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Nellie
May 19th, 2010, 08:16 PM
What is poetry?
We can possibly best define what poetry is by saying what it isn't. For one thing, poetry, unlike prose, cannot be paraphrased. If you could sum it up succinctly in any other fashion you wouldn't write the poem. One can talk about the theme of a poem, for instance, but it's the poem itself which conveys the ultimate effect. A poem is the best possible expression of what the poet wants to say. Some might say that the form and content of art, in this case poetry, is untranslatable.

From Open University-Approaching Poetry

Linton Robinson
May 19th, 2010, 08:36 PM
Very nice.

I have the same thing about poetry. Like pornography it's hard to define but I know it when I see it. And have a list of things it isn't. One of which is "an essay whose lines don't extend to the right side of the page", yet we see so much of that.

Lady S
May 20th, 2010, 09:04 AM
I was, an still am to a large extent, very inspired by classical poetry. The real craft of writing with structure and meter is so understated these days. It's taken me a long time to accept what people call poetry these days as really being poetry. Those who can't write structured verse seem to frown on those who can and regard it as second rate. The truth is that crafted poetry takes far more skill than breaking a piece of prose into short lines and stanzas.

But reading people who can inject real rhythm and cadence into free verse has broadened my outlook a lot. I still feel that if I write in a free verse style then the end result is enhanced by an understanding of classical structure.

Pete_C
May 20th, 2010, 11:11 AM
I did have a little chuckle to myself when I saw this. I believe that poetry, of all the arts/entertainments/diversions, get more frequently discussed by those involved than any other. It is rare to find fiction writers discussing what fiction is and how it is judged to be fiction, or musicians discussing what makes music be music, or painters arguing over when does a painting become a painting! The only exception I can think of is jazz, and every time I hear people discussing what is "jazz", I want to run them down in my car.

There seems to be a fundamental need, amongst many of those involved in poetry, to underpin what they are doing with some justification. It's almost as if without the right boxes ticked, they are afraid to reveal their words. So, what is poetry? Essentially, I think it is something written by a poet. Defining a poet is so much easier than getting into the muddy water of poetry. Poetry is a product of the poet, and so the poet is where the understanding needs to start.

Poets are people who carry a love of words and conceit in equal measure. Poets construct, for themselves, a house of cards based upon whatever it is that they can find to justify the way they work. They obey certain rules, or they break certain rules. They turn on those whose conceit is a differing flavour to theirs, and they take a dim view of any change, experimentation or advance that they are not party to. They sneer at those who are better or equal to them in writing ability if they don't follow the same rules, and they fawn over those beneath them, who do follow their guidelines, in some stance of great benevolence.

They sit smoking their opium/cigarettes or sipping their wine/absinthe (just insert the right ingredients for the flavour of conceit they have adopted) and pontificate with verbal and literary doodles. They hanker for the days of gothic grandeur and classical rhyme, or for oblivion and chaos, or whatever ticks the boxes of their stylings, and they see themselves as an artist, a sage, a wiser man or woman, not a mere scribbler of words.

They weave words into ever dizzying spirals, and when praised they accept their greatness with some small mask of modesty. When challenged, they declare the reader unfit for their pearls of wisdom, unable to dive into the depths they have created. God forbid if another poet challenges their work. Then the challenger is nothing more than a charlatan, a fraud, a know-nothing who hasn't learned/broken the right rules. Yes, there are even rules about which rules can be broken!

The greatest irony is that few remember that the reader - the consumer of the words - simply wants to read something that stimulates. However, for the poet, a best-seller (unless, of course, it is theirs) is an outrage that feeds the ignorant masses!

And we all wonder why the popularity of poetry is in decline!

I think Lin said it best. Poetry is like pornography. When you see it, you know it. Of course, not all of us have the same tastes in pornography, or poetry for that matter. Mind you, having had a life revolving around writing, and having enjoyed it, if I had my time again I would be a pornographer.

