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Olly Buckle
February 12th, 2013, 10:03 PM
There are devices in poetry which people use in varying degrees, alliteration, rhythm, rhyme, and meter. I have heard it said that “Traditional verse rhymes, modern verse doesn’t,” that is not true, Shakespeare and Wordsworth both wrote extensively in blank verse, that is verse with an iambic meter, but not rhyming. I have also heard it said that “The impulsive and spontaneous are what make poetry.” I don’t think this is any truer than the first statement. There are impulsive and spontaneous poets if we are to believe them; but evidence from letters and notebooks shows that many of the greatest poets spent long periods editing their work, certainly for most of us something worthwhile is the product of hard work as much as the inspiration of drugs or The Divine. I think it is reasonable to say that it is well worth experimenting with these things and getting some understanding of them, even if we then decide not to use it the background knowledge we have colours all we do or say.

Some arts, such as sculpture or pictorial art, occur mainly in space, poetry occurs mainly in time, though in the arts nothing is definitive. As dance can be seen to be a combination of temporal rhythms and the visual occupation of space it is possible to point to sculpture with a temporal element or poetry that presents a pictorial element on the page, but it is mainly true that rhythm and meter make poetry temporal. These are powerful things that generally deserve a closer look.

Rhythm is with us before we are born, the unborn baby has both its own heart and the heart of its mother to listen to, and after they are born they enjoy the feeling of rhythmical rocking and the sounds of rhythm in songs and lullabies they cannot yet understand. If nobody else is doing it for them they will rock themselves and make repetitive noises, da da da da, or ma, ma, ma, ma; almost like speech. As adults we even see rhythm where it does not exist, nature is naturally chaotic, it never exactly repeats itself, yet we perceive the rhythms of day and night, Spring and Summer, planetary movement or of the passing generations. Rhythm is intrinsic to our being, and deliberately incorporated into speech lends it power.

Like most arts poetry started with a practical purpose, recalling the legend, the history of the group, in epic sagas and songs. Modern poetry often seeks the phrase or construction that sounds familiar without being so, we have writing to assist memory, it is these devices that make the words seem familiar, there is power in them. Look to the people who want you to remember in today’s world, advertisers. If someone of my generation thinks “Heinz beans baked beans they’re the beans for me,” chances are they will be tapping their foot in time to the rhythm, no doubt you can think of your own examples. Rhythm makes things memorable and familiar, and holds the attention both for performer and audience

The same goes for the other devices, “Clunk click every trip guys ‘n gals” may not be very PC anymore, but it is a sight more memorable than “Fasten up every journey people.”

Meter is a little less accessible, it is the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables, but it is still an intuitive skill which we all use. Where one puts the stress makes all the difference between,
“YOU, are going to prison,”
and
“You are going to PRISON.”

In poetic terms consider’
‘There was a young man from Calcutta,’
with every third syllable stressed and,
‘Friends, Romans and countrymen, lend me your ears’
With every second syllable stressed. Breaking the meter and rhythm with “Friends Romans and lovers,” was just one of the ways Brutus got it wrong, these things can be very important.

I say you have not fully realised your potential as a poet until you have learned and practised these things, having done so of course you may chose not to use them, just as Picasso chose not to use the accurate pictorial representation he learned as an art student, but, as with him, it will determine what you do in the future.

Nee
February 14th, 2013, 06:13 AM
Olly wrote: "There are impulsive and spontaneous poets if we are to believe them; but evidence from letters and notebooks shows that many of the greatest poets spent long periods editing their work..."

Clearly this is true. Many believe Kerouac shot right through On The Road with no editing or revisions--this is not true. Yes he ripped through long passages in one sitting while working on his first draft, but anyone who has spent time editing can tell On the Road is an extremely well worked piece of literature.

Of course the danger--especially in poetry--is to over do the editing and revision aspect. I’m sure many of us have noticed after a period the revisions end up changing the poem so far that it no longer looks like the one we started with. So it is probably better to stop when we have a viable poem and use our next ideas to write new poems rather then trying to fit in too many ideas into just one. For after all, we will not be judged on a single poem, but upon our entire repertoire.

