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Phil Istine
August 13th, 2019, 07:09 PM
I write poetry myself and often have an understanding of other people's poetry. However, it's also the case that a lot of other people's poetry goes whooshing over my head and I haven't a clue how to unpick them. I sometimes wonder if I might think too literally.
Sure, sometimes I feel something from the poem if I go with the flow and avoid dissecting the words too much, but whenever I sense I'm starting to get a handle on it, along come some poems that leave me feeling brainless.
Suggestions are welcome (other than getting a brain transplant).
Thanks :)

Darren White
August 14th, 2019, 07:00 AM
There are many poems I do not understand. So you are not alone :)

Sometimes understanding though is not that important to me, sound, flow, emotion, music, rhythm, choice of words, wordplay, it all can make a poem worth reading to me.

I know that my own poems aim to paint an image, with in itself simple words, but I also do not aim for easy understanding. I write for myself primarily, but it does have to make sense in some way. It's not easy to describe or explain in what way.

Ask yourself the question: why should a poem be understood. I think (my personal opinion of course) that the best poems are those where many people start to discuss about its meaning. Because everyone finds a different truth or meaning in those poems.

RHPeat
August 14th, 2019, 07:37 AM
Understanding poems — Feeling poetry.

I don't think poems are supposed to be understood. They might have and overall intent in flow, but it is not to be understood as much as it is to be felt. That the author provides imagery and active verbs to create an inner feeling within the reader or listener to have that experience in the intent of the poem. That intent is never told in the poem for it would kill the real intent in the poem leaving the poem empty after it was read or heard. Just like a movie doesn't explain itself. While creating the emotion in another; the poet actually leaves them moved by the poem in such a way that they live the poem's intent as their own feelings. So they are having the poet's experience as their own. It's kind of like watching a Horror movie that leaves you haunted after leaving the theater. But with poetry the author/poet plays with all kinds of emotions that deal deeply with the complete gamut of life experiences from brith to death.

So I see poems are something to be felt and not really understood until you actually live the experience while experiencing the poem; that the poem is presenting a definite emotional concern as its intent. The problem for the poet is to be able to write it without saying it at all. So that the readers get sucked into their own experiences while reading the poem. The poet is providing the catalyst for their real experience. Now that's an art. Then the poem stands on it's own merit and it doesn't need understanding; it only needs to provide an experience though its presentation as an intent through some sort of storyline. It can be short or very long. But the reader comes out the other side being reestablished through their own personal experience that the poet wants them to have. That's tricky, for the reader can get lost in the poem. It is not so unlike: looking at an abstract painting, or a piece of sculpture, or even listening to a piece of instrumental music for that matter. You end up being marked by your own experiences due to the art form; because of where the poet's/artist's work has taken you on it's presented journey. It not so much about the poet dumping their feelings or emotions on the reader as it is making the reader have the poet's feelings within themselves. That takes skill. I can remember reading a poem by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney about his mother's death. He takes a white hair off of her black coat taken from the closet and goes to the fireplace to throw it aways and it rises up the chimney. Now when I read that the hair on my arms rose up. Now that's feeling the poem's intent. He built the poem around that event. That was epiphany. That's what the poem should do when it is felt. If the writer wants you to have an upset stomach; you should come out of the poem wanting to vomit. Then you have their experience. If you come out of a poem angry it should be the writers intent to stir anger in others. Just like Picasso's Guernica should make you feel the horror of war. At that time cubism was new to the world and it was haunting to view in its blacks, whites, and grays as utter death scenes compiled together.

This is why workshops are good, for you get to see through other creative eye briefly through comments and suggestions. Whether there is agreement or not; is totally up to the author of the poem. Always without any exceptions the author owns the work. In the end the poem stands on it's own merit or it doesn't at all. The publisher reads it and gets it, or they don't get it at all. It's really that simple. You feel poems when they are read or heard. In hearing live poetry you get the aural sensation of poetry. Which is the true media of poetry; it is a media of the voice as heightened language to be heard not just spoken. This confuses many. It can also be dramatized which just increases the feeling sensations into a dramatic range of concern. Like a Shakespeare play. Or a Eugene O'Neill play, like "The Iceman Cometh" about pipe dreams: a wonderful modern poetic play. Just my thoughts as a poet.

a poet friend
RH Peat

JustRob
August 14th, 2019, 09:35 AM
RHP, your post certainly struck a chord with me because I have more than once remarked that I seldom write poetry because my prose is my poetry. As someone who has never studied poetic forms I do not comprehend how some apparently formless strings of words are regarded as poetry, but maybe it is the dualism of content and effect that you describe that characterises them. This is how I have regarded my mainstream prose fiction. Indeed I appended to the title of my solitary novel the words "(about something else)" as a clue. With a prose story the reader is lulled into assuming that the literal story that unfolds is the sole objective of the work and it takes a more astute reader to recognise the unmentioned processes that it induces within their mind. In the case of poetry there may be no literal story present and the words may indeed just whoosh over the reader's head.

