white"
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 01, 2009, 02:14:28 PM
Thanks, John. Do you mean like this?

Her smile
grabbed my heart

white teeth
in cocoa face
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: twisted wheel on December 01, 2009, 02:17:03 PM
the more i come back and read this, the more i think you did an excellent job. like john's edit too. well done hugh. 8)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 01, 2009, 03:46:37 PM
Thank you, daryl.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: DIZI on December 01, 2009, 06:19:35 PM
Thought it was going to be a love poem until

naked
starving
dehydrated
dying

came into it and made me read on.
Good work!
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: CCRP on December 01, 2009, 06:47:03 PM
Read it several times, Hugh.

It makes me want to cry.
(And I don't cry. Ever.)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 02, 2009, 06:08:06 AM
Many thanks to all for your kind remarks. 

Leah, sorry if I made you want to cry. But glad, too. Beginner's luck?

Hugh 
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: CCRP on December 02, 2009, 06:12:43 AM
You shouldn't apologise for that, Hugh.
It means you did a great job.  :)

And no, I don't think beginner's luck.
Talented, more likely.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 03, 2009, 09:00:18 PM
No critique. Just wanted to say I like this. Which, in the long run, may be exactly the kind of critique we would all like to hear!
  ;)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 04, 2009, 05:48:37 AM
Thanks, Herron. I don't know what I'm letting myself in for, venturing onto the poetry boards, as I know nothing of the technicalities of modern poetry. It's a long time since having to scan Ovid's verse, and learning the virtues of iambic pentameters.

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 04, 2009, 07:19:38 AM
It can be brutal, at times, Hugh. But I think, in the end, good writing that provokes thought and emotion will prevail over the techno geeks who 'think' they know what to tell us all about poetry.

And I liked yours.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: caseyquinn on December 04, 2009, 07:52:22 AM
hugh, enjoyed this piece - good first attempt!
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 04, 2009, 08:52:09 AM
techno geeks?  my dear boy, are you describing yourself?
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: twisted wheel on December 04, 2009, 09:01:19 AM
Thanks, Herron. I don't know what I'm letting myself in for, venturing onto the poetry boards, as I know nothing of the technicalities of modern poetry. It's a long time since having to scan Ovid's verse, and learning the virtues of iambic pentameters.

Hugh
as long as you're totally bonkers, you'll fit in ;D
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 04, 2009, 09:25:22 AM
Modern poetry is strict, but it is only brutal for those who know nothing about it and think not only that they need know nothing about it to write it, but that they know more than the people who do know about it.  A form of enfant-terrible-ism. Hugh was in the former category but, with the natural humility of an intellect at work, found out enough about it to develop a natural interest. Kudos to him.  

It is a false distinction to oppose modern poetry standards and good writing.  Those so-called standards are simply suggestions for writing well.  The important thing is to write well, not to follow standards.  Usually the standards will lead you there.  I think the standards of modern poetry have nothing to do with technogeekism and nearly everything to do with the consensus of poets around the world about what good poetry is and can be.  For one example  of a non-geek describing his life in the art, see the Nobel Prize lecture by Seamus Heaney, 1995.

You could say that you'd like to build a deep space telescope but just forego the engineering and astrophysics background.  You can say that, but you won't do that worth a damn.  I do not think that Miles Davis records will tell you all you need to know about poetry, not just like that.  You need to know the meaning of the language and you need to know about life, real life, confronted raw and personal, for years or decades.  You need to win and lose.  You need to meet the Djinn, know the meaning of the blues.  Or at least some rough equivalent.

Actually, modern poetry has no boundaries so it can contain all sorts of writing, good and bad, and usually does.  We are talking about good modern poetry here which is very similar to good poetry in general in many ways, while quite a bit  different in others.  But far be it from me to tell you what I think I know.  I'll leave that for the  geeks.  Right now I have to fix the water in my house, which froze up last night.  Then I'll work on the heat, while the birds tweet in the woods.

Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 04, 2009, 10:57:29 AM
techno geeks?  my dear boy, are you describing yourself?

 ;D LOL!!
Perhaps 'techno' was the wrong word (actually, I'm quite sure of it). To correct myself, I was actually refering to the many so-called experts who seem to delight in telling others (often very brutally) how things should be structured, when their own efforts look like something a 10-year-old might have stumbled upon while diagramming sentences.

However, I actually do agree with (most of) what you said in your later post.

I'm also sensing that I often 'rub you the wrong way,' as the saying goes. But I'm sure you can take it, having met the Djinn, and all.   ::)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 05, 2009, 01:23:08 PM
no, you don't offend me, it's just that when people say foolish, ignorant things about MWC reviewers, I sometimes choose to set the record straight
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 05, 2009, 02:17:41 PM
no, you don't offend me, it's just that when people say foolish, ignorant things about MWC reviewers, I sometimes choose to set the record straight
Au contraire!  Methinks you were miffed, at least.   ;)

There are a lot of critics out there, and loads of other forums. Unless my comments made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck  - just a little bit - what makes you think I was talking about anyone on MWC?  ::)

In any case, this thread should be about Hugh's poem.

