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Imagery And Poetry - Poem by DR.GENNY ANDERSON

Imagery

Though often written off as decoration or illustration, imagery lies at the heart of a poem. Much of any language is built of dead metaphors, and metaphors in poetry are more sleeping than dead. To put the matter concisely: imagery is the content of thought where attention is directed to sensory qualities: mental images, figures of speech and embodiments of non-discursive truth.


Discussion

Psychologists identify seven kinds of mental images — those of sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, bodily awareness and muscular tension. All are available to poets, and are used by poets, though rarely to the same extent. The key point is the purposes to which imagery is put. Metaphor, simile, allegory, personification, metonymy (attribute for whole) and synecdoche (part for whole) all involve imagery. Often the things compared are both images, but one of them may also be a feeling or concept. The effects achieved are very various, therefore, and the matter is further complicated by literary fashion and a poet's individual obsessions.


Imagery has adjusted to changing cultural outlooks. The medieval view of art was rooted in morality, and its descriptions of the world never forgot that the smallest thing must also serve God's purposes. The Renaissance writers studied the classical authors, and employed imagery to clarify, enforce and decorate. Imagery was often elaborate, but not generally constitutive of meaning. The growth of a homogeneous reading public in the 18th century brought a polite and plain diction into general use. Images became mental representations of sensory experience, a storehouse of devices by which the original scenes of nature, society, commerce, etc. could be recreated. With Romantic transcendentalism, when the world reappeared as the garment of God, and the abstract and general resided in the concrete and particular, poetry came to embody the sacred, and images to be symbols of an indwelling deity. In Modernism and Postmodernism, the interest has focused on the images themselves, which are an inescapable part of language, and therefore a way of interrogating the world.



Suggestions

Consider using imagery to:
1. Externalize thought.
2. Create mood and atmosphere.
3. Give continuity by recurring leitmotifs.
4. Develop plot or increase dramatic effect by abrupt changes in imagery.
5. Exploit the etymology of words to subtly revive their original meanings.
recommendations
1.Don't mix metaphors too wantonly. Shakespeare did, but fashions change.
2. Find images that are new-struck, resonant and apposite.
3. Avoid imagery altogether rather than employ cliché.
4. Imagery constructs a world: make sure that world is real and vibrant with contemporary issues.



Poetry Lessons: Writing Cycle



One question is often asked in poetry lessons: is there some cycle to writing? Can the process be standardized, or made more efficient?

The answer is yes, up to a point. Poets keep files of poems in various stages of construction, and work on them as circumstances permit. The various stages call on very different skills, moreover, and a working session often sees several poems being attended to at the same time.

Discussion

Professional writers soon learn the elements of construction, indeed must to survive in a very competitive market. The slant, number of words, diction suitable for the intended audience, quotes required, references for further reading — all these will be have been set by the publication in question, and the writer's task is simply to gather material and then shape it.
Not so poetry. Poems grow much more haphazardly: in odd directions, by fits and starts, never to foreseen conclusions or any conclusions at all. Many, probably the great majority, are never accepted by reputable magazines and simply have to be aired in poetry groups and then filed for attention years later.
There are nonetheless strategies to make best use of your time. The stages below do not need to be followed mechanically, and there are poems that spring almost perfect from first putting pen to paper. But first blooms are rarities, and may be no better than the products of prolonged toil, in which art has concealed art. You need to develop your own working methods.
Suggestions
1. First comes a theme, which may be anything from a few words to a fleshed-out plan. Belonging to this stage are jottings, detailed notes, references to poems similar in shape or content. Also a long, hard look at the chances of success. Poets are not paid on an hourly basis, so that time lavished on one thing is time stolen from something else.
2. First draft. Here the poem takes shape. Content will be worked out: what the poem says and how. Verse type, rhyme scheme and stanza patterning will have been decided, and in overall shape the poem is looking like its final version.
3. Crafting. Now the draft is taken apart. Commercial writing omits this stage because there isn't the time, and such writing is anyway constructed in various stereotypes and phraseologies. Poetry is written with the deepest attention to language, however, and each shift in imagery, metaphor, verse style, word choice brings changes throughout the poem.

