Poetics and Poetry Discussion
(4/26/2014 7:56:00 PM)
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Lamont, as usual, I have trouble (in your reply to me below) understanding YOUR conception of certain poetic terms.
1. You say, " I've always said that my poems are technically free verse, in that, they DON'T scan, but adhere to other formal devices. Poems do not need to scan to be successful, When I say that meter makes a poem beautiful, I also mean, and have said many times, a strong SENSE of meter as well as strict meter is indispensable."
Meter is meter. If your poem doesn't scan at all, it isn't using meter, which is an underlying PATTERN of rhythm. You probably mean, you like poems that have a strong iambic or anapestic or whatever rhythm. What do you mean " adhere to other formal devices" ?Assonance?Consonance?Certainly not figures of speech?Metaphor/simile have NOTHING to do with sound, which is what meter is about.
2. You say, " I call for a tighter form than you, and yes, a slightly more elevated diction. But its that tighter, more rhythmic free verse or metrical poetry that, in my opinion, is the best poetry; where the music is stronger and more apparent."
I have NO idea what you mean by " tighter form, " just as YOU have no idea what you mean by metrical. Tighter, meaning fewer words?Maybe counting syllables (9 to 11 syllables in a line?) ?What?
3. You say, " I favor a more abstract, symbolist syntax (which is a more formal element usually) . When one writes too 'plainly', one is flirting with banality. You wouldn't call this post I am writing right now 'clunky', or 'overwritten' because I'm using straightforward, declarative sentences. The problem is, you see poetry as needing to be no more verbally imaginative than this post. According to you, all I need to do is break this commentary up into lines and I have a poem, right?That's probably our biggest disagreement.
Yes, absolutely! Break your post into lines, and it's a poem (verse) . The point, as I always say, is it a good or bad one?if the line breaks and stanza organization add nothing to the words' expressiveness, I'd call it a bad poem. Again, you lose me with your terminology; I've never heard of something called " abstract, symbolist syntax."
Syntax is nothing more than word order. How can word order be abstract?Even more puzzling, how can word order be symbolist?Can you give me an example?A big WTF?
4. You answer my question, " how can a lesson plan be scarred" by replying, " Poetry needn't be literal and exact, as you seem to think it should. Poetry is defined, primarily, by FIGURATIVE language. And figurative language is only limited by the imagination and linguistic boldness of the poet, not reality."
I agree that figurative language (along with vivid imagery) is the heart of poetry I love, similes, metaphors, analogies, etc. A successful figure of speech has two qualities though: it's surprising AND appropriate. " Linguistic boldness" too often, as in your poems when they strain for originality, engenders a guffaw because the reader's surprise morphs immediately into mirth at how inappropriate the comparison is. Your misshapen figures of speech are your biggest poetic fault. Contrary to what you suggest, poetry SHOULD be “exact.” A lesson plan, a piece of paper, can not be “scarred.” As Acker so irritatingly keeps repeating, “driving your tongue from town to town” is pure silliness. Here’s another goofy metaphor from your “Florida Colors”: “Our trepidation?(driven by your woolly freedom) ….” I’ll conclude by quoting one more misshapen victim of your “linguistic boldness”:
Feet are nomads (independent)
on the bottom of bodies. They grasp their
own agendas, staying fixed upon the lights
of ones viewpoint....Replies for this message:
(4/27/2014 12:13:00 AM)
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if you're being published, you're doing something right. cant argue with success
(4/26/2014 9:56:00 PM)
Yes, JC, every metaphor is 'goofy' in your sight, when it veers from 'plainspeak'. I've literally seen you go through lines in Merrill and Crane and Geoffrey Hill, hurling the same dumb 'charge' at th ... more
- Alexander Rizzo (4/27/2014 12:13:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply
(4/26/2014 7:43:00 PM)
Thank you poetry gods, I feel completely vindicated. " driving your tongue from city to city is pure silliness! " .
