Author Topic: Definitions  (Read 15514 times)

Offline Vienna

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #15 on: October 21, 2010, 03:46:14 AM »
Why is it that every time you respond, you have to have a dig at me? I don't get it. I haven't once made any comment about you personally, and yet at every opportunity you make a comment about me, whether I'm childish, or ignorant, or stuck in a rut or what have you. The debate isn't about me, it's about what makes a sonnet or not. Could you try to stick to that please - comment on the subject matter, and leave your opinions about the individual out of it. It actually says that in the posting guidelines, if you bother to look at them.

And I'm not rallying people to support me, I'm simply posing a question and getting opinions. For me the issue stays the same - if you can define something any way you like, what is the point of having a definition? What about the examples you've given makes them sonnets, other than that the authors have said they are? What is essential to 'sonnet-ness'? I thought it was a legitimate question, I'm sorry that it seems to offend you.




children children, let's have a lively discussion but leave out the personal insults we don't want another thread locked now do we eh??
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Going to church makes you a christian as much as standing in a garage makes you a car!

Offline Amie

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #16 on: October 21, 2010, 03:55:14 AM »
That's right V, you keep us all in line ;D
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Offline Amie

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #17 on: October 21, 2010, 05:49:10 AM »
Calling something a free verse sonnet, granted that some do, is like calling a gun a long-knived pistol.  That was Amie's point, I think -- that it is not logical to call a carrot cake a creampuff, nor does it make sense to use the words free form sonnet as though they made sense.

Yeah, that was it pretty much - and also wanting to get at the essence of 'sonnet-ness'. One assumes the writers had a reason for calling their 21 line random syllable per line non-rhyming entities with no identifiable sonnet features such as a volta 'sonnets' for a reason besides perversity, and I wondered what it was. What is the essence of sonnet-ness? And if it's just the author calling it a sonnet, what's the point of having a label at all?

It's like when Labour brought in those 'tax cuts' that resulted in everyone paying higher taxes. Don't get me wrong - I love taxes, and am a typical tax-and-spend liberal. I just don't see why you'd call a tax increase a tax cut, as if calling it makes it so.

Victor, are there really people who describe themselves as Christian atheists? That's a new one for me. I can see how you'd make the rationale (I guess it would be something like, you agree with Christ's teachings, except for the bits where he talks about God), but ... (never mind, I'll just end up repeating 'I don't see the point' again and again)
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Offline Mark H

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #18 on: October 21, 2010, 05:58:46 AM »
<this is not a joke>A Christian Atheist is someone that does not believe in God or Christ but goes to church and joins in just for the crack.</>
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Offline Amie

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2010, 06:17:45 AM »
Wow. Church services must be a lot more fun than I remember them from the 70s. And my mother used to go to one of those hip-n-groovy churches, that had a winged globe rather than a cross as their symbol, and played Led Zeppelin sometimes at the beginning of a service (I liked Led Zep, but it didn't make the service any more interesting or sensible to me ;) )
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Offline Mark H

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2010, 06:30:20 AM »
Sorry, I did not mean to imply that they enjoyed it in the sense that it was fun. It's more like the way people do totally pointless things for traditional/cultural/social reasons.

Personally I think it is harmless and in some ways makes a kind of sense.
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Offline Victor

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2010, 06:50:13 AM »
I guess a more apt name for such hybrids ( like the one that touched off this discussion) would be a Quasi-Sonnet. that way you can differentiate it from conventional sonnets - and still manage to appease the purists. ;D

Quote
Victor, are there really people who describe themselves as Christian atheists?

yep, there are.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_atheism

http://christianatheist.com/

to me its paradoxical. but then again I find any self-proclaimed athiest who adheres to anything ( humanitarianism, environmentalism, nationalism, animal welfare....blah blah blah ) ludicrous and self-contradictory. for me, its either God or nothing. if there is no God and no afterlife, the only logical consequence is nihilism and denial...rejection of everything that doesn't concern your own immediate self-preservation. honestly, I couldn't give a flying flip if my great-great-grand son is coughed out into a world without panda bears....or the ozone layer, for that matter.  
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. -ECCLESIASTES 1:17

Brownlee

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2010, 10:10:35 AM »
In an attempt to drag this discussion back to poetry...

