...And some poetry puts anger into ordered lines, knocks down every soldier of thought and makes it an unintelligible mob to the average reader. There are different types of poetry, different types of readership. I respect your views but disagree vehemently. Yes, poetry is imagery rendered in word and symbolism; but who's to say what words and what symbols will speak to the heart of any given soul? Your definition is too narrow. Poetry is the wings that carry ideas aloft, and like bee and gull, there are different sorts of wings - but they all fly.

radiogurl - website of choice
2005-12-14 22:15:24

Poetry only "hits me" at certain times. I do understand the power and beauty, but I have to be in certain state of mind. If I'm not in the mood, it's like pushing SNL or Reno 911 on me when I have the flu and/or feel like jumping out a window instead of laughing. ("Oooomph. No, thanks"). There was a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay about a dead father. (My mother is crazy about this poem). All I remember is that the dead father's stuff was given to the kids, and title was "Lament". Heavy. Let me Google this. Ah! Here's the link: http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/ednamillay/7304 Excuse me while I jump out a window. (Why aren't there more happy poems? Maybe I've been missing something?)

Halo Askew - website of choice
2005-12-14 22:21:37

Oooh, anger in ordered lines! Too bad anger is a neurochemical response in your brain that stays in your brain. Language is language. Poetry is made with language, not anger, not wings of gulls and bees - language. If you don't know how language works, you don't know how to write poetry.

Narrow enough for you?

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-14 22:24:05

There are plenty of happy poems. Put the Sylvia Plath book down and back away from the monitor and nobody will get hurt. Nice and slow, ma'am.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-14 22:25:26

Speaking of happy poems, here's one by the same Edna St. Vincent Millay:

Afternoon on a Hill

I will be the gladdest thing
      Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
     And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
      With quiet eyes,
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
     And the grass rise.

And when lights begin to show
     Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
     And then start down!

If that ain't a happy poem, I don't know what is.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-14 22:42:35

just tried reading my old poetry to my girlfriend, in fact. sucked a lot. my poetry is crap, and i know it. she doesn't like poetry because words are artificial constructs (only she says it with smaller words) and don't have any real meaning. so books, poetry, that's shit. trouble is, i communicate in words. i convey thoughts and feelings with words. it's what i know. she'd rather have pictures. ever seen me draw a picture? know what it is? it's bad poetry, only worse, because it doesn't have language to defend it.

lack of stariness - website of choice
2005-12-14 23:01:53

I really dislike Norton's. Too institutional and joyless in its layout and typography and everything. Halo - here's a poem (by Edward Thomas) which is in a f&f anthology called '101 Happy Poems": Tall nettles cover up, as they have done These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough Long worn out, and the roller made of stone: Only the elm butt tops the nettles now. This corner of the farmyard I like most: As well as any bloom upon a flower I like the dust on the nettles, never lost Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

Harry Rutherford - website of choice
2005-12-15 05:24:39

LOVE Gertrude Stein!! Hehehe.

Julia - website of choice
2005-12-15 06:37:47

Sometimes I worry that poetry is slowly fading away, that the last thing that really got the masses talking was Howl. This was an exquisite explanation. I always laugh when people ask me if I write poetry because I am very much in awe of poets, the way I would be if someone could suddenly unfurl wings and fly away. Poetry is hard.

Weetabix - website of choice
2005-12-15 07:34:02

I could care less about layout and typography. All that matters to me are the poems. But yeah, Norton's definitely has a certain institutional feel. Heh.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-15 08:08:02

Julia - you poor thing. There's therapy for that, you know.

Weet - I'm in awe of poets too, and I write the stuff.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-15 08:09:47

Now with linebreaks!

Tall nettles cover up, as they have done
These many springs, the rusty harrow, the plough
Long worn out, and the roller made of stone:
Only the elm butt tops the nettles now.

This corner of the farmyard I like most:
As well as any bloom upon a flower
I like the dust on the nettles, never lost
Except to prove the sweetness of a shower.

Harry - website of choice
2005-12-15 08:56:40

And if you buy now, you'll get the previous poem with letters, absolutely free!

