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Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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  • Michael Shepherd (8/3/2005 4:33:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    All the flung dung on this site points up the fact that generalisations are dangerous in that they lead to attitude-taking and labels (I'm a post-post-modernist, so yaa boo sucks...) and then to personal reference.

    Better to discuss individual poems, then we can see where you're coming from and exactly what points you're making. We're talking, I thought, about the role of rhyme and meter in poetry, and why it might be becoming 'outmoded'. There may be interesting reasons for this. It might even be connected to creativity and choice of subject. And surely if you 'teach' creative writing, the first requirement is broadmindedness? Like setting up a website for poetic kiddiwinkies to have a go, maybe even ask for advice? GGRRR

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    • Michael Shepherd (8/3/2005 6:07:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      In response to this disussion, I had a go at writing a whole four lines of, ooh, ooh, rhyme, last night...I discovered that seeking an *appropriate* rhymed line ending evoked more 'music' in the formi ... more

  • Michael Shepherd (8/2/2005 2:23:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    Pursuing the thought that rhyme still calls solemnly at times of benediction, Auden on the death of WBYeats, and of younger poets, Yvor Winters to his daughter. A very quick trawl of occasional rhymers - Lowell, Roethke, Frost, Hemingway; Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes; O'Hara; Plath in Lady Lazarus for instance, and Thom Gunn; and that's about it, though I don't know the younger poets.
    And there's our exemplary Tony Harrison, whose 'V' is on this site, and which I first read without noticing it's in rhyme...

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    • Max Reif (8/2/2005 8:09:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      Frost was a master at spare, rhymed lines. Such dignity, like a Greek tragedian!

  • Michael Philips (8/2/2005 8:29:00 AM) Post reply | Read 7 replies Stage

    This is an interesting discussion. Thanks to all of you. While it seems clear that rhyming and heartbeat-like meters are throwbacks, I'm a little uncomfortable with the notion of writing for editors, Lamont. Sure, it's a challenge to get editors to accept your work, but by keeping them in mind, you're limiting yourself to writing for the status quo of what kinds of things they'll publish. And Max, I'm a little uncomfortable with the notion that you have to keep your audience in mind. I know I do that, but worrying about audience acceptance places a limitation on creativity. A pure artist pushes the limits and does not restrict their art to what editors or audience will like.

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    • Richard George (8/2/2005 2:56:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      Further to the debate 'To rhyme or not to rhyme, that is the question...' I've just posted a poem of mine that rhymes called The Room Above At College. I should say it nearly rhymes - I find near-rhy ... more

    • Lamont Palmer (8/2/2005 11:19:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      This is actually a pretty classic debate: being true to your 'inner artist' as it were, versus considering the marketplace, in terms of general readers and critics. I do think one can accomplish both.

    • Max Reif (8/2/2005 9:54:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

      This is a very important point you've raised, Michael! In most issues there is a dialectic at work. Obviously-I hope-one can't write 'just' for an audience, unless one is simply a panderer with ... more

    • Lamont Palmer (8/2/2005 9:21:00 AM) Post reply | Read 2 replies Stage

      I see poetry as a craft as well as a rel ... more

    • Michael Shepherd (8/2/2005 8:55:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      'Pure artist' - TSEliot's Lefty: 'I gott ... more

    • Michael Shepherd (8/2/2005 8:48:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

      It's a craft thing rather than an art th ... more

    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/2/2005 8:46:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

      Perhaps a true poet can never be a pure ... more

  • Michael Shepherd (8/2/2005 5:34:00 AM) Post reply | Read 3 replies Stage

    Subjective it may be; but there are interesting questions to be asked of poetry itself all the same. Two of those questions are - what is the satisfaction that rhyme gives? And, does a discipline of form aid a poet to investigate his/her theme and mind? Clearly, there are centuries of loved and admired poetry which have taken these two for granted. Which makes the questions more interesting today.