I'd just like to iterate that this isn't my personal opinion about free verse sonnets, I'm just stating a fact. They exist. Look - there's one written by Don Paterson called ''96' from 'Landing Light' (2003). It starts like this:

her sleek
thigh
on my
cheek

Oh look - it's a closed / Petrachan quatrain rhyming ABBA but written in free verse. The poem is followed by a CDDC quatrain then two tercets rhyming EFE GFG. 14 lines. A distinct rhyme scheme. A volta at line 9. A noticeably split between the octave and the sestet. It's just that he's dared to innovate with the form in the way the Earl of Surrey did when he invented the English sonnet. There's no difference. It's just this one's a free verse sonnet. And not the first, they've been around for a while now. As I said, welcome to the 20th century.

Amie - Apologies for any personal offence. All I'm saying is that I feel you don't understand free verse poetry (a point which you have now repeatedly avoided answering directly) and therefore is the reason why you can't accept free verse sonnets. I'm sure you could tell me what iambic pentameter is, so why not free verse? If you would like to prove me wrong by providing a detailed critique of say, Elizabeth Bishop's free verse sonnet called 'Sonnet' (1979) telling us why it's not a sonnet, I'd be more than interested in reading the result. In reply, I am more than happy to state why I think one of America's greatest poets knows exactly what she's doing in calling her free verse sonnet 'Sonnet'.

Eric and M - The Poetry Archive was set up by former British Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion and is a highly reputable and trustworthy source, as much as any print source. And Eric - the quotes you gave seemed only to undermine your own position and support mine. Stating that free verse 'does away with form' shows a lack of understanding of free verse. It's a form as much as any other. But then you add free verse sonnets do away with form 'to a greater or lesser degree'. So they DON'T do away with form. So where's your argument?

Offline Amie

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #23 on: October 21, 2010, 10:27:12 AM »
All I'm saying is that I feel you don't understand free verse poetry (a point which you have now repeatedly avoided answering directly) and therefore is the reason why you can't accept free verse sonnets. I'm sure you could tell me what iambic pentameter is, so why not free verse?

Sorry, I wasn't deliberately avoiding the question. It seemed to me to be a statement of your opinion of me, rather than something that required a response.

So... if I follow your argument, you think I don't understand free verse poetry, because if I did, then I would agree that you can have a free-verse sonnet?

I'm not really sure how to answer your question... the answer seems so obvious to me that it makes me feel that I must be missing something. Free verse, as far as I am aware, is what I have said it is several times - it is unconstrained by form. The writer can choose to rhyme, or not, to use a standard meter or not, to use certain thematic elements or not. A sonnet, on the other hand, as far as I have always been aware, has very specific requirements for meter, number of lines, construction and so on. So, ... I don't think this will satisfy you, but I can't do any better than that. Free verse is unconstrained by form and a sonnet is a defined form. To say "free-verse sonnet" sounds like a contradiction in terms to me.

Quote
I am more than happy to state why I think one of America's greatest poets knows exactly what she's doing in calling her free verse sonnet 'Sonnet'.

well thanks, because this is what I've asked several times now. But I don't buy the argument that something is a fact because "one of America's greatest poets" says it is. I don't buy into argument by authority figure unless I see the actual argument and agree with it. Even if factual matters, authority figures disagree with one another, and this is a bit more subjective than that. I'm sure we could find another authority equal to Elizabeth Bishop who would disagree with that definition (but I'm willing to be proven wrong, if you can show me that every authority figure agrees with every other one)**

Oh - and a little niggle - you keep saying that you have proven the existence of free-verse sonnets, but in my opinion, all you have proven is that there are poems which appear at first glance to be free verse, but which the authors (as illustrious and respected as they may be) have decided to call sonnets (seemingly having argued in some cases that they meet the requirements of the sonnet form). This isn't the same thing to me at all.

Your most recent response (and discussion of Don Paterson's poem) is the best answer you have given yet with respect to the existence of free verse sonnets. But it still leaves my question of "What is essential sonnet-ness?" (and who decides this, and at what point does it become pointless having a definition because the definition is so malleable) unanswered. And, sorry - it still seems like an oxymoron - Don Paterson's poem clearly has a form, with defined requirements. And the suggestion is that the other 'free verse forms' meet requirements that qualify them as sonnets. so... they have requirements as to form, but they are free verse. Sorry, I gather you think this is impossibly thick of me, but it seems like looking into a hall of mirrors. If you are going to impose contraints of form, haven't you just created a new form or form subset, rather than writing a free verse poem? Even your Poetry Archive definition doesn't use the term 'free verse sonnet'  - it simply says that some people have deviated from the form. That doesn't seem like the same thing to me at all, and doesn't have the same oxymoronic implications.



