I must be Very Short ...


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Thread: I must be Very Short ...

  1. #1

    I must be Very Short ...

    ... because some of what I'm seeing in terms of poetry is over my head.

    I participate in several fora and I just keep coming across posts in the poetry boards that look like a litter of words that almost fit together and that maybe if I were older, smarter, wiser or something, would make perfect and profound sense to me. They don't look like total nonsense--more like someone tried too hard to exercise a vocabulary that they read about somewhere or maybe had dropped into their inbox by a daily word service. I'm not saying that's what is going on, but it's how it appears to me. Or as if suddenly the majority of poets are foreign-tongued with English as a secondary or tertiary language.

    I typically can stand to read only two or three stanzas of this sort of thing before giving up.

    I don't intend any disrespect to anyone. Like I said, I think the problem is with me. I'm self-taught in rhyme and meter and so if there's such a thing as a Poetry Appreciation course in school, I've never taken it.

    Is there someone here who can help me grow taller in the ways of unstructured verse?

    - annie
    Dream big, fight hard, live proud!

  2. #2
    I also appreciate poetry that takes an approach to being deep other than self-obfuscation. I very much appreciate tactile imagery, logical grammar use, and complete thoughts. Images I can imagine and sentences I can parse. That said, I also enjoy T.S. Eliot's the Wasteland, which I feel is an appropriate way of being purposely difficult.

    The only approach I know is to practice reading it more -- and, if possible, talking about the dense poetry with people who appreciate it to see how they approach interpreting it.
    I don't write stories, I lick them out of the ice and let them find their own way.Hidden Content
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by astroannie View Post
    ... because some of what I'm seeing in terms of poetry is over my head.

    I participate in several fora and I just keep coming across posts in the poetry boards that look like a litter of words that almost fit together ... more like someone tried too hard to exercise a vocabulary ...

    I typically can stand to read only two or three stanzas of this sort of thing before giving up.

    Is there someone here who can help me grow taller in the ways of unstructured verse?

    - annie
    Nope - you understand it well enough.

    Although this type of approach is common among new writers of poetry, it also turns up in occasional efforts by poets with more experience. It is usually a case of trying too hard; either an attempt to impress, or to force a result (eg, for a deadline) - some might describe it as "all head, no heart". Occasionally, it stems from a misguided belief that poetry is easy and anyone can do it; just string words together.

    A sub-class of all head-no heart are the esoterica offerings: pieces which require readers to have PhDs and ready-reference materials to understand if there is a central message, and what that message might be; the poetic form of artistic snobbery.

    The most successful form is an elaborate wordplay where the piece may or may not have any meaning, and may or may not include words which do not yet exist in the dictionary (or nonsense words); these are usually distinguishable from esoterica by their flow and obvious humour.

    Finally, there are some which can only be described as pure (or impure) gibberish.
    "I don't know ... I'm making it up as I go ..." - Dr I Jones

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  4. #4
    I know what you're saying here, annie. I enjoy poetry that makes me reach a little, but not poetry that seems like it's trying so hard to be 'intelligent' or 'clever', that it's a chore to decipher.
    There is no life I know
    To compare with pure imagination.
    Living there you’ll be free
    If you truly wish to be.~ Willy Wonka

  5. #5
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    You stand pretty tall from where I am sitting. A lot of poetry, like a lot else in the arts, is king's new clothes; starting with Damien Hirst, who has been taking the p*ss out of the art establishment for years. To prove the point, I wrote a poem which was just a random concatenation of unconnected lines and it got a really good response - I have no doubt, that those who said it was good would justify the opinion on the basis that no poet actually knows what he is really writing about; presumably the same critics who gave rave reviews to a collection of paintings by monkeys having been fed a totolly fictitious artist's biography.

