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What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 13, 2004 01:48AM

Jough Dempsy wrote an article a while back about the changing nature of poetry. Anyone care to respond to this quote from that article:

"The main thing to keep in mind is that no one has been able to fully define what it is that makes something a poem. Line breaks, meter, rhyme, and poetic diction are all signifiers of poetry, but if it looks like a poem and barks like a poem, is it really a poem? Time will tell - and the beauty of it is that like all other arts, what a poem IS changes every time someone writes a new poem. There are many different types of poems to choose from. A cursory look around this site will show you the breadth of poetry that is available.

So I guess I'm taking the easy way out by saying that no one knows what a poem IS. There are rules, of sorts, and there are criteria by which one can gauge something a poem, or not a poem. But those rules and criteria are always shifting, always changing as critics and other poets re-evaluate the body of poetry. Poetry is a living, breathing thing. Styles and preferences change over time, although the spirit of poetry - of stating something in a precise and direct way, to use language artfully - that will continue to drive the art. "

The entire article: "What the hell is poetry?" can be found here:

[articles.poetryx.com] />
Les



Post Edited (08-13-04 00:50)


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 02:04AM

If each of us can say for him/herself, "this is a poem," "that is not' and 'I'm not sure if that third is or not,' then, I think, those three groups are for ourselves. We share our thoughts about what a poem is, but we seldom expect to convince someone else to change his/her mind. But it is not hopelessly muddy, either. Our instincts are usually ok and are fine tuned (or made rigid) over the years. What is poetry, I think, is open to interpretation, and I'd rather be too inclusive than to miss out on a good poem I might define away.

shalom,

Peter


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 13, 2004 02:21AM

I'd rather be too inclusive than to miss out on a good poem I might define away.

I agree with that statement, Peter. But the point I was pursuing with this question is the subject of "prose poems". Do you think that prose poems are the "state of the art" in poetry today?


Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 02:35AM

Well, I would think they require their own kind of discipline, and I think it would be interesting to try one's hand with prose poems. There's a colllection out, I think titled POET'S PROSE, but that's at least ten years old.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 13, 2004 02:46AM

Peter, what in your own opinion, is the direction poetry is heading? Clearly there is still a very traditional group who adhere to the parameters of 19th and early 20th century structure in poetry.

There are others such as yourself who prescribe to a more progressive format in form and substance. Is there a format on the horizon that you feel will be the next "wave of the future" in poetry? If so what might that be?


Les



Post Edited (08-13-04 01:48)


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 04:12AM

I think it would be presumptuous for me to pretend I can see into the future, but, since you asked, Les, I'd say this:

Is there a format
for excellence?

Excellent poems
will draw us
all forward--
everything else
draws back.

Definition through exampla: see attachments:

Hejinian
Rich
Rexroth
C. Stein


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 04:34AM

I think it would be presumptuous for me to pretend I can see into the future, but, since you asked, Les, I'd say this:

Is there a format
for excellence?

Excellent poems
will draw us
all forward--
everything else
draws back.

Definition through exampla: see attachments:

Hejinian: in the formating frame of the hand printed broadside
Rich: in the formating site of the vanity press/small press
Rexroth: in the formating process of the translation
C. Stein: in the formating site of the small press

The initiation of excellence, in each case, formed by the medium broadside, trnalstion, small press.


Attachments: Lyn broadside.jpg (111.1KB)   C. Stein Parts and Other Parts.jpg (81.2KB)   Rich Sources.jpg (63.1KB)   Rexroth trans..jpg (88KB)  
Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 04:45AM

Les, someone else will choose other excellences..any excellence will find its form.

shalom,

Peter.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 09:42AM

plug in the word "music" where you see "poem" and see if the model holds up.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 11:58AM

Les and Peter:

Sorry guys, but I think the term, "prose poems" is an oxymoron. Perhaps my thinking is too binary, but to me, prose is prose and poems are poems. To classify prose as poetry denies the possibility of prose ever being moving, beautiful, or breath-taking on its own. To me, that is silly. Simply because a piece of writing possesses those qualities doesn't make it poetry.

