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Thread: Narrative poetry

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeC View Post
    MP
    Hey, someone after my own tastes. I don't pay much attention to dogma as it changes to suit others needs, but I do know what I like to read. I've a couple suggestions to offer that might help settle your mind. The first is to read Jen's second published collection "Windfalls", specifically “The Great Japanese Earthquake of 1923.” The second, and more up "our" ally is Baxter Black's "The Buckskin Mare." A long time favorite of mine.
    The Buckskin Mare is a very specific type of narrative poetry. Cowboy poetry known for its simplicity and inherent musical qualities, not a surfeit of metaphors. A.J. Patterson's The Man from Snowy River is of a very similar tone. My uncle loves the genre and I've gone with him to a few local readings. Many times a guitar as been involved, an idle strumming heard in the background lending cadence to the pieces presented.

    Take into consideration, the origins (the history) of the genre. Cattle drives. A huge contingent of cowboys at the time had limited education. It began as an oral tradition. A way to soothe the herds and pass the time. They spoke of the world as they experienced it. Pretty straight forward.

    Narrative poetry, by its definition tells a story. How much of its meaning, its value should, can be determined by metaphors? Storytelling is about the journey, not the conclusions.
    Last edited by Darkkin; August 21st, 2017 at 04:22 AM.


  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Darkkin View Post
    The Buckskin Mare is a very specific type of narrative poetry. Cowboy poetry known for its simplicity and inherent musical qualities, not a surfeit of metaphors. A.J. Patterson's The Man from Snowy River is of a very similar tone. My uncle loves the genre and I've gone with him to a few local readings. Many times a guitar as been involved, an idle strumming heard in the background lending cadence to the pieces presented.

    Take into consideration, the origins (the history) of the genre. Cattle drives. A huge contingent of cowboys at the time had limited education. It began as an oral tradition. A way to soothe the herds and pass the time. They spoke of the world as they experienced it. Pretty straight forward.

    Narrative poetry, by its definition tells a story. How much of its meaning, its value should, can be determined by metaphors? Storytelling is about the journey, not the conclusions.
    Well pardon me mam Seriously though, what's your line on Jen's narrative poetry, a whole different critter or what? To me it tells stories all the same, and damn good ones. Do you 'spose I like narrative poetry because, as you say, it's storytelling, not just being clever with words?

    And as to cowboys' education, my perspective is there's a big difference between education and intelligence that isn't restricted to any walk of life. Don't get me wrong, I get your drift and I'm not offended. The wife commonly introduces me as "the cowboy that came east for an education and it didn't take." One reason for that is I wasn't into the butterfly collectors narrow perspective of natural history.

    Take care
    Last edited by LeeC; August 21st, 2017 at 06:20 AM.

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  3. #13
    WF Veteran midnightpoet's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone, wasn't intending on causing a ruckus. From the comments, I'm sure it's a matter of taste - I'm telling a story in verse; I do think imagery is important, it lends to the overall flavor. As does voice - Robert Service and Longfellow sound different. I don't think metaphor is absolutely necessary, but my "cowboy" poem "A Cowboy's Valentine" is pure metaphor. Cadence, rhythm and rhyme all combine to tell a story in a way prose cannot.

    I realize some, like Darkkin, don't use metaphor but it does not mean it's not useful. I see no reason for the poet not to use all the weapons in his/her arsenal. Just because you don't like something is no reason to dismiss it as useless.

    I do think that metaphor increases the likelihood of the poem being misinterpreted, but that's not a bad thing. People read poetry to be entertained, and to give them a view of the world they may not have thought of. It makes them think - and Lord, do we need to think and discuss and try to solve problems - not make them worse.
    "The paths of glory lead but to the grave"

    Thomas Gray

    "Oh, ye generation of vipers."

    Jesus

    "You that never done nothing
    but build to destroy
    you play with my world
    like it's your little toy..."