When I sent a hundred page extract from my novel to a professional reader for comments he told me that it was "an easy read" but his other comments indicated that he hadn't grasped from that extract the underlying processes involved. As I was paying for his service I couldn't afford to have him read the entire work, so I could see why he didn't understand it. I also sent the entire draft work to a friendly university lecturer in English literature in America, a person very skilled at reading and appreciating, rather than writing, literature. He actually read the whole work twice for free and observed that he enjoyed the second reading even more than the first, so I had met Oscar Wilde's declared requirement that a story wasn't worth reading at all if it wasn't worth reading more than once. Evidently he had discovered that there was indeed "something else" within the words apart from the self-evident story. He also grumbled about having to create a course on Spenser's The Faerie Queene, which I understand has a number of allegorical levels. He'd far rather teach his students how to appreciate the nuances of Shakespeare's works.

I suspect that readers of prose works can almost always assume that they have experienced what was intended in them even if in reality they have only scraped the surface, whereas a poem may superficially present very little to them at a similar level and therefore appear perplexing. Hence readership of poetry is likely to be more restricted than of prose. So my prose actually is my poetry, but in a way that many readers might not even notice.

There is another current thread running discussing the use of ambiguity in prose, to which I have contributed, and I see a parallel between that one and this in that both address the possibility that a reader may get entirely and irretrievably lost in the work if the writer does not balance his style against the perceptiveness of his intended readers. I consider one's target reader to be the most important character that a writer should imagine.

I recollect an incident during a training course on personal communication skills at my office many decades ago. The tutor said that anyone attending a meeting should declare their reasons for attending it, but one listener objected to that suggestion. He said, "How can I hope to achieve my objectives if I tell people what they are?" We all agreed that it was a good point, but we were all computer systems developers used to using deviously complex logic to achieve our ends. I get the impression that some poetry can be equally devious.

I doubt that my novel could ever be a success commercially because, as with poetry, I wanted to get the reader to share deeply in the feelings of the characters, which were in the opening stages of the story ... utter boredom. Er, that's a problem in itself if the writer succeeds though, a difficult problem to overcome and a candidate for "tell, don't show" perhaps.

escorial
August 14th, 2019, 02:28 PM
The poetry police like things in order and rules are there to keep it academic..the poetry hippy likes to be a bit weird..out there stuff an is open to all sorts..my fav one is the obscure Luvy who sees their words and meaning that transcend mortals understanding an makes them feel like the gods of words an meaning...

RHPeat
August 14th, 2019, 10:24 PM
RHP, your post certainly struck a chord with me because I have more than once remarked that I seldom write poetry because my prose is my poetry. As someone who has never studied poetic forms I do not comprehend how some apparently formless strings of words are regarded as poetry, but maybe it is the dualism of content and effect that you describe that characterises them. This is how I have regarded my mainstream prose fiction. Indeed I appended to the title of my solitary novel the words "(about something else)" as a clue. With a prose story the reader is lulled into assuming that the literal story that unfolds is the sole objective of the work and it takes a more astute reader to recognise the unmentioned processes that it induces within their mind. In the case of poetry there may be no literal story present and the words may indeed just whoosh over the reader's head.

When I sent a hundred page extract from my novel to a professional reader for comments he told me that it was "an easy read" but his other comments indicated that he hadn't grasped from that extract the underlying processes involved. As I was paying for his service I couldn't afford to have him read the entire work, so I could see why he didn't understand it. I also sent the entire draft work to a friendly university lecturer in English literature in America, a person very skilled at reading and appreciating, rather than writing, literature. He actually read the whole work twice for free and observed that he enjoyed the second reading even more than the first, so I had met Oscar Wilde's declared requirement that a story wasn't worth reading at all if it wasn't worth reading more than once. Evidently he had discovered that there was indeed "something else" within the words apart from the self-evident story. He also grumbled about having to create a course on Spenser's The Faerie Queene, which I understand has a number of allegorical levels. He'd far rather teach his students how to appreciate the nuances of Shakespeare's works.

I suspect that readers of prose works can almost always assume that they have experienced what was intended in them even if in reality they have only scraped the surface, whereas a poem may superficially present very little to them at a similar level and therefore appear perplexing. Hence readership of poetry is likely to be more restricted than of prose. So my prose actually is my poetry, but in a way that many readers might not even notice.

There is another current thread running discussing the use of ambiguity in prose, to which I have contributed, and I see a parallel between that one and this in that both address the possibility that a reader may get entirely and irretrievably lost in the work if the writer does not balance his style against the perceptiveness of his intended readers. I consider one's target reader to be the most important character that a writer should imagine.

