Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

A Conversation Answering a Student's Questions on Poetry's Form/Content (1 Viewer)

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
A Conversation
Answering A Student's Questions on Poetry's Form/Content
(Written around 1998)


Question: How long does a poem need to be to be critiqued?
Answer: It only takes 3 lines or three concepts in one line: even a haiku has an opening, a turning point, and a closure. I received that information straight from a Japanese master poet, Shimizu San who lives in Tokyo. This is the basic part of any poems literary structure. And that is what you write criticism on. How you see the structure of the poem working.

In fact, a short poem might need more thought and consideration for intent and use of language than a very long poem. For more has to be condensed into fewer words and lines. Again, it is about the structure of the poem which is broke down into three parts: 1. opening, 2. turning point, 3. and closure.

The poem's presentation is about the music within the sounds of the poem. And it is about the figurative use of language as the metaphor that is implied in or by the poem. I say (by) because a haiku captures a moment as a metaphor. A haiku doesn’t even have a title as part of the opening, so the first line is specifically critical. Many here, on Local Writer's Workshop, wound not ever get this at all. Many would have a problem with just seeing the three parts of the poem let alone derive information about the poem's content from the three parts and how they work together as a unit. It takes these three parts to create a catharsis and/or pathos within a reader or listener: that intent is to be evoked by the writer in feelings.


Question: a.) Why isn't a piece written in free verse considered prose, instead of a poem?
Answer: Prose is not broken into aural pauses called versification which creates intonation and breath-rhythm. This is done for oration because a poem is meant to be heard out loud. Prose is never as musical as poetry, because it is generally read silently. Prose at times can be poetic like Melville's writing as in his works like “Moby Dick”.

Prose isn’t broken into verses at all, it is only separated by sentence structure and paragraphs of varying lengths: That's Prose's use of rhetoric.

Poetry uses internal and external rhyme, repetition and other devices like versification; they are employed in poetry even in free verse along with other forms of rhyme like alliteration, assonance, consonance, as well as onomatopoeia, repetition, and identities (repeated words or phrases like anaphora or epistrophe) which are not rhymes (but many think they are).

There is also the prose poem which uses rhymes and also uses sentences and paragraph structure to present its concepts. It is far more poetic than poetic prose. These two types of presentations lay at the crossroads of poetry and prose.

In Japan there is a prose poem presentation called the, “Haibun;” which ends with a three-line haiku after the prose part of the presentation. In China there is a prose poem form called the “Fu” — that ends in an envoy or summation. This form can be very long. There is a famous Fu called the “Wen Fu” written about the art of poetry by Lu Chi in about 305 AD which is still being used today by poets in China as a reference to writing poetry.

Of course, the bible too is poetry, but in places it does read like prose because of the very long verse structure in its presentation. Actually “leaves of grass” by Walt Whitman copies the verse structure, similar to the bible verses in the presentation of his poems in "Leaves of Grass", by using the long verse structure.

Also there is also the epistle form which is a prose poem form which takes on the appearance of a letter. The bible has many such poems in it by Paul. I’ve even won a prize for an epistle I wrote once.


Question: Does it come down to a physical layout on a page?
Answer: Yes, it does to some extent, come down to physical layout, but the layout is contrived from both the oral presentation and the Aural need to be heard; it’s about breathing; each line is a breath. For poetry is meant to be orated to an audience.

Then there is also concrete poetry; as well, that actually has a shape to it to form images on the page, so poetry can have shape to its layout. This is called concrete poetry. Like a poem written in the shape of a dog or horse.


Question: What is your take on poets like Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein, Richard Armour, Bennett Cerf, and that school of (humorous) poets? I ask because it's that genre I feel most comfortable with.
Answer: I like these guys. Nash and Silverstein are grand. Cerf I like a lot too. Richard Armour is ok. Maybe not my kind of humor. I raised my kids on Shel Silverstein. They loved those books like: “where the sidewalk ends” “the loving tree” and others.

Humor and grief have their place in poetry and literature. They are both human emotions that are evoked by the writer. A good laugh with tears running down your cheeks, is as good, as a good cry with tears running down your face.


Question: a.) Most serious poetry I read today has no rhyme at all. Is rhyming out of vogue?
Answer: Rhyming is not a necessity for poetry at all and never was. It might be your choice of what you want to read. It is something that came along during the history of man within the delivery of aural poetry as folk tales and religious rights for birth, marriage, & death.