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-15 08:57:50

Nic Ollivere also once tried to convince me that HASP and Hallmark wasn't poetry, but that's where I have to break from you. It's poetry, just like The DaVinci Code is a novel, or like Britney makes music. Ghastly poetry. Awful poetry. Pointless poetry. Senseless, craftless, tasteless poetry. But poetry. Otherwise, that rantation was just keen. You rock. Your poetry rocks. You already know this. Julie

Julie Carter - website of choice
2005-12-15 11:49:35

Oh, I never said that Hallmark wasn't poetry. I said that much of the shit people think is poetry includes Hallmarkesque empty inspirational proverbs. That doesn't mean I'm referring specifically to Hallmark, just to stuff that has that Hallmark feel to it, if you know what I mean. Some of the stuff in Hallmark is poetry, absolutely. Really bad poetry. But poetry. However, some of it isn't even that.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-15 11:59:20

I do take the anti-psychs, and I agree, bad bad side effects.

Trance - website of choice
2005-12-15 16:56:53

You must type really fast. I'd like to read everything you've written, but I can't read that fast, and my brain moves even slower. I linked here from the blurbs at PFFA. I appreciate the hard-assed stance there, and from you. However (and you knew there would be one, didn't you), journalism may be a way into poetry, but I don't think the only way. Who, what, where, when, why,all subservient to the how of the thing is a style. A style which I admire, to be sure, but then I also admire Rimbaud, T.S. Eliott, and Lewis Carroll. Poetic nonsense. I appreciate your campaign to keep the bullshit out of poetic posturing--it's needed at all times and in any age. Many who deserve it and need it make it to the Carnegie. Others who may or may not deserve it have to stand on their soapbox and cast the pearls to the unwashed. The world wide web is a great compensator, but like any pot, it doesn't care whether it holds honey or shit. I'm rambling, and I type too slow, too. Never mind. Thanks for writing. I do enjoy reading you, and you quite obviously *do* know whereof you speak. Have to go now. She who must be obeyed has spoken.

Dean McCollaum - website of choice
2005-12-15 21:39:46

"journalism may be a way into poetry"? "Who, what where, when, why"? Where the fuck did I say that? Or even imply it? Most journalists couldn't write a poem if a meth-head was standing behind them with a crowbar and a nasty twitch. I'm not talking style here at all. All styles of poetry - real poetry - fall under this umbrella, including Rimbaud, Eliot, and Carroll.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-15 21:43:50

Easy. Ok. Ok. You didn't say that. I did. You didn't even imply that. I think I was trying to make a point (much duller than yours) that journalists don't write poetry. Oh, nevermind. Sorry to bother you. If I ever think I have something worth saying, I'll ask you.

Dean McCollaum - website of choice
2005-12-15 22:17:17

I love your writing. I'm very curious: what do you think of Jack Gilbert's "A Brief for the Defense"? (www.poems.com/briefgil.htm) I discovered this poem by accident and adore it. If you hate it, I'd love to know why; likewise, if you love it, I'd also like to know why.

independence - website of choice
2005-12-15 22:45:00

I find that Gilbert doesn't trust his reader enough to leave well enough alone in that poem. Instead of relying on angible specifics to illuminate his intent, he feels it necessary to spell out his meaning and directly tell his reader all about the counterpoint between suffering and happiness - the guy standing in front of the camera telling us about the repression of servants in English manor houses, in other words. This, in turn, takes away from the power of the piece as he wades into needless abstraction instead of giving the reader specifics that do the talking for him. It reads like a Sunday sermon - far too much excessive overt preaching going on for my liking.