I recollect an incident during a training course on personal communication skills at my office many decades ago. The tutor said that anyone attending a meeting should declare their reasons for attending it, but one listener objected to that suggestion. He said, "How can I hope to achieve my objectives if I tell people what they are?" We all agreed that it was a good point, but we were all computer systems developers used to using deviously complex logic to achieve our ends. I get the impression that some poetry can be equally devious.

I doubt that my novel could ever be a success commercially because, as with poetry, I wanted to get the reader to share deeply in the feelings of the characters, which were in the opening stages of the story ... utter boredom. Er, that's a problem in itself if the writer succeeds though, a difficult problem to overcome and a candidate for "tell, don't show" perhaps.

Rob

What you say about "your own" prose holds true to great novels. Two great American novels come to mind right off, Melville's Moby Dick and Twain's Huck Finn. (Melville's novel is said by the poet Charles Olson to be projective, as a poet he was experimenting with projective verse. You might want to read some of his Maximus poems). And in Melville's Moby Dick, if you read the section where the cook is talking to the two crew-members on deck at night; you can actually see a poem's metaphor in what the cook is saying to the two hands on deck when the cook is comparing angels to sharks. *read it; you'll be shocked; it is just like a long poem. It's is a powerful poetic statement about the religion of Melville's time also. And Moby Dick has long been argued to be a representation of God. Which the evil Ahab is obsessed with killing. It's Queequeg the Polynesian harpooner that kills the white whale, He opens Ishmael's eyes which indirectly saves his life. He's the primitive in the bunch. Only the young man, Ishmael survives in the end to tell the story.(1st person.) It's based on a true story told to Melville by a sailor off a whaling ship as one of 3 survivors of the wreck ship concerning a white whale. The whale did ram their ship and it actually followed them across a greater part of the pacific ocean. There were 3 small harpooning vessels left but the whale ends up destroying two of them. The last one ends up in Australia with the first mate navigating.

The mighty Mississippi River is God in Huck Finn. So Huck is coursing on the river of God. Sounds like the "word" In the beginning there was the river and the river was God, as an interpretation the word as the Logos. The river is also the journey of life. The return home is self realization. Huck becomes a man, he crosses the threshold to leave the boy as the lost child behind.

So your best novels do have a lot of meat beneath the surface. Catch 22 is another that reeks with underlying depth to it. The writing is rich in that sense. You can easily put yourself in Yossarian, Huck, or Ishmael. Note none of these things are said directly in the novels. They symbolically arrive in the reader's consciousness to be interpreted. So keep writing with more depth. It's solid ground that you're after that holds many levels of feelings together as a single unit. I always write for 2 or 3 levels of knowing, sometimes even more.

The thing is that your experience with the people that read your book or parts of it; each sees something different. That's because of the multilevel in relationship to their own personal understanding about the experience of life. It's like the difference of an adult and a child reading Huck Finn. Each is going to get something very different from the depth of the writing. The more experienced person will see more. I would guess teacher who saw more was older than the first person. He had more reading under his belt, and he read for depth opposed to just the surface storyline.

Many have accused Joseph Heller of being all over the place with Catch 22. But then the main character is all over the place trying act nuts to maintain his life and sanity. Now that makes a storyline scattered to some extent and somewhat bazaar. It's a hell of a story. Twain had to take Huck Finn to England to get it published; it too has a scatter storyline by just making the trip down the river. Again 1st person. The "I" is not the author. Huck is the American spirit of that time. Who makes moral and ethical judgements for himself. He raw goodness while the town folk are devious. There's a lot of depth in that book. First published in 1884. And twain's humor can't be beat. This makes Huck real in the world at large going down the river.

Ken Kesey was told his novel "one flew over the cocoa's nest" was a fluke. It was the only novel he had written. Then he writes: "sometimes times a Great Notion" and proves he's the writer that first novel shows as well. Again a lot of underlying depth in both this books. So what you're talking about is not new to the novel form at all. Poetic prose does exist and it's different from a prose poem as well. Keep writing.

a poet friend
RH Peat

Squalid Glass
August 15th, 2019, 02:32 AM
As a poet and an academic, I feel like there is happy middle ground. Poetry can be enjoyed for its musical and spiritual elements while at the same time being appreciated for its substance and technical prowess. I think learning more about literary criticism is one way to better understand poetry in general. Having a lens with which to view a poem makes it easier to contextualize and, ultimately, understand it.

TL Murphy
August 15th, 2019, 01:29 PM
Do we understand instrumental music? Do we understand an abstract painting or an artistic photograph? In this case, the word “understand” is misleading... as if the music should convey some message or the painting should point us toward the food court or the photograph should tell us something about the weather.

