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Author Topic: A Discussion About Poetry  (Read 4224 times)
Degolas
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« on: March 03, 2006, 07:38:42 PM »

On the old boards one of my poems sparked a little debate/argument over poetry, and I thought it might be interesting to keep that going, albeit without the heatedness of that discussion.

This is also partly inspired by a writers website I frequent, which is basically a place for amatuer writers, mostly poets, to share their work and comment on others. Recently, the people there have really been pissing me off. Not to sound big-headed, but some of the members there are quite bad writers. The thing is, because there are a high amount of bad writers, they don't recognise bad writing, and just go around praising everything blindly. If someone who knows what they're talking about then offers some constructive criticism, it's often ignored and even scoffed at.

Now, to make this more relevant to this topic, there has recently been some tension there about subjects of poetry and 'poetic license'. A lot of the bad writers there focus on nothing but inner feeling, over the top, self absorbed dramatic crap, basically. I'm really sick of the common thought that to write good, meaningful poetry, you have to write like this. So many people don't realise that you can express inner feeling subtly, by exploring external ideas. Now I'm not trying to claim that I'm a fantastic writer, but I at least try and have some semblence (sp?) of originality. If I read one more poem about lightning striking someones soul, I swear I will kill myself.

Secondly, 'poetic license'. This debate sparked from someone basically jumbling the words of a couple of lines up, so that they became near incomprehensible. However, the writer did offer an explanation, but it really didn't make a whole lot of sense, it seemed like she was just jumbling the line about to try and make the poem seem profound. When this was pointed out, she claimed 'poetic license', and several people backed her up on this. Personally, I think that's a bullshit excuse. I know poetry can break conventions, but I think if you're going to write in English you should at least stick to the conventions of the language. If the line is just jumbled up so it doesn't make sense, it just makes them meaningless.

Anyway, I've rambled enough.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2006, 04:34:38 PM »

Jumbling up lines is something inherent to French prose-poetry, IIRc. There's no logical reason to use itin English, or any logical way that I imagine it COULD be implemented. e e cummings MIGHT be considered an exception, although he's not, like, just jumbling up sentences. There's a marked underlying order to what he's doing.

BTW, what is this website you speak of?
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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2006, 05:42:53 PM »

On the other hand, Deg, if you are writing poetry, prose, or anything in a particular dialect or vernacular you will have to jumble up sentence and phrase structure and misspell words in order to be within the conventions of that dialect.  If you were writing from the perspective of a poverty-stricken hard-luck kid in the barrios, you're not going to write it in The Queen's English.  

And sometimes jumbling things up really sounds stupid.  You know "he card read good" as opposed to "he reads cards well."  

Or am I way off base?
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Degolas
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« Reply #3 on: March 05, 2006, 07:23:04 PM »

Quote from: "Dincrest"
And sometimes jumbling things up really sounds stupid.  You know "he card read good" as opposed to "he reads cards well."  

Or am I way off base?


That's very similar to what this person did, albeit to a lesser extent. Nice Simpsons reference too :P
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Marona
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2006, 06:30:18 AM »

As I see it, there are many different bodies of poetry each possessing different criteria, writing devices and a rule guideline, and amateur poetry is no exception.

Amateur poetry is in no means bad at all, afterall some of the best poems have started from raw emotions or blurbs on cocktail napkins. It is not suprising to find a lot of bad eggs when participating in anything that has "amateur" tacked onto it, especialy in poetry where a lot of writers tend to be jaded about thier own work. I can see where you have a reason to gripe here since a great portion of the amateur poetry division tend to use poetry as a device to crave attention, convey conflicting, grating and or unpleasant emotions through writing and are often stereotyped as being "goth" or "emo". While poetry that consists of nothing but ranting that was jotted down in a notebook can be very entertaining and contain fragments of intellect - I have never seen them win any amateur poetry contest. The winner is always a headstrong, pleasant, ungrating person who conveys a basic mastery of the english language in thier writing and has potential to progress to a professional poet someday, and they deserve the prize for putting a great amount of pride and work into thier pieces.

Before I stray farther away from the topic at hand - 'poetic license' is often used as an excuse for manipulating the english language in some circumstances - namely yours. A poetic license should never be used without letting your audience know whats coming at them, and it has to flow with the poem, like Dincrest mentioned. Ultimately there really isnt much you can do except perfect your own writing and offer constructive criticism when it is asked for, afterall, poetry is something that cannot be contained by others. (and if you know your stuff, then you are one step ahead of anyone who smears the good name of amateur poetry)
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Jimmy
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2006, 02:14:13 PM »

I think a lot of the typical amateur poets lose sight of who and what their audience is; namely themselves. Just because they spewed it out onto a piece of paper or a computer screen and it is in stanzas doesn't mean it is the alpha and omega of great poetry. Other people may in fact find it to be quite the opposite. The problem is they think other people will find it profound when it really is only profound in their own minds, as it should be.

I won't profess to being a "good" amateur poet. In fact most of the poetry I write would be considered emo, but that stuff has a tendency to stay in my notebooks, where they belong, for my viewing only.