4. Evaluation. Stages 1 - 3 above, which are commonly repeated, give what has now to be critiqued. The poem is analyzed from various viewpoints — New Critics, Freudian / Jungian, mythological, stylistic, rhetorical, metaphorical, Postmodernist traits, and so forth. Some of these methods are evaluative; others simply reveal the poem's depth, understanding and interest. Objectivity is important, and ideally the critiques should be carried out with the help of sympathetic but astute critics in workshops and poetry circles.


5. Polishing. The poem, together with its originating notes and comments, is now put away, generally for some weeks or months. It is then read with fresh eyes, and anything less than excellent is immediately marked for attention. Changes and improvements are made, and the piece again put away for rereading later. When this process no longer brings changes, the piece is ready for publication. Note the repetitions: most poets find it very unwise to make large changes immediately before publication.


6. Submitting for publication. Many poems are first printed in small magazines, which helps generate interest and reputation. The appropriate magazines need to be selected very carefully, and their guides for submission adhered to.


7. Publicizing. Most poetry gets known through networking, attending poetry groups and readings, serving on committees, writing reviews, helping to edit anthologies, etc. Publicizing your work is an essential but commonly overlooked aspect of the poetry writing business.

Most people join poetry or literature circles for pleasure. They have always enjoyed poetry, and now have the time — through retirement, unemployment or the children leaving home — to try their own hand at this absorbing genre.
How to get started, find like-minded friends, engage in collaborative associations and publications?
Discussion
The pursuit can hardly be bettered. Poetry is the most versatile and wide-ranging of literary forms, enabling things to be said that cannot be encompassed in prose. It can be finished in odd moments, unlike the novel, which takes long years of effort. Whatever its standard or style, a poem can usually be published somewhere, given the determination, the research and the contacts. Poetry forms a good introduction to more commercial types of writing, and is usually included in creative writing courses.
Nonetheless, poetry is not easy. The medium is a compact one, needing great concentration to read, and even more to write. First efforts are not always rewarding. Nevertheless, even the most pedestrian poem occasionally lifts into the vivid and memorable, and kindles a warm response in its reader. And that is worth a great deal, despite what poetry has become in recent years. With the Modernists' love of experimentation, anti-realism, individualism and intellectualism came a great narrowing of aims and accomplishments. Poetry was not writing at its highest pitch, but something fabricated altogether differently. With Postmodernism these trends were accentuated. Writers became the self-appointed spiritual guardians of language, championing its creative and arbitrary nature over its more prosaic powers to represent, analyse and discover.
Those writing simply for pleasure can ignore these subtleties. At least at first, the opportunities seem boundless. Despite all the advantages enjoyed by contemporary plays and films — the technology, the 'real-life' dramas, modern idiom in speech and attitudes — Shakespeare is still the most performed of dramatists, giving us a gallery of recognisable characters that no one has rivalled. Dante provides us with a sharp-etched picture of fifteenth-century Italian politics. Byron manages to work in slang and details of a water pump into Don Juan, and Ezra Pound incorporates views on capitalist economics in the Cantos. Philip Larkin paints the domestic nihilism of the contemporary welfare state, and Ted Hughes's animals are exactly observed. What are these but the smallest examples of what lies open to talent, honesty and determination?
Success brings pleasure, and pleasure may be the truest mark of a writer. Without talent, nothing of importance can be achieved. But without increasing absorption, fascination and sheer pleasure in literary craftsmanship, that talent will never see the light of day. Native ability and hard work are both essential to poetry, and pleasure is the stimulus to both.
Suggestions
1. Join a local poetry writing group or literature circle. Writing is a lonely enough activity, and moral support and shared aims will help you through the barren stretches.
2. Be realistic. Good poets are not household names, and earn little or nothing from their efforts. The pleasure of writing has to be sufficient reward.
3. Develop some street sense. Like all the arts, poetry is a world of sharp infighting, excellent achievements and a good deal of chicanery, hypocrisy and plain madness. Carry on just the same.
4. Read biographies of poets. You will understand their work more, and the struggles they faced.
5. Consult books or attend classes on poetry appreciation. Your style will be different, but the underlying principles remain the same. You can't write well without thoroughly understanding what poetry is about.
6. Enjoy the literary life. Curl up with books. Sit with notebook in hand at local cafés. Join literature circles and societies. Poetry is an excellent way of making friends, for all that writers are competitive and fretful creatures.