Olly Buckle
February 14th, 2013, 08:05 AM
Not actually poetry, but Kerouac is a good example of the 'spontaneous writer' myth. Wordsworth's notebooks show he came back to things years later sometimes, and because we know when his leave periods from the army were it is possible to establish that Wilfred Owen worked on things, polishing them, over periods as long as a year and a half. It worries me when people say 'Here is something I wrote last night,' that they are not reaching anything like their potential, I see it as the difference between chatting and writing a memorial lecture. I am not sure that I agree that 'The unconsidered life is not worth living', that is a bit extreme, but I do think the considered life will bring more satisfaction in the long run.

Lewdog
February 14th, 2013, 08:10 AM
I'm a person that thinks the more I tinker with a poem the worse it becomes. I write a poem once, when the feeling strikes me, and try to make it sound right the first time. Anything after that feels fake, as if the emotion of the moment has passed and the poem no longer has the feelings it originally did.

Writing poetry is much like anything else, no two people do it exactly alike.

Nee
February 14th, 2013, 08:29 AM
Well I can only use the last 30 odd years of my own writing history to go by, but I don't see any grander thought or better delivery from ones that I have been working on for years and the ones that I finish in a few days. Maybe it's merely that I have acquired enough life experience or writing discipline to be finally able to write coherent works in a short period of time, but I have notice a certain vitality of the moment in my poems over the last few years that has given me a great deal of satisfaction indeed.

Bloggsworth
February 14th, 2013, 11:00 AM
There are natural poets and academic poets and all shades in between, and I'm sure that even the academic ones occassionally set aside their intellect and let their feelings rip. I'm not sure I can tell an anapaest from an anabaptist or a trochee from a trachea, that sort of thing sticks in my throat. I spent a while at college having it explained, none of it stuck, but my ability to write poetry was improved by the company I kept, not the technical words for what I did without knowing them. I think the most important thing a poet can do is, on a regular basis, join a group of other poets and talk, examine and criticise where appropriate; I have always found that explaining how to another improves my own understanding. The iamb is natural to the English language; the Chinese, to a great degree, modulate their language by tonal changes; other languages stress all syllables equally - What fun! I just enjoy playing with my language, it is a constant joy, and I shall continue do it whether or not I know or understand its technicalities and componenent parts...

Ethan
February 14th, 2013, 12:04 PM
Iambic meter is a difficult preposition at the best of times, particularly if regional accents are measured by the writer in his own. I suffer from this malady frequently.
the word 'AYE', for example has one measure in English and a syllable count of one. But in Northern Ireland it is pronounced 'Ai Ee, a syllable count of two with the accent on the second. I have tried to counteract this problem by having my partner read lines back to me but as she hails from Yorkshire, you can only imagine the difficulties? I refrain from mentioning Robert Burns.:shock:

Bloggsworth
February 14th, 2013, 12:09 PM
'appen I do lad, remember, if ever thee does owt fer nowt, do it for thee'sen...

Olly Buckle
February 14th, 2013, 02:28 PM
Some people talking about the way to split things into feet seem to take a delight in making what they are saying inaccessible. On the other hand I reckon when you get an understanding of what is going on and have practised it a little it edges its way naturally into what you are writing, just as life experience, or the tips you pick up from associating with other poets do. I have tried to explain things in accessible ways, that is a lot of what my 'Just Write' series of posts are about, and I reckon a lot of it is about taking it in small bits, getting an understanding of iambs and iambic pentameters before you even look at trochees dactyls and anapaests. On the other hand limericks are written in anapaestic metre, it is not all that complicated. It is as thoughthe people writing about it want you to think how smart they are rather than wanting to show you something and help you understand.

Bloggsworth
February 14th, 2013, 02:59 PM
Some people talking about the way to split things into feet seem to take a delight in making what they are saying inaccessible. On the other hand I reckon when you get an understanding of what is going on and have practised it a little it edges its way naturally into what you are writing, just as life experience, or the tips you pick up from associating with other poets do. I have tried to explain things in accessible ways, that is a lot of what my 'Just Write' series of posts are about, and I reckon a lot of it is about taking it in small bits, getting an understanding of iambs and iambic pentameters before you even look at trochees dactyls and anapaests. On the other hand limericks are written in anapaestic metre, it is not all that complicated. It is as thoughthe people writing about it want you to think how smart they are rather than wanting to show you something and help you understand.


