Should a poem be defensible? - Page 5


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Thread: Should a poem be defensible?

  1. #41
    FoWF Lawrence Lee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clark View Post
    The audience becomes the missing component in the work of art.

    Which should be no great surprise to us. I've been saying this about painting for years. Each person brings a unique set of life experiences to a work. Each person encounters a work of art, be it a painting or a poem, with different expectations, different prejudices, different color receptors in their eyes, different everything. So when the artist's "intent" is grasped, that is either because it is so universal, or because it has been presented with such a heavy hand that it is impossible to miss. People like to think that my figurative paintings are all about something very profound--something that only an artist might communicate. But they're not. They are exercises in the elements of design that can be endlessly varied. I have no intent other than the creation of something that is sufficiently interesting to look at that someone will buy it so that they can continue to look at at their leisure. If they want to ascribe some deep meaning to it, that's fine. But that's them, not me. And my poems are much the same. I write them for me. I need not defend them. They have no intent other than my intent to write them. Sometimes, I find within them some personal truth that might well only make sense to me and none other. Anyone who reads my poems may indeed find some personal resonance with what I have written, but that is just happy chance for which I can take little credit.

    When I read a poem, I might get the poet's intent, or I might not. The important thing is that the poem resonates with me on some level. If it does, I will think of it as a good poem. For someone else, it might not resonate at all, and they'd likely think of it as a bad poem. Whatever! It is not what goes in to the poem that is important, but what comes out.

    So what is a poor poet to do? Relax, I guess. Write what pleases you. Someone, somewhere, will likely think that it is crap. And someone else, somewhere else, will likely think that it is the best poem they've ever read. And this is a good thing, in my book--or at least OK. Because when Art becomes Science it is no longer Art.
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  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by TL Murphy View Post
    In my enthusiasm, I asked seven questions (count the question marks). But it's really all one question. I just haven't been able to formulate it properly. I would be grateful if someone could summarize my original comment in one succinct question, because I don't really think there is an answer. In this case I think a good rhetorical question is probably more valuable than the many possible answers.

    There is an inherent dilemma in the question, "should a poem be defensible?" In academic circles (which is the driving authority, despite the Beats and Bukowski, of any artistic institution) this situation is paramount because a work of art in the academic world must show its contribution to the greater relevance of artistic evolution.

    On the other hand, pure artistic expression must be free of cultural expectations. And yet for art to be relevant socially, it must engage a cultural context and in that way the artist should be able to show that relevance. The point is - what is cultural relevance? Is it the main stream culture at large or is it the experimental spark of innovation. Taking this nuance further, does defending a poem's relevance compromise its innovative reach?
    One could argue, which I am going to, that the driving forced that you hold up as shining beacon and path forward for poetry is actually the major contributors to it’s public death. At the onset, I am going to say that by no means am I discounting what have been created in academia and the poetics that have come out of such avenues. I myself have been enriched and love this line of poetry, but when asking the non-poetry writing, the not already interested, about poetry there is a consensus that poetry, today, is hard to get at.The would be new reader finds the works difficult and not relatable.This is a side affect of all of that which we have come to love, a certain difficulty that has left the field of new readers a wasteland. A month or so ago I found Robert Frost and his poetry after he left London an interesting example of the two types of poetry that exist and have existed for a long time. When he wrote and published in London, he was focused on being academically accepted. Once he achieved this, he left back to the states with the intent to write the other type of poetry. The more simple, more relatable, down to earth poetry he saw as the path forward. Being a man who understood the worth of academic poetry, even within his new poetry (the poetry the world came to love), he stuck little tidbits of academia inside but covered them in a surface of the daily. I think having come this far it is high time the academic circles begin to see the truth that resides in Robert Frost’s work and fold it into their hearts to begin to heal the grand canyon that has been formed between contemporary academic poetry and the potential new reader.

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