How about this corny line......(inertia tricks the eye to see what is sad) (this is your worst habit, these statements in parenthesis, as if you are winking at the treader, silly and as they say let the reader think something is sad, NEVER EVER say it, remember The! diot's Guide To Fine Poetry: " always let the reader develop the emotion, never express it" . Palmer I am disappointed!
I have been saying the emperor has no clothing ever since I knew he has no clothing. Palmer and his female dogs are so afraid of this little fraud, they never looked carefully at his crappy writing. Anyway.....
(4/26/2014 5:57:00 PM)
JC, I'll try to keep this very brief. I probably won't succeed. You're critiquing me on something which I never claimed: that my poems scan. I never said they did. I've always said that my poems are technically free verse, in that, they DON'T scan, but adhere to other formal devices. Poems do not need to scan to be successful, I would think you, of all people, would agree with that, as your poems fall far shorter of scanning than my own. When I say that meter makes a poem beautiful, I also mean, and have said many times, a strong SENSE of meter as well as strict meter is indispensable; in other words, 'free verse' the way Eliot intended it to be written. So I see nothing wrong with casual language, providing that a strong sense of meter (or also what Eliot called the ghost of meter) can be heard and felt in the poem. Technically we both enjoy and support the same poetry: free form. However, I call for a tighter form of it than you, and yes, a slightly more elevated diction. Its always been a matter of taste, largely. But its that tighter, more rhythmic free verse or metrical poetry that, in my opinion, is the best poetry; where the music is stronger and more apparent; i.e. Stevens versus WCW; Merrill versus Bukowski; Plath versus Sharon Olds, etc. Also, you support a straightforward, declarative syntax in your lines. When its too straightforward, I don't see or feel the poetry:
'Its true, opinions are like a**holes. For instance, some editor wanted to delete this dialogue from my urban edgy poem'
In my opinion, those are merely remarks, very straight and unpoetic to my ear. (not to mention, a huge cliche is there) . I could find that sentence in any dashed-off email. So we diverge not just on diction, but syntax; I favor a more abstract, symbolist syntax (which is a more formal element usually) , which is where I feel the greatest poetry has dwelled. When one writes too 'plainly', one is flirting with banality. You criticized a poem by Planz in an earlier thread on 'clunky' language. To you, anything that isn't direct and declarative, you deem as 'clunky' or 'overwritten'. I just find that to be an extremely unimaginative, anemic view of poetry. In other words, you wouldn't call this post I am writing right now 'clunky', or 'overwritten', because I'm using straightforward, declarative sentences. The problem is, you see poetry as needing to be no more verbally imaginative than this post. According to you, all I need to do is break this commentary up into lines and I have a poem, right?That's probably our biggest disagreement.
But again, as you say, these are mostly issues of taste. There is literary criticism to support both sides of the debate. You have your side and I have mine. However, if one does not have any strong opinions about poetry, one probably shouldn't be involved in it at all.
Finally, how can a lesson plan be scarred'?Again, its poetry, Jefferson. Its not journalism. Poetry needn't be literal and exact, as you seem to think it should. Your prescriptions are better suited for journalism. Poetry is defined, primarily, by FIGURATIVE language. And figurative language is only limited by the imagination and linguistic boldness of the poet, not reality. We have different views JC, and there's literary criticism that support both. Nothing wrong with agreeing to disagree. -LP
(4/26/2014 5:18:00 PM)
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" It will remain remarkable, in what ever way our future concepts may develop, that the very study of the external world led to the SCIENTIFIC conclusion that the content of the consciousness is the ultimate universal reality." - Eugene P Wagner, a Nobel Prize winner and one of the leading physicists of the twentieth century.Replies for this message:
(4/27/2014 6:17:00 AM)
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This quote was taken from a lecture on YouTube - " Explained! The Double Slit Experiment" - and I see it not only as being relevant to poetry but also of freeing poetry of any self-imposed r ... more
(4/27/2014 3:06:00 AM)
Just catching up with you guys on this and all the other stuff and think it's worthwhile making a few connections here. This does seem to be interesting from a poetry point of view actually... if the ... more
(4/26/2014 8:13:00 PM)
You've always been a snake in the underbrush, Peter. Yes, I agree, Peter. One day science will prove beyond doubt that Christ was a blonde, blue-eyed Norwegian. Is that what you are trying to s ... more
(4/26/2014 5:46:00 PM)
No matter whom you quote, your poetry st ... more
- Peter Stavropoulos (4/27/2014 6:17:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply
(4/26/2014 3:50:00 PM)
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Lamont, thanks for clarifying below your poetic tastes and influences. Here are some responses to the individual points you made.