And yet, it is amazing how people on this forum still don't "get" limericks, perhaps one of the simplest poetic forms (even I, on occassion, lapse into incoherence!). Poetic contact and practice are the two most valuable things in a poet's toolbox.

Your pieces are a great guide to how poems work, and enable both the putative and experienced poet to self refer, deconstruct their own poems in order to improve them, to better understand what is, and isn't working in their poetry; after a while it will be come second nature and they/we won't realise that we are actually going through an analytical process at all.

Kevin
February 14th, 2013, 03:09 PM
And yet, it is amazing how people still don't "get" limericks, perhaps one of the simplest forms
. It's all that counting. I try to use my fingers, but then I lose count.

Olly Buckle
February 14th, 2013, 03:11 PM
after a while it will be come second nature and they/we won't realise that we are actually going through an analytical process at all. I always think of footballers learning ball skills when I think of this, they spend hours practising dribbling round traffic cones, playing keepeeupee or shooting at goal corners, but when it comes down to the real thing in the game it has all been internalised and they do it so naturally it is hard to relate the learning process to the action.

Olly Buckle
February 14th, 2013, 03:13 PM
It's all that counting. I try to use my fingers, but then I lose count. I'd say take your shoes and socks off but three anapaests is still only nine syllables. :)

Kevin
February 14th, 2013, 03:22 PM
'Poetic contact'- there is something to be said about how we absorb some things without effort. 'Osmosis'?

Olly Buckle
February 14th, 2013, 03:42 PM
The Salvation army song,
When you've been out walking and got two sore feet
Shun surgical spirit though it cures them a treat
It will seep through the pores of your skin by osmosis
And you end up by having ten drunk little toesies.

Seriously though, you still have to make some effort to gain the knowledge, when it is internalised then the application comes naturally. I find a good way of internalising information I have recently read is to write an article about it trying to put it in simpler, more understandable, terms. :)

Kevin
February 14th, 2013, 03:56 PM
'Poetic contact'- there is something to be said about how we absorb some things without effort. 'Osmosis'? I just was sort of clarifying the concept, out loud. It's not a term I'm familiar with.

'Practice', everyone knows that one, doing it on the other hand, and with specific intent or discipline..

Lewdog
February 14th, 2013, 03:57 PM
I just was sort of clarifying the concept, out loud. It's not a term I'm familiar with.

'Practice', everyone knows that one, doing it on the other hand, and with specific intent or discipline..

Practicing how to practice, that sounds like a unique practice.

Kevin
February 14th, 2013, 04:11 PM
Practicing how to practice, that sounds like a unique practice. Focus on a form or action, without deviation or distraction.

cumulative-

Nee
February 14th, 2013, 06:46 PM
Olly wrote: “It is as though the people writing about it want you to think how smart they are rather than wanting to show you something and help you understand.”

This has always been a problem; though now with the internet, it's completely off the rails.

Lewdog
February 14th, 2013, 06:50 PM
Olly wrote: “It is as though the people writing about it want you to think how smart they are rather than wanting to show you something and help you understand.”

This has always been a problem; though now with the internet, it's completely off the rails.


Yes, but one other problem the internet has created is miscommunication because of the lack of being able to differentiate tone in what someone is saying. How can you tell if someone is being serious, mean, sarcastic, or helpful, without the normal factors of voice inflection or non-verbal communication?

Nee
February 14th, 2013, 07:08 PM
Yes, but one other problem the internet has created is miscommunication because of the lack of being able to differentiate tone in what someone is saying. How can you tell if someone is being serious, mean, sarcastic, or helpful, without the normal factors of voice inflection or non-verbal communication?

The best guess as to what others mean is fond in the words they use.

*that also goes for poetry.

