Author Topic: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?  (Read 3147 times)

Offline Pakman

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Hello- I am a new poet.

Recently I wrote a new poem (called "Impassionate") with an original meaning/concept in thought however I wanted to create a poem that could be interpreted several different ways and that would be all in all enjoyable/interesting for the reader to read- keep them guessing at what I actually meant.

But, I was looking at some other poems on here, and there were comments like "too cryptic" or "I have no idea what this means". Is that then a bad thing? As a writer should I strive to write something that is clear to the reader?

I'm sorry, I'm sure it's a silly question *blush* Thanks everyone.

Offline Neghe

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2013, 06:10:55 PM »
There are those that believe any writing should be written to be understood. There are others that think things can be a little less rigid. However, poems are meant to be read so, perhaps there should be at least some kind of coherent thread running through them, I suppose.
“Poetry is what happens when nothing else can.”― Charles Bukowski

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2013, 09:57:33 PM »
Pakman, the link below will take you to something that Amie wrote to help poets make their work better. Perhaps you'll find something there to answer some of your questions.

 http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?topic=7667.0
MWC Charity Publications.
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight>
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

R. L. Copple's: http://www.rlcopple.com/

I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.
-Mohandas K. Gandhi

Offline ChrisHarrison

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2013, 06:34:00 AM »
It depends what is meant by making poetry understandable. You could make it understandable to everyone, regardless of their IQ and end up with simple rubbish, but where do you draw the line between 'dumbing down' and 'naval gazing.' You just have to experiment and find a level at which you feel comfortable and honest with yourself and your writing, and the level at which your readers feel intrigued without being intimidated or confused.

Offline 510bhan

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2013, 06:43:18 AM »
It's okay to have layers and several interpretations but there has to be 'something' for the reader to latch on to for their own understanding of the piece, even if it's not the same at the poet's intention. A shallow reader may only appreciate the superficial meaning of a poem, which is fine, they may not possess the depth of experience to be able to gain anything further from it, but the superficial meaning at least should be comprehensible and accessible IMO. :-X

Offline heidi52

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2013, 08:02:58 AM »
A poem doesn't have to make logical sense like prose.

I think it is hard enough to write a poem that is both different and graspable by the average reader.  How often are readers' interpretations of your words completely different from what you thought you wrote?  If you start with the intention of being obscure it almost seems to me like you are trying to play a trick on the reader. Kind of like: "Here think about this, try to figure it out, but you'll never guess what I meant, because I really didn't mean anything"

JMO of course.

Offline Mark H

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2013, 08:17:48 AM »
Sounds like you'd prefer to be writing a metaphysical, detective, who-done-it, in prose than a poem. Why do you think your readers want those things anyway? is that what you want when you read a poem?

Poetry Rule #1

Do no try to be too clever, because if you have to try, you will fail.

You say you are a new poet. If I was you I'd focus on getting the basics right.  :)

Mark
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Offline TheGreyMan

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2013, 01:31:41 PM »
Personally i believe poetry has only one purpose, to transmit a certain feeling or emotion to the reader. If someone reads your poem and feels what you intended them to feel i reckon you're on to a winner.

Just my little opinion though :)
Forgive me if I'm being naive, I'm quite new to this.

Offline intercat

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2013, 01:46:29 PM »
Not a silly question. :)

I think poetry is often a fine line.  If you write a poem that leaves a reader not really sure what just happened, but as Grey said affected by the emotion, I think it can work.  But it's really easy to lose readers that way; if a reader feels that they're just reading meaningless image after meaningless image, they're going to get bored quickly.  I agree with Mark in that it'd probably be good to work on getting concrete and coherent ideas crafted first before delving into multi-layered, more abstract things.

I remember getting so frustrated with my first poetry professor back in early college telling me "your words are very pretty but there's nothing in them", and then I wrote some poem about a stupid swingset or something and what she was saying finally began to click into place.

Offline Pakman

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Re: Is it okay to write something with the intension of obscurity?
« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2013, 02:01:15 AM »
Wow thank you everyone! It really means a lot that you guys would take the time to give me advice. I feel very humbled and blessed to be part of this community. Overall I will practice some more and try to establish the basics. I hope in time I will meet all of your expectations.

To Neghe: Thanks for the advice :)

To Alice: Thank you for the link, It's very helpful. I have read the post before, I was still just a bit confused. Not so much anymore though ;)

To Chris: I haven't thought quite like that before. I'm still having a hard time thinking like my readers. Hopefully I will develop that skill with more practice though. Thank you.

To 510bhan: Thank you! I'll keep that in mind. ^_^

To Heidi: I did intend to mean something, but at the same time, I didn't want it to be so obvious that it would hinder other interpretations. There were in fact some who were spot to what I was thinking, but there were others that had totally different interpretations which I kinda liked. In the end though, you are right. Playing tricks is mean :P I'll keep that in mind for now on.

To Mark: Perhaps you are right. I haven't really considered prose since poetry has this lyrical and structural quality that I admire. I got hooked onto poetry when my teacher gave us poems that we had to analyze. My favorite (and still my favorite today) is "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird". The reason was because I had no idea what the author REALLY wanted to say. I came up with my own interpretation, but then a classmate had a totally different interpretation- something totally different but significant to him. I found that almost everyone that day thought something different. I really wanted to write something like that. I guess it was silly to try to attempt that though when I haven't got the basics down yet :P Thanks for the advice. I'll focus on the basics for now on then :)

To GreyMan: I quite like the word "reckon" XD. sorry off topic. Thank you. I'll work on that more. Although, I personally don't think that poetry only has that ONE purpose, but it is a very important part.

To intercat: I didn't think of it like that... and I really don't want people to get bored, that is the opposite of what I want! I thought if I got a reader constantly guessing that would interest them- but I see now- people might get bored or frustrated... O_O. Thanks for the great advice (this time and many times before). I'll take your advice and try to walk before I run :P Question: did that poetry class in college help? (I'm not in college yet so I'm very curious + I've been kinda a lost case to my english teachers so I'd really like to improve in any way)