Poetry for Pleasure



Most people join poetry or literature circles for pleasure. They have always enjoyed poetry, and now have the time — through retirement, unemployment or the children leaving home — to try their own hand at this absorbing genre.
How to get started, find like-minded friends, engage in collaborative associations and publications?
Discussion
The pursuit can hardly be bettered. Poetry is the most versatile and wide-ranging of literary forms, enabling things to be said that cannot be encompassed in prose. It can be finished in odd moments, unlike the novel, which takes long years of effort. Whatever its standard or style, a poem can usually be published somewhere, given the determination, the research and the contacts. Poetry forms a good introduction to more commercial types of writing, and is usually included in creative writing courses.
Nonetheless, poetry is not easy. The medium is a compact one, needing great concentration to read, and even more to write. First efforts are not always rewarding. Nevertheless, even the most pedestrian poem occasionally lifts into the vivid and memorable, and kindles a warm response in its reader. And that is worth a great deal, despite what poetry has become in recent years. With the Modernists' love of experimentation, anti-realism, individualism and intellectualism came a great narrowing of aims and accomplishments. Poetry was not writing at its highest pitch, but something fabricated altogether differently. With Postmodernism these trends were accentuated. Writers became the self-appointed spiritual guardians of language, championing its creative and arbitrary nature over its more prosaic powers to represent, analyse and discover.
Those writing simply for pleasure can ignore these subtleties. At least at first, the opportunities seem boundless. Despite all the advantages enjoyed by contemporary plays and films — the technology, the 'real-life' dramas, modern idiom in speech and attitudes — Shakespeare is still the most performed of dramatists, giving us a gallery of recognisable characters that no one has rivalled. Dante provides us with a sharp-etched picture of fifteenth-century Italian politics. Byron manages to work in slang and details of a water pump into Don Juan, and Ezra Pound incorporates views on capitalist economics in the Cantos. Philip Larkin paints the domestic nihilism of the contemporary welfare state, and Ted Hughes's animals are exactly observed. What are these but the smallest examples of what lies open to talent, honesty and determination?
Success brings pleasure, and pleasure may be the truest mark of a writer. Without talent, nothing of importance can be achieved. But without increasing absorption, fascination and sheer pleasure in literary craftsmanship, that talent will never see the light of day. Native ability and hard work are both essential to poetry, and pleasure is the stimulus to both.
Suggestions
1. Join a local poetry writing group or literature circle. Writing is a lonely enough activity, and moral support and shared aims will help you through the barren stretches.
2. Be realistic. Good poets are not household names, and earn little or nothing from their efforts. The pleasure of writing has to be sufficient reward.
3. Develop some street sense. Like all the arts, poetry is a world of sharp infighting, excellent achievements and a good deal of chicanery, hypocrisy and plain madness. Carry on just the same.
4. Read biographies of poets. You will understand their work more, and the struggles they faced.
5. Consult books or attend classes on poetry appreciation. Your style will be different, but the underlying principles remain the same. You can't write well without thoroughly understanding what poetry is about.
6. Enjoy the literary life. Curl up with books. Sit with notebook in hand at local cafés. Join literature circles and societies. Poetry is an excellent way of making friends, for all that writers are competitive and fretful creatures.
------- Originality in Poetry



