Should a poem be defensible?


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Thread: Should a poem be defensible?

  1. #1

    Should a poem be defensible?

    Can I defend my poem? Should I? Does it meet defensible criteria? Should it? Or does that matter? What's the difference between defending a poem and defending poetry? Is it the same thing?

  2. #2
    For me defending poetry is general, defending a poem more personal. I don't think poetry in general needs defending, unless it is against people who think poetry is just an unimportant 'thing'.

    I don't think I should defend my poetry, although sometimes I DO defend it, which is weird the same time, because when that poem is out there it is not mine anymore and readers should be able to adhere their own interpretation to it. But still, some poems feel like babies and then I am inclined to defend them

    You can ask yourself, what or who am I defending? Isn't it more a question of getting defensive? Shutting down the windows and closing the doors and not hearing anything anymore?

  3. #3
    If you post it the great unwashed will always want to engage about the content... it's up to you how much you engage with mortals....
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  4. #4
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    How long is a [piece of string? An old question, but apposite, some context would be helpful. Defensible in what context? Use of language, deliberate distortion of the rules of syntax and grammar? Content? The deliberate overiding of social mores? As I said, how long is a piece of string.

    As for defending poetry, it doesn't need defending, it is what it is.
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  5. #5
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    If a thing exists, it doesn't need defending.

    A person's opinion on whether it should or needs to is the only questionable part of the equation.


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  6. #6
    Despite not being a regular poet I think that there is an eternal triangle here.

    Does the poem fulfil or violate the relevant expectations of poetry?

    Do the relevant aspects of poetry themselves fulfil or violate the expectations of people?

    Does the poem directly fulfil or violate the expectations of people?

    In any situation the answers to these three questions may be quite independent of each other and only regular poets can see the whole picture and establish what they see as an acceptable balance.
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  7. #7
    A poem is water. It can create life and it can be lost between cracks or evaporate. Where it creates life its value is self-evident. Where it has been lost or evaporated, arguing its value will convince no one. Save your breath and don't defend poetry. Perhaps help people understand what is before them and let them make up their own minds about its value to them. They will be right. Your reward is if it creates life somewhere.

  8. #8
    Whether creative work needs defending or not depends rests on the nature of the attack, the clout of the attacker and how this relates to the intent of the author for their work. Nobody has any business asserting opinions in the language of generalizations on this sort of subject IMO. The soundbites and platitudes are worthless.

    Example: If a piece is written with children as its target audience and school boards nationwide are seeking to ban it from school libraries due to a misunderstanding/overreaction concerning some aspect of content, it seems pretty bad advice to say "you don't need to defend your work, Julia". No. If you believe your work has something important to say and the reading of it was incorrect and that by defending it there is a chance you can fix that, then of course you should in that situation defend your poem/short story/novel/whatever. Otherwise everybody loses.

    All this is not the same as to suggest one live in constant conflict with the judgments of any Tom, Dick and Harry or being combative. That won't help your work or your sanity. But I don't think its controversial to suggest all writers should view their work with a critical eye and be able to explain it appropriately if it serves their interest and the interest of their readers.
    Last edited by luckyscars; December 24th, 2018 at 04:23 AM.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by TL Murphy View Post
    Can I defend my poem? Should I? Does it meet defensible criteria? Should it? Or does that matter? What's the difference between defending a poem and defending poetry? Is it the same thing?
    You really know how to ask a question. Aside from the grammar/tense and all 'kitchen business', I suspect that we all bring so much of ourselves to a poem, whether we are reading someone's poem, (making it ours) or writing our own, that it makes us feel defensive of it, or our interpretation.

    When I write a poem, that doesn't mean that the poem is about me, as they often seem to just come out from the collective, as does my interpretation of someone else's poem, I'm not sure how you can defend that, or if you even should.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Gumby View Post
    You really know how to ask a question. Aside from the grammar/tense and all 'kitchen business', I suspect that we all bring so much of ourselves to a poem, whether we are reading someone's poem, (making it ours) or writing our own, that it makes us feel defensive of it, or our interpretation.

    When I write a poem, that doesn't mean that the poem is about me, as they often seem to just come out from the collective, as does my interpretation of someone else's poem, I'm not sure how you can defend that, or if you even should.

    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?

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