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Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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  • Poetry Hound (5/3/2005 7:30:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Ahhh, one of my favorite subjects – the blues. Let me respond first by saying that just because there are a zillion love poems out there, a new love poem may be derivative in subject matter but it can still speak with a fresh voice. Likewise, it can be unoriginal and bad. As for blues, yes, the basic twelve-bar progression and its variations, along with the minor pentatonic blues scale, have been around for years, so a new blues song is certainly derivative in basic structure, but the best blues musicians, like some of the ones you mentioned, use the derivative part only as a starting point and vary the sonic qualities, vocal qualities, rhythmic qualities, and even add some innovative chords and scales. The acoustic blues musicians like Willie McTell mainly innovated with their vocal styles, some with guitar styles. The Allman Brothers innovated with the use of the major pentatonic scale and use of ninth, major-seventh, and half-diminished chords, while Miles Davis, Mingus, Coltrane and others innovated with all sorts of chord extensions, modes, and time signatures. Ultimately, the soloing is the main thing that sets a good blues tune apart from a bad one. Having said that, sure, there is plenty of generic derivative blues out there. And nope, it’s not very compelling. Some of it is downright bad.

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  • Andy Konisberg (5/3/2005 7:05:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    I like Zappa and the Beatles PH... yes, I see your point about derivative music...but (putting a prodigy like Hendrix, or Robert Johnson to one side) ...what about blues music? How derivative is that? Now, many musicians...Clapton, Zappa, Dylan, Eminem, Moby...regard blues music as the purest artform. It has had the same chord progressions and variations for 80 years...that kills the assumed notion that if something is derivative it is not 'good art'...would we suggest that Clapton or Zappa (wildly different as they are) cannot play mean guitar...and did not know what they were talking about? Are we to suggest that Dylan (recognised as one of the premier wordsmiths of the last century) does not know a 'my baby left me this mornin' derivation from a 'Johnny's in the basement/ mixin' up the medicine/ I'm on the pavement/ thinking 'bout the government...' lyric? Are we to suggest that Eminem is unimportant as regards being a figurehead/ influential spokeperson for recent contemporary culture? I would suggest, PH that there is no musical landscape more derivative than the blues and yet nearly every sophisticated musician of the last 50 years champions the blues as being 'true art/ 'great art'...Miles Davis, Coltrane...the list is nearly endless.

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    • Michael Shepherd (5/3/2005 7:50:00 AM) Post reply

      I wonder if it isn't a general truth that after staking out their own new territory, there isn't a great delight for 'professionals' or 'the talented', to submit themselves to disciplines such as the ... more

  • Poetry Hound (5/3/2005 6:39:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Funny, I keep thinking of musical comparisons too, Mark. But I don’t think you have illustrated your point that there is no bad poetry (or music) . You’ve just given us two very different examples of “good” (and I happen to like both the Beatles and Zappa) . But if you go to some of the music sites that are the equivalent of poemhunter, you can find plenty of crappy songs – unoriginal chord progressions, unoriginal lyrics, unoriginal vocal quality, etc.

    P.S. Check out Zappa’s “Yellow Shark” album, performed by the Ensemble Modern out of Germany.

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  • Poetry Hound (5/3/2005 6:25:00 AM) Post reply

    The main element I look for in poetry is originality. Something new or original is absolutely necessary, though it’s not sufficient. I like to see originality in either aesthetic or the conveying of emotion. And the way to be original is to come up with some unusual combination of word usage and metaphor that almost transcends the mere words. Having said that, I don’t want a poem to bash me over the head with its originality. When I read some poems, I feel like the poet is saying, “Look how intelligent or clever I am.” A lot of the beat poets did that. I guess I look for poetry that is fresh and original in a non-braggadocio non-self-conscious way.

  • Craig Hadden (5/2/2005 11:11:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Writing has two general purposes-to communicate (transactional writing) and to please ('poetic' writing, which can include prose) . A certain irony exists with the poetry that people post. The 'slam' poetry to some people post seems aimed at being transactional (to insult people) as opposed to trying to please. I doubt that ratings mean much to the slam poets because their aim isn't to please. For others, I think the ratings are important. I don't think that anyone wants to post poetry that people will hate or think is 'bad.' But they don't appreciate low ratings-another type of slam. So ironically, the slam poets who get low ratings don't care, and the poets who are still learning to express themselves who do care also get low ratings...or no ratings. It's too bad that people can't give honest ratings along with a critique that might help improve those who would really like to use the criticism to become better poets. Just something to think about...

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    • ***** ***** (5/3/2005 6:40:00 AM) Post reply

      I have to wonder, however, why the rating system came into this discussion at all... who CARES about rating, it has very little to do with poetic style... I am stumped to see how this became part of t ... more

  • ***** ***** (5/2/2005 10:46:00 PM) Post reply

    Thank you Robert and Craig, this is exactly the discussion I was hoping for...

  • Craig Hadden (5/2/2005 10:36:00 PM) Post reply

    I agree with both Sonja and Mark. There is such a thing as bad poetry, but 'bad' is relative and defined by the reader. It is the aesthetic question-'What is art? ' For some it is admiring the adherence to certain established forms...sonnet, haiku, ode. For some it is having something that rhymes. For some it is concise, for other obscure and esoteric. For some it is poetry if it simply expresses how they feel or they can relate to it. But whatever the standards people use to judge it determines whether it is 'good' or 'bad.'

  • ***** ***** (5/2/2005 10:36:00 PM) Post reply

    Allan, if you can't contribrute something valuable to the discussion, then don't contribute at all.

  • mother baxter (5/2/2005 10:31:00 PM) Post reply

    we should look at your poetry sonja but we already are aware of you

  • ***** ***** (5/2/2005 10:23:00 PM) Post reply

    Mark, I really do believe there is such a thing as bad poetry.. one only has to read the work of many poets of late and I am not talking about Poemhunter, but poets all over the world.. has anyone gone to slams in their local realm or.. the same in other places... we ALL know that there are poets out there who think their work is phenomenal.. and ahem, not so.
    Maybe we need to stop with the politics and say a spade is a spade?

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