Any writing that is true to your personality, authentic and original, is apt to begin as dark poetry. How do you generate these qualities, and then develop them?
The author's personality is always to be found in a good poem: it is something that only he or she could have produced. But we also expect that the personality will facilitate and further the poem's intentions. The authentic is that individual voice, unquestionably theirs, which genuine artists find as they seek to represent what is increasingly important to them. Originality does not mean novelty — which is easily achieved — but the means by which experience is presented in a more distinctive and significant manner.
Personality, authenticity and originality are therefore linked, and achieved only by continual effort. Gifts and character make artists, and the two are interdependent.
Discussion
As in life generally, success comes at a price. The creators of dark poetry are often: 1. indifferent to conventional procedures and behaviour,2. inner-directed, making and following their own goals, and 3. keenly interested in contradictions and challenges.
Better poets can therefore find themselves at odds with society, and there is no doubt that such conflicts make for solitary, cross-grained and somewhat unbalanced personalities. Many past writers had difficult and neurotic personalities, and the same traits are all too evident today. Nonetheless, absurd posturing, sharp feuds and strident ambitions also appear in writers of no talent whatsoever, which suggests that difficulties are the unfortunate side affects of originality and not its sustaining force. Artists may be sometimes unbalanced, but not all unbalanced people are artists.
Creativity differs markedly between the arts and sciences, and even between different art forms. Nonetheless, most creativity shows four phases: challenge, incubation, illumination and exposition. Driving these phases forward, through many interruptions and loopbacks, is the earnest desire to succeed, which naturally taps some inner need. We make poetry out of the quarrel with ourselves, said Yeats, and these fears and obsessions are highly individual. The lyric poet is very different from the dark poet, and neither of these will wish to be the poetic spokesperson of their age in the way that Tennyson, Larkin or Betjeman became in England.
Suggestions
How is originality fostered?
1. By personal difficulties, particularly in childhood, that have been worked through. Analyse and meet these difficulties.
2. By unswerving self-honesty. Ask yourself: is this what you really hoped to write? Could you not dig deeper into the wellsprings of the poem?
3. By starting afresh, expanding your repertoire with new techniques and new themes.
4. By pacing yourselves, drawing up timetables of writing that extend and build on previous accomplishments.
5. By working in related fields: writing novels, short-stories, articles: particularly where these unlock new perspectives and energies.












< br> Modernism in Poetry

Most serious poetry today is still Modernist. Modernism in literature is not easily summarised, but the key elements are experimentation, anti-realism, individualism and a stress on the cerebral rather than emotive aspects.
Discussion
Modernist writing is challenging, which makes it suitable for academic study. Many poets come from university, moreover, and set sail by Modernism's charts, so that its assumptions need to be understood to appreciate their work. And since Postmodernism still seems brash and arbitrary, writing in some form of Modernism is probably the best way of getting your work into the better literary magazines. How much should you know of its methods and assumptions?
You need to read widely — poetry, criticism and literary theory. Modernism was a complex and diverse movement. From Symbolism it took allusiveness in style and an interest in rarefied mental states. From Realism it borrowed an urban setting, and a willingness to break taboos. And from Romanticism came an artist-centred view, and retreat into irrationalism and hallucinations.
Hence many problems. No one wants to denigrate the best that has been written this last hundred years, but the forward-looking poet should be aware of its limitations. Novelty for novelty's sake ends in boredom and indifference, in movements prey to fashion and media hype. Modernism's ruthless self-promotion has also created intellectual castes that carefully guard their status. Often the work is excessively cerebral, an art-for-art's sake movement that has become faddish and analytical. The foundations tend to be self-authenticating — Freudian psychiatry, verbal cleverness, individualism run riot, anti-realism, overemphasis on the irrational. These concepts may not be wholly fraudulent, but as articles of faith they have not won general assent. Modernist work will give you accredited status, but possibly neither an avant-garde reputation nor wide popularity.
Suggestions
1. Modernist work is often the most accessible of today's poetry, thanks to education, public libraries and a vast critical industry. Start therefore with Yeats, Frost, Pound, Eliot, Stevens, Williams, etc., and follow your interests — back into traditional poetry or forward into Postmodernist styles.
2. Model your first efforts on the better poems of Modernism. You will learn much about the poet's craft, and produce work that is still acceptable to the better poetry magazines.

3. Read the biographies of Modernist artists to understand how and why they made their innovations. Then read aesthetics and nineteenth-century continental philosophy to get a broader view of the matter.


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