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Thread: Is Poetry a lowly form of writing?

  1. #1

    Is Poetry a lowly form of writing?

    I think it is. It is the easiest to make, the least enjoyable, and the least meaningful. I despise bad poetry and I'd say 7/10 of poetry is bad and 2/10 is mediocre. The problem with poetry is that all it is just like words. It's just not a fun experience. Many times it is just an excersise in writing. The main problem is poem's dont' go anywhere. They are too short to make do much and their structure disallows them from saying much and there's so much that you to sift through all the crap. Poems can work but they're hardly anything, unless in a song.

    Music, is a different example. My most favorite poetry is usually either musical or visual or storytelling "poetry" found in other works.

  2. #2
    Mad Hatter Mark F.'s Avatar
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    I'd suggest you try reading more poetry. And try reading it better.
    "And the worms, they will climb
    The rugged ladder of your spine"

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    Worthless Hack Zippy's Avatar
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    I'm not a fan of poetry. I can count on the fingers of one hand the poems which I have liked and cannot write good poetry no matter how hard I try.

    However, I disagree that poetry is a 'lowly form of writing'; it is in fact the highest form. Poetry was around long before prose, it is a lot more difficult and challenging, and, when done properly, can have a profound effect on the reader - far more profound than prose can.

    You're absolutely right that the majority of poetry is rubbish, but I think this is largely due to people's perception. During the 1950s and 60s (with the increased popularity of the Beat Poets) poetry was perceived as being at its best when it was spontaneous and formless. Many of the Beat Poets produced effective poetry which seemed to be inspired and effortless. In reality they worked hard at this ‘effortlessness’ – they needed a firm grasp of the rules of poetry before they could break those rules. Imitators did not have this grasp and churned out empty rubbish. Poetry and people’s perception of it suffered as a result.

    When done properly, poetry is an intensely demanding art form to produce. Writing verse using poetic conventions and techniques (meter, rhyme, simile, metaphor, enjambment, alliteration, etc.) is amazingly difficult and requires intense concentration. In the modern world with all its distractions, there are not many people left who can find the space and silence they need to produce good poetry.

    The other thing to remember is that often those works of prose which we regard as literary masterpieces work so well and have become masterpieces because the writers use poetic techniques to give their writing a lyrical quality. Without poetic techniques there would be no good prose, only flat and turgid writing.

    Zippy.
    "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." Anais Nin.

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    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    "Ninety percent of everything is crap." So I don't completely disagree with you. There is a great deal of writing that is called poetry that is poorly punctuated prose, and I can't stand that kind of poetry. My preference in poetry is for Pre-Romantic poetry from the Neo-Classical and Renaissance periods in English literature, but I also agree with Zippy.

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    Andy
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    Exclamation I disagree completely

    Quote Originally Posted by Jtolj View Post
    I think it is. It is the easiest to make, .
    Poetry is far harder to write than prose. The restrictions of communication in the human language is only reallyu understood when u try compress thoughts, feelings and sensual experience into a few lines.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jtolj View Post
    the least enjoyable, and the least meaningful.
    Poetry is highly enjoyable. when you kow a poem well it makes your brain fizz. Unlike you suggest, putting music to poetry is destructive . THe lines have their own music. Poetry also has the potential to have far greater and deeper meaning than prose. the use of symbolic language, rhyme, thythm and tone can give a few words personal and 'surplus meaning' than a more literal and formal approach to language cannot achieve. Everytime I return to reading certain poem i find different meaning and depths to the work.

    Poetry is the greatest, most challenging and engaging form of literature. Want to discuss it further? What do you know or think of this poem? A famous first-world war elegy by owen on the injustice of the indescriminate slaughter of conscripts in trench warfare

    Anthem For Doomed Youth

    What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
    -Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
    Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
    Can patter out their hasty orisons.
    No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
    Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
    The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
    And bugles calling for them from sad shires.


    What candles may be held to speed them all?
    Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
    Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
    The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
    Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
    And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds

  6. #6
    In Arden with a book
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    I'm with Andy on this. It's true that a lot of poetry is rubbish and a lot is mediocre, as you say, Jtolj, but surely that only proves how difficult it is to write? It's definately not 'the easiest to make.' I think most people agree that it's harder to write a short story/article/letter than a long one, and poetry is by its very nature the most concise form of writing. Prose gives you a little room to mess up. Poetry is all about putting the exact, perfect word in the exact, perfect place. There is no room for error.

    Jtolj, you say that poems don't go anywhere, and that you're favorites are usually music or storytelling. It might be nice to read more of the latter. Some of the most exciting stories in western literature--'Beowulf,' 'The Oddysey,' 'The Iliad'--are poems. The majority of Shakespeare's canon is arguably poetry.

    It sounds like you've been reading a lot of highly 'cutting edge,' abstract type poetry. I feel the same way about that kind of writing as I do about modern art--I don't like it. No, that's not fair. When it works, it's great, but most of the time it's inaccesible and incredibly pretentious. Please, please try to get away from that sort of bollocks and give the rest of the genre a chance.