Baron
May 20th, 2010, 12:13 PM
Thinking for the reader, or rather for the market, is a limiting factor. I like Dannyboy's attitude when it comes to this. He writes for himself and if it's appreciated that's a bonus.

Making generatlities about the nature of poets is a red herring as well. All sorts of people write for all sorts of reasons with all sorts of approaches and attitudes. Those who are conceited about it are a pain but so are those who deny that there is a craft to creating good poetry.

The one quality that really defines a poem to me, in whatever form, is the ability to get a response from a reader that prose is unable to do. A gifted pen can touch deep emotions with a few words in a way that prose never can.

Martin
May 20th, 2010, 01:28 PM
Like music, paintings, or any other art, etc., poetry, the many ways we want to understand it, is nothing but concepts constructed by the human mind. In reality, it's just words on a page. Humans are the emotional expressions (and responses) and poetry is nothing but another word really... But like with any other thing, we like to fool ourselves to believe we're actually doing something. I'm leaning towards to say this need to define is to do with our human nature in particular. We don't see this somewhat ignorant behaviour in fish, do we?

Baron
May 20th, 2010, 01:46 PM
If you've got a fish that can write a poem then you're on a real earner.


Like music, paintings, or any other art, etc., poetry, the many ways we want to understand it, is nothing but concepts constructed by the human mind. In reality, it's just words on a page. Humans are the emotional expressions (and responses) and poetry is nothing but another word really... But like with any other thing, we like to fool ourselves to believe we're actually doing something. I'm leaning towards to say this need to define is to do with our human nature in particular. We don't see this somewhat ignorant behaviour in fish, do we?

Linton Robinson
May 20th, 2010, 02:13 PM
This says it about as well as anything

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind -

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -

A poem should not mean
But be

Archibald MacLeish

MaggieG
May 20th, 2010, 02:25 PM
Hmmmm The "why" people write is irrelevant to poetry, at least to my way of thinking. People wrote, people write, and people will continue to do so.That "How" they do it is what ticks off the possibilities for me. I read somewhere some writer who stated " It has all been said before. The trick now is "How" you will say it these days." That "How" can encompass many things from genre, method ( prose, poetry, novel, plays etc) to your very choice of words. My"How" is poetry, and poetry for me is the compressed, concise language of emotion. Use, manipulate, caress , and fondle your words into stilled, or moving pictures that relay, or express something we can all relate to, or feel ( And if they can't ? Make them understand it. )

Martin
May 20th, 2010, 02:30 PM
Rob, indeed, **** the money though, I would just be interested in hearing what he had to say...

Lin, I dig Archibald's take. The essentialist one as opposed to the constructed...

Pete_C
May 20th, 2010, 02:36 PM
Rob, indeed, **** the money though, I would just be interested in hearing what he had to say...

But would the fish veer towards classical form or free-verse?

Imagine a beat fish! Quick, get the frying pan before it starts...

Baron
January 31st, 2011, 08:54 PM
Does calling a squirrel a lion make it so?

Does calling a piece, no matter how amusing or readable, which uses no poetic device, a poem mean that it's a poem?

Calling a witty anecdote with line breaks a poem doesn't make it so. Even decent free verse uses some poetic device and much of what is termed poetry by those unable to apply poetic device is little other than flash fiction without a proper beginning, middle or end.

Slugfly
February 1st, 2011, 05:29 PM
I have always had a beef with the term "free verse."

Free verse should have meant to develop your own conventions, to move away from the traditional conventions. These days (ever since I was a kid and started dabbling in poetry) free verse means "no rhyme, shortish lines."

Anybody can write free verse
if you follow the public use
of the term.

You don't need to pay attention
to where the line breaks
or the rhythm of the line,
to the way the sounds of words
trip and play over each other,
or how the meaning of a hanging word
echoes in the head during
the lines that follow.

Free verse, by the usage I've heard from aspiring poets ever since I was a child, means "write whatever, man. You're a poet." So, really, we should have a new category of writing, there is non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and free-writing with short lines.

