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understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Jeffrey (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: July 04, 2003 04:03AM

Hello everyone,

I have a question, of course. Please allow me some latitude to give you a brief background of myself that will enable me to lead up to my question. I am, what I would consider myself to be, an aspiring poet. Aspiring to what--well, I don't know, recognition from others (probably to be most honest with you). I enjoy writing and reading some poetry. I especially like Tennyson's "Flower in a Crannied Wall" because it says so little but yet says so much. I also like some works by Whitman and Auden. I have no formal schooling in the arts, such as poetry. I have never had any of my work published. I am actually a non-practicing social worker (by educational background) and a person who is in a trans-racial adoption (with my wife) and a wonderful African-American young boy. This situation is one that lends itself to many (positive) things I would like to say via my own poetry. Here is my question--other than the above, there are not that many poems/poets that I have read that "do that much for me". Am I missing something, am I in the wrong field? Where do I go from here? I have read that good poetry can be powerful and "change your life". Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: July 04, 2003 04:17AM

Jeffrey, a couple of thoughts come to mind after reading your brief biographical sketch. One is that if the poetry you enjoy is "of another age" then it could be that you will find it difficult to find an audience for your own work if you imitate that style. In other words, create your own style.

Secondly, if you do not like what you're reading then read something else. After having read dozens of aspiring poets on this site and others I think that if you don't like what you read, then you're either reading the wrong stuff, or you need to write stuff that "you" would like to read.

Good luck with your aspirations. Read all the submissions here on the User
Submitted Poetry forum here for about a month and report back on your findings.

Les


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: dennis (---.gardena-02rh16rt.ca.dial-access.att.net)
Date: July 04, 2003 10:59AM

Poetry can help us come to the moment of creative inspiration the
poet experienced-at the time of writing. The capacity to understand the other person's view is vital-poetry can help in the process. Not more
of internalized me-me. But, more of the experience from the view of
the other person. Poetry can bring an intuitive flash-an afflatus, which
is rare in life. hope this helps. best dlc


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Desi (---.grecian.net)
Date: July 04, 2003 11:44AM

I have found often that I need to read a poem more than once to get inspired by it, or even to know a bit of background.

To answer your question "where do you go from here": I think it is a bit like music. There are very many different styles and tastes out there, and how do you find out yours or how do you learn to appreciate a new style for you? Be involved. Keep reading poetry, read some poetry teaching books to help you understand the basic rules and lingo (so it becomes easier to define for you what you like and don't like). It is a sort of hobby, so don't go in there expecting results withing a month...

If you regularly read this phorum you will probably pick up a lot. I know I did!

For advise on how to become a poet: practise a lot, play with words and have an open attitude towards (positive) critisism. If your work would be of high standard already you'd be a wizz kid. Writing poetry is a craft. I am hopeless at it ;-)

Tennyson is one of my favourite poets. I love for example "ulysses" and the lady of shalott. Famous is his "charge of the light brigade". You can find all of them (I think) in the poet list. Do you like these poems? Why? or Why not?


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: gorddev (---.sympatico.ca)
Date: July 04, 2003 01:11PM

Jeffery,

This is basically an elaboration on what Dennis and Desi said. I bet you would find a little bit of "formal training" in poetry would greatly aid your appreciation. And this dosen't necessarily mean a class- I recommend a library book like "An Introduction to Poetry" by x. j. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. The book strives to provide context and classifies poems by their domminate characteristics. Knowing a few little things about the poem can often be very helpful in understanding how to read it.
To experience what poetry can do, I recommend doing what works for me. Find a poet whose vision of the world and whose circumstances were/are so curious and different from yours that each poem takes you by surprise (I like Emily Dickinson and Sylcia Plath for this). Then by reading the poems very closely, imagining the poets wrting them and their moods while they do so, try and get to "know" the poets, ask yourself "What would ... think of this situation i'm in right now?". You'll find you have some new imaginary friends and I good idea of how the poetic mind reacts....


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Marian-NYC (---.nyc1.dsl.speakeasy.net)
Date: July 07, 2003 06:55PM


I have two thoughts to add:

First:

Jeffrey, you wrote: "there are not that many poems/poets that I have read that "do that much for me". Am I missing something?"

MY HUNCH IS THAT YOU'RE JUST BEING VERY HONEST ABOUT YOUR RESPONSES TO POETRY, NOT FAKING IT.

Second:

Read Shakespeare. There are lines from his plays that I treasure more than any number of "great" poems because they say so much in so few words.


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: July 07, 2003 08:36PM

Jeffrey-


A lot of poetry doesn't do much for me, either. I vote with Marian-NYC- but read that Shakespeare out loud!

I might also suggest "Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry" edited by Billy Collins, and another called "Poetry Out Loud" edited by Robert Alden Rubin. You might also check libraries and used bookstores for introductory poetry textbooks. This can give you a wide choice of works, and from there, you might run into an author that you enjoy.

pam


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Chesil (---.client.attbi.com)
Date: July 07, 2003 09:06PM

Poetry can be life-changing, it has been for me, yet in a quiet way and not with a sudden revelation. The poems that might change your life will surely depend on where your life is. For a spiritual person perhaps a first reading of Milton's Paradise Lost or for somebody losing their sight, perhaps Milton's Sonnet XVI (that ends: They also serve who only stand and wait) would prove inspirational for them.

