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Are Audiences 'Dead"? Are (non-performance) Poets Simply Writing to Each Other? (1 Viewer)

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
James said on another thread:
Rimbaud decided poetry wasn't worth it & stopped writing.
. Recently, a Canadian poet (Brian Fawcett), wrote to me that he had given up on poetry some time ago, because audiences did not understand poetry, knew nothing of its nexus. It was a waste of time. He declined to explain.

What do YOU think? I regard the current plethora of poetic 'kinds' bumping heads or flowing thru each other as a transitional period towards. . . who knows? Or are we actually witnessing the death throes of an art form unsuited to our fucked-up world? Can we talk about 'audience' without getting into an interminable and unwanted 'discussion' about a definition of poetry.
 
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midnightpoet

WF Veterans
I was active in the Dallas-Ft.Worth writing community from the eighties onward, writing novels, short stories and poetry, and often recited poetry to groups at various times and also went to some "slams."
My audiences were encouraging but often they were mainly poets themselves. There were several local poetic magazines also. Where we are now is rural and most I've talked to have no interest, but I've kept up with the Dallas paper, and there is still a thriving art community, including poetry. Still, interest in poetry has waned overall. Now it's movies and video games. As long as there are journals asking for poetry they'll have to do as my audience (although this site gives me encouragement.
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
And what a legacy Rimbaud left for us, at such a young age. (I've been doing some research on his work for another project I have going).

I don't think poetry can ever disappear. It serves too many needs for too many people. Today's experimental and extremely edgy poetry is often difficult to understand and I seldom try reading it unless the poet has an established "name" -- to me that name at least makes it possibly worth my time exploring it. Or if such poetry appears in a renowned journal or magazine-- then I pay attention.

Funny, Clark, I was working up a thread asking what people want, expect, or hope to get from poetry-- then your post comes sailing in.

It's often been said that poets write for other poets and looking over all the poems inspired by other poems over all the years, that's quite possible. It's still an audience-- poets reading poets.

At the same time non-poets have often been touched by a classic poem (one that fits their trials and tribulations of the day) so if the right poem come along, a new audience can be born. And who among us hasn't at one time or another been deeply touched by a Hallmark type card (I don't know how to describe them for areas outside the U.S. but they're simple and often beautiful and touching--even sentimental-- often rhyming poems.)

I personally think poetry's going to play an even larger part in people's lives as we're bombarded from every direction with data, information, ads, noise, junk, stuff. People still have a need to be "companioned" (as Edward Hirsch said that's what poetry does-- through it people are "companioned.") I wrote an essay on a similar topic but as it pertains to the coming importance of flash literature in general-- and in the essay I cited several studies researchers have done on the topic. OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters published it ("Flash Fiction: A Brief, But (Likely) Necessary Literature") and then translated it into Russian too. Then in the last couple of months they republished it in another web setting (it's also part of my chapbook). So it's something I also think about often.

Now, is there any money in it? Not much at all. And as some say, money's what makes the world go round. (I think over several years I've earned all of $2,000 for my poetry-- over *several* years.) So that's a legitimate reason to quit, right there. But that won't stop poets.

I get pleasure out of writing a poem that appeals to me and which manages to touch another person (a reader, an audience). I treasure every "fan" letter I've ever received too. That means a lot to find out someone appreciates our work. I also think that with the omnipresence of the 'net in our lives, more and more people who need to be "companioned" will be looking into either writing or reading or learning more about poetry. Due to heavy use of computers I think new poetry audiences will soon join the old audiences. I think it's here to stay.

Thanks for the topic thread. You've helped me convince myself (for now at least) there's still huge, maybe even as yet unrecognized value in the small pieces that don't take a lot of time to read. Poetry, and flash literature in general, can still offer a bit of thought and peace and relief in this fast- paced, data- filled, hyphenated, and gone- crazy world.
 
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Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
This is a question related on how to gain an audience. Has anyone considered tweeting poetry to other talented poets? I don't know much about the poetry world. Singers sometimes use YouTube to promote themselves. That's how they gain the attention of an executive. I am thinking here it can gain an attention of a publishing company. I reminds me of bloggsworth's anecdote (his post). It's also about connections. To have a voice in poetry IMO, you can't ignore technology. I mean if you have the voice people like an audience will follow. Such as on Twitter and on Facebook. I think because of thinking these thoughts that maybe writing forums could have a Twitter feed in the future that connects with the forum if it is possible. That platform could encourage people to seek poetry. Poetry enthusiasts and "amateurs that want to have fun." People communicate with long distances. The world is becoming more interconnected. I'd be a shame to waste such an opportunity. I recommend it as a prospect. Businesses run with these social media platforms as do applications such as Spotify. (maybe the same is applicable to storytellers or micro stories)

To help add to the original discussion. Maybe it is poems of old times people refer. But I do not know their enigmatic qualities and if these can be imitated. To imitate some other writer in poetry is something I do not know how to do.