So, to hell with free verse until people start applying it to poetry. What's poetry? Any word means only and exactly what the greatest number of people agree on for its meaning. So, to define poetry one has to look at what everybody else calls poetry. Not everybody now (the meaning of "free verse" shows how reliable modern assessments of meaning are), but everybody who has cared about and loved poetry through the ages. An overwhelming majority will point to the understanding of classical forms, attention to word phonics, connotations, rhythms and the meter of the line.

The OP and almost everybody since is right, poetry can't be easily defined by saying what it is. But, we can say what elements are in poetry that are usually important, and we can say what poetry isn't: modern free-verse.

Gumby
February 1st, 2011, 05:52 PM
Does calling a squirrel a lion make it so?

Does calling a piece, no matter how amusing or readable, which uses no poetic device, a poem mean that it's a poem?

Calling a witty anecdote with line breaks a poem doesn't make it so. Even decent free verse uses some poetic device and much of what is termed poetry by those unable to apply poetic device is little other than flash fiction without a proper beginning, middle or end.

Here, here! :)

WhitakerRStanton
February 1st, 2011, 06:45 PM
~

Olly Buckle
February 1st, 2011, 07:29 PM
Coleridge said that while prose is the right words in the right order, poetry is the best words in the best order.

Bloggsworth
July 2nd, 2011, 08:01 PM
I would suggest that line breaks are even more important in free-verse, get them wrong and you can destroy the poem. A sudden break can leave a thought dangling to very good effect, it can make enjambments even more telling. If you think line breaks are capriciously arbitrary, you're doing it wrong.

Bloggsworth
July 7th, 2011, 10:15 PM
Does calling a piece, no matter how amusing or readable, which uses no poetic device, a poem mean that it's a poem?



A very elitist attitude.

The only poetic device required by a poet is the ability to put words on paper. The ability, when required, to use the carriage return before the line has reached the opposite side of the page. Poets don't have to use alliteration, don't have to use enjambment, don't have to use any particular poetic device, poetic devices are not compulsory, they are tools, options available for use when wanted or needed.

It is not the business of anybody to tell poets what they must or must not do; if it were we would only have one poetic genre, ee cummings would be banned, there would be no room for a Stevie Smith or a Larkin; Betjeman would have been outlawed as impossibly trite, Charles Olsen condemmed for his idiosyncratic typographic layout.

There is room for all who consider themselves to be poets, it is not our job to tell them that they are not.

Poet are poets, and answerable only to themselves...

Ernest Hemmingway said that the best short story he ever read was this one:

For sale.
Baby shoes.
Never worn.

Is that not a short story because it does not cover several pages, is it too short? Or does it completely fulfill the requirements of a story, short or long? It does for me - as far as I'm concerned it tells me all I want to know about a family tragedy. A poem does not have to meet with your approval to be a poem, or indeed, mine, it just has to meet with the approval of the poet.

SilverMoon
July 10th, 2011, 06:52 PM
Poetry is the pugilist who punches with sweaty words till you fall to your knees and bleed. It's when you bleed you feel most alive in the arena of a beige life.

Poetry is the old woman who knits soft yarn words onto a page you can never tear. It's when you smile you feel most alive in the dark parlor room of life.

Poetry is a thief of breath.


moi

Firemajic
July 11th, 2011, 12:20 PM
I must say SilverMoon defined poetry so elegantly...Peace...Jul

Olly Buckle
July 12th, 2011, 09:41 AM
How about; "bringing the experience of reality within a structured verbal form" ?

theoldman
March 11th, 2019, 10:03 PM
I take it Prose Poems are not recognized as poetry but perhaps only as tight prose.

TL Murphy
March 12th, 2019, 04:07 AM
To define poetry is to limit it. Why would anyone want to do that? That's the real question. The only way to define poetry is to write a poem.

PiP
March 23rd, 2019, 05:07 PM
From Open University-Approaching Poetry

just taking part of the quote from the opening post

"Some might say that the form and content of art, in this case poetry, is untranslatable."