**by way of analogy, you might be surprised to learn that I am fairly respected in my field. I have opinions and interpretations which I share with some  colleagues who enjoy a similar level of authority. We sometimes find that others disagree with us. I never say to someone who disagrees with me, "I'm on the board that makes the rules, therefore my interpretation is the correct one" - I always explain the rationale behind the interpretation. And I sometimes even admit that some things are open to differing interpretation (gasp!) but that I have chosen a particular one for the reasons previously given. I find enforced authority syndrome a bit distasteful; I try to respect people's need to understand the reasons for things rather than just saying "It's true because I and other important people say it's true"
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 11:43:08 AM by Amie »
"You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet." - Kafka

Offline eric

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #24 on: October 21, 2010, 11:37:02 AM »
To say that free verse has a form is to say that a red cow is a black one.  Form is exactly what is missing in free form poetry.  Internal music, yes; sonics; even story line.  Not form as such.  To argue for formless form is a bit like coring the banana.  The Don Patterson poem, as Amie points out, has a form -- it also has short lines.  Neither aspect makes it free form.

As far as your accusation that I do not understand free verse, I am happy to be in the company of others you denigrate.  Regarding myself, I've written about 600 free verse poems as well as nine or ten sonnets and a few ghazals, villanelles, terza rimas and the like, so I think I know the difference.  I'm sorry you don't think so, but you can't please everyone, as Ricky Nelson said.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 12:31:18 PM by eric »

Offline Mark H

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #25 on: October 21, 2010, 11:59:13 AM »
I'd just like to iterate that this isn't my personal opinion about free verse sonnets, I'm just stating a fact. They exist. Look - there's one written by Don Paterson called ''96' from 'Landing Light' (2003). It starts like this:

her sleek
thigh
on my
cheek


By what definition of free verse is that free verse? It has form and rhyme. You seem to have confused "free verse" and "no meter".  ::)

Mark
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Offline eric

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #26 on: October 21, 2010, 12:20:39 PM »
(1) Elizabeth Bishop wrote a fine poem called Sonnet that was close to sonnet form but varied in line length and rhyme.  Would observe that that was a sonnet or a short form poem like a sonnet?  She also wrote a fine poem called Sestina that did not look like a Sestina.  Is that authority enough for us to recall the canons of poetry on her say-so, even though she did not say so?  

(2) Now, we have Mary Oliver saying that a sonnet is thus-and-so.  We have Elizabeth Bishop not saying a sonnet as such is different.  Why should we take Elizabeth Bishop's supposed opinion over Mary Oliver's stated one? Because Bishop seems to agree with us more?  This shows the fallacy of authority-based argument.  
« Last Edit: October 21, 2010, 09:42:40 PM by eric »

Brownlee

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #27 on: October 21, 2010, 01:17:16 PM »
(In reverse order...) Eric -
Quote
Why should we take Elizabeth Bishop's supposed opinion over Mary Oliver's stated one?  Because Bishop seems to agree with us more?  This shows the fallacy of authority-based argument. 

You're contradicting yourself. So you're saying we shouldn't take one person's opinion above another's by stating we should take one person's opinion (Oliver's) above another's (Bishop).  ??? This shows the fallacy of authority-based argument.


Brownlee

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2010, 01:23:07 PM »
Mark - Free verse can incorporate rhyme and rhyme schemes, as well as all the other aspects of poetry available to the poet such as assonance, alliteration, internal rhyme, etc. Look at the Bishop sonnet. Look at 'Why Brownlee Left' by Paul Muldoon among many others, including the Paterson sonnet quoted.

That you don't understand this proves you don't understand free verse.

Brownlee

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Re: Definitions
« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2010, 01:34:34 PM »
Eric - so why do free verse poems have line breaks? Because that's a constraint of form perhaps? Why do they stop at all? These are just decisions for the poet to make rather than being externally imposed.

And even your wishy-washy definition of free verse poems having 'internal music' (would you care to be more specific - assonance? consonance? internal rhyme? alliteration? accentual stress? isochrony? cadence? lineation? punctuation?) is proof that there are formal constraints at work. Again, this shows a lack of understanding of free verse, based on an anti-definition of what you think it is NOT (predominantly that it doesn't have metre).