And I still like it.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Kyle on December 05, 2009, 06:25:56 PM
Awesome.  First attempt?  Awesomer.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 05, 2009, 06:30:31 PM
Yes indeed, Kyle.  Hugh has some classical education in poetry and hated the thought of modern poetry as degenerate, formless, and pornographic.  I worked with him at some great length to convince him otherwise, he took it under advisement nothing more, but here we see him doing a nice, well-wrought piece with obvious value.  A fine job. 
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Kyle on December 05, 2009, 06:39:05 PM
Interesting.  That leads me to ask: Hugh, has your opinion of modern verse change, or are you just dabbling in the Devil's work?
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 06, 2009, 11:06:39 AM
I’ve tended to keep out of the poetry section because in the past, whenever I’ve made comments, it’s been like putting a fox in the chicken run – feathers flying everywhere. But I have read a lot of the poems.

Gradually, gradually, I’ve begun to see how minimalist writing, split into lines, can be more effective than trying to put a similar thought into prose, with the necessary connecting words. For instance, in a prose sentence, I would have to write, “She was naked…” As it was, the emotion I felt seems to have transmitted to some readers, despite the starkness of the writing.

Eric, I take your point about hating the thought of modern poetry, or at least, some of it. I still think that some people seem to regard profanity, scatology, even pure filth, as not only acceptable, but obligatory. Ever since the Lady Chatterley case opened the door for explicit use of hitherto taboo language, writers have been pushing the boundaries. As you will know, obscenity laws haven’t changed much, but case law has made it unwise for anyone to sue for publishing salacious material.

The f-word has become so commonplace that it has lost much of its shock value, so other, more shocking ways have to be found to say, “I’m a poet. I can say what I like.”

Kyle, many thanks for your comments. Has my opinion of modern verse changed? I can only give a straight answer – yes and no (what I said to Eric will explain the no part).

I must also thank Amie for her part in introducing me to the virtues of non-metric, non-rhyming verse.

Hugh

PS. I do have another one drifting around I my mind, but the words to put it into a short poem are eluding me. It would probably take 500 words to try to convey in prose.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Victor on December 06, 2009, 11:34:33 AM
grabbed my heart.....broke my heart....

both those phrases are genuine cliche. and both sport the dreaded word "heart'. maybe its intentional but it didnt work for me.

Other than that, I'd say its good.


Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 07, 2009, 05:35:08 AM
Thanks Victor. All my clichés are good old-fashioned, 100% genuine…
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 07, 2009, 05:19:24 PM
I’ve tended to keep out of the poetry section because in the past, whenever I’ve made comments, it’s been like putting a fox in the chicken run ...

It's because of comments like this:

The f-word has become so commonplace that it has lost much of its shock value, so other, more shocking ways have to be found to say, “I’m a poet. I can say what I like.”

You judge people, write them off for doing x because of y when you have no idea why they do x. It's infuriating.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 07, 2009, 07:30:31 PM
Infuriating?

C'mon.  :-\    Starvation in third world countries, while we throw out excess food, is infuriating.

Children who have to grow up abused is infuriating.

Women who, through no fault of their own, are victims of domestic violence is infuriating.

Politicians who care more about re-election than helping their constituents is infuriating.

People, on a writing forum, who may have different opinions ... irritating perhaps .... but it's the ones who take themselves too seriously that are infuriating.
 ;)



Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 07, 2009, 09:41:42 PM
that is exactly right, herron.  i may not like some of your attitudes or opinions, but that doesn't mean i won't share my hot chocolate with you (or even more so, hugh's jameson's with him!).  this is, after all, just a writing forum.

similarly, those who take themselves too seriously are very good resources and normally very good people.  should be treated with respect and not with what is so often dished out by jealous newbies and others.  personal respect is a pretty good watchword, i'd say.

but you might also wish to consider whether it's you that is taking self too seriously here, at least in your written word.  you have no published poems, a few weeks of experience with it here, your efforts so far (if you'll pardon my saying so) not the pristine jewels one might expect from one of our more talented members, and you spend most of your time playing games.  but you insist on arguing that we're wrong.  (Hugh, who is likewise unpublished in the art, used to do that, he does not really any more.  others, all unpublished, do so from time to time.)  okay, that's your prerogative, but you almost always lose on the merits.  A small handful of the more serious poets here have over 150 yrs. of combined experience.  We don't care about academic honors really, but we have 1200 poems published, advanced degrees and certificates from numerous institutions in four or more countries, a national first place award in English language skills (America), a poem performed by a symphony orchestra (London), many highly comical poems, two of those muchly vaunted National Merit Scholarships, and other little goodies.  does it not occur to you that there is some other explanation for the serious imbalance in arguing position, that is, other than that you're very smart and/or clever and/or laid back (though you still seem to have an inordinate interest in material objects on wheels), and we're not?  Just musing, of course.  Here, have some more cocoa.

Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 08, 2009, 04:21:36 AM
herron,

For a writer you have an extremely poor understanding of language usage. Let me help with a quote from TheFreeDictionary:

Infuriating
Meaning: Adj. Extremely annoying or displeasing;
Example: "her infuriating indifference"
Synonyms: exasperating, maddening, vexing

So you may well find child abuse extremely annoying but I suspect most of us would choose a different adjective.