1. You love “the mixture of strong music, yet often casual language.” So do I, with more emphasis in my poetry on casual language, including “anti-poetic” diction (slang, cuss-words, profanity, etc.) . The challenge I give myself is how to “poeticize” (in Paul Fussell’s term, “heighten”) such unprepossessing, vulgar diction. I try to do it through line breaks, figures of speech and images. The stanzas and line breaks in the poem I’ve posted below attempt, through form, to make the plain diction more expressive; for instance, the line break between stanza three and stanza four intends to suggest an unexpected conviction that, yes, opinions ARE like assholes.
He writes “dripping from the trees,
human gray matter.” I suggest
“gray matter dripping from trees”
works better. He writes “a person
of interest.” I suggest “an object”
of interest.” It’s true—opinions
are like assholes. For instance,
some editor wanted to delete this
dialogue from my edgy urban poem—
“Wanna blowjob?” “No, I’m good.”
Where we disagree is what is strong music. Dana Gioia and William Logan write formal poems; their “music, ” even when not employing end rhyme or a rhyme scheme, strikes me as bloodless, contrived, fey, and redolent of elevator music in a museum no one bothers to visit anymore. Of course, our personal tastes come into play here.
2. You say, “METER is what separates a poem from prose; that the more one waters down the meter, the closer one gets to flat sounding lines, thus, prose. And I knew that I did not want my work mistaken for prose, or derided as chopped-up essays.”
First, we need to clarify our terms. Here I’ll jump on my poor, worn-out hobby horse (joining the critic Charles Hartman) , and declare “prose is NOT the opposite of poetry.” Prose and VERSE are opposites, the former organized by paragraphs and the latter organized by line and stanza. In fact, the term “poetry” might best be dropped from all future discussions of literature. No one can (or has) definitively defined it. For simplicity’s sake, I use the terms verse and poetry interchangeably, meaning, without implying differences in quality, a kind of writing organized by lines and stanzas. Most critics (like Lewis Turco) confuse the term “poetry” for “poetic” and the term “prose” for “prosaic, ” as Turco does when he labels Joyce’s “Ulysses” poetry. The book is highly “poetic” (musical) prose, not poetry. You, Lamont, would probably label Philip Levine’s poetry (and, of course, my verse) as “prose chopped-up into lines”; a more accurate and useful phrase would be “prosaic” verse, meaning poetry whose diction is plain and relatively flat.
You want me to stop using the word “educated” in reference to poetry. You insist “there is no real 'education' in poetry, save vast amounts of reading and riding and absorbing good, fresh work from the masters, or near masters.” But that term “meter” you so dearly love demands that its proponents learn what they’re talking about. I suspect any poet who hasn’t read Paul Fussell’s classic “Poetic Meter & Poetic Form” has little understanding of the subject. The inept formal poems posted by many, many Poemhunter poets proves this as they adhere to a perfectly regular meter, a rigid pattern of rhythm that ignores opportunities for expressive variation.
3. And, finally, you say, “I just think meter (and a slightly elevated diction) gives a poem beauty and impact, and the further you pull back from that, the further you get away from verse. The ‘plain style’ blurs the line too much for me.” I suppose you mean “...the further you get away from [GOOD] verse [poetry].”
