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RHPeat
September 13th, 2017, 09:28 PM
I've been asked to post something here concerning interpretation.

Seeing A Poems Depth.

We can talk about a poem’s form and content as two different things at times. But in truth they are really one thing as a unified presentation. But there is even another way to look at form from a literary standpoint concerning the more obvious basic units of an art form.

Like for instance in “painting” it might be the format. The size and shape of the canvas or wall to be painted on to present the image of form and content as an image. Or the “media” to be used in presentation of the unifying from/content — as oil, watercolor, pastels, acrylics, etc. Which will all create a very different artistic form in the end. Just as a marble stone is something very different than a blank canvas when it comes to the understanding of artistic form as a craft in the visual arts between painting and sculpture.

So beyond the unifying form/content of a poem there is the craft of the poem as an art form that is related to media. Which is a very different form. For instance in literature it varies from a novel or short story or flash fiction to poetry. Although they might all crossover at times.

Seeing a poem from the viewpoint of its art form, can be helpful to seeing the poem’s deeper content/form as a unit. What is the basic format of poetry as literature? Then we might see what is hidden in the depth when we read it on the page or listen to its presentation as part of an audience. I will attempt to present some basic literary thoughts here concerning the presentation of the poem from a literary standpoint, about how there is a basic form that follows basic writing principals at a very simple level.

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Basic Literary-Form of Poetry:
Being able to identify this in your own work will improve your writing. It will also allow the workshop to improve with more to talk about concerning the poem's overall presentation.

There are basically 3 Parts to a poem's literary-form.

A. The opening: This introduces the subject of the poem. A feeling or thought about a feeling concerning something in a specific way in some manner. It is generally the title, opening line or stanza.

B. The Turning Point/ also called the Climax or Turn: It introduces a new thought into the poem. Generally happens about 3/4th the way through the poem's story line of feelings. It is very different emotional feeling that is added to the poem. It could be to compare or contrast metaphorically or through the use of figurative speech.

C. Closure: It ties the feelings in the opening and turning point together to create a whole new concept in the poem. This new concept should provide a reader with a revelation, epiphany, and/or new awareness of some kind. That something new is realized by the participant — reader or listener.

This is true of any basic story telling and poetry; short stories and novels are the same, but they have many more parts however. It is this form that holds a reader's or listener's attention to the progression of emotional thoughts/feelings in the poem while being an impetus for eventual meaning that another acquires on their own through just reading or listening to the poem. Poems should not mean because they are feelings, but they can be the impetus to internal meaning for another person through epiphany, revelation, or realization. As Achibald says in his Ars Poetica: "a poem should not mean but be." In this way the reader/listener can create their own meaning for the poem as they see fit. If a writer has written the poem skillfully they have lead the reader/listener to the very place they want them to be when having their epiphany or awareness concerning the poem. That's the craft of writing leading them to the waterhole to drink on their own, for them to make the writer's poem part of who they are.

So beware of telling, defining or explaining the poem; because it will kill the readers realizations whatever they might be. They will not be pondering the poem any further in the future, if the writer divulges to much of the intent of the poem through a process that is told, explained or defined.
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How do we become better at breaking down the poem? At seeking and seeing its greater depth?
A procedure that might be taken:

A.) start dissecting your own poems for "1. Opening, 2.Turning point, & 3. Closure. Realize that the poem can have body beyond these places in the poem.

B.) Then move on and do it to other writers works as well. Include famous poems that you like and understand the feelings presented. And do your contemporaries as well in the workshop. Writing reviews: (not critiques) about what you see in the depth of their poem's form from that literary stand point of form, Which are the 3 things mentioned. (opening, turning, & closure)

C.) begin to see and realize that this is where the surface story line of the poem is attached to it's deep core of understood feelings. That make your hair on your arm arise or feel a sigh or a gasp in your breath. Then you will know that you're making the connection to what is somewhat hidden in the poem structure of "form/content" as the single unit.