Meaning is not only derived from rational “understanding.” Poetry is not a “language” that offers a specific set of interpretations for given symbols. When we listen to music we gather meaning through “mood” or “tone.” An abstract painting offers meaning through its use of space and the juxtaposition of shapes and colour. An abstract photograph has the power to lead us toward a reinterpretation of perception.

The confusion with understanding poetry comes from our association between words and meaning. We understand words as a method to transfer information through the logical structure of language, to instruct or to tell a story. A poem may tell a story but that is not what the poem is “about.” We need to be able to look beyond or beneath the surface layer of the story to what emotional associations the reader might make in the unconscious. It often takes several readings of a poem to grasp its context. Each reading allows a deeper view into layers of meaning. What’s important is to avoid thinking too much and just absorb.

Poetry, as all art, offers meaning in the interaction between the work and the viewer. It offers the viewer (or reader) an opportunity to create their own meaning as a response to the work precisely because the work is not didactic (is not a singular, overdetermined message). Meaning is created in the space between the work and the perceiver which allows the reader/viewer to bring their own experience to the event and create meaning through epiphany by associating images in the work with their experiential reality. Open ended expression like poetry is particularly adept at this juncture. That is why Ron Peat says that a poem should never explain its intent. In doing so, it kills the artistic experience by robbing the reader an opportunity to create their own meaning in that interface between the work and the viewer. That is where the “art” happens.

badgerjelly
September 6th, 2019, 06:07 AM
I’ve said it before several times elsewhere. If you wish to convey a message and it fails the poem has failed (but maybe not everyone). If you wish to express yourself you haven’t failed (unless you personally feel you fell short).

Simply due to life experience, and general knowledge, some people will grasp some meaning more than others. I don’t think that it is all about ‘feeling’ the poem. That is not to say a poem cannot be set out to focus on expressing a ‘feeling’ though.

If you have meaning to convey and no one gets it you’ve failed - regardless of who likes the ‘feel’ of the poem. This is because your intent is what defines your view of success.

Of course poets will protest about what I am saying because they have poetic license over the ‘meaning of meaning/understanding/feeling’ ... I don’t buy it though. If you had something to say and many people enjoyed it but got completely the wrong message you failed (but you may have written something highly appreciated nevertheless - that is not the point though).

Mish
September 6th, 2019, 06:36 AM
Understanding poems — Feeling poetry.

I don't think poems are supposed to be understood. They might have and overall intent in flow, but it is not to be understood as much as it is to be felt. That the author provides imagery and active verbs to create an inner feeling within the reader or listener to have that experience in the intent of the poem.

So I see poems are something to be felt and not really understood until you actually live the experience while experiencing the poem; that the poem is presenting a definite emotional concern as its intent. The problem for the poet is to be able to write it without saying it at all. So that the readers get sucked into their own experiences while reading the poem. The poet is providing the catalyst for their real experience. Now that's an art.

I admit it took me awhile to arrive at the same conclusion, but I think I am finally getting there. My next piece will have more of that. (hopefully)

midnightpoet
September 6th, 2019, 05:37 PM
I can relate to the OP, many poems today go right over my head, and often after reading other's comments I can feel pretty dumb. However, I realize that others have studied poetry more than me and also realize my brain isn't as sharp as it used to be. I have learned more about poetry here, though. I do have trouble critiquing poetry, and find it harder than critiquing prose. One of my problems was I attempted to read the poet's intentions, which I've discovered is futile. I'm finally realizing that I'm not supposed to.

jenthepen
September 6th, 2019, 08:58 PM
Do we understand instrumental music? Do we understand an abstract painting or an artistic photograph? In this case, the word “understand” is misleading... as if the music should convey some message or the painting should point us toward the food court or the photograph should tell us something about the weather.

Meaning is not only derived from rational “understanding.” Poetry is not a “language” that offers a specific set of interpretations for given symbols. When we listen to music we gather meaning through “mood” or “tone.” An abstract painting offers meaning through its use of space and the juxtaposition of shapes and colour. An abstract photograph has the power to lead us toward a reinterpretation of perception.

The confusion with understanding poetry comes from our association between words and meaning. We understand words as a method to transfer information through the logical structure of language, to instruct or to tell a story. A poem may tell a story but that is not what the poem is “about.” We need to be able to look beyond or beneath the surface layer of the story to what emotional associations the reader might make in the unconscious. It often takes several readings of a poem to grasp its context. Each reading allows a deeper view into layers of meaning. What’s important is to avoid thinking too much and just absorb.

