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Poetics and Poetry Discussion


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Jefferson Carter Jefferson Carter Male, 91, United States (8/26/2013 8:55:00 PM)

For the three or four of you here that actually CARE about poetry as an art form and not just a vehicle for your self-love:

Of relevance to a discussion about the difference between prose and poetry is Charles Hartman's great book " Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody."

Hartman distinguishes among 1. Verse,2. Poetry, and 3. Prose. He says, " 'Verse' is sometimes used interchangeably with 'poetry.'" He goes on to say, " 'Poetry' seems impossible to define rigorously and permanently." (I agree with him there.) " 'Verse' is bad enough; but it has the advantage of referring clearly to the form of a linguistic expression, not its content or value. It is one of two such forms...the other being being prose. An opposition between prose and poetry, though common enough, is also commonly rejected. 'Prose-poems' exist. 'Prose-verse' contradicts itself; the words oppose each other exactly.

" Yet to make a clear and simple distinction, we need only remember what Howard Nemerov calls 'the hard-nosed definition laid down by Jeremy Bentham, that when the lines run all the way to the right margin, it is prose; when this fails to happen, it is verse.'"

I like this. It seems to say something that to me is more meaningful than a stubborn opposition between prose and poetry, namely, that the real opposition is between prose and verse.

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