At a minimum, I think poetry must be rhythmic, possessing a consistent meter from line to line within a verse. Sound metric structure enhances the rapture I experience when reading truly beautiful and inspired writing: for me, it is what transforms that writing into true poetry.

joet


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: August 13, 2004 12:56PM

Les,

Damon Knight once defined science fiction as "Science Fiction is what I mean when I point to it." There's some overlap there for poetry. If someone says that what she or he is writing is a poem, then I tend to agree.

When you say 'prose poem,' are you referring to poems that don't have a set metre and rhyme?

My belief is that a poem has to be more than the sum of its parts. Taking a paragraph, and redesigning it so that it looks poem-like doesn't make a poem. There has to be something more- a twist, a different metaphor, something that makes me see something that I hadn't before.

pam


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 13, 2004 01:01PM

The following is an example of a prose poem:

Naomi Shihab Nye
HAmmer and Nail

"Would you like to see where our little girl is buried?" my friend asks as we walk between stucco shrines and wreaths of brilliant flowers. Even a plane's propeller is attached to a pilot's grave as if the whole thing might spin off into the wind. One man's relatives built a castle over his remains, with turrets and towers, to match the castle he built for his body in life. If you stand at a certain angle you can see both castles at once, the bigger one he lived in off on the horizon. An archway says in Spanish, "Life is an illusion. Death is the reality. Respect the dead whom you are visiting now." We hike down the hill toward the acres of "free graves." Here people can claim any space they want without paying, but also risk having someone buried on top of them. In the fields beyond the cemetery, women walk slowly with buckets slung over their shoulders on poles. Black cows graze on knee-high grass. The crossbar from the marker to my friend's child's grave has come loose and lies off to one side. My friend kneels, pressing the simple blue crossbar back into the upright piece, wishing for a hammer and nail. The cross has delicate scalloped edges and says nothing. No words, no dates. It reminds me of the simplicity of folded hands, though I know there were years of despair. My friend says, "Sometimes I am still very sad. But I no longer ask, 'What if . . .?' It was the tiniest casket you ever saw." On the small plots in either direction, families have stuck tall pine branches into dirt. The needles droop, completely dried by now, but they must have looked lovely as miniature forests for the first few days.


Does this fit into your definition of a poem Pam?


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 01:14PM

Like someone said about Kerouac, "that's not writing, that's typing"


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 04:58PM

I hate to sound liberal and obtuse on this question, but how about: poetry is what makes a reader read a poem. Not exactly a vicious circle, but a circle nonetheless. I read the first paragraph of A TALE OF TWO CITIES as one of the most poetic passages in my native language. I neither hear nor feel nor see anything poetic inÖ

SHE stands, a thousand-wintered tree,
By countless morns impearled;
Her broad roots coil beneath the sea,
Her branches sweep the world;
Her seeds, by careless winds conveyed,
Clothe the remotest strand
With forests from her scatterings made,
New nations fostered in her shade,
And linking land with land.

O ye by wandering tempest sown
íNeath every alien star,
Forget not whence the breath was blown
That wafted you afar!
For ye are still her ancient seed
On younger soil let falló
Children of Britainís island-breed,
To whom the Mother in her need
Perchance may one day call.

William Watson


or

If ever against this easy blue and silver
Hazed-over countryside of thoughtfulness
Far behind in the mind and above,
Boots from before and below approach tramping,
Watch how their premonition will display
A forward countryside, low in the distance,
A picture-postcard square of June grass,
Will warm a summer season, trim the hedges,
Cast the river about on either flank,
Start the late cuckoo emptily calling,
Invent a rambling tale of moles and voles,
Furnish a path with stiles.
Watch how the field will broaden, the feet nearing
Sprout with great dandelions and buttercups,
Widen and heighten. The blue and silver
Fogs at the border of this all-grass.
Interruption looms gigantified,
Lurches against, treads thundering through,
Blots the landscape, scatters all,
Roars and rumbles like a dark tunnel,
Is gone.