And just to be clear, I don't find Hugh's opinions infuriating. An opinion looks like this: I think swearing in poetry is a bad thing. But Hugh goes much further: he claims to know what's in the writers head and does so IMO in a priggish manner. He seemed bewildered as to why earlier comments of his were like putting a fox in the chicken run. I was simply trying to explain.

Mark
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 08, 2009, 06:13:25 AM
The views expressed were an honest response to a specific question – “has your opinion of modern verse changed?” – and not a personal attack on any individual, but I see that this grumpy old git’s comments still have the ability to infuriate. I can live with that.

I have the utmost respect for the knowledge and expertise in all aspects of poetry, both ancient and modern, of the likes of Eric, John Y, Amie and others. It was studying some Yamrus poems that led me to understand that they were not merely clever, pithy sentences split into lines and called poetry. The lines themselves, the order and arrangement of them, the stanza breaks, the white space, all sorts of things, contributed to the power of the words, and the message they conveyed.

I realised that I had been wrong to dismiss modern poetry as lightweight and contrived. I began to appreciate it, to such an extent that the challenge grew to see if I could do one myself.

I am gratified, and satisfied, that it was not slammed as total rubbish, but I think I’ll go back to the more tranquil waters of the prose boards. I feel more at home there, and rarely get shot at.

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 08, 2009, 07:24:07 AM
Surely you mean shot back at?

You seem happy to make sweeping statements (like the one I quoted) but don't like it if they are challenged. Why is that?
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: SilverLady on December 08, 2009, 07:40:15 AM
I liked it very much, however, Eric said:-

Quote
Modern poetry is strict, but it is only brutal for those who know nothing about it and think not only that they need know nothing about it to write it, but that they know more than the people who do know about it.

This is condescending bullshit, poetry is an art, and like art, beauty is only ever in the eye of the beholder, you either like it or you dont. 

(I have read beautifull poetry written by children who cannot spell correctly let alone understand the technicalities of poetry, modern or otherwise.)

Does Eric's statement imply ageism?, in that modern poetry can only be enjoyed by a person of a certain age and his education?

 :)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 08, 2009, 09:08:41 AM
This is condescending bullshit, poetry is an art, and like art, beauty is only ever in the eye of the beholder, you either like it or you dont.

But Eric is talking about craft not art. He's saying (I think) don't assume there is no craft just because the writer eschews: form, rhyme, meter, and poetic sounding words.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 08, 2009, 10:18:32 AM
Thank you for your comment on my effort, SilverLady. As for the rest of your post, I’m keeping out of it.

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 08, 2009, 10:43:56 AM
that is exactly right, herron.  i may not like some of your attitudes or opinions, but that doesn't mean i won't share my hot chocolate with you (or even more so, hugh's jameson's with him!).  this is, after all, just a writing forum.

similarly, those who take themselves too seriously are very good resources and normally very good people.  should be treated with respect and not with what is so often dished out by jealous newbies and others.  personal respect is a pretty good watchword, i'd say.

but you might also wish to consider whether it's you that is taking self too seriously here, at least in your written word.  you have no published poems, a few weeks of experience with it here, your efforts so far (if you'll pardon my saying so) not the pristine jewels one might expect from one of our more talented members, and you spend most of your time playing games.  but you insist on arguing that we're wrong.  (Hugh, who is likewise unpublished in the art, used to do that, he does not really any more.  others, all unpublished, do so from time to time.)  okay, that's your prerogative, but you almost always lose on the merits.  A small handful of the more serious poets here have over 150 yrs. of combined experience.  We don't care about academic honors really, but we have 1200 poems published, advanced degrees and certificates from numerous institutions in four or more countries, a national first place award in English language skills (America), a poem performed by a symphony orchestra (London), many highly comical poems, two of those muchly vaunted National Merit Scholarships, and other little goodies.  does it not occur to you that there is some other explanation for the serious imbalance in arguing position, that is, other than that you're very smart and/or clever and/or laid back (though you still seem to have an inordinate interest in material objects on wheels), and we're not?  Just musing, of course.  Here, have some more cocoa.

Point taken, Eric.

I apologize for any slights. They really were unintended. I can get on a soapbox with the best of them sometimes, and Mark's comment was just the fuel I needed this time, I guess. After decades in a very cutthroat business climate, it will be an effort, but I will try to let my more humble side emerge.

However, just to correct something. I have published poetry, and short stories. But that was a long, long time ago, in publications that don't even exist any more. Most of my writing efforts, and I had a lot of them over my career, were business articles, and things that might best be described as creative non-fiction.

I enjoyed what SilverLady had to say. Her comment: ....I have read beautiful poetry written by children who cannot spell correctly let alone understand the technicalities of poetry, modern or otherwise.... was, all by itself, almost enough to bring a tear to my eye. Because what she was talking about was reading emotions from those children that had impact. Simple. Profound. Beautiful.