Lewdog
February 14th, 2013, 07:10 PM
The best guess as to what others mean is fond in the words they use.

*that also goes for poetry.


Not always. That's why certain non-verbal cues are so important in real life communication.

Sirena
February 14th, 2013, 07:46 PM
I truly enojoyed what you posted here. To weigh in, this has bothered me so long. I personally think a poem should rhyme. All the great poets of the past wrote poetry that rhymes, unless it was an expression of emotion sort of like a call to arms or an ode like what you featured here at the end of your post.
I think that poetry is dead because of money. There are billions of poetry contests now all of which require a fee so in order to have submissions somehow poetry went a wall and became mainstreamly accepted in botched form. You no longer have to be a poet. You just need to own a good theasurus, write a very long sentence that creates some type of an image in a person's mind, replace a few simple words with complex ones you pull out of your theasaurus and break the sentence up putting two or three words on each line. It's even okay to start a line with AND! Nothing matters as long as you pay the fee and someone can say you put an image in their minds so that's why they chose you as a winner. It makes me sick to my stomach to be honest. What poetry was in the past is no more. Instead of striving for what Shakespeare and Donne and Frost accomplished mediocre wordplay rules. Poetry is bleeding. (Sorry about mispellings, English is my 6th language)

Angel101
February 14th, 2013, 09:14 PM
I truly enojoyed what you posted here. To weigh in, this has bothered me so long. I personally think a poem should rhyme. All the great poets of the past wrote poetry that rhymes, unless it was an expression of emotion sort of like a call to arms or an ode like what you featured here at the end of your post.
I think that poetry is dead because of money. There are billions of poetry contests now all of which require a fee so in order to have submissions somehow poetry went a wall and became mainstreamly accepted in botched form. You no longer have to be a poet. You just need to own a good theasurus, write a very long sentence that creates some type of an image in a person's mind, replace a few simple words with complex ones you pull out of your theasaurus and break the sentence up putting two or three words on each line. It's even okay to start a line with AND! Nothing matters as long as you pay the fee and someone can say you put an image in their minds so that's why they chose you as a winner. It makes me sick to my stomach to be honest. What poetry was in the past is no more. Instead of striving for what Shakespeare and Donne and Frost accomplished mediocre wordplay rules. Poetry is bleeding. (Sorry about mispellings, English is my 6th language)

Completely disagree. Language has evolved and so has poetry. Just because something isn't in form (and by the way, free verse IS a form) doesn't mean it doesn't have merit. It's more than just throwing things together. You have to have more than just pretty words and an image to write a good poem. There's skill in free verse poetry just as there is in any other form. In fact, I think it was T.S. Eliot that said something along the lines of "No verse is truly free for the man that wants to do a good job." To say that it isn't poetry or that you don't have to be a poet to write a good poem these days is ridiculous. There's a lot of crappy verse out there, but there are also GREAT free verse writers, and I'd encourage you do seek them out. I don't think money is to blame for poetry being "dead." I think it's the fact that people just don't care anymore, and because people just aren't educated about poetry the way they used to be.

I like Olly's post because it stresses the value of education. It doesn't matter if you write in a set meter, meter is still an important aspect of what you write. Being aware of meter and how it impacts the sound of your piece is important. Being aware of poetic devices is important. Learning these things and practicing them will help you evolve your work. That is not to say that all you need to write a good poem is to learn the mechanics of poetry. Some people just suck at it. They'll get better with study, but they won't necessarily be good. But people that have a natural ability will benefit from education.

Lewdog
February 14th, 2013, 09:19 PM
The thing I find so funny and unique about poetry, from a literature perspective, is it is the closest type of writing to visual art. It's always up for interpretation, and no matter how well it is written, or what the subject matter is, some people are just not going to like it. I wrote today what I think is one of my better poems, and it is something that I truly like, yet I have not gotten a single reply to its posting. Yet when I posted a whimsical piece that was a play of words on a breathing exercise that could be construed as something sexual, it got all kinds of responses. Poetry is just odd like that.