Scanning a few lines from your own poem “Amish Girls” makes me question your understanding of meter. I assume you’re attempting an accentual-syllabic metered poem because each line aspires to five feet. The first line, “Where is the religious eye?Morning is dark, ” should, ideally, establish the rhythmic pattern the reader may expect; here’s how I scan it:
u/ uu/ u/ /u u/
It’s pentameter but not regularly iambic, with the 2nd foot anapestic and the 4th foot a trochee. I’m guessing you think you're writing a poem in iambic pentameter meter. However, this expectation is blown to hell as the poem unfolds. Look at the third stanza:
When blood played a part it never played,
u / / u / / / u /
painting the floorboards a crimson no one
/ u u / / u / u u /
desired; leaving lesson plans scarred and drenched.
u / / u / u / / u /
4½ feet in the first line, five feet in the next two lines, so Lamont’s still struggling with pentameter, but what a mix of feet,2 trochees and a spondee in line 1,3 trochees in line 2, and 2 trochees and a spondee in line 3. If this poem is written in METER (which you say “gives a poem beauty and impact”) , it’s a garbled meter, some kind of heavily trochaic pentameter you never intended. Here’s what I conclude: counting syllables is the only thing you understand about poetic meter. Counting syllables, while being deaf to the rhythms of stressed and unstressed syllables, is no more useful than counting crows.
4. I believe the true bone of contention between us is our taste for plain or elevated diction. That word “scarred” in line 3 above exemplifies what I dislike about elevated diction—it may sound “poetic” and emotional, but it’s imprecise, clunky, and vague. How can a lesson plan, a piece of paper, be scarred?With that question, I’ll abandon this too-long disquisition.Replies for this message:
(4/26/2014 10:12:00 PM)
Yes, please rely on the Professor, especially when he's being honest, and not churlish and angry and phony like at the moment. -LP Jefferson Carter (10/14/2013 10: 04: 00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 ... more
(4/26/2014 5:41:00 PM)
Almost forgot about the Driving The Tongue line, I guess that one must be a 7th foot anapesticfckued up meter?
(4/26/2014 5:04:00 PM)
I am sure Palmer is seeing this as two titans discussing poetry. Unfortunately for him, it is one titan(JC, just so there is no doubt in Palmer's mind) berating a pathetic, mixed-up poet wannabe. U ... more
- Lamont Palmer (4/26/2014 10:12:00 PM) Post reply
(4/26/2014 3:48:00 PM)
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the discussion we were having between mr carter and mr palmer is what we need in this forum, no more of this foolishness from you mr acker who i now believe is in disguise, as no one would behave so maniacally under their actual names. you have a fixation on mr palmer obviously for reasons that have nothing to do with poetry; leave it off these pages, for gods sake
(4/26/2014 2:30:00 PM)
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Lamont's Cutting The Losses....
I will be reworking a bit as it lacks some music. I'll be taking the drivel and doggerel out for him and I am sure he will thank me once I am done.....I will need a week or so, as the foundation is questionable. I will do what I can to save this overly sentimental, drab poem from itself and especially from Lamont.......
Cutting The Losses
All lengthening dies; so goes hair and hipster styles, (all lengthening dies?I don't know, will rework for you Palmer)
Now, in tune, to what may be the last strand touched.
As he sat, motion displaced in the muscles, (motion displaced in the muscle, we know what you mean, but badlty put from a poetic point of view, don't worry, will work it out for you)
(inertia tricks the eye to see what is sad) (this is your worst habit, these statements in parenthesis, as if you are winking at the treader, silly and as they say let the reader think something is sad, NEVER EVER say it, remember The! diot's Guide To Fine Poetry: " always let the reader develop the emotion, never express it" . Palmer I am disappointed!
He trusted my hands, those appendages (he trusted my hands, those appendages, HUHHHH?no music, not poetry, but don't you worry Uncle Mike will work on this for you)
Moving across the hairline like eyes on stanzas.(I know you are extremely proud of this line, and I am sorry, but it just doesn't work. Read it aloud and you will find that around " like eyes on stanzas" there is a major stumble. Shame on you, forty four years and you didn't read it aloud?)
In his world, closer than I would have thought,
Sobers at any age, when all was orchestrated
By him, the lyricism of independence.