The picture-postcard grass and trees
Swim back to central: it is a large patch,
It is a modest, failing patch of green,
The postage-stamp of its departure,
Clouded with blue and silver, closing in now
To a plain countryside of less and less,
Unpeopled and unfeathered blue and silver,
Before, behind, above.

Robert Graves

--in spite of the rime and meter and figurative speech they might use. This kept me from knowing poetry when I was young. I know it moves some other people, so I am not averse to them saying it is poetry; but I canít get at it, and it gets me so I do not like poetry if it is poetry.

So there. How do you like them apples. Enjoy. Itís open to interpretation, poetry, it is.

lovingly,

Peter


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 05:02PM

I like them apples baked into an apple pie, please !

RE what you said above, according to Les, then you should LOVE my stuff, Peter !


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Talia (---.dialsprint.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 05:28PM

Peter, what in your own opinion, is the direction poetry is heading?

I don't think that poetry is headed anywhere these days. If I were to write the best poem, get published, etc. would the world notice? Only a few of us. I certainly would not make it rich....I'd have to write a novel to do that. Frankly I don't care where poetry is headed as long as it is gaining.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 05:47PM

There is plenty to what you say. What is the point in making sherbet, if everyone eats bagels. However, I don't know of a time when language did not use poetry as a fundamental vehicle among our species. The mainstream has always treated poetry as if it is a special use of language, and that the use of language to point to things was more fundamental. I think the use of language to make things into themselves is deeper, more widespread. Looking at the rhetoric resources of our everyday language and of everything from Sumerian to Sanskrit, I'm told, I'd say mythopoetic language, poetry and myth, are the source of meaning in ordinary speech. If we can't make our poems popular, not to worry. We'll always have rock and Roll... and the internetÖBob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and you and me.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 05:49PM

I do be do be do be do.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: glenda (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 07:03PM

Don't think twice.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: August 13, 2004 10:43PM

Les, I agree with Joseph Torelli's response. I could never accept that Hammer and Nail paragraph as a poem. It also strikes me as poor prose: rambling; unfocused; crammed with so many unnecessary details that the description of what might have been a poignant occasion becomes tedious and misses any emotional impact. In other words ... boring ... boring ...
Sorry if my response upsets anyone who does like that style of writing. De gustibus, etc.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 13, 2004 11:04PM

Joseph and Ian, I'm glad I got some dissenting opinions. A question which is what I was aiming for with this thread: If prose poetry is not the "state of the art" of modern poetry in the 21st century, what is the state of the art in poetry? Peter has said it is the excellence in poetry movement. Any comments, or documentation to support your claim that prose poetry is not where poetry is going, Joseph or Ian? If prose poetry is not the state of the art, what is?

Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 14, 2004 12:15AM

Les, in their time, Webern and Berg were "state of the art", but certainly that's not where music went


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 14, 2004 02:41AM

I didn't know it was a movement. I thought it might just be a practical observation.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 14, 2004 10:11AM

Les:

I don't know that modern poetry is necessarily "going" anywhere. I rarely think of poetry in terms of movements and I'm always uncomfortable with attempts to categorize or compartmentalize almost anything. Classification has become an obsession in modern society and I think that poses real dangers to individuality and independent thought.

Certainly, poets have adopted similar styles, themes, structures, metric patterns, language nuances, etc. over time, with some gaining special popularity during a particular period. Does that constitute a movement? Perhaps, but I tend to agree with Pam Adams and Talia. It matters little that people disagree on what constitutes a poem....it is far more important that they devote the time to reading and that they care enough to discuss the subject at all.

joet


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Chesil (---.clvdoh.adelphia.)
Date: August 14, 2004 09:57PM

I am not a fan of prose poetry, but recognize that some are and that many believe that is an advance. We shall not be the judges of whether it is a fad or lasting.