Rhyme was used to make what was said more song like and easier to remember. For poetry has always been about the singing voice from chant to the lyrical; it's an emotional drive out the language in an uplifting and elevated manner that differs from common speech. So it doesn't have to have a rhyme scheme if it is carried by rhythm. Versification offers rhythm.

Song is a device to elevate emotions. Repetition came long before rhyming. An anaphora in probably one of the oldest musical tools or devices used in poetry: beginning the lines with the same phrase or word. It’s used by ancient Hebrews in the poetry that became parts of the bible.

Repetition is also used in Gilgamesh which is the oldest known written story poem in the world. Found within the written works of the Sumerians in clay tables of ancient Mesopotamia written in cuneiform texts. Not a bad story either; if you haven’t read it you should. There is a lot of translations out there. It might surprise you how old some things are. Like the flood proceeds the Bible story in Gilgamesh.


Question: b.) Is a poem with a rhyming scheme considered today to be inferior to those poems in blank verse, or free verse?
Answer: Rhyming and rhyme-schemes are only as good as the writer is about presenting their message. The more emotional thought put into the presentation the better. It’s relative and interactive however.

Make a comparison between the great writers in every language throughout time and the bulk of what you read here. How does it all fit together. Poetry is for everyone to write and read; but some of it hits the timeless and eternal scale. For instance the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, and Homer’s epic poems. For ages these books of poetry have been teaching; truth, wisdom, right and wrong, spiritual discrimination toward a better life.

Why are they still here? Because they speak of the deeper side of being alive and wanting the best world possible for those children that follow us into this world.
They speak about sharing instead of hording and selfishness.
They tell the stories of the dysfunctional family and their loses because of that dysfunction within the family.
They speak about opening the heart to the self, to others and to Spirit.
They speak about love from the simplest to the most divine.
They speak about life and the celebration of life even in death.
They seek to cherish the most blessed of all gifts, the gift of life.
They say “be present.”
They say “don’t be deluded in any way at all” by anyone or anything.
They say be “fearless and find love”,
for the only two choices in life are fear or love.

Free verse is written with cadence within the lines while blank verse is written with a metric foot of some sort within the lines. Most common metric foot in poetry is the Iamb. An unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. But Poe’s Raven is written in a different foot. So there are a lot of different rhythm schemes to write to that deal with selected works for emotional content.


Versification forms a rhythm called as a cadence of breath. Free Verse has a cadence within the words of the lines. as well as an end-line breath for each verse. It forms a rhythmic breathing for the aural presentation. It’s different rhythm found within the lines, for it can change pace and direction. It too is a rhythm that is found in poetry that isn’t found in prose which has far more skips in its cadence. In English Iambic pentameter is chosen because it is so close to natural speech of the English Language.

Pauses also adjust the flow of the poem, (flow meaning rhythm) Mid-line pauses are called caesuras. You can create one in every line like Alexander Pope if you want. Then there is also the longer pauses like tab indents or mid-line tabs. And longer pauses fall between verse groups, caused by the stanza-breaks as well; which are also a rhythm that is added to the music of poetry.


Nothing is inferior unless the poem doesn’t fit the form or the form doesn’t fit the poems presentation. Every word is a choice to maintain that rhythm no matter how it is being formed. This is one of the most difficult concepts about prose and poetry or just art in general. The form has to fit what it is or it falls on its face.

You could write a poem with sweet rhymes about death, but then maybe the sweet rhymes are not the presentation for someone dying; it becomes ironical instead — as something laughable. If you see what I mean.

The poem “After the Funeral” (In memory of Ann Jones) by the Poet: Dylan Thomas doesn’t have rhyme, but it has to be, one of the most powerful dirges written in the English language, (in my book.) Its power of sound and verse, image and impact is explicit and centers upon the heart of the reader in such a way — well, you have to be moved once you get the depth of what the voice is saying about Ann.

Not all poems should rhyme. Rhyming doesn’t make a poem a poem. I’ve seen stuff that rhymes that is utter crap. The poetry becomes forced into rhyme without any understanding for the depth of concept within the overall presentation.

Also realize that there are mid-line pauses in poetry that are form by what is called a caesura. This is in the middle of the line as a pause. Sometimes it comes with punctuation other times just the end of the phrase in a sentence. But it too can be used Rhythmically for effect.