Now me behind him, tentative barber,
Behind this dwindling customer who
Ran with iron hands, this establishment, (" With iron hands ran" sounds a bit better)
Submits to razors, virtuous tools of grooming.
His nude back, a map of aging, mole-strewn towns, (" Nude back" s/b " Naked back" I don't know, my ears don't like, unless we have different version of the Oedipus story going on here)
With wisps of hair, settling down to sleep, (Very, very silly, sorry, but I am always shocked at your writing after forty four years)
He seems to release remnants of a past
That will not end with him, or vanish
Like small locks, inordinately soft.
The strongest spark?The father of triumph,
Heroes who you see in whole scenes, whole
And shirtless, ego-less, as they are; man and son
(nervous in paradigms held together by need)
While the Reaper takes up the broom and sweeps.
leave it with me for a week or so.....there is a lot to do here...I welcome anyone to argue my points, as they are honest comments.Replies for this message:
(4/26/2014 10:16:00 PM)
Jefferson Carter (10/14/2013 10: 04: 00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply Lamont, pretty nice poem, especially the tender and true portrayal of that naked back. I think, for the most part, you allowed ... more
-. - . _.
(4/26/2014 5:19:00 PM)
Jefferson Carter (4/23/2014 10: 47: 00 AM) Post reply PHers, Wadin Hooyo is Mike Acker. ...................
(4/26/2014 4:46:00 PM)
No, not a fixation, but yes, I am convinced he is a phony and a quack, Sherrie. His poetry stinks. Instead of being so biased, why didn't you respond to my valid comments about what he views as his ... more
(4/26/2014 3:39:00 PM)
you must have nothing to do with your da ... more
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- Lamont Palmer (4/26/2014 10:16:00 PM) Post reply
(4/26/2014 1:03:00 PM)
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Here I be an impish sprite
that speaks with impish speech
biting hard a lion's tail
I clamp fast with my teeth;
hear now the old lion's roar,
the tragedy in poems
while I am whipped about
in the thought lairs of his home.
In his deepest jungle breath
he growls some simple lines
seducing young gazelles
with love bones wrapped in rhyme;
then suddenly he pounces
with a skillful lover’s art
enclosing the distance,
leaping chasms to their heart.
I have witnessed feral pleasure
known no greater pain
in the death grip of a lion's lust
mangling my brain.
Be wary sweet young antelope
don't stray far from the pack
starved are the grey old lions
when their heads dismount the rack.Replies for this message:
(5/28/2014 12:08:00 AM)
Stunning...ferocious beginning and alarming end...quite consistent in imagery and compact in composition of 3 stanzas 8 lines each... animal imagery leads us to watch the drama staged daily in human ... more
(4/26/2014 1:32:00 PM)
Great writing, Captain Cur. I will be reading the rest of your poetry.
- Shahzia Batool (5/28/2014 12:08:00 AM) Post reply
(4/26/2014 12:55:00 PM)
Mangled lives, cut-up souls,
diced and shredded minds,
fried brains, chopped up childhoods,
mixed with the biting vinegar
of foul abuse, the type that strikes
fear and the kind that grows demons,
larger than life.
Clipped wings, then
into the bitter winds
and storms of simple days, pushed.
Split thoughts and wounded hearts,
injected with unnatural broths.
How else to fight these,
they grew inside,
(4/25/2014 7:02:00 PM)
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I am here, inside the outside.
I have been here for a while,
now. You never know exactly
when, or how it comes about,
but none of that matters, anyhow.
The key is that once inside,
you begin to belong and
you begin to get along
with the others, here, outside.
Morbidity morphs into the familiar
and the comprehensible,
once you're in the outside.
I hear the others, inside,
the ones who have not lost
their mind yet, to find
their way to here, the outside.
Their wasted words still echo
in my ears. They are sad for,
sadness hasn't reached them yet.
We talk, these insiders, and I,
like two stars passing each other
every night. Their light shines
off me and mine does not. Neither
cold nor warmth are exchanged.
Neither recognizes the other,
as they are still, without,
and I am now well within,