None of us really understand where poetry is headed, at least I hope we don't. It is an art form that is far more personal than most and confounds the best attempts at pinning down. Would Pope have foreseen Blake? Would Blake have foreseen Browning? Would Browning have foreseen Eliot? Would Eliot have foreseen prose poetry?

Where is poetry headed? I don't know and I believe that anybody that says they do will be proven wrong in due course.

One of the strengths of poetry has been that it has changed more readily than prose and few in the preceding generation could truly have foreseen the poetry of the succeeding generation. This is as it should be. Whether we like or dislike the direction is immaterial.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 15, 2004 12:14AM

Any more comments about this statement:

If prose poetry is not the "state of the art" of modern poetry in the 21st century, what is the state of the art in poetry?


Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 05:38AM

I still find that phrase does not get me to contemporary poetry. There are five places within walking distance of my home where I go to listen to poetry that has been written within the last week or to (usually). No one reads prose poems, but I'm sure more of them could. Most of the poetry I hear is well-crafted personal poetry. Sometimes, a widely read poet, like Jack Hirschman or Lawrence Ferlinghetti reads, and their work has a wider base, "love" or "politics" or "politics and love." The difference between the weekly people and whe works by the "professionals" is that when the latter talk about love or hate or death, no one think what they say is a straightforward statement of their personl lives. If anything, prose poetry seems more a nineteenth century phenomena that still have some life in it. "state of the art" "cutting edge" "avante guarde" for some, perhaps, but who's to say over all.

Pax,

Peter


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: August 15, 2004 06:41AM

I think I like poetry the way I like contemporary music (of all genres), a few years old. Leave it for a while and if there was any real life in it, it'll still be there. If it was dead in the first place it will have decayed away.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Desi (---.grecian.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 06:44AM

Well, if you look at, as Peter says, what makes most impact on people, I would like to defend Hallmark poetry as being state of the art.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 09:34AM

Desi, apparently, that's what is to be encouraged, according to certain parameters someone here laid out once


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Chesil (---.clvdoh.adelphia.)
Date: August 15, 2004 10:10AM

It's verse, Desi, but who reads and remembers it. It is ephemeral at best and I would guess that recipients mostly don't even read the printed words - or maybe that is just me!


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 11:47AM

Johnny

Which means you gotta use your noodle to keep William Carlos Williams' PATERSON as poetry because of the reader's response to it and because of Hallmark verse being taken seriously. Maybe this dilemma shows up the questionability of distinguishing some strings of words poetry and all others as not poetry. It gets even worse, if you push it, but let someone somewhere force this into some kind of ludicrous dicta, doctrine or critical dogma. Why make the distinction at all, if we can just read and enjoy language and other human beings: enjoy or be enraged by or learn from etc. 'poetry'. I am not happy with the prospects for this train of thought, even though it is mine.

Peter (:-(:-))


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 15, 2004 11:53AM

I think the Hallmark type of verse will always be around. If we were to demean and lessen the importance of certain established poets, we might include some of their work in the category of the Hallmark contributors.

At least one of the articles I read about contemporary poetry says that Poetry slams and poetry written for performance is the most important trend in poetry today.

Several articles cited "rap" music as the greatest influence in poetry. For my own preference I hope this is not the case.

Judging by what I've seen on this forum, having been an active reader for the past two years. Here is what I see based on the contributors of e-mule.

1. There is a large segment, though surely not a majority, who favor metered and rhyming poems.

2. There is a larger segment which favors concise free form/free verse poems.

3. There is a very small segment which favors prose poetry.

4. There is a growing group of poets who see their work in song.

5. There are poets who write to several different contemporary/traditional styles.

6. There are poets who write in the deux/langue style.

I gather from this list an opinion similar to Mr. Dempsy in the first post above. If there is a single thrust in poetry today, I cannot discern it from what I see here at e-mule. Though it is abundantly clear, that more and more young writers enjoy writing and are willing to participate in promoting it. The prevalent style here at e-mule does seem to be free-formed concise, poems. We see practically no prose poetry on the USP.