The cocoa sounds good. But Hugh's Jameson's sounds better. If it's all gone, I'll break out my own Glenlivet.  ;)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 08, 2009, 11:14:00 AM
Not my Jameson's, Herron, but Eric's. Irish is not bad, but you can't beat the stuff from the home of the water of life. For a blended whisky I like Grouse, but Glenlivet is a nice malt. My son-in-law, who's Welsh, recently was given a bottle of Welsh malt, from a new distillery. I took one sip and couldn't drink it. Maybe one day they'll get it right.

Slainte.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 08, 2009, 11:46:14 AM
Indeed that's right, Hugh, which means I now owe you two bottles of Jameson's (or your favorite Scotch), I think.  And you're on target, H., I likewise spent most of my writing life on creative nonfiction, in my case, law!  It gives one an unfortunate tendency to argue (do you recall the poem Father William by Edward Lear, I think?), but all is not lost if we can still discuss the virtues of the divine nectar afterward.

As to your other comments, your point is well made, though I think that is most commonly a highly romantic view, in other words not connected to reality.  But no denying those things can happen.

Cheers.

 
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: CCRP on December 08, 2009, 12:57:03 PM
This is condescending bullshit, poetry is an art, and like art, beauty is only ever in the eye of the beholder, you either like it or you dont.  

Silverlady, that's quite a mouthful for someone new to this forum.

Also, you're forgetting the most important part. Art is not just about beauty. There's more to it. Much more.

As my daughter's violin teacher used to say: Talent is 5 percent.

So you may be talented, and never - let me repeat that - never achieve anything if you are either too stubborn or too lazy to learn the craft. Five percent is not much. The other 95% is just plain hard work. Learn the skills you need to master so your talent can shine.

Otherwise, you'll never get past the condescending bullshit part.

Sounds harsh? Sorry, I happen to be in a bad mood.
 
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 08, 2009, 01:27:16 PM
thank you Leah, you are right on target.

This is condescending bullshit

Thank you, whoever you are, for perfectly illustrating my point.

As to ageism, one of our strongest reviewers is 19.  Another is 18. We have two in our fifties, two in their forties, another about eighty. And many others of all ages in between.  

Do you object to education?  One of our strongest reviewers dropped out after high school and has spent his life writing poetry. He taught himself, essentially.  I don't notice that you have any poems to review, though.  Or are you arguing for your right to be ignorant and untutored?  You certainly have that right.  Enjoy.  
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 08, 2009, 03:52:11 PM
Indeed that's right, Hugh, which means I now owe you two bottles of Jameson's (or your favorite Scotch), I think.  And you're on target, H., I likewise spent most of my writing life on creative nonfiction, in my case, law!  It gives one an unfortunate tendency to argue (do you recall the poem Father William by Edward Lear, I think?), but all is not lost if we can still discuss the virtues of the divine nectar afterward.

As to your other comments, your point is well made, though I think that is most commonly a highly romantic view, in other words not connected to reality.  But no denying those things can happen.

Cheers.

Eric --
I think the poem you mean is the one by Lewis Carroll (it will never be one of my favorites).  ::)
 
"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And you have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door
Pray what is the reason for that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment one shilling a box
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his fater, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father. "Don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs.
 

 
And the divine nectar I'm partial to is the single malt ... Glenlivet, Glenfiddich or Knockando.   ;)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 08, 2009, 06:43:33 PM
Thank you Herron, most astute, and you are right of course.  The poem's amusing, not really great, but the lines about the law are just so true, chuckle chuckle.  I believe I've tried the first two of the single malts you mention, they are certainly wonderful, but don't know if I will ever get to the third.  Do you find it special?  Hugh?
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 08, 2009, 08:13:54 PM
Mark, thank you for your support earlier, old spigot, but your online dictionary is wrong.  Furious does not mean annoying.  Furious means the quality of having fury, that is, being enraged, raging.  It's extreme anger, not mere irritation.  So Herron was right, you were raging at Hugh for opinions he expressed on the merits. Those were not personal attacks by him.  But your comment that Herron didn't understand English when he (correctly) analyzed said word -- that was a personal attack.  Now Herron is not always right, not even close to it, he was wrong right up there (pointing), but he's not illiterate any more than you or me. Perhaps more to the point, your ire at Hugh really wandered over the boundary, old boy.  If you truly can't tolerate his very presence, suggest you go off and stab chickens or shoot beefeaters or something when he posts in the poetry boards.  

You know I agree a lot more with you than either of these blokes. That is why I do not like it when you abuse people not yet proven to be right-wingers.  I may want to quote you someday.  Here, have some hot chocolate, new batch just made, no animals died in the making.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 08, 2009, 10:24:54 PM
Thank you Herron, most astute, and you are right of course.  The poem's amusing, not really great, but the lines about the law are just so true, chuckle chuckle.  I believe I've tried the first two of the single malts you mention, they are certainly wonderful, but don't know if I will ever get to the third.  Do you find it special?  Hugh?

Much prefer the first two, but the Knockando is head and shoulders above any blend.  ;)
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 08, 2009, 10:31:53 PM
Good to know, H., I'll be sure to stand you to a few drinks some day in the bar.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 08, 2009, 11:23:39 PM
Something to look forward to.  ;) ;D
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 09, 2009, 08:09:35 AM
As this is my thread, and has already strayed a long way from a simple request to ask if my first attempt at a modern poem was any good, I’m assuming the right to take it even further away.