I guess, to sum it up, I think the amateur poet should first be writing to please themselves, while realizing it may or may not please others. If they do share it with another person they need to keep an open mind. Just because another person doesn't find it profound or entertaining doesn't mean they are stupid and have no eye for poetry, because they may have a better eye for it than the writer themselves. Taking another's criticism, whether it be constructive or destructive, is what makes writers grow.

*phew* now with that out of the way:

What do you guys think is a good way to define poetry? Though I tend to be a post-modern thinker myself when it comes to reading I don't necessarily agree with the post-modern critics who call every text, whether it be a novel, a movie, or billboard, as being a poem.

Personally, I like the idea of defining poetry as "compressed language." Telling a story or giving a message in the shortest, and yet most effective way possible.

But that's just me. What do you guys think?
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Degolas
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2006, 03:22:50 PM »

I think I'd agree with you, although many wouldn't.

An example would be Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, or even The Iliad. They basically use poetry to tell a full-length story (although my knowledge on these texts is pretty limited).

As we were arguing on the old boards, poetry is near impossible to define as different people hold different views. To some people if it doesn't rhyme then it isn't poetry!
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Jimmy
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2006, 11:32:21 PM »

Quote from: "Degolas"
I think I'd agree with you, although many wouldn't.

An example would be Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, or even The Iliad. They basically use poetry to tell a full-length story (although my knowledge on these texts is pretty limited).

As we were arguing on the old boards, poetry is near impossible to define as different people hold different views. To some people if it doesn't rhyme then it isn't poetry!


1. They do use compressed language though. They would most likely be a lot longer if they were in prose. But what I said about the shortest way possible may be moot for the fact those examples are epic length poetry.

2. Agreed.
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Marona
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« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2006, 06:01:35 AM »

to put it short and sweet, poetry is to paint a picture, sing a song and capture emotion into few beautiful words on a peice of paper.

There are practicaly infinite reasons to write and how to define poetry these days, and its interesting to compare to how many branches split from epic poetry such as Homers Illiad. These days there really isnt a need for true epic poetry in the form of lute and song sadly, hence we have films, scripts and various other media applications to entertain ourselves, and lets face it, being a wandering bard doesnt pay the bills this day and age.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #9 on: March 14, 2006, 07:35:16 AM »

Quote from: "Marona"
These days there really isnt a need for true epic poetry in the form of lute and song sadly, hence we have films, scripts and various other media applications to entertain ourselves, and lets face it, being a wandering bard doesnt pay the bills this day and age.


Is that to say song lyrics aren't poetry?  And that touring musicians aren't modern day bards?
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Marona
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« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2006, 06:25:25 PM »

Quote from: "Dincrest"
Quote from: "Marona"
These days there really isnt a need for true epic poetry in the form of lute and song sadly, hence we have films, scripts and various other media applications to entertain ourselves, and lets face it, being a wandering bard doesnt pay the bills this day and age.


Is that to say song lyrics aren't poetry?  And that touring musicians aren't modern day bards?


well that may have come off as a little closed minded and worded badly, but I put touring musicians in the "media applications" department which is modern poetry indeed. In further explanation, I didnt mean to sound like nobody sings poetry nowadays, I just meant it like you wont see a true "bard" (taken straight from thousands of years ago) telling a tale of heroes in a town square. Sorry if I offended you in any way.
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Dincrest
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« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2006, 06:59:45 PM »

Offense?  Nah.  I was just probing what you were saying for the benefit of the discussion.  

And I don't know, plenty of music artist still use storytelling in their songs.  Blues and country are heavily based on a person and their guitar telling stories.  I see people like that, those singer/songwriters, as modern day bards in a way.  The steady meter of the words and the wailing guitar of the blues is sheer poetry to me.  

And many power metal bands like Blind Guardian, DragonForce, Rhapsody, and others tell epic tales of dragons, fairies, knights, jousting, chivalry, and all that good stuff in their songs.  

Modern day bards do exist.  But they carry a guitar instead of a lute and share poetic stories in their own idiom.  And while the big name, big draw, big sponsor tours where the musicians ride in luxury tour buses may fall into your "media applications" bracket, many touring musicians are the blood, sweat & tears, salt of the earth, 3-5 people in a beat up cargo van driving around playing anywhere and everywhere they can, be it bars, basements, backyards, whatever.  No luxury tourbuses, no roadies, strings of unpaid gigs (or at best $50 for the whole band); just a band and their music to play and tell their tales to everyone they can.  And even if a song doesn't have a storyline in it, you will be exposed to tales of heartache, the state of the world, life, and all the emotions that go along with it.
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Marona
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« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2006, 09:10:19 PM »

Your post really made me look back and realize that I hadnt taken into consideration the hard work that goes into a lot of bands and music that I overlooked. While im not that familiar or seasoned with the music scene - There is definatly a lot of poetry there to draw from, even just instrumental pieces. Its fun to see how every band and musician have thier own style and what they try to convey in thier lyrics and instrumentals, I would be happy if you have any suggestions for some bands and particular songs that fit the topic and you think I would really click with!
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