Poetry, as all art, offers meaning in the interaction between the work and the viewer. It offers the viewer (or reader) an opportunity to create their own meaning as a response to the work precisely because the work is not didactic (is not a singular, overdetermined message). Meaning is created in the space between the work and the perceiver which allows the reader/viewer to bring their own experience to the event and create meaning through epiphany by associating images in the work with their experiential reality. Open ended expression like poetry is particularly adept at this juncture. That is why Ron Peat says that a poem should never explain its intent. In doing so, it kills the artistic experience by robbing the reader an opportunity to create their own meaning in that interface between the work and the viewer. That is where the “art” happens.


I’ve said it before several times elsewhere. If you wish to convey a message and it fails the poem has failed (but maybe not everyone). If you wish to express yourself you haven’t failed (unless you personally feel you fell short).

Simply due to life experience, and general knowledge, some people will grasp some meaning more than others. I don’t think that it is all about ‘feeling’ the poem. That is not to say a poem cannot be set out to focus on expressing a ‘feeling’ though.

If you have meaning to convey and no one gets it you’ve failed - regardless of who likes the ‘feel’ of the poem. This is because your intent is what defines your view of success.

Of course poets will protest about what I am saying because they have poetic license over the ‘meaning of meaning/understanding/feeling’ ... I don’t buy it though. If you had something to say and many people enjoyed it but got completely the wrong message you failed (but you may have written something highly appreciated nevertheless - that is not the point though).

These two quotes are both well-thought-out and heart-felt and yet completely at odds with each other. I can understand Badger's frustration and his need to get across the message of his poems and yet I have to agree with TL Murphy.

Poetry, I believe, is all about conveying the poet's message, by expressing the feeling, idea or belief that inspired it, through an artistic representation of the idea. The method of transfer is not through the channels of logic or reason - that is closer to the domain of prose. For me, a successful poem would give rise to emotions and/or curiosity in the mind of the reader that matched the emotions and intent in the mind of the poet. For that reason, I guess you could say that a poem has 'failed' if the reader has a completely different reaction to it. But I don't think that the reader should be expected to 'understand the message' in an overt or logical manner - it's more along the lines of changing a mind with a poem rather than informing a mind. The extent of any change could be a measure of the success of a poem but even partial change could be regarded as movement towards the message concealed within the poet's work.

TL Murphy
September 6th, 2019, 11:26 PM
Who says there has to be a message? Maybe there is no message. A poem can't fail to convey a message if it isn't trying to convey a message. Maybe it's just expression.

midnightpoet
September 7th, 2019, 12:55 AM
Who says there has to be a message? Maybe there is no message. A poem can't fail to convey a message if it isn't trying to convey a message. Maybe it's just expression.

That's true, but just put about any piece of art out there and someone will try to find a message. I think it was Hemingway who insisted "The Old Man and the Sea" was just a story of a man catching a fish. However, he might have said that just to confound his critics (might be true for all I know). That doesn't mean the piece failed, just made it more interesting.

Darkkin
September 7th, 2019, 02:18 AM
Why should a piece be considered a failure unless it carries a clean, concise message? That seems almost counterintuitive to what the heart of art, poetry, and music work to convey. Like the coral paperweight Winston found in a junk shop, he bought it because it was entirely frivolous. Did its lack of function make it any less interesting or unique? Beauty for the sake of beauty...e.g. the Northern Lights. Yes, it is a phenomenon created by the Earth's magnetic field, but does the fact that the lights have no overt function in nature make them any less intriguing? What of the stars? Same thing. From our position within the Milky Way, they once provided a means of navigation, but in this day and age with GPS, their function is greatly reduced, but does that diminish their wonder?

Stories, poetry, literature in general is about the journey. Not simply about Concise Message X. Failure to understand that wonder and frivolous emotion exist simply as an affirmation that we are human says more about a reader than it does about the supposed failure of a particular piece of writing.

e.g.

A picture book I just purchased, Music for Mister Moon by Stead, a beautiful, whimsical bit of nonsense, whose messages about introversion and empathy are all but lost on the target age ranges of 5 - 8 year olds, but as an adult, the subtly of the book is speaking because I now have the cognitive context with which to articulate the overarching themes.

Or more recently, I just finished watching Netflix's seriesThe Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Like the original film it is a classic example of the Hero's Journey, but this goes miles beyond the original with strong social parallels like those of prejudice, empathy, apathy, greed, gluttony, predation, gossip mongering, complacency, and fear. All highly relevant in this day and age. It is a story told by muppets, and yet, how many people are looking beyond the muppets to the deeper meanings in the story? Just because the majority of people do not draw the parallels, has the story failed in its purpose for merely entertaining as opposed to informing and enlightening?