The widely different viewpoints lead me to think that the problem is not so much one of generation gaps, but of a huge gulf in attitudes between those of us who were born before or during the Second World War, or in the years following, and those who were born in the last twenty or thirty years.

I can only speak for myself, and those who had a similar upbringing, but we learnt, partly from the example of our parents, and partly from having it instilled in us at school, that certain codes of morality and behaviour were all important. One was that a gentleman would never swear in front of a lady. Of course we knew the swear words, but rarely used them, even among ourselves.

As for explicit language in books and other published material, the use of the f-word, and other so-called Anglo-Saxon four-letter words, was taboo, liable to prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act. As I mentioned earlier, the Lady Chatterley’s Lover court case in 1960 changed all that.

I remember, when about twenty-one, and home for the weekend, an American Air Force Colonel, his wife and fifteen-year-old daughter, came to lunch one Sunday. They were going to buy our family home. We had chicken and, as usual, I had the job of carving. I asked the lady guest whether she preferred breast or leg, or a bit of both. There was a shocked silence. The Colonel glared at me as if I’d left my flies undone after taking his daughter for a spin in my sports car.

Seeing my confusion, and that I’d asked the question in all innocence, he explained that in America they didn’t use such words in mixed company. I should have said light or dark meat.

Even now, if I say a rude word in front of my wife, she frowns at me with a face that looks as if she’s been sucking a lemon.

A walk down the High Street shows how times have changed. Young people talk to each other, or shout into mobile phones, in language that consists of about three four-letter words and little else. How anyone knows what they are trying to communicate is a mystery to those of us who are more mature.

Perhaps that is the key – maturity. Is obscenity clever, edgy, cutting-edge writing, or merely unfunny adolescent smut?

Finally, Mark – and please note that I am addressing you, not making insulting remarks about you to others – the blurb about your poetry collection states that it is “scatological, profane and irreverent. If it doesn’t make you laugh out loud you’re either dead or a cretin.”

Isn’t that rather a sweeping statement, as well as being downright offensive?

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 09, 2009, 09:46:34 AM
Very interesting. Hopefully I can comment without making you feel that the poetry forum is a dangerous place  :)

My position is this:

1) I have my own set of standards that I live by.

2) I do not try to impose my standards on others even if, on matters such as eating meat, I wish I could.

3) I do not judge people for adopting a different set of standards to those I adopt.

4) I try my best not to be offended by people that adopt standards different to those I adopt.

5) The standards I adopt are thought through and based on my experience of life.

6) I give no weight to religion or tradition in choosing the standards I wish to adopt.

I guess you are probably with me up to point 2. Then we go our separate ways.

The problem with judging people by your own standards is that there is always someone else willing to judge you. For example, you may think it disgraceful to wear jeans with a tear in the knee  :o but what about wearing jeans at all??? My neighbour thinks that is wrong -- he even wears a tie to mow his lawn.

Moving from life in general to writing then ... it gets a bit more complicated particularly when people assume that everything you write is about you and every word uttered by a character represents the writers own views. I reserve the right to hold one view and write from the POV of another.

Regards my blurb. It is tongue in cheek which I think is obvious to most people. Anyone that IS offended will definitely NOT want to take a peek inside: so it also performs a public service.  ;D

Mark
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 09, 2009, 10:26:01 AM
I used to use the word cretin willy-nilly until I realized what it meant and understood that I might be deeply insulting my drooling brethren by making a joke of the word (I am also disabled), so I quit doing that.  This I think is the only part of Mark's warning label that might be considered offensive, but after reading Leah's post (below) and looking at the warning label again, I see it's objectionable on exactly the grounds Mark uses to excuse it ... it's all in fun.  Yeah, lotsa fun, you bet, niggah.

More to the point here, I think Hugh once again makes a good case for his sadness at the loss of civility in discourse over the last century or so, but to me that pales totally in respect to the exponential increase in human suffering from genocides, child abuse, wars (often using conscripted child soldiers for human fodder) and the like.  On the other hand the old shackles, prejudices, chains are gone or going.  Yes, we live in coarser times, although in many ways freer ones, and for better or worse the language reflects that on both sides.  

To me both you gentlemen have plausible points but would likely  better focus on the points themselves rather than speculate as to whether, buried in one point or another, a personal attack is festering.  For from what I can see, it is not.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: CCRP on December 09, 2009, 11:05:09 AM
3) I do not judge people for adopting a different set of standards to those I adopt.

Your blurb tells me otherwise. Or do you think calling someone who doesn't enjoy 'scatological, profane and irreverent' a cretin is not judgemental?

Regards my blurb. It is tongue in cheek which I think is obvious to most people. Anyone that IS offended will definitely NOT want to take a peek inside: so it also performs a public service.  ;D

You call it tongue in cheek. I think it's plain rude.
Is rudeness a public service now?
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 09, 2009, 11:27:47 AM
Leah

The book is called Bristle Side Down. On the front cover it says: Warning May Contain Poetry. The cover design looks like a ransom note. The publisher is called Scribblers Ring. The quote continues ... Don't stand there dithering; put your hand in your pocket and buy it now!