    By the way, Zippy makes a great point about poetic style in prose writing. I need to try that next time someone says that my analysis is 'too, well, analytical.'

  7. #7
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jtolj View Post
    I think it is. It is the easiest to make, the least enjoyable, and the least meaningful. I despise bad poetry and I'd say 7/10 of poetry is bad and 2/10 is mediocre. The problem with poetry is that all it is just like words. It's just not a fun experience. Many times it is just an excersise in writing. The main problem is poem's dont' go anywhere. They are too short to make do much and their structure disallows them from saying much and there's so much that you to sift through all the crap. Poems can work but they're hardly anything, unless in a song.

    Music, is a different example. My most favorite poetry is usually either musical or visual or storytelling "poetry" found in other works.
    JT, I supported you on another thread, but here you come across as a dolt. If it's so easy, then let me see you write a good poem.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jtolj View Post
    I think it is. It is the easiest to make, the least enjoyable, and the least meaningful. I despise bad poetry and I'd say 7/10 of poetry is bad and 2/10 is mediocre.
    A bit contradictory, it seems to me. If 9/10 of poetry is mediocre to bad, how exactly is it the easiest to write? Wouldn't the lack of good poetry (in your opinion) prove just the opposite; that it's difficult to write well?

  9. #9
    Moderator Logos's Avatar
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    Virgil actually Jtolj has written some poems and kindly shared them with us

    "Two Poems that defy poetic convention in favor innovation"
    http://www.online-literature.com/for...ad.php?t=19795

    "This is a poem I wrote from a screenplay."

    So, end this life of mine, a place
    I can no longer find solace. I seek
    it's end so that solace I may find
    in it's absence. Farewell giver of
    truth but mostly lies. Farewell
    giver of peace but mostly conflict.
    Farewell giver of order but mostly
    chaos. Farewell giver of light but
    mostly dark. Farewell giver of
    happiness but mostly sadness.
    Farewell giver of honor but mostly
    shame.Farewell giver of love but mostly
    hate. I fear not the reaper, but
    rather welcome him... or her.

    Should a poem like this that relies on theme rather than words be considered in a greater range?
    What do you think of the contrasting styles between theme and wordplay which occur in the world of poetry? I personal do not like overly wordy poems unless it is a word joke. I think theme is superior in getting its point across with words serving as representations of theme rather the words being the vocal point.

    "Two Poems that defy poetic convention in favor innovation"

    I do Wonder
    Winter's snow a upon. The sweet
    things around I like, and make me
    think it does. I wonder. I wonder
    about where it came from. Where it
    ends. Where I end. Where came from
    I did. For all the snow knows the
    Glenson. Ruf. Ruf. Ruf. Why?
    Wonder. Wonder I do. Ruf. Ruf. Ruf.
    Ruf. Arr, matey. Wonder. Wonder.
    Wonder. Wonder. Wonder. Wonder.
    Wonder. Wonder. Wonder I do.

    The Suicide Note
    So, end this life of mine, a place
    I can no longer find solace. I seek
    it's end so that solace I may find
    in it's absence. Farewell giver of
    truth but mostly lies. Farewell
    giver of peace but mostly conflict.
    Farewell giver of order but mostly
    chaos. Farewell giver of light but
    mostly dark. Farewell giver of
    happiness but mostly sadness.
    Farewell giver of honor but mostly
    shame. Farewell giver of love but mostly
    hate. I fear not the reaper, but
    rather welcome him... or her.
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  10. #10
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    Virgil actually Jtolj has written some poems and kindly shared them with us
    Oh thanks, Logos. I apologize for that crack JT.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jtolj
    Should a poem like this that relies on theme rather than words be considered in a greater range?
    What do you think of the contrasting styles between theme and wordplay which occur in the world of poetry? I personal do not like overly wordy poems unless it is a word joke. I think theme is superior in getting its point across with words serving as representations of theme rather the words being the vocal point.
    I don't mind wordiness. Actually Shakespeare is extremely wordy. But words have to work together as a system. But I've said this before, poetry is charged language. It doesn't matter if it's wordy or concise, but by charged I mean that the language is outside the common. A metaphor or simile or a vivid image or coordinated sounds and rhythms charge the language, as long as it's not a cliche. Cliche is the ultimate common place language.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  11. #11
    life is but a dream
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    Perhaps, my friend, you are basing this on the poetry you have written and so gratiously shared wth us, in which case I would have to agree with you. But I disagree with your anti-poetry thesis in general. It is your choice what you like and what you don't like, but poetry is an art that is not as easy to make as you perceive. Poetry, in fact, came before prose, and poetry is much harder to write than prose. Some people just don't have the touch, and that's A. O.K.
    I only wanted to live in accord with the promptings that came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?

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    Music, is a different example. My most favorite poetry is usually either musical or visual or storytelling "poetry" found in other works
    May I ask if you have any favorite poems or poets?