Les



Post Edited (08-15-04 13:14)


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: August 15, 2004 12:13PM

Martin Amis is quoted as saying about reading young authors.
"Its not an economic way to read. I think its sensible to read older authors because the best critic is time. If authors endure, it is probably for good reasons. You never know with the young ones."


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 12:35PM

Agree that it's going every which way....as long as it's going, growing, alive, and vibrant !


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 15, 2004 02:20PM

As a side note, I was mildly surprised to discover that spam generated poetry is a very popular form in some circles. A reflection of current technology is always relevant I suppose.

Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 02:22PM

More of a Siege Arriere than Avant Garde


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 15, 2004 04:58PM

All of you who read and disapproved of Naomi Nye's prose poem above, what do you think of this one?

The Rider
Naomi Shihab Nye

A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldnít catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell.


Copyright 1998 by Naomi Shihab Nye


Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 09:21PM

Les, can you explain how this is a prose poem and not a free form free verse poem?

and yes, this is writing, not typing !


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 09:25PM

I did.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 09:30PM

perhaps you did, but i still feel that if it looks like a cat and meows like a cat then it's probably a cat, if you tell me that a dog is a cat, I need a helluva convincing job.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: IanB (---.tnt11.mel1.da.uu.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 09:30PM

If prose poetry is not the "state of the art" of modern poetry in the 21st century, what is the state of the art in poetry?

Les, Iím not sure what Ďstate of the artí means with poetry. Itís an ambiguous expression.

Poetry is language-related, and seems to be a ubiquitous, albeit wispy, emanation of the aesthetic and creative in the human spirit, with close affinities to percussive music and song and storytelling. But it covers such a wide range of languages, countries, people, styles, skills, preoccupations and subject matter, and is so affected by the evolving tastes and abilities of writers (the best of whom are often quirky) and readers, that observations about what is outmoded or innovative or admirable in it are unlikely to hold true everywhere; and as Chesil says, predictions about it are sure to prove vain. Even in hindsight the truth may be obscure.

Presumably you are referring to poetry in English. What is being written now in the USA probably has a flavour different from that in England, or Australia, or India, or Canada or the Caribbean. In the USA I imagine there are also regional differences.

I donít have time to keep up with all the new poetry published even in Australia, so claim no expertise on what is Ďstate of the artí here, let alone anywhere else. Havenít noticed any well known Australian poet gravitating towards writing prose poems, though some seem not to care about metre or rhythm in their verse, and a few have written novels on the side.

Some of what I have seen of young contemporary work from England appears to me to be striving too hard to show cleverness, without emotional depth, but really, I have read so little of it that Iím not qualified to pass general judgment.

At any time and place only a small fraction of the poetry and prose being written is likely to be worth publishing and only a small fraction of that is likely to be enduringly valued (whatever the dustjacket blurbs may say). Thatís not blameworthy. Itís just the way art is.

It may sometimes be possible to convert prose to good free verse by inserting line breaks. That shows how complex the relationship between prose and poetry can be, and also raises the possibility of 'found' poetry, which is a rather different subject deserving a thread of its own. Nevertheless I donít think it helps poetry to confuse it with prose, even though both can paint word pictures. Good prose doesnít need to pretend to be anything else. Bad prose isnít made more interesting or worth publishing by calling it a prose poem.

Prose can however be written with wonderfully poetic feel for language. A great example is Rudyard Kiplingís story for children ĎHow The Rhinoceros Got His Skiní. Perfect from beginning to end, yet how absurd and pretentious it would have been for him to call that a poem and publish it as such.