    So there are two parties to this expression and communication, the poet and the reader. Some poets still find that a discipline of seeking rhyme or metre or even simply line length or number of syllables, engages their brain in some curious way beyond just editing, which takes their thinking out of habitual channels - despite the apparent requirement of an 'habitual' pattern as the final form. It seems to be the discipline, not the form, which works for them.

    Personally, I found that writing 'philosophical' sonnets engaged the mind in this way. Of course, the English language wasn't formed with the aid of a rhyming dictionary - there are for instance few useful rhymes for 'self', though just once, one such was entirely appropriate to the deepest thought.
    And if the poet has worked through so much, there will be similar rewards for the reader. But if rhyming is just a word-game like Scrabble, then that's how it comes across. It may amuse - vastly; but it doesn't advance thought much.

    The fact that children adore rhyme should not be dismissed out of hand. There is something ancient about 'incantation' which at the end, say, of Midsummer Night's Dream, goes in some mysterious way, far beyond 'rhyme'. So we can't ever say that rhyme is 'defunct'. It can cast a spell.

    So yes, it's subjective; but what it's subjective about, are two very deep mysteries of the mind - discipline, and the 'music' of poetry (of which rhyme is but one part) . You might compare it with oratory - the art of choosing the right sounding words but which advance, not cloud, your message. (Public speakers please note!)

    I don't want to be too personal here, but I gave a reading of sonnets recently and a professional musician (and amateur philosopher) said if he'd still been composing, he would have chosen to set the sonnets, because he 'heard so much music in them'. So there's more to the sound of poetry than rhyme - or non-rhyme! And I guess you can include meter in that 'music'.

    And it's worth remembering that Shakespeare chose the relative freedom of blank verse for his widest examinations of the human condition, but chose sonnets for his most profound introspections and elegant declarations of love. It's quite interesting, like Schneider does, to consider WS'poetic 'failures', be it of line or whole poem!

    So 'free' verse, having thrown the baby out with the bath-water, some might say, has to find its own means of expression. As this website proves.

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    • Max Reif (8/2/2005 9:29:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      Thank you for putting out this beautiful web of thought, Michael! Isn't it curious, the satisfaction that comes from (some) rhyme! Maybe this phenomenon has something to do with the nature of man ... more

    • Michael Philips (8/2/2005 8:51:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      Well done, Michael. There will always be a place for rhymes in children's books, greeting cards, and song lyrics. But it's interesting that you posit that the discipline of rhyme and meter is useful f ... more

    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/2/2005 8:36:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      Thank you Michael, this is food for thought, actually it is an entire French (sorry) gala dinner. H

  • A.p. Sweet (8/1/2005 11:29:00 PM) Post reply | Read 4 replies Stage

    What do you prefer, short poems or long poems and why?

    I myself prefer short poems, because to me poems are about emotions and emotions are simple and should not be strung out. If it is more than a page long, write a short story. But, that's just me and maybe i'm wrong or just an idiot. Just let me know how you guy and gals feel. I don't know any poets around where I live.

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    • A.p. Sweet (8/2/2005 7:37:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      I have written a couple of long,3 to 4 page, poems. But they seem to be more of a story than a thought or a detailed emotion. When I get done with one of them, because I tend to revise the long ones a ... more

    • Max Reif (8/2/2005 9:20:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      Long poems are a challenge for me, often. I see a poem as a kind of path. I always start out knowing just where I am-right HERE! But with ambiguous poetic images, long sentences brambled with clauses, ... more

    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/2/2005 4:58:00 AM) Post reply Stage

      Aaron I think that there is a place for both. Let's say the long and the short of it says that it is an acknowledgment of the poet's 'talent' if his/her long poems are read. Some people are just plai ... more

    • Lamont Palmer (8/1/2005 11:58:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

      I wouldnt say you're stupid ... more

  • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/1/2005 5:29:00 PM) Post reply | Read 5 replies Stage

    On the subject of rhyme. I wonder how many poets on this site agree with the apparently prevailing opinion that rhyme is 'gauche', out, passé?
    Is the rhyming poem well and truly a relict from the times of Goethe, Schiller etc. and has no place in today's poetry?

