Seeing A Poems Depth


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    Seeing A Poem's Depth

    I've been asked to post something here concerning interpretation.

    Seeing A Poem's 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.

    ======================
    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.
    ===========================


    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


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