D.) if you can successfully teach yourself to see these places within any poem, you'll have your problem licked to feeling the depth of the poem. It is the matter of seeing what is contained in those three places in the poem at least at two different levels. Than you'll have the poems metaphors intact to break down the poem further in other lines within the poem.

Now realize I'm talking about a different kind of form here that is related to its literary form within the poem which contains a climax in the turning point. As all stories reach a climax before they end. Just like in a novel or short-story.

Form/content on the other hand might be concerned about the mapping of the poem on the page. Spacing lines or versification to create rhythms internally and externally along with rhymes and other sound devices to heighten the poems language in different ways. I'm talking about the music of the poem now.

It is different from speaking about how literary devices shape content to form a story which is only the surface of the poem. But at the same time that surface is attached to the depth of the poem in these places within the structure of the poem. That these places are where the undercurrent also appears in the depth of the poem's greater understanding of feelings as the unified form/content field that is the unique poem.

Remember that meaning comes from the reader if there is meaning; it is not contained in the poem. The poem should never define itself. It is the poem epiphany in another that offers meaning to the reader. It's their revelation that manifests that understanding of meaning. And it happens inside them and not the poem.

That's why it is so important to be able to recognize these literary parts of the poem and what they do for the overall structure of the poem's music and other devices connected through the poem deeper form/content as a unifying structure as an art form. Again:

Basic Literary Form

1. Opening: This introduces a subject into the poem. That is generally the title and the first line or first stanza. That's where the poem begins. It is vital to be able to see this and feel it as a crucial part of the complete poem.

2. The turn/ or climax of the poem: This introduces a new thought to the poem as a comparison or contrast of some sort. It literally makes a bend in the poem subject matter by adding more to that original subject in the opening. This generally happens about 3/4th the way through the poem. So at time a lot of body of the poem will proceed it. In a short poem in might be only one line. between turn and closure.

3. The Closure: This is hardest to write and most difficult to reach within the poem to derive total feelings as epiphany. It's kind of like a gymnast that does a full flip and two twists before landing square on the ground. What the closure does is tie that turning point of climax and the opening subject matter into a completely new revelation about where the poem started. So generally in good writing you will see a relative word or line referring to both the turn and the opening in the closure: if nothing else, a similar emotional thought that suggests how it is tied together. That's what ties the complete poem together from a literary standpoint and from a form/content standpoint at the same time.

You can bet from the understanding of these two very different forms that there is more than one level of understanding, emotional context and story line in all poetry.

a poet friend
RH Peat

Bloggsworth
September 13th, 2017, 11:03 PM
Oooo - How complicated! I just say what I want to say and let others worry about form.

PiP
September 14th, 2017, 09:14 PM
Thanks, Ron. I've bookmarked this post for reference.


A.) start dissecting your own poems for "1. Opening, 2.Turning point, & 3. Closure. Realize that the poem can have body beyond these places in the poem.

I've found this extremely useful. Prior to our conversation I'd not considered these points when writing poetry. I wonder how many members consider Opening, 2.Turning point, & 3. Closure?

Gumby
September 14th, 2017, 09:22 PM
I've not conciously considered those three points, before. But I will now.:)

I think it will be interesting to see what a difference it could make. Thank you, Ron. What an awesome post!

RHPeat
September 14th, 2017, 09:40 PM
PiP and Gumby

Well do realize that at times the poem just flows out of us in a first draft. But it is seldom that it doesn't need some rewriting and tweaking. But if you start to break down what you do have in the first draft as part of that rewrite you will be far ahead of the game in the end. The rewrite will be easier to do and with far more focus on what can be cut and what must be saved within the poem. Which is always a dilemma for any writer of quality.

It has been my personal experience that a poem seldom arrives as a complete presentation without some sort of rewriting taking place. This is just an optional way at looking at that rewrite in a constructive manner. The same as the workshop; only you are doing it on your own without the workshop.

The other option is that it gives a common language to the group in a workshop to start using such terms that everyone understands. It allows members in the workshop to leap to the place to where one is suggesting a change and for what plausible reason at the same time with these understandings about literary form to create climax and real closure.

