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Thread: Are Poets Born Not Made?

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    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    Are Poets Born Not Made?

    Discussion only please. No argument.

    Mary Oliver said:

    "Everyone knows that poets are born and not made in school. This is true also of painters, sculptors, and musicians."

    Does it mean that there are inherent poetic styles and beats possessed by born-poets, considering natural-born painters have their own unique affinity towards certain hues and colors, sculptors towards certain shapes and textures, and musicians towards certain instruments and vocal ranges?
    "You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same."

    --Jonathan Davis

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Art being art whatever the form, it's seems perfectly logical to me that one can have an instinctive way of using words.

    I have to say, though, that I'm always skeptical of people who claim "everyone knows" what they know or believe.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    I do not believe art is hereditary in any way. I don't think we come into the world a poet or painter or musician or not. True, some people's brains work in a way that may give them an "advantage" in certain artistic fields (particularly music...such is why you get musical protegees.) But poetry is something you develop, not something you are born with.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
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    Some people certainly have natural talents and seem to take to things easier than others. This can go for words, music, mathematics, or anything else. But, I think that natural talent is over-rated, and can only get you so far.

    I like to believe that with hard work, dedication, and practice anyone can eventually do anything within the realm of possibility.

    Too many people get put off when they don't believe that they have a natural affinity for something. This is especially true for math, but extends to art as well. Maybe grand figures like William Shakespeare, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Jimi Hendrix were born with something really special inside of them, but I don't think that anyone should be deterred because they don't have that.

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    Both.

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    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    I believe that each person has a forte in life and some people have to work harder at it. We all learnt to write and it came easier to some than others but we managed it in the end. Our love of writing might vary however. We must also remember that it isn't necessarily those who didn't struggle with writing that love writing. So what do you do if you are driven by visions of beautiful art in your mind but you're a bumbling painter? Isn't that person a born artist too? I don't buy the statement myself. I think it has to come to practice, practice, practice for this lot of people who have the same love of the arts as the next artist but struggle for other reasons.
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

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    They are not born as such. It is a matter of unequal love for whatever they like to do most. Without that love and dedication they would fail to achieve great things in any field.

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    I think anyone can be a poet. But I do think some people are more able in the beginning, and it will be very hard for people who have an average ability to work hard enough to reach them. It's like that with any artistic medium. There are exceptions--I would argue that without so much hard work and will power, Maria Callas would not have become a world famous soprano (a voice teacher once told me when I was struggling that Maria Callas didn't even have a pretty voice, she just worked very hard and was very determined, and I actually agree).

    I do think there is also an intangible quality some writers have that's almost supernatural. I have seen people improve a lot in workshops, but honestly, I believe a large part of writing good poetry is having good taste, or being able to sustain a "place" or "identity" or "worldview" completely in a poem. You must really be an aesthete.
    J.H.S.

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    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    And even an aesthete must cultivate their art.
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

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    Yeah, but some people just never GET it. Sure, you can work at it really hard and whatever, and maybe get better--but to be a really good poet, you have to have something, I think. You have to at least have taste. I wouldn't even call it taste--it's the ability to discern what is at work in the kinds of work you want to do, and being able to execute. It's a discerning eye, I guess.
    J.H.S.

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    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    Do you think its possible for a poet to have that gift without ever being conscious of what their particular ability is? I mean they never intentionally break down that gift into the working parts to see how it operates?
    Before sunlight can shine through a window, the blinds must be raised - American Proverb

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    Oh, it's a very subconscious process much of the time. Or at least, the poet will start with conscious themes to guide them and their writing will manifest ones they weren't even thinking about.
    J.H.S.

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    BadWoolf JuniperWoolf's Avatar
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    Everyone thinks Rimbaud was some kid who drunkenly stumbled into poetry on a bender one night and re-vamped the whole scene without even trying, but the truth is that he studied poetry like a mother****er. He dedicated almost all of his young life to studying the greats who preceded him, he read and re-read their work and then he played with their format and sounds and style, and then he composed his own poems. No, I don't think people just "born with it" and don't have to work, I think talent is a natural potential skill, and you nurture it by genuinely trying to get better.
    Last edited by JuniperWoolf; 05-19-2012 at 12:26 AM.
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    I don't know. I think like most everything, people are born with more of a disposition to art than others. If I'm not mistaken, the parts of the brain dealing with things like art have been identified, and it's been shown that some people have brains more predisposed to those subjects. The whole right-brained, left-brained thing. I've met people who grow up in households without any csignificant cultural influence, yet they want to become artists . . . some to the point where they can't not be artists. I find it hard to believe that this is all due to personal choice alone.

    In summary: everyone can be a poet. Not everyone can be a good poet. It's not in everyone. Of course no one is "born" a poet. It's a skill that needs to be learned, same as walking, talking, and crapping in a toilet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    I do not believe art is hereditary in any way. I don't think we come into the world a poet or painter or musician or not. True, some people's brains work in a way that may give them an "advantage" in certain artistic fields (particularly music...such is why you get musical protegees.) But poetry is something you develop, not something you are born with.
    You know, Charles, I think you might be missing the point. I don't think that being an artist is hereditary. But I do believe that genius is a freak that nature works to undo by a return to its mediocre mean, which is why brilliant parents do not necessarily have brilliant children. As a survival mechanism, genius is a loser and has consigned one historically to a life of isolation. Think of Kierkegaard pining away in his market town or Kafka who wanted to die in obscurity with all his manuscripts burned.

    Of course, anyone can achieve some level of competence with regards to technique. But most every great artist requires more than that. I once heard Dave Liebman, a saxophonist, describe it as the division between the head, the hand and the heart. The least important and most easily mastered, in my view, is the head, the theoretical and historical knowledge of the medium. The great obstacle that most aspirants run into is the hand, the technique, and most spend their entire lives trying to master it or acquire "chops". The last, most elusive, most important aspect is the heart--what is known as duende, soul or "having something to say." How one acquires this last element is a mystery. Perhaps life beats it into some people, or perhaps some are simply born with a certain rare sensitivity. Whatever the case, readers will forgive deficits in the former two if there is an abundance of the latter. To be really great, however, requires all three, and the convergence of the three is a rare thing indeed.

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