The blurb also talks about me winning a Mr Kipling prize for exceedingly good poems (that's an English joke) and mentions a pretend novel called the Goat Whisperer.  ::)

There are plenty of hints that this is not a book that takes itself seriously. I have also watched many people pick the book up, flip it over, and chuckle.

BUT ... you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Mark

Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 09, 2009, 11:39:14 AM
Looking at Mark's warning label, I decided that "cretin" doesn't work for me for reasons different than the ones Leah mentioned.  While what you say in defense of your scatological etc. humor is relatively valid, Mark, you might want to review my previous post (now edited) to peruse my point.  If you're using a search, just look for the word "niggah."  

This would be a post in support of Hugh's general view, which, oddly, refers to a time when there was no compunction about using words like nigger or cretin at all.

And let me be very clear about something.  In the brain damaged community, there is zero difference between nigger and cretin. Zero.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 09, 2009, 11:56:03 AM
Ah I see. There are words in UK English like mong and spas that I would never use because they are offence to people with certain disabilities. I don't view cretin (in UK English) in the same way -- although I stand to be corrected. I have just done a non-scientific straw poll of half a dozen English people and they all said cretin is synonymous with stupid person. No one I asked was aware of any link to the medical definition I've found in my on-line dictionary.

If cretin is offensive in the same way as say "spas" then it was unintentionally and I will change it.

Mark



Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 09, 2009, 12:27:01 PM
Point taken, Mark ... but it's that definition (the other being deformed/handicapped etc.) that is so infuriating to the bashed-brained/infected-brained people and others who tend to be facially all screwed up.  They are real people like you and me but are considered stupid and inferior because they look funny, drool, and so on.  So yes, on this side of the puddle at least it is highly offensive, probably the number one word in the high-offense category for such people, very like nigger, in fact.

This is especially ironic because the root of the word, in 18th C. French, meant "Christian" ... "apparently used to convey a reminder that handicapped people are human," according to the Oxford Concise dictionary.

We have words like spazz (for spastic) and so on that might be similar to the words you mention, I have not heard of them.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: randolph on December 09, 2009, 12:38:31 PM
Crikey, looks like I missed all the fun on this one.

Never knew cretin had the connotations Eric mentions. My grandpa, who lived in North America for much of his life and in the North of England and London the rest, used to say we were two nations divided by a common language. Always thought there was a lot in that.

This has no relevance to anything, of course. Sorry for butting in!
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 09, 2009, 12:47:06 PM
Randolph your grandpa was a wise man, but I suspect he stole that quote from a famous writer.  Don't remember who.

Mark's warning states:  "If it doesn’t make you laugh out loud you’re either dead or a cretin.”  So the word cretin is meant to portray a very extreme condition, blithering idiocy (which is a typical definition) or physical handicap or both.  Something far less than aware or sufficient.

I suspect that people on either side of the puddle with brain damage or nerve damage history would notice that.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: herron on December 09, 2009, 02:53:20 PM
Randolph your grandpa was a wise man, but I suspect he stole that quote from a famous writer.  Don't remember who.
....

I believe that was Winston Churchill.   ;) ;D
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 09, 2009, 03:46:34 PM
Mark's warning states:  "If it doesn’t make you laugh out loud you’re either dead or a cretin.”  So the word cretin is meant to portray a very extreme condition, blithering idiocy (which is a typical definition) or physical handicap or both.  Something far less than aware or sufficient.

It was intended (as per one of the dictionary definitions) to mean idiot: as in a casual insult. I have never heard it used in any other context. Cretin is a synonym of idiot.

Leah,

Was it actually the word cretin you found rude?

Mark
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 09, 2009, 07:33:30 PM
Well, cretin is not really a synonym of idiot in America, though that's a lot closer than stupid.  With your definition the actual connotation, which is quite settled in my experience, is a slobbering, drooling wreck of a blithering idiot, most degenerate, to be despised and derided.  Not a real person demanding respect at all, a nonhuman very like a nigger.  Hence cretinous is a very strong insult in America, much more than the casual "idiot."  

And this is also true with the other definition, not merely disabled but slobbering, drooling, deformed, medically spastic (this being the other great term of offense because of its derogatory casual sense), unable to walk straight, and hard to understand, like several of my pals from that side of life.  It used to be very common to deride and despise this sort of cretin, and has been quite recently also (though less so one assumes).  And whenever the word is used, people think first of the first definition (as you said) and the primary connotation in this country (which is several times larger than yours).  That used to be the secondary definition to the more medical one, but it superseded the other by dint of common use.  Granted, the connotation is rather milder and not necessarily as linked in some dictionaries and uses in your country (though you haven't been interviewing the subject class I take it, they might have a different view entirely).  

So consider.  If you are a cretin of the second sort, in  other words, a person like me, and you were referred to as a cretin, would you sort through all these nice distinctions, give the person calling you that name the logical benefit of the doubt for having a culturally distinct background, and go off saying "ho hum" to the next meeting of Cretins Anonymous?  Or would you be consumed with rage and frustration over yet another ignorant and discriminatory slur?