Along with the fact that it allows you to get to the core of another writers poem quickly. It can even enhance your own reading when reading a difficult poem for your own understand. It just opens the perspectives up for greater understanding. It is a constructive way to create, to share, and to relate to your own reading of poetry for greater depth and enjoyment.

For myself, it just allows me to see how a well known or historic poet has put their poems together, I find real enjoyment in that because I write myself. Why wouldn't I want to know how they have made their own poems work to create the turn/climax and closure for the benefit of the reader. So yes I'm concerned about how others construct their work, and I what to see it in action. That's just me being a concerned writer about the craft and skill of writing for greater awareness.

a poet friend
RH Peat

PiP
September 14th, 2017, 10:06 PM
The other option is that it gives a common language to the group in a workshop to start using such terms that everyone understands.

Good point, Ron.


Along with the fact that it allows you to get to the core of another writers poem quickly. It can even enhance your own reading when reading a difficult poem for your own understand. It just opens the perspectives up for greater understanding. It is a constructive way to create, to share, and to relate to your own reading of poetry for greater depth and enjoyment.

This has already proved a great help when reviewing a poem. It's going to take some practice, but I'm getting there.

Neetu
September 15th, 2017, 04:17 AM
I never do, Carole. :) I let the poem take me through the moves and turns. If I start thinking about elements like these, I will never be able to write verse.
My only point here is that each poet has his or her own way to allowing creativity to flow. Some poets can work amazingly well with a "plan" and layout of how and what they are going to write. Others, like me, simply cannot.

Darren White
September 15th, 2017, 09:02 AM
Ron,
I added this post of yours bookmarked, as well as the Metaphor posts you made earlier. They are extremely useful.
I am always working on improving my poetry. Sometimes I write straight from the heart, and those raw unpolished poems can be wonderful. Other times I am working on a poem as an exercise on parts of what you write above, or on conceits and more. And the outcome can be very surprising and good (or just rubbish, that happens too :) )

Chinspinner
September 15th, 2017, 10:02 AM
This seems a complex way to read poetry. There is a certain conflict with poetry, in that on one hand, anyone can call any old shit poetry if they choose to, and on the other hand, people need to separate the wheat from the chaff, or something.

His face was confusion,
On the page a contusion,
He no longer understood,
A viper's hood, a dire warning,
A sunless morning, a corny corning,
full of silliness and crap,
a face slap, a two inch tap
from Bruce Lee, you see, he
knew there was no absolution
or resolution.
Thus we reach our conclusion.

As I said, anyone can put some crap on paper and call it poetry (that really was poetry by the way, so please treat it with respect). Any tool that gives at least an entrance bar, has gotta have its place, as long as it is not rigidly adhered to.

RHPeat
September 15th, 2017, 10:55 AM
Chinspinner

it has an opening:
His face was confusion,
On the page a contusion,

it has a turning point: Bruce is the introduction of something new into the poem.
a face slap, a two inch tap
from Bruce Lee, you see,

It has a closure. The confusion and tap are brought together in closure in absolution, resolution.there was no absolution
or resolution.
Thus we reach our conclusion.

it took me ten seconds to analyze the poem. It isn't difficult to do once you know what you're looking for in the literary presentation of the poem. Any good story line will have those parts. And yes sometimes it is just felt from the gift of a person's ability when telling stories. There really isn't anything difficult about it at all. It been there even in historical times before the written word in the oral traditions. There is nothing new about story telling.

a poet friend
RH Peat

Chinspinner
September 15th, 2017, 11:11 AM
Chinspinner

it has an opening:
His face was confusion,
On the page a contusion,

it has a turning point: Bruce is the introduction of something new into the poem. a face slap, a two inch tap
from Bruce Lee, you see,

It has a closure. The confusion and tap are brought together in closure in absolution, resolution.there was no absolution
or resolution.
Thus we reach our conclusion.

it took me ten seconds to analyze the poem. It isn't difficult to do once you know what you're looking for in the literary presentation of the poem. Any good story line will have those parts. And yes sometimes it is just felt from the gift of a person's ability when telling stories. There really isn't anything difficult about it at all. It been there even in historical times before the written word in the oral traditions. There is nothing new about story telling.

a poet friend
RH Peat


So here comes the true test, it passed all your parameters, but was it worthy of your time, or was it crap?

sas
September 15th, 2017, 01:19 PM
This seems a complex way to read poetry. There is a certain conflict with poetry, in that on one hand, anyone can call any old shit poetry if they choose to, and on the other hand, people need to separate the wheat from the chaff, or something.