Sirena
February 14th, 2013, 09:20 PM
bottom line is that ANYONE can be a poet now. Talent not required. That is very sad. Hence I chose to read only work by those who care enough to learn about the traiditional poets and follow their craft. Yes we all evolve, but in many ways evolutions has failed what is naturally beautiful - and in poetry, beauty should never be missing. I must disagree with you, but of course I understand you feel the way you do. PS: I am by far not great at it, but it's just how I feel about modern poetry. Don't hold it against me, it's an opinion, that's all.

Angel101
February 14th, 2013, 09:27 PM
Not true. Not anyone can be poet. Anyone can write "poems." Not anyone can produce strong poetry. Huge difference. Are you really going to argue that the great free verse writers actually suck and that their work isn't beautiful in some way? Another reason why education is important.
I've learned about traditional poets and I've studied their work. I respect the greatness in what they did. I still write free verse.

Kevin
February 14th, 2013, 09:59 PM
Calm yourself Calamity,
the orthodox can never see
the beauty you have brought to be
speaking in modernity. :)

We are open to differing opinions here, even if it's not what we like to hear.

Lewdog
February 14th, 2013, 10:10 PM
Calm yourself Calamity,
the orthodox can never see
the beauty you have brought to be
speaking in modernity. :)

We are open to differing opinions here, even if it's not what we like to hear.


Lalalalalala I can't hear you, lalalalalalala.

Olly Buckle
February 15th, 2013, 12:07 AM
All the great poets of the past wrote poetry that rhymes, unless it was an expression of emotion sort of like a call to arms or an ode like what you featured here at the end of your post.How great is great, how past is past? I detect a circular argument that won't hold up. A great many of them wrote in blank verse, Milton in 'Paradise lost' or Wordsworth in 'There was a boy'.


I think that poetry is dead because of money. There are billions of poetry contests now all of which require a fee so in order to have submissions somehow poetry went a wall and became mainstreamly accepted in botched form. You no longer have to be a poet. You just need to own a good theasurus, write a very long sentence that creates some type of an image in a person's mind, replace a few simple words with complex ones you pull out of your theasaurus and break the sentence up putting two or three words on each line.This bears no relation to any reality that I am aware of, is that the American 'billions or the English?
Most people here write for their own pleasure, I feel that pleasure could be heightened and their writing improved by greater understanding in most cases.


I think it's the fact that people just don't care anymore, and because people just aren't educated about poetry the way they used to be.I must disagree with you here Angel101, I think people are better educated than they have ever been, and they care passionately. In the past the vast majority were illiterate, their voice is only heard occasionally when the literate recorded it for some reason. Probably as many people are educated in prosody as ever were, but many more are literate and educated in other disciplines that previously did not exist. These people can read poetry even if they do not have formal understanding, they are human, they share the places poetry touches, and many of them try to express themselves similarly, for me this is something to be encouraged, a foundation they should be offered tools to build on.

Nee
February 15th, 2013, 04:49 AM
The only real gripe I have with poetry and the arts in general these days is the growing gap between the sociological, economic, political, and environmental pressures upon the artist and the subject matter (or lack of) that they chooses to deal with in their art work.

Seems we may be loosing the entire impetus for creation. You know the whole "kick in the pants" cause and effect reaction we have seen in the arts over the last few hundred years.
It's slightly alarming.

Lewdog
February 15th, 2013, 04:54 AM
The only real gripe I have with poetry and the arts in general these days is the growing gap between the sociological, economic, political, and environmental pressures upon the artist and the subject matter (or lack of) that they chooses to deal with in their art work.

Seems we may be loosing the entire impetus for creation. You know the whole "kick in the pants" cause and effect reaction we have seen in the arts over the last few hundred years.
It's slightly alarming.


There is a visual type of poetry that I have yet to see on here. Then again it isn't exactly easy to do on a forum unless you were to write it out and upload the picture, or create it with a different program and do the same. Those can be quite fun. I once wrote a pyramid one that was quite cool. It takes quite a long time to write a poem that begins with one character and goes up to some arbitrary number of characters and back down again. It would look like:

x
xx
xxx
xxxx
xxxxx
xxxx
xxx
xx
x

Only with words and spaces of coarse.