Yes, there is a lot of creative work out there with a clear message, but ask most readers why they read and a majority of them will tell you that it is to escape...because the creative process at its core is an coping mechanism, a means through which people find their voices, their path, whether it has a purpose or not. It boils down to the empathy of the reader, has it been engaged? If it connects with anyone, including its author then it has fulfilled its purpose. Like Vulcans and the concept of humour, some may find escapist writing difficult to comprehend because it is steeped in countless colours instead of the black and white of the words on the screen.

Just some thoughts.

- D.

TL Murphy
September 7th, 2019, 02:47 AM
Darkin, I think I love you. I am so elated to finally find something we agree on. Love ya:


QUOTE=Darkkin;2241121] the Hero's Journey, ... All highly relevant in this day and age. It is a story told by muppets, and yet, how many people are looking beyond the muppets to the deeper meanings in the story? Just because the majority of people do not draw the parallels, has the story failed in its purpose for merely entertaining as opposed to informing and enlightening?

Yes, there is a lot of creative work out there with a clear message, but ask most readers why they read and a majority of them will tell you that it is to escape...because the creative process at its core is an coping mechanism, a means through which people find their voices, their path, whether it has a purpose or not. It boils down to the empathy of the reader, has it been engaged? If it connects with anyone, including its author then it has fulfilled its purpose. Like Vulcans and the concept of humour, some may find escapist writing difficult to comprehend because it is steeped in countless colours instead of the black and white of the words on the screen.


- D.[/QUOTE]

jenthepen
September 7th, 2019, 04:39 PM
Who says there has to be a message? Maybe there is no message. A poem can't fail to convey a message if it isn't trying to convey a message. Maybe it's just expression.

Absolutely agree but if that expression is powerful enough to alter the perception of a reader, even if just by getting attention shifted into a space it wouldn't normally consider, wouldn't that be a subliminal message conveyed, whether or not the poet intended it?

badgerjelly
September 7th, 2019, 08:35 PM
Who says there has to be a message? Maybe there is no message. A poem can't fail to convey a message if it isn't trying to convey a message. Maybe it's just expression.

If your intent is to convey a message and you fail, you fail. It’s that simple. If you were expressing something for the sake of expressing something so be it. What you express is then down to your own personal perspective so why worry about what others think or feel.

You can simply write something that sounds nice and means nothing if you wish to - there is value/joy in doing so.

I do have a strong view that art is two things; a process and an ‘aim’. I don’t believe for a second it has to be both though, but when it comes to ‘viewing’ art it is impossible to completely disconnect the two.

My point was that YOU know better than others (hopefully) what you were doing and why when writing a poem. Therefore you know if you had a certain feeling and/or message to convey and can measure by the responses (including your own in hindsight or immediately) whether or not it worked.

Pulse
September 7th, 2019, 11:48 PM
Poetry can be more lateral than prose, but when writing, I often try to make it literal as well. This is not just to score two points in one piece of writing; it just feels more satisfactory to me for the words to make sense as well as the sense making words; that can enable experience to be shared between writer and reader. Having said that a lot of my stuff is cryptic; not everyone has to understand. Sometimes I write to get a different perspective on something I have not yet understood myself. This could be when I attempt to let words channel volatile energies, for example.

Understanding is one of those words I usually ask each user to explain in their context, to reduce ambiguity. It may be an ideal.

TL Murphy
September 8th, 2019, 05:20 PM
Badger, if the aim is the process, then the message or the meaning is simply a byproduct of the process and not necessary for art. I think of poetry as an act of excavation. There is value in studying and developing process, the significance of which, may not be clear until later when it can be viewed in a larger, cultural context. That's why things like art history are so important. It can show us the historical context of work that is apparent to no one at the time of creation. I believe that art is a process of exposing the unconscious. If this is true, then conscious interpretation may elude the artist and the viewer until the work can be viewed in a larger context.

midnightpoet
September 8th, 2019, 05:59 PM
I was commenting on a poem on another site and the poet got rather pissed at me because I didn't understand the poem. If we poets are that sensitive much more of that will drive us to the looney bin. But did it fail? No, I liked the poem and was interested enough to comment. We write the poem. After that, we are not responsible for any odd interpretation that comes along. People view poetry in different ways from different perspectives. However, I have over the years learned that the more you write poetry and read it the more enjoyment you will receive from it, whether you totally understand it or not. I've said before here that critiquing poetry is like trying to read minds - but since then I've learned that you don't have to read minds to enjoy poetry.