Art is an expression of inner-self which only the artist has a clear idea (or not) of what they want to express through whichever medium they chose. To me poetry is like viewing an abstract painting: words painted on the page instead of shapes. The colours in a painting are the poetic language the poet uses to convey the image and paint a picture in the reader's mind.

So can we translate poetry? No, I don't believe we can any more than we can translate an abstract painting. However, unlike a painting, poetry is not flat on the page, the poet has many poetic devices on his palette, so when we read aloud it is like music and the reader listens to rhythm, assonsonace, sibilance etc.

Sometimes, I stand back in awe when I read critiques which say... the poem means this, that or the other and I feel inadequate because I cannot translate the poem.


To define poetry is to limit it. Why would anyone want to do that? That's the real question. The only way to define poetry is to write a poem.

Tim, your comment leads me back to my dilemma what is the different between Prose poetry and Prose? And can you define prose poetry?
https://www.writingforums.com/threads/173140-Prose-poems-which-type-do-you-prefer

midnightpoet
March 23rd, 2019, 05:59 PM
PiP, I've given up trying to define anything and just write what I want to. Several times here I've written what I thought was poetry only to have someone say it's not. Don't drive yourself crazy; back in the 60's we "did our own thing." I think it still works.:D

TL Murphy
March 26th, 2019, 03:25 PM
This poem from Susan Holbrook rearranges the letters of the title on every line, using every letter and only the those letters. It’s as good a definition of poetry as any.


​What is Poetry


Susan Holbrook


https://www.poetryinvoice.com/sites/all/modules/print/icons/print_icon.gif (https://www.poetryinvoice.com/print/poems/what-poetry)
(a twelve-tone poem)

trite yap show
rosy twit heap
posterity haw
a wept history
it’s yawp rot, eh
a wisher potty
a power shitty
a whitey sport

poetry is what
whips yo tater
pets it awry, oh
oh, twisty pear
two hearts yip
it’s paw theory

hi! try wet soap

ear whist typo
ape with story
or what ye spit
or what yeps it

throaty wipes
or what I types

Gumby
March 26th, 2019, 03:43 PM
Now that is impressive! And is as valid an answer as any I've heard. :)

Kevin
March 26th, 2019, 04:51 PM
Nice thread. I'm inspired by two bannings, two hot chick avatars, and one deep, pensive, possibly sleeping one.

I was reading Patrick Rothfuss, erm... I don't know, and he wrote that the lowest form of writer was the poet. This was a maxim in a sword/ sorcery 'world', something about the "- wind"( I forget) was the title. Struck me as about right, for the most part. "Poetry is self-indulgence."- me. I say this tongue and cheek, but you have to admit it's about as self-centered as you can get, mostly. I mean, considering the idea that all art is self-portraiture ( autobiographic) which I agree with. Yes, you can do someone's dog statue, but for the most part...

clark
March 26th, 2019, 08:53 PM
Carole --from Keats's LETTERS:"Coleridge would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the penetralium of mystery due to an irritable reaching out for fact and reason". Keats was an extremist in his passion for the efficacy of emotion over reason, but he DOES make the point that "defining" and/or insisting on the limits that go with definition may actually close our consciousness to the reality that insisting on "definition" is NOT natural or even a part of the functioning of the universe. We invented categorization because the act of doing so creates a predictable set of 'frames' within which we feel comfortable, protected, and much more able to function. That does not make it 'real' and it certainly will not be found in nature. The Zen Master holds his tight fist up to the novices. "What is this?" he asks. "A fist, Master," they reply. The Master abruptly splays his fingers wide open. "Where did it go?" he asks, and leaves the room. For bedtime reading there is the 'definition' of HORSE in Dickens' HARD TIMES: Sissy Jupe (Girl number 20), whose father is a circus rider, horse breaker and horse trainer, is unable to define "horse" to the satisfaction of Mr. Gradgrind, the teacher:

‘Bitzer,’ said Thomas Gradgrind. ‘Your definition of a horse.’‘Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.’ Thus (and much more) Bitzer.‘Now girl number twenty,’ said Mr Gradgrind. ‘You know what a horse is.’