Poetry is not prose, it rarely tells a whole story but leaves the reader to fill in the gaps and to bring their own meaning to a poem. This means that it tends to need closer examination and thought. Insight may not come easily, or at all. We each examine a poem from the starting point of our own lives and for it to be meaningful, it has to have a point of contact with our lives.

I believe this is different from reading poetry for its own sake, a favorite hobby of mine.

Some lines that changed my life?

An extract from Manfred by Byron

When the moon is on the wave,
And the glow-worm in the grass,
And the meteor on the grave,
And the wisp on the morass;
When the falling stars are shooting,
And the answer'd owls are hooting,
And the silent leaves are still
In the shadow of the hill,
Shall my soul be upon thine,
With a power and with a sign.


You'll just have to guess as to the change smiling smiley


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.MCLNVA23.covad.net)
Date: July 07, 2003 09:56PM


Well, if he is involved in a trans-racial African-American adoption, some black poets would likely be of value. In seeing what others have already written, I mean. Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou to start, I guess.

Then focus on specific ideas for the parenting angle - try to fathom the child's viewpoint, if possible. Could be marketable if well done, sure.

We have seen some wonderful 'parenting' poems posted here, but I would have to search the archives to find them.


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.MCLNVA23.covad.net)
Date: July 07, 2003 10:05PM


The change - ah yes:

The year 's at the spring,
And day 's at the morn;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearl'd;
The lark 's on the wing;
The snail 's on the thorn;
God 's in His heavenó
All 's right with the world!


Browning stole it from GG!


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: dennis (---.gardena-02rh16rt.ca.dial-access.att.net)
Date: July 10, 2003 12:26PM

good advise. Get into the poet's viewpoint-see what they saw.
Understand their separate life-through their poem. Poetry is the
joy of the world which is not us. best dlc


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Michele (---.tnt8.syd2.da.uu.net)
Date: July 30, 2003 07:57PM


I too am a fussy reader, but I enjoy looking and find the searching process quite exciting.

I can highly recommend the process of memorizing poetry. Sometimes whole poems, sometimes, just the lines I find interesting or intriguing or puzzling. Whole world have opened up for me through this practice. Sometimes after years of having a poem quietly stored away in my heart.

I wish you well.


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: joseph torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: July 31, 2003 11:28AM

Empathy is the key. Being able to see and feel what the poet does is essential to enjoying poetry on any level. However, that's not always a simple thing.

Poems take on many forms and often use styles of language unfamiliar to us...from the middle English of Chaucer, to the street-rap of today. So, it can be difficult to actually put yourself in the poet's place.

I recommend purchasing a good poetry primer - one that presents a wide array of poems with short, yet precise, interpretations and criticisms. Louis Untermeyer is one critic who comes to mind immediately. He has edited a number of anthologies and I've found his commentaries always illuminating, and more importantly, easy to understand. They have helped me tremendously with my own writing.

Good luck.


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Elliot (---.acedsl.com)
Date: August 01, 2003 12:50PM

Jeff,

) Do not think for one second that you can make a living from or via poetry. Consider it only a "poor man's sport".
2) Disagreeing with Les, if you write in the style you like to read, it may be your "voice"... There is no rules... whatever works... and one can always change styles and voices.
3) But it pays to learn about the technical aspects of poetry - different meters, poetic schemes, etc...
4) Read, read - read. If you like or dis-like something, analyze, figure out why.
5) Write several times a week. Pick a topic and see what you can say about it. Paint on the walls. Who chooses, why, how does it stick there, does it reflect a psychologtical need for color in our lives, how thin yet important, or unimportant, do some colors irritate you, etc....
6) Perhaps keep a poetic journal (I make up a half page size private chapbook to edit my work then update the changes on the computer, and reprint it). Carry a small notebook to down interesting words, phrases, ideas, etc.
7) Write for yourself - self satisfaction - self esteem. Liberate the monsters of your id. Show your work to only a couple of close mentors. They will let you know when you are good enough to "go public".

All the best to you - blessings - may the adoption be good for all...

And - Yes gang... I am back! Elliot


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: StephenFryer (---.bbd02tcl.dsl.pol.co.uk)
Date: August 01, 2003 07:11PM

'Liberate the monsters of your id.' !!!

Elliott? Is that you? Where ya bin?

Stephen


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: SADE (---.lsanca1.dsl-verizon.net)
Date: August 02, 2003 02:36AM

MY OPINION MAY BE UNAFFECTING BUT I THINK YOU ARE WORRYING FOR NO REASON, YOUR TASTE WILL BE SHARED BY OTHERS AND SO WILL YOUR POETRY, WHATEVER STYLE OR MEANING IT PORTRAYS YOU WILL HAVE READERS OR AN AUDIENCE. THATS WHY POETRY IS SO BEAUTIFUL BECAUSE WE ALL SEE IT IN OUR OWN WAY. WHEN YOU WRITE REMEMBER IT COMES FROM YOUR SOUL, DON'T THINK ABOUT IT OR ACCEPT TOO MUCH INPUT OR ELSE YOU'LL BECOME ANOTHER COREOGRAPHED ARTIST. YOUR UNIQUE IN TASTE AND STYLE AND PEOPLE LIKE ME WILL APPRICIATE THAT.


Re: understanding poetry--perhaps too personal for some
Posted by: Jeffrey (---.proxy.aol.com)
Date: August 19, 2003 11:00PM

THANK YOU ALL, of course any further comments are appreciated.




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