When I gave advice to Spotify to add Facebook to their platform they listened. Because I said my mother was a computer illiterate and I never mean to say that in a bad way. The question was would you recommend spotify to your mother and why?

I remember a joke post once. It was on my mother's whatsapp feed. She saw a group of people in a picture. The caption read: this is how we socialize. The joke or punchline was that now people use social media to do so. Before in previous times people would gather in their houses. That was a group of elderly people sitting in chairs were in the picture.

Depends on how ambitious people want to be. To grow you could use the connected world. But in doing so maybe you need to email them? Twitter jumps out at me more than Facebook. Sharing posts on a Facebook or twitter feed would connect more than a world but a multitude of people with the same interests.
 

Darren White

co-owner and admin
Staff member
Co-Owner
As far as I know, the reason Rimbaud stopped writing poetry had nothing to do with 'poetry not being worth it' :). Which means I did not and do not agree with James on that point.

Why Rimbaud stopped writing had much more to do with anger at the end of the liaison with Verlaine.
For me poets write for whoever wants to read their poetry, and that's all that matters.
 

escorial

WF Veterans
My fav poetry quote by John cooper Clark
No one has ever said I need to make sum money so I'll write a book of poetry....
 

clark

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
On the issue of audience, my opinion is up and down like a ________________(fill in blank. you're poets)_________________ on a busy pay night. I dunno. Mostly I write a poem because it's there and the language is crying to me that it wants to try. Sometimes someone else will utter a few words that ring in my mind and demand "to tell the rest of the story." (Wittgenstein" 'uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination.") Sometimes I say to myself, "I'm going to write a poem on X. Or Y. Or Z." (rare). Sometimes I say to myself, "I'm going to write a poem on R to P so that they will react in Q way." (rare as hen's teeth). So mostly I write poetry to Me. But "me" did not drop unaided from an unknown tree. Like Tennyson's Ulysses, "I am a part of all that I have met", the corollary of which is that when I write to Me, I am also writing to my culture, my "audience understood." I can get a bearing on audience when I'm in its presence, but when I think about it, write about it, "intellectualize" about it, I can soon get lost.
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Slam and the internet have democratized poetry. The audience has grown but the average quality has diminished. Poetry has gone from High Art to entertainment. Those of us who still want to make art feel swept under the bus by the proliferation of pop-poetry, heavy on catharsis and emotional triggers but lacking in transformative power. The audience for that kind of poetry is still small. Coffee-shops, back rooms, sometimes the street.
 
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Moose.H

Senior Member
A friend and I were discussing Poetry and in particular one that I recited in 1973 in class when I was 7. It had moved me at that young age and I remember it fondly so I revisited it again this past week.

I have never been a poet but unless you have been touched by events ditties are all that will twitch your curtains. In today's society of quick and easy TV and junk there is no magic in words.

Maybe Covid will tickle emotions enough for Poetry to count.
 

Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
In today's society of quick and easy TV and junk there is no magic in words. Maybe Covid will tickle emotions enough for Poetry to count.

I sure agree about most of the junk shown on television. Lately I find myself getting downright angry that I have (am paying for) a billion (exaggeration) channels but there's so little worth watching. I get especially irritated over the number of commercials on 24-hour news shows. Breaking news: the world is set to blow up. But first comes a commercial about Preparation-H.

I think poetry will always count. And think there will always be magic in words if we bother to try to tap that magic.

There will always be different kinds of poetry; some mainstream, some literary, some good for entertainment, some for deep truths, some funny, some sombre, some easy to understand, some particularly difficult to understand. Poetry sometimes touches lives deeply. I think now, too, in this age of non-stop data coming at us from every direction, we need those quiet moments with poetry where we can sometimes gain some sort of understanding we desperately need to gain.

I think poets are safe as long as poets gather to share poetry. Poets are safe as long as poetry's included in educational books, it counts and can sometimes count for a lot.

I love the things I learn when I try to write a new poem. I love it that there are so many magazines now (online and off) willing to publish it.

I think poetry's going to become even more important in the very near future (as will other types of short-short writing).
 

