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Poetics and Poetry Discussion


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  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (5/22/2005 10:08:00 AM) Post reply
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    I love a bit of clever - but those who automatically criticize the 'elite' do raise the image of pots and kettles...? However, they do sharpen our our judgment. When Ken Tynan was Friday drama critic of the Evening Standard over here, thespian Sirs and Dames would be quaking in their buskins on Fridays...

    First time I read two putdowns in one phrase - 'He's not as good as the over-rated...' Double whammy.

  • Rookie - 150 Points Poetry Hound (5/22/2005 8:01:00 AM) Post reply

    Michael, we don’t need to invite Schneider to be a guest critic. We’ve already got Lamont, who is a secret Schneider emissary! ! ! But seriously, I don’t think Schneider is “a bit” of a curmudgeon. I think he’s a HUGE curmudgeon. He writes colorfully and I enjoy that, and it’s always fun to read a good rant. Even though I disagree with him about Sharon Olds, it’s amusing to read his harangue about her. I actually find it kind of funny – you’d think she dumped him as a boyfriend the way he’s so dismissive of her. But as I get older, I’m less attracted to blunt force trauma in either poetry or poetic criticism. I’m more attracted to subtlety and nuance. I don’t perceive Schneider being “kept on the fringes” of poetic criticism by “the powers that be.” That sounds like a conspiracy theory to me. If there truly are “powers that be” in poetic criticism, they sure are keeping quiet about it because I don’t even know who they are. I think Schneider is just one voice, a shrill one, but just one. And I imagine there are others like me who prefer more dimensionality in both the poetry and poetic criticism they read.

  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (5/22/2005 6:38:00 AM) Post reply

    (half an hour later, gasping...) wow, if you enjoy a good demolition job that goes into extra time (who's telling her she goes on too long, huh?) , then SnideySchneider's Twin Towers on Sharon Olds and her tiptoe reviewers is a Krispy Kreemy orgy of destruction. Now I know where you're coming from, Lamont.
    Does the guy love poetry so much that he hates it? Interesting thought. Dean Swift perhaps? Voltaire? I guess the Olds poem on this site are a charitable selection...
    The curious defect in Schneider is that his makeover versions are ineffective, for me. But I've just started reading wife Jessica on Plath, and for me she's a more creative destroyer, so to speak. Who suggested we invite Schneider as Poemhunter Guest Critic for a week...? Ouch.

  • Rookie Robert Rorabeck (5/21/2005 9:54:00 PM) Post reply

    I'd like to chime in on my thoughts of Poetry Hound's tastes- In my opinion, he obviously recognizes good poetry- this is his passion and he is very vocal about it. He's mentioned some poets I hadn't read yet and I've checked them out and loved them, though I have to say after reading a book of Jim Morrison poetry, he isn't all that great, at least for a poet.... Because PH has such refined tastes, however, I think he often dislikes some really good stuff that's out there, especially personal experience poetry which PH seems to put down for some reason- Bukowski is the every man poet for a reason- because he's accessible and often good (and often not) - he tells the truth, though, and doesn't try to ham things up. I like Sharon Olds stuff very much too, though she's not one of my very favorites. So, I think PH's tastes are legitimate, though not the end all of great or even good poetry. As for the idea that there's too much poetry being published in America, this is ridiculous- Where is it? Maybe in certain circles but certainly not in the mainstream- I go on ebay to get poetry books cheap and 8 out of the 10 poetry books being sold are from the UK or overseas- Poetry is very much ignored in America- hardly anybody reads it.

  • Rookie - 150 Points Poetry Hound (5/21/2005 7:50:00 PM) Post reply

    Come on Lamont, you remind me of the people in the fifties who complained that the stuff Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were playing wasn’t music. Jazz artists pretty much ignored definitions of what constituted music and we’re better off for it. Likewise, impressionist painters ignored the definitions of what constituted art. Contemporary poets should not be bound by old definitions of poetry. I don’t want to read poetry by people who try to write like Dickinson or Whitman any more than I want to see paintings by people who try to paint like Van Gogh or Seurat. Being influenced by them is fine, but to say that contemporary poetry must employ the techniques of the old masters means that we’ll be left with poetry that is derivative and phony and doesn’t push the limits. Ultimately, trying to come up with a definition of what is and isn’t poetry is an exercise in mental masturbation. I think the definition will always remain elusive and you just have to be comfortable with the elusiveness. On thing is for sure: Whether someone writes in phrases or sentences is irrelevant to the definition. You’ve already lost that battle. It’s been accepted for some time now that poetry can employ full sentences and I don’t think there’s any going back now.