    "Masters of War
    Bob Dylan

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeC View Post
    Well pardon me mam Seriously though, what's your line on Jen's narrative poetry, a whole different critter or what? To me it tells stories all the same, and damn good ones. Do you 'spose I like narrative poetry because, as you say, it's storytelling, not just being clever with words?

    And as to cowboys' education, my perspective is there's a big difference between education and intelligence that isn't restricted to any walk of life. Don't get me wrong, I get your drift and I'm not offended. The wife commonly introduces me as "the cowboy that came east for an education and it didn't take." One reason for that is I wasn't into the butterfly collectors narrow perspective of natural history.
    Theory and pratice. Narratives started as a practice, a need to impart information and pass the time. And while education gives formal structure to the practice, it is the practice that is responsible for the formative development of the storytelling skill. Hands on experience is a priceless teacher. Education wasn't a defining factor, merely a historical commonality of that time. Survival was a bit more important... Look at narrative poetry as say, the Hound Group and Cowboy poetry as the Golden Retriever breed standard. A very specific example of greater whole, a greater whole we are aware is out there.

    As to Jen's work I will have to delve into it a bit more.


  5. #15
    I think this has to do with the topic. But I am studying a book that believes that narrative poetry should be practiced by writers because well it shows conflict. Not just because someone would love to write lush prose. You see there are two possible arguments on why to study it. Not excluding it as a source of inspiration but including it. Studying, reading, and even writing it. Remember when I asked my question a while back. Well it's not to say both are kind of like cousins for a bad simile. I am studying the book called practicing creative writing by heather sellers 3rd edition. Since I like its approach, I am thinking of investing in narrative poetry and its methods to get inspired and to write them. Narrative poetry includes conflict and tension or the thermostat metaphor that once created it must be released as tension. It has a poetry book it recommends for poetry writing that is narrative which I forgot a lot about, but doesn't study lyric poetry in depth. It makes a possible argument to study lyric poetry but narrative is where it focuses.
    I would follow as in believe in the words of good moral leaders. Rather than the beliefs of oneself.

  6. #16
    Perhaps metaphor is not based on logic, perhaps its based on analogical thought. Logic is oppositional A is A and not B whereas in analogical thought I can say A is A and is also B (a blue giraffe can be a metaphor for sadness if I construct - or our society has already constructed, "my love is like a red red rose" an analogy for this to be the case) So something can be both hard and soft not either hard or soft...I think.

    as to the first point - mostly I get told me poetry is too narrative, not poetic enough - and that's fine.

  7. #17
    No Darrkin, you aren't "wasting your time", certainly not on me, at any rate. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and its extensive example. But you ARE giving me the history of Swiss watchmaking when all I wanted was the time. Your post is concerned with what happens to the metaphor once it hits the reader's mind. What value the reader might assign to the metaphor. and the unavoidable fact that he/she might catch a value very different than the poet threw. Of course. Such is the nature of communication-at-large, never mind metaphor. But that was not my concern. My concern was that you were saying the reader could DENY that "it" was a metaphor at all. What if a reader decided that in this image/metaphor-- "she floats like a feather/in a beautiful world", "floats" means "stomped" and just because the reader hates feathers of every kind, further decides that she just stomped forward and there was nothing "beautiful" about the world anyway? Even then, the metaphor, as a recognized figurative use of language, still EXISTS. Humpty Dumpty declares, "when I use a word it means exactly what I want it to mean, nothing more and nothing less." Nobody buys that. Down that road lies linguistic nihilism and the death of communication. Metaphor exists. It may enhance, add beauty, be an inroad to truth, it may confuse, infuriate, even muddle meaning. . .or clarify it. Plato feared it (then used it in his most famous illustration of theory), YOU used it in your last post: "flip the issue of metaphors on its head," and it is engrained in the colloquial currency of English itself.