HARD TIMES is a heavy-handed satirical indictment of the monomaniac fixations on 'provability' that beset the standards of mid-Victorian public education, but poor brainwashed Bitzer is a good measure--for me at any rate--to hold up to myself when I'm trying to talk to myself about poetry. In frustration at failing to find any kind of normative benchmarks for the 'nature' of poetry, I sometimes slap myself with Bitzer's pathetic misunderstanding that a body of 'facts' constitutes a 'definition' of . . . .anything. Never mind poetry.

So, Carole, when you say, ". . .my dilemma what is the different between Prose poetry and Prose? And can you define prose poetry?" I am right there with you, as a 'categorizer', just like you. Gimmee! Gimmee! Gimmee a clear sense of what is wanted, what its limits are, exactly where we're going. . .and I will happily whip off a dazzling answer! But do not ask me where the fucking fist went! That just messes up my head. That doesn't help me to stride forward. Hmmmm.


Yeah, I know--my mind richochets all over the bloody place, then i just shoot myself (and you) in the foot. And here we are, still in the same spot. . .spinning around. But that works for me. That helps me understand, or it reminds me, that asking these questions seriously, and expending time and concern searching for answers, deflects me away from the real issue. If by some miracle, I actually came up with a normative definition of The Prose Poem, that definition, ipso fact, would be intellectual. Because it would have to be normative. So now I have an intellectual frame for an aesthtic/imaginative process/product.

Will having that intellectual frame help me write a better prose poem? Or would the shadow of Bitzer be cast over my efforts? what would be the net gain?

PiP
March 26th, 2019, 09:46 PM
The Zen Master holds his tight fist up to the novices. "What is this?" he asks. "A fist, Master," they reply. The Master abruptly splays his fingers wide open. "Where did it go?" he asks, and leaves the room.


But do not ask me where the fucking fist went!

Ponderous... prose poetry cannot be explained anymore than the disappearing fist as it morphs into something else.


Will having that intellectual frame help me write better prose poem? Or would the shadow of Bitzer be cast over my efforts? what would be the net gain?

Probably not, as prose poetry is too fluid. Perhaps only the imagery and maybe poetic devices will set it apart from prose.

You create a GM fruit. Example: You bite into a pear. On the outside it's a pear yet inside it has the texture, taste and colour of an orange.
poetry is not always what it seems and we must open our minds to the unexpected.

TL Murphy
March 26th, 2019, 11:22 PM
Kevin wrote;
"Poetry is self-indulgence."- I say this tongue and cheek, but you have to admit it's about as self-centered as you can get, mostly. I mean, considering the idea that all art is self-portraiture"

"The poem is what's left after self-expression is removed. It isn't important that a poem express its poet, but that it expresses itself." James Hercules Sutton

clark
March 26th, 2019, 11:27 PM
Yup.

PiP
March 26th, 2019, 11:29 PM
Yup.

Yup? :scratch:

escorial
March 27th, 2019, 12:14 AM
Poetry is so Monty python

TL Murphy
March 27th, 2019, 12:37 AM
Poetry is a banana peel on the tarmac at Cape Canaveral.

Pelwrath
March 27th, 2019, 04:26 AM
At work and saw this. Here’s my take on what is poetry.

The ability of the poet to meld words into a dream that the reader can experience first hand and knowing that not every reader will.

clark
March 28th, 2019, 12:48 AM
For poets gathered together SERIOUSLY trying to define poetry or prose poetry or poetic prose is just a cluster-fuck. When we play at it we get much closer. 'A banana peel on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral' is excellent. Defining poetry is as likely an activity as a Christian defining God. St. Augustine had an 1100-page go at it in THE CITY OF GOD. Did he succeed? Welllllll . . . . .I guess it's a matter of faith. In similar vein, Poets expend tremendous amounts of creativity and energy and TIME involved in their work, so it is entirely understandable that they have curiosity about WHAT they're doing. I've written many poems about the process of writing poetry, even about the relationship I have with the finished poem. But I've pretty much given up on trying to define poetry itself. Electrical engineers and high-end electricians get involved in some amazingly complex applications of electricity. They know just about everything there is to know about the results of harnessing electricity. I'm told, however, that no one knows what electricity IS.