PS: I like that little free verse poem of Naomi's. Did it start life as prose?!


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 15, 2004 09:33PM

If I can locate it, there is a Tony Soprano quote, that if i transcribed it and gave proper line breaks, would be a most excellent poem.

I'll get back to you when I find it


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 16, 2004 09:44AM

Les:

I think the second Naomi Shihab Nye piece supports my point that prose can be beautiful and inspiring on its own - you don't have to call something poetry to make it so. The line breaks seem artificial to me and do nothing to enhance my understanding or enjoyment of the writing. Why insert them at all? Just so the piece can be called a poem? I would like this just as much - perhaps even more - if were presented in paragraph form.

joet


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 16, 2004 11:28AM

Joe, I always took line breaks to be indicating slight pauses, as a guide to how it should be read, aloud, or in the mind.
thus, it's presented to me differently rather than possibly lost or rushed in context of a paragragh of a novel

But it doesn't work with stereo instructions, nor just any PROSE.

as to whether extraction and linebreaks makes it "better", thats subjective.....but doing that DOES make it a poem, BECAUSE of the beauty of the language used....it uses poetic language, hence the transformation works.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: August 16, 2004 02:17PM

I think that it's a wonderful piece of prose. It certainly meets my definition of 'more than the sum of its parts.'

Perhaps the 'prose poem' is called a poem because there's no other market for short bits of prose.

pam


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 16, 2004 02:25PM

This is clear in the same way that glass isn't


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: August 16, 2004 06:41PM

It is probably apocraphal but I was once told of a notice:-
All dogs prohibited, any animal assisting a disabled person is deemed to be a cat.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 17, 2004 03:12PM

I've taken the liberty to put this in paragraph form, inserting my own punctuation as I thought appropriate. Even though the second "paragraph" is not a paragraph at all by the strictest definition, I find this presentation more meaningful and beautiful as I'm not distracted by the artificial line breaks. Hey, but maybe that's just me.

To each his own.

joet

The Rider
Naomi Shihab Nye

A boy told me if he roller-skated fast enough, his loneliness couldnít catch up to him - the best reason I ever heard for trying to be a champion! What I wonder tonight, pedaling hard down King William Street,
is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness panting behind you on some street corner while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas - pink petals that have never felt loneliness no matter how slowly they fell.


Copyright 1998 by Naomi Shihab Nye


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 17, 2004 03:43PM

Joseph, do you feel that the intention of the author makes any difference? In the first poem, the author clearly intended the poem to be laid out the way it was. The second poem came with line breaks, does the "intention" of the author matter in your decision. My personal feeling is that we should evaluate the work the way it is written or presented by the author.

Without this distinction, concrete poetry would mean next to nothing, in my opinion.

[www.loc.gov] />

Les



Post Edited (08-17-04 14:46)


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: August 17, 2004 04:17PM

Les,

I think that 'author intent' is one of those lovely sidepaths that we could spend weeks debating.

As an example, what if Shakespeare only meant for his work to be casual entertainment- his century's version of a sitcom, or worse, a reality show? Does that mean that it's not, as we think of it today, high art?

Personally, I prefer that poems look like poems. I admit it's not logical, but I preferred the bicycle poem to the cemetery prose poem. (and I agree with you about the concrete poems- some things just gotta be what they are)

pam


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 17, 2004 04:24PM

There are more of Ms. Nye's poems here:

[www.poets.org] />
I'm using her work as an example here because she is a poet of free verse who does write some prose poems. Her work was featured at a, "Prose Poem" only, website.

If you go the link cited here, you will notice that the poem "Streets" has line breaks which clearly compliment the meaning.

Les

p.s. For insight into Mrs. Nye's own philosophy of writing read: "Naomi Shihab Nye In Her Own Words" and "Lights in the Windows" from the website listed here.



Post Edited (08-17-04 20:42)


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 17, 2004 06:22PM

It is so interesting that there is more than just one illuminating way into these syntactic structures.