escorial
September 8th, 2019, 06:01 PM
i get what your thinking

RHPeat
September 9th, 2019, 01:09 AM
The medium is the message. But it is difficult for a message as an agenda to find and fit any medium in art.
Artists are the sensitive ones: Realization comes with real emotions. This is the job of the humanities.
Anger about human stupidity is one of the big issues. They are called the humanities for a reason. They
transcend experience to be what they are in the moment. They are the fact or condition of being human at a
greater cost; What message includes all of that? It is human nature: as music is the universal language with
which we can express our common humanity. Poetry is part music as well as form/content as a united field, as
a creation. It is deliberate, and it’s organized, but it is extremely emotional; humaneness; benevolence: caring
enough, and offering dignity to the human factor through all of the emotions are the (humanities). It’s learning
the concerns of human culture, the human condition, (That means living with another. That is where it begins).
However it goes further; it enters the tribal: are you willing to help any person hit by a car in their last moment.
That’s the human condition in action. It’s the greased hog that runs through your fingers at high speed.
Can you feel another’s agony and anger when they are slandered, to offer dignity. It takes heart and skill to do
that and come out the other side in one piece as yourself; difficulties are bound to happen. People's own
families can devour them whole. Then another has to rediscover who they are in the process.

When we have no answers; how do we express it in a manner that is humane. Put a bullet in their head?
Or write a poem about it? Defend what you believe and write about it? Or die for it nonetheless.
Poets have been known to put it all on the line. Even had to leave their own countries or be killed.
That’s the human condition and culture that I’m speaking about. Those abstracts do have blood
and guts behind them. Expression means just that. Express it as you feel it. That's art; it holds more
then intellect as understanding. It holds emotional knowing which is more than just understanding.
Understanding shows me little; their EMOTIONAL KNOWING says, "I feel that other's presence, NOW!"

a poet friend
RH Peat.

TL Murphy
September 9th, 2019, 04:11 AM
Absolutely agree but if that expression is powerful enough to alter the perception of a reader, even if just by getting attention shifted into a space it wouldn't normally consider, wouldn't that be a subliminal message conveyed, whether or not the poet intended it?

I suppose that could be construed as a message by the reader even if the author did not intend to send a message. Some artists will say that there is always a message. I’m not sure I agree that the message is always intended even if the reader interprets it that way. One person’s state of mind may be a message to another person, but the author may be simply recording an internal event.

badgerjelly
September 9th, 2019, 09:24 AM
There is the matter of taste though. As comforting/discomforting as it may seem taste is not an arbitrary thing - if it as it wouldn’t change.

Such just builds up too equally ridiculous walls to divide people; the pretentiousness of ‘there are no boundaries!’ OR ‘there are only boundaries!’

Aesthetics is an interesting topic, but I’m kind of tired of trying to go deep into on forums so I’ll just leave it there and stick to reading about the subject matter when it pulls my interest. Everything has its use, but everything has an immediate use to everyone.

There is always intent in life. Seeking or avoiding intent are the very same thing - like much in life words can make the very same thing appear completely different (no doubt that is a large part of what attracts people to ‘poetry’).

RHPeat
January 2nd, 2020, 10:52 AM
We are all divided. Art has always tried to break the wall between humans that's whey they are called the humanities. They are about offering a communion of human spirit. Feelings that transcend the moment and the material. Art shifts consciousness through epiphany, revelation by invoking, evoking and provoking feelings. They open the other through allowing the other to become part of the experience. Art gives the other ownership. Interpretation is owned by the other and not by the writer. Intent is owned by the writer. In the end the reader or view or listener will interpret the are for what it is through his own consciousness. As the writer you can have all the high hopes you want, but it is the reader that determines what the response truly is concerning presentation by the writer.

a poet friend
RH Peat

A97
August 20th, 2020, 06:24 AM
I really feel the same way. I’ve always been interested in poetry and loved reading since secondary school but lost interest due to not being able to understand a lot of what I was reading. For me personally I think I was trying to look for loads of hidden meanings because I had this misconception of what poetry is, so now trying to get back into it I’m trying to be a little bit less narrow minded when I read and try not to over think

ozofeteam
August 26th, 2020, 09:23 AM
Poetry is a source of uncontrolled emotions, a stirring in people's hearts.
There may be many poems you do not understand, but you can recite many times, feeling each word will help you understand more.

john1298
September 14th, 2020, 01:14 PM
It seems to me that the understanding of poems begins with the analysis of the author's personality. What has this person lived in the past? What is bothering him now? What delights him? What is his environment? And other questions. As a rule, finding answers to such questions helps to find the true meaning of the works of other authors.

Darkkin
September 14th, 2020, 03:47 PM
It seems to me that the understanding of poems begins with the analysis of the author's personality. What has this person lived in the past? What is bothering him now? What delights him? What is his environment? And other questions. As a rule, finding answers to such questions helps to find the true meaning of the works of other authors.

Leave the author out of it...Fourth wall, talk about an invasion of privacy. (I read Poem A, and this is what it says about Author Q.) That breaks a cardinal rule of critique. Address the work, not its source.