Pelwrath
March 28th, 2019, 01:42 AM
Maybe in a nutshell, a tree is hid?

I might be more worried about the nut will look, than in how the nut will grow.

Thanks Clark for your words.

SilverMoon
March 28th, 2019, 03:18 PM
As I see it, good poetry is the marriage between intellect and emotion. Like most marriages words fight with each other. When all is settled the love making is always at its best. And this comes about in the edit.

It's a brief marriage divorced of plot but never forgotten, otherwise you have the funeral. Words burried with nothing written on the headstone.

This is the only marriage I've managed with a degree of success.

Phil Istine
March 30th, 2019, 07:06 AM
This poem from Susan Holbrook rearranges the letters of the title on every line, using every letter and only the those letters. Itís as good a definition of poetry as any.


​What is Poetry


Susan Holbrook


https://www.poetryinvoice.com/sites/all/modules/print/icons/print_icon.gif (https://www.poetryinvoice.com/print/poems/what-poetry)
(a twelve-tone poem)

trite yap show
rosy twit heap
posterity haw
a wept history
itís yawp rot, eh
a wisher potty
a power shitty
a whitey sport

poetry is what
whips yo tater
pets it awry, oh
oh, twisty pear
two hearts yip
itís paw theory

hi! try wet soap

ear whist typo
ape with story
or what ye spit
or what yeps it

throaty wipes
or what I types







Missed a trick there:

try Poe hat, Wis

Pelwrath
March 30th, 2019, 02:43 PM
A related question, does(would) having what you feel is a definition of poetry, help you write poetry better, easier, etc? Verses not having such and perhaps going about writing poetry in a mechanical way?

TL Murphy
March 30th, 2019, 03:41 PM
Pel, my opinion is that defining poetry limits poetry. So to answer your question, no. Having a definition of poetry doesn't help you write better poetry. But understanding poetic techniques does.

Thonik
May 9th, 2019, 04:15 PM
TL Murphy, can't poetry be defined if it has techniques and elements that can be studied and improved? If there are poetic techniques, than that would mean it has some true set of limits that can be examined.

TL Murphy
May 10th, 2019, 01:55 AM
Thonik, you can define technique if you want. Any good poem needs it. We call that craft. But if a poem is only technique then it is only craft. Poetry is more than the sum of its parts. It's art and that makes it difficult to define.

Olly Buckle
May 13th, 2019, 10:51 AM
If there are poetic techniques, than that would mean it has some true set of limits that can be examined.

The logic is not good, because the techniques are not mandatory there are not set limits.

Angalfaria
June 14th, 2019, 12:28 PM
This says it about as well as anything

Ars Poetica

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

Dumb
As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown -

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig the night-entangled trees,

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory the mind -

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea -

A poem should not mean
But be

Archibald MacLeish

Nice, mind blowing.........thankx

dither
March 27th, 2020, 12:01 PM
PiP, I've given up trying to define anything and just write what I want to. Several times here I've written what I thought was poetry only to have someone say it's not. Don't drive yourself crazy; back in the 60's we "did our own thing." I think it still works.:D

I came here looking for answers and, the more I've read here, the less I know. It seems to me that all information and/or perceived wisdom or knowledge serves to do is sow seeds of doubt and, although well-intended, conflicting views. I like what the midnightpoet has to say about the subject. I think that any kind of writing relies upon inspiration and stimulation or, is it the other way around ? And maybe I'm just another dullard who really should go stick his head in a bucket.