    While I realise that there are few things more pathetic than a poem that struggles to rhyme at the expense of any substance that may have been intended, it also appears to me that I would prefer to read a hilarious rhyming poem any day over the dull offerings of a serious poet who attempts to build some profundity (lateral word) into his poems and decorates them with a few veils here and there, assuring the Oh's and Aw's of the readers. Should a poem be a joy to read, have a message (or a massage) with a profound meaning, be relevant to something that is dear to all our hearts? All of the above? In what order.
    Reading some of the poems on this site, those that are generally praised by the 'elite', I get nothing out of them but somehow feel the word 'phony'.
    A popular poet who is no longer on this site wrote poems that had a large following, most of them were, to my mind, hard to figure out and I often was left with little understanding of her work. Yet she drew praise from everywhere and (possibly because of that) I developed the feeling that there was something of great value in her poetry and it was just me the speaker of a foreign tongue who was a bit thick in deciphering what she was saying.
    Today, many months after, I read her stuff and am no wiser. It is not a pleasant experience to read her work, for me. My poem 'Mind Games', which I had mentioned previously, was an assembly of basically meaningless words and terms used in Hypnosis etc. yet praise came from everywhere.
    So, back to the rhyme, is the rhyme well and truly dead with only a small place left for it on peanutbutter jars?
    According to a long retired teacher of mine in the old country, the vast majority of poetry sold is rhyming poetry. Does this mean that the unsophisticated masses are the purchasers?

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    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/1/2005 9:26:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      Thanks to Raynette, Max and Lamont for your comments. It is always good to hear your views although I am not so sure about the statement about rhyming poetry being well and truly dead. Who says? Perso ... more

    • Lamont Palmer (8/1/2005 7:37:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      There is no one purpose or role of a poem. A poem can have a concrete meaning and message or, as in the case of the poetry of John Ashbery, or earlier, e.e. cummings have a very abstract or highly int ... more

    • Max Reif (8/1/2005 7:23:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      There is a similar discussion going on, on the 'writing poetry' forum, at In my opinion, it's irrelevant whether a poem rhymes or not. If the poem has a substance that's conveyed ... more

    • Raynette Eitel (8/1/2005 6:45:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      I think some poets are stuck on rhyming ... more

    • Poetry Hound (8/1/2005 6:44:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      My preference is for contrived verse ser ... more

  • Max Reif (8/1/2005 7:57:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    What percentage of the new poems that come through this site do you folks read? Is it possible to keep up with all of them? I spend an hour or two reading and commenting per day, then I have other things to do. I never get to them all.

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    • Herbert Nehrlich1 (8/1/2005 5:01:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      I read about 20 % of them. Mostly stick to the ones that never disappoint. When a new name appears I sample up to three of her/his offerings, if a new one posts oodles at once I usually do not bother ... more

  • allan james saywell (8/1/2005 7:09:00 AM) Post reply Stage

    congratulations to herbert who has joined the 1000 poem club welcome aboard herbert it isn't easy is it herbert, i will toast you tonight
    by the way it is a green door with the words welcome

  • Michael Shepherd (8/1/2005 6:37:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    Better check a poem or two on your page, folks. There are two line-length errors on a poem I put up last night. Haven't looked any further yet.

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  • Michael Philips (7/31/2005 12:34:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Stage

    I had a poetry instructor who would take little snippets of poetic ideas and put them into storage. He had little images, lines, even single words, that he wanted to try to use in future poems. Last year, I started doing the same thing. Sometime I'll come back to a little snippet and it will suddenly germinate into a full poem. Others languish for months waiting to see the light.

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    • Casey Rock (7/31/2005 2:38:00 PM) Post reply Stage

      This is how all of my poems take shape. I am constantly writing down ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc. wherever I am; parked at a red light, eating dinner, at the movies...I try not to let anything slip ... more

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