Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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Max Reif Male, 67, United States (8/3/2005 9:24:00 AM)

-Ezra Pound

Educated, uneducated, who cares? A little education is a dangerous thing, they say.
When I sample the river of poetry here, stand in the flow for a couple hours like a trout fisherman in hip boots, I find such gems: rubies, saphires, diamonds, so what if many are uncut?
I find so many different tastes, to use a different metaphor. So what if many are 'bad' poetry-they all have one thing in common, they're living, breathing human documents.
The 'bad' poetry is 'bad', I think, because it doesn't convey a genuine experience. The experience gets lost in the effort to rhyme, often. Sometimes all one reads is a collection of rhyme-words with lines as appendages, like a tadpole's tail. There's nothing inherent that makes a poem about the subject of unrequited love 'bad'. It's simply that the writer is too close to the subject matter, or not honest enough to really reach the essence of the experience...or just not verbal enough.
But, to change metaphors yet again, those writings are pieces of candy I'll taste and then put back. No harm done.
I find many fine poets who haven't mastered all the rules of grammar. So what? It's an adventure to do that 'trout fishing'! I really DON'T have the mental strength to read every poem, the current gets to me after awhile. I really wish I did, though. Restricting oneself to 'Forum poets', I would miss a great deal!
Another thing I try to do is offer support. If there's one really good line in a poem, why not praise it? And then there is the person behind the poetic effort, I'm not above giving support to that person. This site is basically one of the myriad places on earth where human beings meet. I don't try to be a therapist, but 'poetry' is really a subcategory of the human condition, which is the real, overriding 'poem' we're all part of. There are many poets I must leave to the ocean of living, but when I can appropriately reach through for any *genuine* moment of contact (recommending LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET, for example) , I do.

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  • Rookie Raynette Eitel (8/3/2005 10:17:00 AM) Post reply
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    Max, this is so well-stated. I particularly like your reminder, 'If there's one really good line in a poem, why not praise it? ' That's kind. That's human. And that's how to nurture a budding poet or a human being in need...either one.

  • Rookie - 7 Points Max Reif (8/3/2005 9:47:00 AM) Post reply

    An afterthought: it helps to enters the river with an attitude of humility. I have to continually let go of EVERYTHING, especially 'who I am', (as much as I can) to read the next poem. The effort is to be pure consciousness, just one consciousness connecting with the same consciousness in someone else. Judgmental thoughts come again and again, they're just passing thoughts. Of course 'I' (secretly, sometimes not so secretly) fancy myself 'an expert'. Have to let go of that identity again and again, which is not the same as suspending critical judgment. Trying to read with 'beginner's mind', as they say in zen.

  • Rookie Mary Nagy (8/3/2005 9:43:00 AM) Post reply

    Max, I think you've said it perfectly.

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