Question: I ask these questions because if I were still in the classroom and students asked me these questions, I really couldn't answer them intelligently.
Answer: There is always a hierarchy in the arts.
Some things will always be better than others.
Some tastes will differ from others.
Some are willing to put more effort out than others.

Some want it all to happen at once as spontaneous; while others are willing to work toward a unified field of concern within the poem. It is all relative to what is in the heart.

Some don’t have the heart or the willingness,
some have the heart but not the willingness,
some have the willingness but not the heart,
some have the willingness and the heart.

This last group goes beyond the poetic fads like the bards of old. Their poetry will live beyond a single lifetime. Like you already know: anything worth having is worth working for even if it is never obtained. The journey alone is worth more than all the effort it takes — so, within itself — is that greater-good for all life.


Just remember: Poetry is inclusive and not exclusive.
------------------------------------------------

A poet friend
RH Peat

Have fun writing.
 
Last edited:

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Make that (Ron is 79 years old now, and working on 80 in 2022.
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
Ron, I hope you let us know what month in 2022 so we can help celebrate with you. (I'd guess you're a Gemini. However, I am not so good at guessing so take my guess with whatever tonic helps it go down.) Interesting conversation. I enjoyed and learned from it. Thank you.
 

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Ron, I hope you let us know what month in 2022 so we can help celebrate with you. (I'd guess you're a Gemini. However, I am not so good at guessing so take my guess with whatever tonic helps it go down.) Interesting conversation. I enjoyed and learned from it. Thank you.
Pamelyn Casto!

Nope, not the twins. That's one of my daughters. Just a minute, I need to call Clark to see if he has any extra tonic to get this down. Just two months ago. I turned 79 on April 24th. I'm Zee Booolll! El Toro! Don't get me riled; I get dangerous.

Did you find anything unfriendly about the title of this piece? I was wondering about that? It's not like her questions are unique to the specific person at all. They are pretty basic about form & content and things we all hit head on as poets; like. the difference between poetry and prose. Who has really answered that question; no one. I would have thought you knew all of those answers with all of your reading.

This was a student of mine who was asking the questions. I worked her through a lot of different forms until she could write a sonnet. including a couple other metric forms like Terza-Rema. I think she was a teacher in Hight School back East somewhere. Iowa I think. It has got to be close to 25 years ago. We met on the internet in a workshop called "Local Writer's Workshop" in the 1990's. I broke off with it for a short while and then had closed two years later when I came back. They put out a one-time publication as an anthology/1998 edited by Rachel Barenblat. It had some very good writers in the group, and it was huge because it had both poetry and prose on the forum and everything back then was all mixed to gather. You had to learn people's names if you like to read what they were writing.

I connected briefly with a couple of people from that group just couple of months ago on Facebook. We were all in that anthology together. Becca Stoller was a fantastic writer. I think she a few books out. There were twelve of us in the anthology from several hundred on that forum. And Rachel got it published and we each of us paid her an equal amount for the book. I never go the book because I'd left due to personal reasons. But about several years ago I was looking for a workshop place again for Met 3 and found WF. Which suited our needs. But I tried to find that old group again. And ran across the book for sale. So I bought one again and got it. Rachel Barenblat must still have copies of the publication. It has prose and poetry in it. Ben in the book and I would have great conversations. He was 75, in 1998. He must not be alive now. I was still young feeling back then.

I taught Hazel Muller, one of the two I discovered on Facebook how write metric poetry, along with the woman that wrote these questions in this piece. Who became quite skilled as a poet. This came out of an email we were passing back and forth. She just asked questions and I just inserted my answers. Pretty straight forward. I'm glad you like it. Same with exchanging poem. I told her she had to learn to critique a poem at the same time. Because that helps you learn the craft by breaking down other people's poems.

a poet friend
RH Peat
 
Last edited:

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
The Bull, huh? In all sorts of senses of that word?:-D :-D If I find I riled you, in that sense of the word, I'll call Clark and his trusty cape to come rescue me.

What a surprise. I used to work with Necca Stoller in one of my online poetry workshops. My long-time workshop was Muse-W. Becca's great as a person and as a writer and she was so active in that workshop (and showed us all a thing or two about writing talent). I miss the workshop and the participants sometimes. Sometimes a whole lot.

You asked if I thought the "conversation" unfriendly or not. Not. It reads friendly enough and the title does its job quite well. This is an interview but more importantly a conversation between two seriously interested people (that the rest of us are lucky to be privy to).