Moose.H

Senior Member
I write from experience and understanding. I am trying to turn this into a poetry skill. I hate work from people who have not lived it is always borrowed experiences. Poetry will go on but needs greater support and to be taught from more than rules but from describing experiences.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I read Viking-era poetry (yes this is pertinent, I think, hear me out) and it was "cool". It was heroic-era, war-based... Odin himself was seen as the ultimate warrior-poet. His name even has "poetry" and "consciousness" in its roots. It was also the best way to make a clever political insult that would sting and get repeated exactly because it rhymed. Poetry was their entertainment (think Beowulf).... BUT then I started to realize.....rap.

If rap isn't the modern equivalent of warrior-based, political-slamming, "I'm a bad ass from X" poetry then I don't know what is.
Yes, different from what I write.... but not too different. I'm glad young aggressive males somehow find what I see as almost the same mode of expression and also use it to get very famous. That feels very much the same.

Poetry at that time was so heavily alliterated and rhymed that it was almost impossible to change, and we have poems from rune-times that are in strange old vernacular that were being repeated exactly as composed a few hundred years later. It must have sounded archaeic even to them, but it didn't change due to the heavy inner rhyme and alliteration. Because of how tightly "bound" these poems are-- which by the way is what the Vikings would call it, poetry was called "bound words" and they did believe it created a spell. Dang... I could go on forever....but one more interesting thing is that writing sex poetry was against the law because it was seen as creating a love spell and that went against free-will and .... anyway...fascinating, right? But these bound words were also used to make someone immortal--- remembered through all history. Yes, like Beowulf or Bodvar Bjarki. So skalds (poets) were seen as fame or immortality-makers. This was before paper for them. Long poems (like Beowulf) written in runes in stone would have been too long, so most of their history was preserved through poetry (which kept getting re-written by other poets just like our super hero stories, but that's a different subject). In Ireland memorization of oral poetry was pretty much IT by way of immortality or fame and their bards had strict memorization requirements--- I think even up until fairly recently. In fact, I think there are still some of these Irish bards who are trained to memorize ancient poems. Anyway, getting famous through rapping can kind of make you immortal still. People haven't changed too much.

Except.... where did opera go? Eek.. I'm pretty sad about that. But poetry pre-dates opera and will likely continue. For some of us it's the best way to express feelings that otherwise do not make as much sense trying to explain them with just vocabulary that we haven't set the scene for and without trying to create imagery. Poetry is much more effective to convey a certain feeling that just one word.. even in a vocabulary as diverse and nuanced as English.

There's also modern music song lyrics which is where a lot of poetry gets channeled to. Like Simon and Garfunkle's "The Sound of Silence" and there are some song writers out there without metaphor or real poetry to speak of but then there are others who are definitely poets honing their craft. I think we humans have the same emotions that need to be expressed, but it just gets channeled a bit differently due to fads and new technology. (A book was once new technology).
 
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Pamelyn Casto

WF Veterans
Your post is intensely interesting, Llyralen. You might consider turning it into an essay and publishing it in some fine poetry journal.

You read Viking era poetry and that alone is interesting. While not Viking-era, but even earlier poetry, a friend of mine recently translated (or created a new rendition of) The Epic of Gilgamesh (the oldest surviving work of literature-- from 2100 BCE). He, scholar Kent Dixon, published it in 2018 and did it in collaboration with his son Kevin. They turned the epic poem into a graphic novel-- comic book style. Dixon even took a cuneiform course so he could do the translation/rendition. I enjoy reading it and never would have thought poetry from that era would interest me much. But this rendition most certainly does.

There's so much going on in the poetry world and it's interesting to learn of various interests and projects. Your post is fascinating reading material.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Your post is intensely interesting, Llyralen. You might consider turning it into an essay and publishing it in some fine poetry journal.

You read Viking era poetry and that alone is interesting. While not Viking-era, but even earlier poetry, a friend of mine recently translated (or created a new rendition of) The Epic of Gilgamesh (the oldest surviving work of literature-- from 2100 BCE). He, scholar Kent Dixon, published it in 2018 and did it in collaboration with his son Kevin. They turned the epic poem into a graphic novel-- comic book style. Dixon even took a cuneiform course so he could do the translation/rendition. I enjoy reading it and never would have thought poetry from that era would interest me much. But this rendition most certainly does.

There's so much going on in the poetry world and it's interesting to learn of various interests and projects. Your post is fascinating reading material.

I'm glad I came back here to find out what I wrote was interesting to someone else. =)

Gilgamesh sounds interesting, and it especially sounds interesting to read the version your friend has turned out.
 
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