The better your dictionary the more likely you are to see these nuances.  Apparently UK sources won't cut it.  But do think about talking to people involved.  I have.

That said, though, we should really stop hijacking Hugh's thread, so I won't say any further on the topic here.  Cheers.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 10, 2009, 02:20:57 AM
It's not a hijack because ...

Hugh:
Quote
Finally, Mark ... If it doesn’t make you laugh out loud you’re either dead or a cretin.”

Isn’t that rather a sweeping statement, as well as being downright offensive?
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 10, 2009, 05:52:22 AM
“England and America are two countries divided by a common language”

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, it is “attributed to George Bernard Shaw, although not found in his published writings”.

Randolph, don’t be sorry. Come in and join the fun. What started as a simple poem put up for review has now become a discussion about semantics. Why not chuck a new pebble into the pond and see where the ripples take us?

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: randolph on December 10, 2009, 07:28:39 AM
Yes it's a nice line isn't it?

I'm not sure what I can add to the discussion to be honest, though I found it very thought-provoking, particularly Mark's highly individualistic personal creed, and Eric's sense of pride and fraternity in the forum. For me, this made an intriguing contrast. I often catch myself pondering the differences between American and English culture, many of which are imagined, I suspect. But anyway, this thread makes an interesting case-study.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: CCRP on December 10, 2009, 11:24:10 AM
Leah,

Was it actually the word cretin you found rude?

Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. (I've been really sick.)

Yes, it's the word cretin that I found rude. For reasons I won't go into right now - but I might later.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 10, 2009, 12:21:11 PM
Thanks Leah and Eric.

I will change the blurb and remove the word cretin as soon as I can.

Mark
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 10, 2009, 12:47:04 PM
Thank you sir.  I also forgot to mention the also well-known subtext of cretin (well-known in my country anyway), as not just moronic but morally repugnant.  This is probably the most offensive aspect of all in this context.  But with your verdict, that is less here than there.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 10, 2009, 05:00:24 PM
When, all those years ago, Aristotle spoke of the precise and special meaning of a word, he wasn’t thinking about the difference between English and American English. He was talking about how a word can affect people in different ways, according to their interpretation of it, regardless of its precise meaning or origin.

My Oxford Dictionary defines cretin as:

A stupid person (usually used as a term of abuse). Or:

(Medical) A person who is deformed and mentally handicapped because of a thyroid deficiency.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary (American) defines cretin as:

1.   (often offensive): one afflicted with cretinism.

2.   a stupid, vulgar or insensitive person.

Cretinism is defined as: a usually congenital abnormal condition marked by physical stunting and mental retardation.

Regardless of the dictionary definitions of a word like that, it was the statement that anyone who doesn’t laugh out loud at scatology, profanity and irreverence, is either dead or (any word to imply stupidity) that I found offensive.

Incidentally, the wearing of jeans with a split in the knee is not a sign of being different, not running with the herd. On the contrary, it is a uniform, a statement that the wearer belongs to a group, gang, sect, whatever you like to call it, which shares common beliefs. I never approve nor disapprove. Frankly, I don't give a shit.

I happen to prefer to be able to buy several pairs of trousers for the price of one pair of such a fashion statement. I’ve nothing against it, nor would I make assumptions about a chap who wears a tie to mow the lawn. He can wear evening dress if he likes.

But going back to Aristotle, an insult is an insult, regardless of its precise meaning.

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 10, 2009, 06:16:27 PM
Hugh

I'm changing the word because I didn't realise how it was used in the US and now I do know I would no more use it than I would use spastic in that context in the UK.

I will change it and no doubt you will still find my blurb offensive. And that's fine by me.  :) The blurb as a package is extremely tongue in cheek. In fact aspects of it are farcical. But humour is a personal thing. I love Monty Python, hate Benny Hill, and found Bernard Manning offensive. I don't expect everyone to enjoy my writing.  :o

It seems to me though that you are not content with disliking my work (or the work of others that use strong language -- or should I say adolescent smut?) you have to go further and claim that our motives are unsound. And that's what I struggle with. Because you (mature, a gentleman) don't like strong language in poetry, it must be wrong. The writer's motive (according to you) is simply to shock. Why? Why would you think that? If I see one of your poems I don't assume you wrote it just to put me to sleep [that's a joke BTW].

Ho hum. Well at least I have maturity to look forward to.

Mark
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 10, 2009, 06:33:40 PM
That's most interesting, Hugh.  Sadly I neglected Aristotle because I found his structure and argument offputting.  Or maybe I was just a callow youth to whom nearly everything was offputting.  Would be interested in cites to A.'s works containing his main linguistic analyses. Pls. PM me if you wish.

Mark, I just got your latest response to Hugh.  Let me note that I honestly don't think he's impugning your motives or any others, including that great, humane, funny, obscene, scatalogical smut-peddler ol' whats-his-name, burned himself in a freebasing accident, one of my favorites.  A classic comedian, I think one of the greatest stand-ups ever, of whom Hugh would most certainly not cavil to disapprove.  Did a bunch of bad movies though, some with Gene Wilder.  Richard Pryor.