First off, I think, you have to like whatever you write and feel better for having done so. If some how it reaches out to others and said others are touched by, able to relate to, or empathise WITH even, the written words and/or the writer, well that really is the icing isn't it.

Enough said I think,

I'll get my coat.

TL Murphy
March 29th, 2020, 12:53 AM
dither, poetry defies definition. Which is probably why this thread has over a thousand responses. It's an endless discussion, like trying to define abstract painting. As soon as you define poetry you limit it. Here’s an expert from a comment I made on another thread:


Poetry is a constantly evolving art form. Having said that, you can’t just write anything and call it poetry. If it isn’t figurative language, it isn’t poetry. Music defies definition but we know it when we hear it. We can talk about music in speech, but that doesn’t mean that speech is music. We know the difference even though, sometimes it’s hard to articulate. Poetry is poetry because it is not prose and it is not music, but is somewhere in between and has qualities of both.

There are no rules in poetry. There is convention, tradition. There are techniques and devices. And there are forms. When we make recommendations or suggestions in critique they are subjective. But the best critique is based on precedent, not rules. We look to the successful poets who have come before us, poets whose style or voice we admire for whatever reason and we try to unravel what it is that makes their poems so good. These are the poems and poets that we want to read over and over again because there is some kind of magic in the words and phrasing that gives us goosebumps or something.

Today we tend to view “form” loosely. A traditional sonnet is 14 lines of iambic pentameter with a set rhyming pattern and a juxtaposition of the first octet with the last sextet. But many people today write what they call sonnets and the traditional form is barely recognizable.

Free form poetry is not the same as prose poetry. But free form can be prose. Most of what you see on WF is free form. All it means is that there is no set form. No set rhyme pattern, no set rhythm. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t cadence or meter or that there isn’t rhyme.

The difference between prose poetry and “lyrical” poetry is often vague. I like to call it a continuum. On one end is straight, mechanical prose, on the other end is very rigid rhyming couplets or whatever. Somewhere near the middle is where prose becomes poetry. But there is poetic prose and there is prosey poetry.

dither
March 29th, 2020, 03:09 PM
"Convention", that's the word that I was looking for. If I'm going to make any sort of attempt at creating something that might be considered poetry, I need to have some idea of what I'm striving for. Although I don't really see it as something to "strive for", the prompt that I reacted to...... well.......prompted a reaction. Erm, if that makes any sense. For me, things like this just happen.

TL Murphy
March 29th, 2020, 04:31 PM
dither, the best thing is to read lots of poetry. Most of the poetry on the internet is populist crap. But there are some good sites. “Poem Hunter.” “Poetry in Voice.” “Poetry Foundation,” etc.

Ron Peat has posted some good guides about the essence of poetry. One is “Seeing a Poem’s Depth” at the top of the Poetry section and another is “Poetry in a Nutshell” at the top of “Poetry and Lyrics Workshop.”

ozofeteam
August 19th, 2020, 09:26 AM
Poetry is the soul of the author, poetry is the message the author wants to convey to the audience. Soulful and vivid poetry partly reflects the personality of the poets.

PiP
August 19th, 2020, 03:03 PM
Poetry is the soul of the author, poetry is the message the author wants to convey to the audience. Soulful and vivid poetry partly reflects the personality of the poets.

Agree!

Pulse
August 19th, 2020, 03:32 PM
or the essence of the subject matter

Ted Hughes claims, in Poetry in the Making that since man ‘first grew this enormous surplus of a brain’, he has struggled to ‘truly possess his own experience’ and has invented religion to facilitate the process in other men, but to do it for himself he had to invent ‘art – music, painting, dancing, sculpture, and the activity which includes all these, which is poetry.’

This suggests poetry could be an attempt to understand human nature. For some people it is.

Personally I like to explore the limits of language. When this works, it can awaken the reader's senses. When it doesn't work, it gets thinkety, hence prosaic. A poem can be thoughtful without attempting to prove an argument; in fact, to me argument is rarely art.