Life influences art, but seriously, who wants a reader looking at a piece and critiquing their mindset, instead of the work? It is about what the reader takes away from the work, not what was in the writer's head at the time. I have pieces created around words I found in the dictionary or grossly misused by other writers. How is a reader going to know that? They won't and don't need to know.

Interviews and the like can offer insight, but the author's mindset should not be used divining rod to find the true meaning of any creative work.

TL Murphy
September 14th, 2020, 04:21 PM
The poet is not the poem.

Darkkin
September 14th, 2020, 06:11 PM
The poet is not the poem.

That topic is worthy of its own thread.

To further expound on a reader's perspectives and methods...as reader, it might be harsh to say that to use an author's mindset and reasoning as a guide to a piece is a failure to understand the purpose of reading. To learn, to escape, to see things from a different perspective through the eyes of the reader. The true test of any work is: Is its the message strong enough to hold water? Does it stand on its own merit. (Not the author's explanations...)

To discount one's own observations for that of the 'purest truth of meaning' of a work is missed opportunity to think critically and form an opinion. Active engagement in the process of reading.

Yes, origins and influences are interesting and can provide greater detail about the process, but they are not the work anymore than the author.

Just some thoughts.

- D.

TL Murphy
September 14th, 2020, 08:42 PM
It seems to me that the understanding of poems begins with the analysis of the author's personality. What has this person lived in the past? What is bothering him now? What delights him? What is his environment? And other questions. As a rule, finding answers to such questions helps to find the true meaning of the works of other authors.

I would say that a person's "personality" is probably the most superficial attribute of an individual's existence. As difficult as it is to define, or poetry, we can at least start by saying that it's not conventional communication. Poetry/Art, if anything, is an attempt to reach below the surface of intellect into deeper perceptions which may not be conscious and into subliminal forms of expression which are largely unavailable to us in our daily interactions within community. This is probably why writing poetry requires such solitude and deep inspiration. The goal of writing poetry is precisely to NOT be affected by one's superficial ego in expression, which is probably why there is so much emphasis on convention, form and symbolism. There is a focus toward archetypal avenues of perception and expression which is really an attempt by the artist/poet to access underlying realms of interconnected human consciousness that rely on a kind of primordial perception which is possibly innate within the human condition. Something all human beings have access to if certain aspects of the self can be opened, or triggered, or blocked. I would say that in order to perform effectively in this field, the artist needs to do whatever he can to abandon his personality in service to the art. Of course, some people can do this better than others and suffice it to say that it takes a lot of practice and discipline to do it effectively. But such an endeavour, if successful, would take the poet outside of their personality, so that the work itself would be in effect, independent of the artist.

Pulse
September 14th, 2020, 10:44 PM
Phil

The best poems I have read can be interpreted both literally and laterally simultaneously. Sometimes a reader needs to reread in order to sense multiple analogies within the same poem. You may be criticising yourself too harshly when you say 'too literally'. There may be a parallel universe you do not see; but equally you may see a universe the writer did not intend; for example s/he may have bypassed the literal.

TheManx
September 17th, 2020, 08:32 PM
The poet is not the poem.


I wrote a poem once from the POV of guy who cheated on his wife and was making excuses about. I posted it on poetry forum -- and boy, did I catch some shit. I had to explain -- this is a character!


I would say that a person's "personality" is probably the most superficial attribute of an individual's existence. As difficult as it is to define, or poetry, we can at least start by saying that it's not conventional communication. Poetry/Art, if anything, is an attempt to reach below the surface of intellect into deeper perceptions which may not be conscious and into subliminal forms of expression which are largely unavailable to us in our daily interactions within community. This is probably why writing poetry requires such solitude and deep inspiration. The goal of writing poetry is precisely to NOT be affected by one's superficial ego in expression, which is probably why there is so much emphasis on convention, form and symbolism. There is a focus toward archetypal avenues of perception and expression which is really an attempt by the artist/poet to access underlying realms of interconnected human consciousness that rely on a kind of primordial perception which is possibly innate within the human condition. Something all human beings have access to if certain aspects of the self can be opened, or triggered, or blocked. I would say that in order to perform effectively in this field, the artist needs to do whatever he can to abandon his personality in service to the art. Of course, some people can do this better than others and suffice it to say that it takes a lot of practice and discipline to do it effectively. But such an endeavour, if successful, would take the poet outside of their personality, so that the work itself would be in effect, independent of the artist.

Oh man. I think of my poems, such as they are, as just little short stories. There's a narrator and usually another person involved. Someone once disparagingly called them "letter poems." Some are about me -- but usually I just draw on experiences to a degree and whatever emotions came with them and play "what if." I like to throw in imagery that conjures up a scene. That's it. I don't think they're that deep (and maybe they're not all that good) but that's what I'm interested in doing. I'm just hoping some people can relate...