But I digress.  It is certainly the written work as such, the stand-up comedy, that gives Hugh the problem, not the man.  Unless I am missing something in what he says that is invisible and secret to all but you.  For that is the issue, is it not?  He is entitled to despair of the writing, he is on less firm ground or none at all to attack the writer.  In my view, having gone around and around with Hugh on similar issues, it is only the former at work here.

One other thing.  From your quote of Hugh's statement, above, and his response using Aristotle and good dictionaries, also above, it is clear that not only was Hugh not acting ad hominem here, he was in fact exactly correct.  And using the greatest English dictionary, to boot.  So please, let us now praise famous men or something, and move on from this topic.
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 11, 2009, 02:15:46 AM
Eric

It is certainly the written work as such, the stand-up comedy, that gives Hugh the problem, not the man.

Why do you feel the need to defend someone that is surely articulate enough to say that for himself.

Unless I am missing something in what he says that is invisible and secret to all but you.  For that is the issue, is it not?  He is entitled to despair of the writing, he is on less firm ground or none at all to attack the writer.

As to the invisible secret ... let me remove its cloak of invisibility for you  :)

I still think that some people seem to regard profanity, scatology, even pure filth, as not only acceptable, but obligatory.

The f-word has become so commonplace that it has lost much of its shock value, so other, more shocking ways have to be found [Mark: found by the writer] to say, “I’m a poet. I can say what I like.”

Any help?

Mark
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: eric on December 11, 2009, 05:26:57 AM
no.  i was just commenting (presumably) rationally, don't like to see two friends (of mine -- not of each other!, Mark, thou writer of things indicating your supposed fictional status as prissy-fart-smut-monger) argue for no good reason, but apparently to null effect. so go ahead, i'll just go elsewhere.  by the way, have you had your anti-paranoia pills today?
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 11, 2009, 07:19:36 AM
E

Hugh and I are not friends and we are not fighting (well I'm not).

All I'm doing is disagreeing with Hugh's comments as clearly stated. You can agree with him, agree with me, or play with your yo-yo but I see no point in you saying that the disagreement does not exist.

Let me try and put it in terms you care about. You admire Amie's writing yes? She wrote an excellent poem called Scenarios. Let me remind you what you said about it:

Probably our best poet at work here, ... I'll just say this.  One can learn a lot from this woman, I always have, and I'm one.

and if I can also remind you of the subject: Warning: profanity and adult theme. So in Hugh's words do you think this is adolescent smut or perhaps Amie is just trying to shock us?

Get off the fence before you get a splinter in your arse :-*

M
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Hugh on December 11, 2009, 08:28:57 AM
Eric, afraid I can’t do as you ask as I, too, find Aristotle a bit difficult (been trying to read his Ethics). It’s just that the precise and special meaning of a word thing (from his Poetics I believe) happens to appeal, and I think as true today as it was then.

You are right that I’m not attacking anyone personally. Any remarks I make about writing are just that, and who wrote it is immaterial. The writing, not the person, prompts a comment.

And Mark, on a personal level I happen to think that some of the stuff I’ve read of yours shows an impressive way with words and a good sense of humour. But we’re not talking about you. We’re discussing views on particular kinds of writing.

That we may differ in our views doesn’t automatically make me a prissy old fart who probably always wears a tie. Actually, I’ve worn a tie once in the past year, for our golden wedding celebration, and some of FireFly’s jokes on the Crap Joke Thread make me laugh out loud, but that’s beside the point.

By all means come back and have the last word, then I might ask a moderator to lock the thread, which I think has gone on long enough. I shan’t be posting again on this thread.

Again, my thanks to everyone who commented on the poem.

Hugh
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: CCRP on December 11, 2009, 08:38:59 AM
Yes, it's the word cretin that I found rude. For reasons I won't go into right now - but I might later.

The reason why the word cretin makes me cringe (and nobody using it earns any brownie points, and will lose all brownie points he/she might have earned before) is a very personal one.

I had three daughters. One of them is dead. When she died at age five, she had the mental development of a three month old baby. I like to think she recognized me as her mother, but in all honestly I can't even be sure of that. She was beautiful, BTW.

So, on this very personal level, I don't only think it's rude to use a word as cretin, but also needlessly hurtful. Use it in combination with dead, and that makes it even worse. But again, that is very personal.

But even on a non-personal level, I still think it's rude and insulting to call someone a cretin - for whatever reason. It's just a big No-No. So, thank you for your willingness to change that blurb, Mark. Much appreciated.

 
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: Mark H on December 11, 2009, 09:06:55 AM
Leah

That's very sad. You have my sympathy.

Something for everyone to bear in mind ... as words are used differently across the globe if you see someone use a word that is out of place you could always ask if he is aware of its meaning.

Mark
Title: Re: My first attempt at modern verse
Post by: CCRP on December 11, 2009, 09:10:19 AM
Leah

That's very sad. You have my sympathy.

Something for everyone to bear in mind ... as words are used differently across the globe if you see someone use a word that is out of place you could always ask if he is aware of its meaning.

Mark

Thanks, Mark.
Here, have some of your brownie points back.  :)