  • Rookie - 774 Points Lamont Palmer (5/21/2005 6:07:00 PM) Post reply

    Hound, your answer of 'who cares if Sharon Olds writes in full sentences? ' may, in fact, be the problem with poetry today. Why not just throw out any hint of a definintion of a poem? Lets call a newspaper article poem, lets call a screenplay a poem, lets call a book of essays poetry, lets call the Catcher in the Rye a book length poem, lets call a comic strip a poem, lets call a Jay Leno monologue a poem, lets call your weekly grocery list a poem. Now let me say this: the aforementioned things can possibly be POETIC...but they are not poems. Is there no standard to poetry? I say there is, whether people want to recognize it or not. I say what Olds writes is better suited for fiction or nonfiction. Nor do I find it terribly deep. On the contrary, I find Olds to be repetitive, cliched, cornball, politically correct, unoriginal, and a 15th rate Sylvia Plath who sells so many books because her stuff is easy reading. Of course thats my opinion. I'm not saying people can't write what they want, but to basically say, as you seem to be saying, no standard at all should be applied to writing verses, is to denigrate and almost decimate entirely the great art of poetry and is tantamount to saying that poetry isnt worthy of a standard. I say poetry is worthy of a standard just like playing the violin, playwriting, or dramatic acting, or for that matter, playing baseball. No standards equals no disciple, which equals poor craftsmanship, which equals the death knell of good art. And again, lets not be so afraid of criticism. Randall Jarrell, the great poet and critic used to tear holes into poets and writers. Once, Truman Capote said of Kerouac's 'On The Road', 'thats not writing, its typing.' Criticism makes us stronger. Write on!

  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (5/21/2005 6:34:00 AM) Post reply

    Might I ask again (if you're in agreement...) that postings in answer to a major going topic in this Forum, be posted here, clear, and not as a thread? That way what is worth discussing for us is not broken by Herbie's eloquent effusion of self-praise?
    Lamont (whose answer to JC and PH I would like to see up here, don't miss it) :
    there is an interesting piece of evidence to be considered here: the haunting opening lines of Eliot's 'Journey of the Magi' (on this site and rated...) are - I hadn't realised until recently - taken verbatim from the opening of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes' 'Sermon Before the King on Christmas Day' in 1608 (or thereabouts) . Andrewes is celebrated as one of the greatest English prose stylists and orators. How about the 'music' here, which Eliot (and don't tell me he only writes non-lyric prose...) recognised from his essay on Andrewes.

    I'd say that the French adage 'The style is the man' applies fully to prose; and is largely if not wholly relevant to the 'music' of poetry?

    I suspect that those who write in the anticipation of reading their poetry aloud, tend to trust that they themselves can subsume the printed 'awkwardnesses' into verbal acceptance! I hold up my hand to that!

  • Rookie - 150 Points Poetry Hound (5/21/2005 6:16:00 AM) Post reply

    This is the age-old argument that Lamont is making. Sure, Whitman might puke at the sight of Sharon Olds' poetry. And Brahams would puke at Charlie Parker, and Rembrandt would puke at Warhol, and on and on it goes. Not to stifle discussion, but at some point this all becomes intellectual hogwash. Sharon Olds writes things that are clever, unusual, and striking and that penetrate the surface and touch me on a deeper level. You want the word 'poetry' confined to certain kinds of poems? Fine. We can call her work 'mini-prose.' Doesn't matter. Who cares if she writes in full sentences or not? What matters is that it's art. Really fine art, imho. No offense meant.

  • Rookie John William Hall (5/20/2005 11:10:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Yes Allan, it is my real name, registered with the administration. I assume yours is real as well and have noticed that there are some who are afraid or ashamed to use their real identities, why I wonder?
    I have now read over 50 % of your work, are you published somewhere?
    JW

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  • Rookie John William Hall (5/20/2005 7:32:00 PM) Post reply

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