The main thing about your interesting essay is to suggest changing the length of the paragraphs. Maybe break some of them into two or three paragraphs to make it all easier to read on screen. As it appears now, the letters spread all across the screen (as is typical at WF) but they're written deeply too (in paragraph of great length-- relatively unfriendly to a computer screen, I believe.. I think it would read easier (and linger in the in the mind better) if it was in smaller chunks, smaller paragraphs. We know the importance of spacing in poetry and at least that part, I think, applies to prose paragraphs too.

Do you welcome additional thoughts added to the essay from us (your WF readers)? Will this turn into a conversation among all us who are interested? (I'm still trying to figure out how WF works.)

You go, El Toro!
 
Last edited:

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
The Bull, huh? In all sorts of senses of that word?:-D :-D If I find I riled you, in that sense of the word, I'll call Clark and his trusty cape to come rescue me.

What a surprise. I used to work with Becca Stoller in one of my online poetry workshops. My long-time workshop was Muse-W. Becca's great as a person and as a writer and she was so active in that workshop (and showed us all a thing or two about writing talent). I miss the workshop and the participants sometimes. Sometimes a whole lot.

You asked if I thought the "conversation" unfriendly or not. Not. It reads friendly enough and the title does its job quite well. This is an interview but more importantly a conversation between two seriously interested people (that the rest of us are lucky to be privy to).

The main thing about your interesting essay is to suggest changing the length of the paragraphs. Maybe break some of them into two or three paragraphs to make it all easier to read on screen. As it appears now, the letters spread all across the screen (as is typical at WF) but they're written deeply too (in paragraph of great length-- relatively unfriendly to a computer screen, I believe.. I think it would read easier (and linger in the in the mind better) if it was in smaller chunks, smaller paragraphs. We know the importance of spacing in poetry and at least that part, I think, applies to prose paragraphs too.

Do you welcome additional thoughts added to the essay from us (your WF readers)? Will this turn into a conversation among all us who are interested? (I'm still trying to figure out how WF works.)

You go, El Toro!

Pamelyn

Clark might be selfish with his grapefruit juice. Besides he lives to put hair on the dog. He's still a fighter pilot at heart.

So you knew Neca Stoller. How small is the world? I had some great critiques from her back in the day. I gave her a few things to think about as well. I was always amazed by her writing. A real oriental feel to it. with an under lying river of spiritual feel to it. Hazel wasn't bad either, she really is a die hard metric poet however. Did you ever meet Rachel Barenblat who compiled that book? How about MA. Bonita P. Valdez, Julie McCarroll Duffy, Noah Grey, Jen King, Michellia Willson and R.H. Peat. Heard any of those names before? I really hope Michellia is alive and well. She was going through some tough times back in 1998.

I like that idea about breaking up the answers a bit more. It would slow things down and offer more time for personal contemplation. I like the fact that this is about Cory Becker.

About this page, They are thinking about moving it. And maybe changing the title a bit. So You're giving me imputes/feedback to change it a bit. So I'm think this will be cut. Yeah I think spacing always helps the reader. If it's an issue about the text the paragraph should stay fixed in length. Like an important turn in the story line of prose. This is broken all the way through by questions that shift the reader. But it could use more like you say.

I was speed typing for Cory. I was working full time and painting full time and writing part time and then sever other things with children, X-wives and pulling what little hair I had out by the roots. I was also conversing with Shimizu San In Japan. as well as doing 5 critiques to post one poem on Local Writer's workshop. Then my wife decided to run off with her boy friend and marry him. And the bottom fell out. From the depth of the well I started to climb back out to breathe. When I got back out I felt the air was a lot cleaner.

It's interesting what you say about interest. Because I feel that is the gist of answering her questions. She knew I had a genuine interest and she had a need for more information. So I offered what I knew to her for her benefit. He work had been improving all along. Getting people to open up allows them to discover their own talent. Which she did. Response and questioning has causation. We learn through a bit of adversity trying to increase on knowledge about being a poet. Being an artist is nothing I'd wish on anyone. It costly in many different ways.

A poet friend
RH Peat
 
Last edited:

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Scotch and TONIC??!! Scotch and GRAPEFRUIT JUICE??!! 'ave ye taken leave 'a th'wee bit o' common sense the good Lord gae ye t'begin wi'?? They'd best be liftin' these border closins right soon--I gotta git down t'californey way soon, t'tech ye some wee truths aboot Scotch . . . afore it;s too late!
 