    Hell, man--maybe you're right: we're just wasting our time here. But it's fun, and your posts have send my head back into the nature of this particular aspect of language. So at minimum, we're all getting to play in the sandbox with the toys we love the most.
    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination" Keats, ​Letters

  8. #18
    I have read Darkkin's post #9 with great interest and enjoyment a number of times. The first paragraph of that post ends thus: "Not everyone has the ability to determine the 'value' of a metaphor. As such it remains a simple sentence." And this detailed post ends in a query: I'm wondering if I'm wasting my time trying to write when I cannot attach a 'value' to a metaphor...." So the whole post could be viewed as a 'sandwich' around my post #8, which concludes: "The mercurial quality of metaphor comes in. . . when the reader assigns value​ to the metaphor, value that might differ dramatically from the writer's intent."

    Oh dear. I think this minor, but nonetheless valuable, dust-up may have been caused by the sense in which I meant the word 'value'. What I was trying to get at is that what a poet intends in a metaphor--the 'value' he/she assigned to the metaphor when it was created--and what 'value' a reader takes from that metaphor, may be quite different. In using 'value', I was trying to avoid the word/concept 'meaning', which always leads to quagmires of misunderstanding in discussions of literature. Darkkin went to some lengths to challenge my proposition, which I now see may have been sloppily phrased, even confusing. If so, my apologies. Let me try another approach. If a reader reads a metaphor as "a simple sentence", that is--if I'm understanding the point--literally does not even SEE the metaphor or denies the EXISTENCE of the metaphor, then yes, we have a serious problem. It is one thing to say "I do not understand the comparison 'sadness = blue giraffe', because this 'blue' is completely unknown to me, hence how can I transfer a value I don't even comprehend back to something I do?" That statement makes perfect sense. It is quite another thing to say "because I have no concept of 'blue' I deny the existence of this comparison, this --what do you call it?--this 'metaphor' thing." Can a user of a language simply deny legitimate components of the language, because they do not, or have not yet, experienced those components? An infant begins speech with nouns. . .but verbs and prepositions 'exist', waiting to be discovered. A reader/hearer may not comprehend 'blue', so a metaphor containing 'blue' will not be understood, but other metaphors may be readily available.

    So let's move on. I think the bone of contention [M] here is not with metaphor as an aspect of creative writing, it is with metaphor as an instrument of writer indulgence or content obfuscation. I carry no brief [M] for metaphors of that kind. That's just bad writing, whether in story, poem, or whatever. Any tricky metaphoric turn of phrase or image that merely shows how teddibly clever the poet or storyteller is, is just aggrandizement; any metaphor that is so dense the narrative comes to an abrupt stop while the reader tries to sort out its parts vis--vis the 'plot or story at that point, contributes nothing but, perhaps, reader intimidation; any metaphor that requires the reader to scurry into the Bible, arcane studies of Zuni myths, and Asimov on the creation of the universe, to get a handle [M] on the damned thing, is simply infuriating. Bad writing. But what of a metaphor, embedded in narrative context, that enriches and enhances that moment in the story--"he shot up the tree, an eager weasel in pursuit of a frantic squirrel, to grab. . ." The reader knows the character is not a weasel and whatever he's after is not a squirrel, but the description is intensely vivid and heightens that moment in the story. Now, granted, the writer is assuming the reader knows a little something about weasels--is that the problem? That most metaphors depend on the readers' prior knowledge about the elements in the metaphor? Or that different readers may have had different experiences with the elements of the metaphor and may misconstrue the metaphor completely? Yes. That could be a problem. Metaphors depend on context for their immediate impact and for their significance in the whole fabric [M] of the story. They should be used judiciously and accurately.

    I'll stop for now. I'm enjoying this, but I'm a little uneasy that I still might not have fully grasped the nature of the objection to metaphor. I hope someone else will pickup on any flaws in my argument and contribute. Good conversation.

    PS -- I meant to add a comment on Darkkin's query--does the reader really give a hoot [M] about the writer's intent, in using a metaphor or n any other aspect of a story? Not at all. If the story is well-written, the reader is IN THERE and couldn't care less what the writer intended.
    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination" Keats, ​Letters

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