His face was confusion,
On the page a contusion,
He no longer understood,
A viper's hood, a dire warning,
A sunless morning, a corny corning,
full of silliness and crap,
a face slap, a two inch tap
from Bruce Lee, you see, he
knew there was no absolution
or resolution.
Thus we reach our conclusion.

As I said, anyone can put some crap on paper and call it poetry (that really was poetry by the way, so please treat it with respect). Any tool that gives at least an entrance bar, has gotta have its place, as long as it is not rigidly adhered to.



Sounds like a poem Muhammad Ali could have written. He introduced many a street kid to poetry. And, now who the hell can even name the current Heavy Weight Champion of the World? I love that he recited those crap poems. I have a huge book that compiles the work of American Outlaw Poets. Some would call it all crap. Some is crap to me, but not all. Poetry is just like music. Jazz, rap, opera, country are crap to someone. Poets just need to find their audience. I'm still in search of mine. Smiles. Sas

RHPeat
September 17th, 2017, 10:51 PM
Chinspinner

It's all relative. Any poem in the end has to stand on it's own merit. One person doesn't give a poem merit. They can only give a personal opinion about that poem. Merit is determined by the masses and time itself.

Does the poem have the ability to carry its information as an emotional art form for any length of time? This will determine it's life expectancy, and not any one reader with an opinion. If you want more opinions you need to post your poem in a workshop and listen to everyone's opinion without being defensive. Then you will get many honest opinions. Then you might begin see how others feel about your poem, a real poem doesn't need defending at all; it only needs its own reality to stand up on in the world at large. Let it stand on it's own, that's the real test.

If the poem truly has merit it will hold it's own ground. If it doesn't it will fall flat on it's face. The bigger thing to realize is that readers are part of the craft of writing. The writing would be no place without the readers. The concert doesn't take place without the audience.

We don't write for them, but we do write to them. It is more like as William Shakespeare says in Anthony's speech to the people, "Lend me your ears". And yes at times the art is about stirring up emotions in others; as well as, uplifting their consciousness to hear what is being said to them as readers. Now that is what makes the pen mightier than the sword.

Good writing will keep talking even after the writer is dead. Now that kind of writing has real merit to stand on it's own when it is able to do that. And if it is able to stand for a few hundred years, it is truly remarkable. No way around that. Lu Chi's Wen Fu is still viable today concerning poetry today, and it was written in 303 AD. That's close to 2000 years. Well who's heard of Lu Chi? Well I have, how about you? Some people just like to read. I like expanding my horizons concerning the art I'm involved in as a writer and a reader. I feel that is part of being an artist and understanding the greater human experience as an artist. I've even looked into my Quaker past as well as my Native American past to see the roots of the use of language in my own family concerning both free thinking and oral traditions when it comes to community.

a poet friend
RH Peat

clark
October 13th, 2017, 09:24 PM
Ron's post may seem formulaic. It isn't. What he's done is take the finished product and break it into the parts that comprise the whole. You know how to shoot a rifle, but it's damned handy to be able to break it down to all its working parts and lay them out on a table. All the bits are 'there' in every work of art, but when you look at a painting, read a poem, listen to music, the experience for you is organic, your whole self is involved and you are unaware of the 'parts' that make it so. This kind of fusion of the senses is often present when we write, as well. But it is helpful to look back at what you've done, and realize that embedded in your work there are 'parts' , all working together. Many of you will be familiar with Robert Creeley's provocative statement--FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF CONTENT. Look on Ron's post as a kind of 'crib sheet', a short cut to the little bits we all use, but don't think of all that much, much less literally use or 'follow' when we write.