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Pamelyn Casto:

There he is — saying it again: Who put the grapefruit juice in my grapefruit juice. The reincarnation falls under the same tree.
😁

a poet friend
RH Peat
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
I think I must have been imbibing in Clark's scotch supply when I typed Neca Stoller's name as "Becca Stoller." I can't believe I did that. I haven't heard from her in years now. In doing a net search I see she and I have both had work published in Riding the Meridian-- I somehow forgot that. Yes, the world can sometimes be quite small and it's great that you worked with her too. I might have to track down that anthology you tell us about.

So is Clark's accent Scottish? Is it authentic Scottish or a type of Butterscottish? And Ron, you said: "Being an artist is nothing I'd wish on anyone. It costly in many different ways." I can only imagine how costly being an artist might be. It's costly enough learning about being an artist.
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
It's no a real Scots accent Lass--it's a cobbled-poor attempt at a wee flash o'me Scots gran'mama's speech--so thick it took three days on the farm afore , as a wee lad, I could understand a bloody word. An' it's a sharp rap on th'ead from her vicious wooden spoon ye'd be gittin' fer this 'Scottish' nonsense, Lass! Aye! it's SCOTS . . .or a rap on the head! The old bat ruled the kitchen on the farm. She brought five boys and three girls into the world. Four born in Glasgow (my mother the first), four in Canada., in the farmhouse. She was back at work the day after giving birth. She made one demand: that all the children an their families come home for Christmas week, every year. She didn't give a damn where they'd scattered to. Grandpa built a 'Christmas Bunkhouse' about 100' from the (huge) farmhouse. Grandmama died in March 1943. The previous Christmas ALL her children and their children were at the farm. Grandpa and his sons put together an enormous table of planks, placed in the centre of the main barn, with wood stoves temporarily installed at each end of the barn. A cosy family dinner for 48 (yup). 41 family, 5 friends, 2 guys wandering down the road in the late morning Christmas day in -20 C weather. Grandma and her daughters and d-in-laws cooked 9 turkeys and 4 hams, baked 100 rolls, 20 pies, and 8 Christmas puddings. Everything that graced that table came from the farm root cellar and ice boxes, or was raised and slaughtered on the farm, except for sugar, flour, some spices and baking ingredients. I was 6 but I still remember every little detail of that dinner, including the 'moos' and 'neighs' from the stalls that accompanied the meal. And how happy gran'mama was. She wore a dress in Clan Ritchie (a sub-clan of Clan Stewart) tartan. She was 91.
 

RHPeat

Met3 Group Leader
Staff member
Senior Mentor
I think I must have been imbibing in Clark's scotch supply when I typed Neca Stoller's name as "Becca Stoller." I can't believe I did that. I haven't heard from her in years now. In doing a net search I see she and I have both had work published in Riding the Meridian-- I somehow forgot that. Yes, the world can sometimes be quite small and it's great that you worked with her too. I might have to track down that anthology you tell us about.

So is Clark's accent Scottish? Is it authentic Scottish or a type of Butterscottish? And Ron, you said: "Being an artist is nothing I'd wish on anyone. It costly in many different ways." I can only imagine how costly being an artist might be. It's costly enough learning about being an artist.
Pamelyn Castro

Concerning Neca Stoller
She is on Facebook. Do a search for her name and you'll find her. I talked to her for awhile just a few months ago.

As for Clark's Scotch it's definitely buttered thickly with rocks that come in a glass container.

The difficulty in being an artist is finding a person that can contend with your introspective personality, as wanting time alone to create. Some women want to compete with the time when creation is happening. Then it becomes a battle to get it done. Thanx to my wife (now) who is not that way at all; I have all the time I want to create. She likes to have her personal time as well. That wasn't always true for me however; and I made some real bad picks when it came to wives. They never supported the process at all, even when it made money they didn't support it.

And trying to raise a family at the same time is a huge chore. But a couple of my children liked the creative process and wanted to get involved with it. I didn't push that on them at all; it was their choice. And the two that were not interested found their own way also. But the youngest and the oldest just flowed right into it. But they both had to do other things to support their art habit. Although my son has a huge environmental sculpture happening in Hawaii right now. He's building his own house. Two stories and a deck; he has the outside complete and will start on the interior soon.

a poet friend
RH Peat
 
Top