    My university tutor thought Seamus Heaney a waste of space, as did Mark Twain of Shakespeare - All opinions of art are in general a matter of taste and commercial interest; Saatchi puts his in a shed and only brings them out when he wants to sell or otherwise dispose of them, I on the other hand look at my art on a daily basis, which as far as I am concerned makes it far more valuable in real terms. There are no absolutes. I recently started to read a TS Elliot collection and half way through thought "Well I've only found one poem worth reading..." and took it back to the library; but then, thinking about it, that applies to most books of poetry - To be quite honest, I don't actually much like "reading" poetry, I am much happier hearing friends read their poems and discussing them, and like every other poet, whether they admit it or not, I like to hear my own poems get a good reception. Discussing friend's poems lets you know that you are not alone, that they too go through periods varying from problematic to outright incompetent; it also helps your writing process when you understand anothers. It is all very well being presented with a fait accompli and being told by an academic that when Emily Dickinson writes about snow on the railings surrounding a field she is really talking about death and a shroud, but I doubt that's much use to you, and it certainly isn't to me, because I have no intention of copying her style and manner, not hers nor anybody elses. If you don't like it, don't read it; seems reasonable to me. I read poems in this forum which I think barely rate as juvenalia, far too much concentration on rhyme at the expense of almost everything else that makes a poem, and it is then that serious critiquing would make a real difference, because if you can handle the beginnings then you are on your way, but I rather suspect that if I really said what I thought Baron would eject me from the site instantum. Lovely/sweet/aah doesn't cut it, neither does rambling on for verse after verse essentially repeating a line of thought - real critiqueing will make you a better poet, but you normally only get that in an academic environment or from colleagues who will say exactly what they think, even if you don't want to hear it...
    Last edited by Bloggsworth; January 16th, 2012 at 03:54 PM.
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  6. #6
    When one of my classmates would submit a poem for critique, it was as if he had suddenly forgotten how to write in a coherent, natural way. His poems were often a garbled mess of ideas, conflicting imagery, and included the occasional word which had connotations far beyond what he realized or intended. My teacher's advice to him, which I whole-heartedly agreed with, was to "speak in the language of men".

    It's as if the very notion of writing poetry makes people think they have to be worldly all of a sudden.

    I also agree with ____________ about not bothering to offer a critique, at least online in places such as this. Generally a waste of time and energy. I love to discuss writing, to break it down and figure out how it works, to strip away the excess and reveal the essence, but I've found that a lot of the 'poets' are not receptive to that kind of analysis. "This is wonderful" or "Superb" is usually what suffices.
    Last edited by Jon M; January 17th, 2012 at 03:48 AM. Reason: touchy, touchy
    "The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all. It was a saying about noble figures in old Irish poems—he would give his hawk to any man that asked for it, yet he loved his hawk better than men nowadays love their bride of tomorrow. He would mourn a dog with more grief than men nowadays mourn their fathers.

    And that's how we measure out our real respect for people—by the degree of feeling they can register, the voltage of life they can carry and tolerate—and enjoy.
    "

    Live like a mighty river: a letter from Ted Hughes to his son, Nicholas

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  7. #7
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnM View Post

    I also agree with Bloggsworth about not bothering to offer a critique...
    I didn't say that, I said that I couldn't be as forthright as I would want to be - If I thought forthright would be accepted in the spirit it was meant, I would be. Clearly some would accept it, most wouldn't, and I have no idea which are which...
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  8. #8
    Thank you all. I honestly thought I was somehow "out of the loop" and that people were "getting" this stuff that I'm looking at and seeing verbal vomit.

    - annie
    Dream big, fight hard, live proud!

  9. #9
    Global Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    Poetry is what you make of it. I am bias to the artist and take issue to "academics" telling me that *this* is what "Sunday Morning" is about or *that* is what "Prufrock" is about. I agree with bloggs - give me a few friends and a little discussion about our own work any day over analyzing "great works" in class. To me, the best poetry is low brow. If I can't relate to it then why should I read it?
    "I don't do anything with my life except romanticize and decay with indecision."

    "America I've given you all and now I'm nothing."

  10. #10
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    A little, I hope amusing, light on the subject of art.

    When at boarding school, one of my tasks was to supervise Ian McEwan at prep/homework - He now lives in New York and his son attends the local public school, where no-one knows who he is. One day his English teacher, a somewhat strident feminist, set the class to critique Atonement for their homework; this'll be a doddle he thought, as did his mother and father, so they set to with a will. When the young man got his work back he saw that he had received a "D", and the comment that he clearly understood nothing about the issues involved. He was kind enough not to tell the teacher.
    Last edited by Bloggsworth; January 6th, 2013 at 04:50 PM.
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

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