    They are too short to make do much and their structure disallows them from saying much and there's so much that you to sift through all the crap. Poems can work but they're hardly anything, unless in a song.
    Maybe the structures intent is not to 'say' as much, but to 'show.'

  13. #13
    Ataraxia bazarov's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jtolj View Post
    I think it is. It is the easiest to make, the least enjoyable, and the least meaningful. I despise bad poetry and I'd say 7/10 of poetry is bad and 2/10 is mediocre. The problem with poetry is that all it is just like words. It's just not a fun experience. Many times it is just an excersise in writing. The main problem is poem's dont' go anywhere. They are too short to make do much and their structure disallows them from saying much and there's so much that you to sift through all the crap. Poems can work but they're hardly anything, unless in a song.

    Music, is a different example. My most favorite poetry is usually either musical or visual or storytelling "poetry" found in other works.
    I'm a novel fan, but I completly disagree with you. Maybe you just don't like it and then you can't get it all; try to read them more...Music!?!? Britney is more popular then Pushkin...
    At thunder and tempest, At the world's coldheartedness,
    During times of heavy loss And when you're sad
    The greatest art on earth Is to seem uncomplicatedly gay.

    To get things clear, they have to firstly be very unclear. But if you get them too quickly, you probably got them wrong.
    If you need me urgent, send me a PM

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    Artist and Bibliophile stlukesguild's Avatar
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    Jtolj- Is Poetry a lowly form of writing?
    I think it is. It is the easiest to make, the least enjoyable, and the least meaningful. I despise bad poetry and I'd say 7/10 of poetry is bad and 2/10 is mediocre. The problem with poetry is that all it is just like words. It's just not a fun experience. Many times it is just an excersise in writing. The main problem is poem's dont' go anywhere. They are too short to make do much and their structure disallows them from saying much and there's so much that you to sift through all the crap. Poems can work but they're hardly anything, unless in a song.

    Music, is a different example. My most favorite poetry is usually either musical or visual or storytelling "poetry" found in other works.


    SLG- Personally I think you were on the mark with your first response, Virgil. The notion that poetry is the easiest literary form is just plain absurd. Perhaps it is easy to make poetry poorly. I think Thomas Disch suggested that a good deal of contemporary poetry doesn't seem to be more than mediocre prose broken up into something that visually "looks" like poetry... "snapped prose" as he called it:

    Take any piece of prose you like
    and snap it into lines of verse
    like this, using the end of the line

    as a kind of comma. You can create
    a further sense of shapliness
    by grouping the snapped prose in stanzas, so.


    The ability to compose a beautiful piece of poetry, however... while it may take less time than the composition of an epic novel... is no mean feat. The searching for just the perfect words... words that often work on a number of levels: musically, in terms of sound... visually in terms of the appearance on the page... words that meet a desired rhyme, rhythm, assonnance, consonnance... allusion, metaphore, etc... etc... to me seems quite challenging... and more than difficult to do well. Furthermore, to suggest that a poem is "easy" because of its compact form is as ridiculous as the suggestion that small paintings (Vermeer, Van Eyck, Degas) or smaller musical form (Bach's fugues, Beethoven's sonatas, Chopin's pollonaises, etc...) are somehow lesser art forms than any given big painting or symphony.

    As for the argument that 7/10ths of all poetry is bad... I don't completely disagree... indeed, I would suggest that rather 90% (if not more) of all art is mediocre at best, with the remaining 10% showing some promise, and less than 1% given over to the truly great. This is probably the same now as it was in the past... and is the same for almost any art form.

    I have to wonder, however, about Jtolj's ability at a deep analysis of the imagined problems or flaws with poetry. "It's all just like words"??! Well... like... isn't like all literature like just like you know... WORDS? I'm guessing from the comments about poetry not going anywhere (as well as the referrence to the storytelling elements in a song) that Jtolj is imagining that poetry (like all literature, no doubt) should focus upon character and narrative development. Undoubtedly, there are great works of poetry that are also brilliant narratives (Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Dante, Milton, Browning, etc...) but poetry often works by means of suggestion... allusion... atmosphere... etc... The strength of the great poem is that the form... (the structure... the music... the actual words...) and the content... (the concepts... the narrative... the ideas/feelings coveyed) are so intertwined as to be inseperable. When this truly works it is magical... enthralling... breathtaking... although I'm not certain it might be defined as "fun". "Pleasurable"... certainly, but then again I am one who has long realized that the pleasure afforded by a great work of literature is not always an easy pleasure; it often places great demands upon the reader... but I am one of those who believes that there is a unique pleasure to be won through such effort... such wrestling with a great work of art.
    Last edited by stlukesguild; 10-29-2006 at 03:15 PM.
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  15. #15
    Drinking your coke Neovia's Avatar
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    Thank you Jtolj, I haven't laught this much for a long time :'D. I still can't decide are you stupid or just having fun by provoketing people. Zippy and overmydeadbody have some good points there.
    A good novel is like a rainbow garden in your pocket.

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