Peter


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 18, 2004 02:35PM

Les:

I have no way of knowing what authors' intentions were at the time they wrote - unless of course they provide documentation. I simply believe that writing can be moving and beautiful without forcing it into an artificial "poetic" structure. I re-cast "The Rider" in conventional paragraph form merely to illustrate that point.

I have no desire to try to persuade anyone, least of all Ms. Nye, to agree with me. I'm just happy to see that differing opinions on poetry can be discussed intelligently and without acrimony. That is as it should be. Thanks for creating this thread.


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 18, 2004 02:40PM

Joseph, it's great to have your input. I agree that civilized conversation about poetic topics is the lifeblood of poetry itself. Without poets reflecting on their own and others' work we get a stagnation I think, which in time becomes non-productive.

My concern with the "state of the art" in poetry is purely selfish. I just want to know what others feel is/are the trends influencing poetry today. Not 50, or even 20 years ago.

Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 18, 2004 04:39PM

Les, I think you have stated it better by saying "what trends?" rather than "where's it going"


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: August 18, 2004 07:52PM

I agree that civilized conversation about poetic topics is the lifeblood of poetry itself.

Now if we could only do it with a drink in hand. (Yes, I know we could drink individually, but I'm at work, and it would be frowned upon)

pam


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: August 18, 2004 08:08PM

Here's an interview with one of my favorite poets, David Lee. A sample:

"Poetry is not a spectator sport. It cannot work unless we have active engagement between the poet, the poem, and the reader. All three are equally responsible for what is going to happen inside the poem. There's a huge bulk of poetry my friend Sam Hamill calls "clone poetry," where the poet expects the reader to be a spectator watching the poet dance. I don't buy that. The poet's job is to engage the reader and let that reader make a claim on the poem. If the reader does, then he or she will say, "This is about me; this is for me." "

[weberstudies.weber.edu] />
pam


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: joseph r. torelli (---.dyn.optonline.net)
Date: August 19, 2004 08:04AM

Pam:

You mean I've been the only one drinking through this whole thread?

joet


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 19, 2004 12:10PM

Pam, thanks for the link. I found this quote by Lee very relevant:

"Remember Keats, when he talks about Shakespeare's circumnavigation of the soul? Good poetry comes from within. Rilke said that true art comes from the anonymous self. The poet's job is to write from the inside-out, not the outside-in. The author has an obligation to make him- or herself not the star, only the point-of-view. We need to smash the idea of poetry as being the temple of Narcissus."
---David Lee


Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 19, 2004 12:35PM

Good quote Les, I'll print it out and tape it to my mirror so I can see it while admiring myself


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: August 19, 2004 12:47PM

I think it was W.C. Fields who said 'it was a woman who drove me to drink, and I never had the courtesy to thank her.'

Les and Peter, thanks!

pam


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 19, 2004 02:46PM

Being a player of ponies, I always liked this quote by W. C. :

"Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people."

I think if more poets had horse sense it would keep them from believing themselves.


Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: peternsz (---.client.comcast.net)
Date: August 19, 2004 03:12PM

I am still pretty much convinced, that the one thing that is not poetry is bad poetry (and even than can be made into poetry, sometimes (but not always.))

Peter


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 19, 2004 03:23PM

There's nothing wrong with being your own biggest fan !


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 19, 2004 03:25PM

You may be your own biggest fan, but remember this quote:

The larger a man's head, the easier it is to fill his shoes.


Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 19, 2004 03:27PM

Size 8 Head
Size 12 Shoes

(add them up and get IQs)


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: lg (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: August 19, 2004 03:33PM

Of course, they never say what those shoes will be filled with!


Les


Re: What is poetry?
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (---.nycmny83.covad.net)
Date: August 19, 2004 03:35PM

mY CATS SEEM TO HAVE SOME VERY SPECIFIC IDEAS ALONG THOSE LINES !




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