A favourite poet of mine is Dorianne Laux; a poem that hits on a similar sense of counterpoint is Life is Beautiful. If you click on "Smoog's site" in this message, you'll go to it. Look at the difference: Laux provides detailed specifics, easily visualized tangibles, and in my opinion gets a similar point across that with joy and beauty in life comes death and ugliness, one feeding the other. Yet she never needs to come out and say it - she leaves to the reader to build the patterns in their own mind through the imagery she provides.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-15 23:39:06

The Laux poem is brilliant. It reminds me of your work very much. I still like the Gilbert, though. I understand your point about poems that preach instead of show; however, I think that Gilbert's poem still works as a poem--and a good poem at that. There are simply different styles, and Gilbert's style is obviously not to your liking. I like his direct statements. Somehow it doesn't feel like preaching to me (and believe me, I don't like poems that preach or are too obvious). I don't know how to describe why I like it... It has a tone and a mood that I found beautiful. Some poems are like whispers, some are like songs, some are like exuberant and beautiful conversation. Laux is the latter: the poem is busy and intricate in its language, and there's that earthy/horrible/beautiful imagery of the maggots writhing throughout. Gilbert's poem speaks softly to me; Laux's poem is a burst of energy and light. Sometimes I want both types of poems. If you want to compare these things to films, Gilbert feels like Wenders' Wings of Desire, and Laux feels like something far more colorful and active (I'm tired and I can't think of a good analogy right now!). It's also like music--sometimes I want a deep and rich mezzo like Hunt-Lieberson doing Handel; at other times, I want a bright and thrilling soprano like Battle doing Mozart. You yourself are like Mozart, hitting all those many brilliant notes with your words and usage and metaphor. Anyway, I apologize for all this babbling--I'm completely exhausted and am not thinking entirely coherently. Thanks for your thoughts on the Gilbert--I find you incredibly fascinating, even when I disagree with you.

independence - website of choice
2005-12-16 00:34:46

Well, at least the Gilbert poem is a poem. It's just not one I like.

Smoog - website of choice
2005-12-16 00:38:57

I love you Smoog!!! I don't really have anything intelligent to say about my view on poetry really ... except that you are brilliant. And amazing and whatnot. You are the best, because now I actually like poetry!! I always thought it was mushy, boring, crap! But now I love it!! :)

Kenzie - website of choice
2005-12-17 15:47:12

I went to an event the other week and someone read a poem by Helen Steiner Rice. It was the low point of the evening, and the only piece of poetry read. It was introduced as, "a poem by Helen Steiner Rice, one of the greatest poets of the last century!" You are right in what you say. But the poems-that-aren't-really-poems will always be in the majority. Sad that. Now we need another happy poem to make up for this post. Harry?

Rob - website of choice
2005-12-20 15:02:06

Brilliant article, Rachel. And let me add something, a question rather as a European reader and poet: why is the interest in non-American poets so limited?I am speaking of contemporary poetry not the classics. British, Greek, Russians, Spanish, Turkish, Bulgarians, Polish, South Americans: such a variety of GOOD poetry mostly unknown in North America. I know there is some interest but too limited to value the great talent and poetry around the world.

Paula - website of choice
2006-01-06 03:24:44

Well, being Canadian, I get more exposure to UK poets than United States, but the sole reason is - money. Publishing poetry is not profitable. Publishers publish what sells - or what won't bomb atrociously, in the case of poetry. Non-American publishers will publish American poets because American poets are seen as the juggernauts of the poetry world, but other than that, regions pretty much stick to themselves when it comes to poetry. In Canada and Europe one may have a bit more luck finding regional variety simply due to population demographics and the variety of active languages being spoken and cultures free to thrive in a small area, but otherwise, the books just aren't there in the bookstores, and reviews aren't done of the books, so unless word-of-mouth reveals the poet to me, a person often doesn't even know about them. Then there's also the fact that poetry from one's own culture tends to appeal most, so quite a number of people stick with poets from their own region.

Smoog - website of choice
2006-01-06 03:55:25

Actually... that description you gave of poetry is similar to the description I was recently given of the "modern art movement" where people look at/read something that "strikes" them and then they begin "interpreting" it... maybe in a myriad of ways that are divergent from the artists/poets original intention... but does the artist or poet stop it? No, they ENCOURAGE it "because it makes you think." The whole 'point' of a poem/painting is to "expand your horizons." Now, as a poet myself (not a great, or even a good one... I've been told that I think in "too linear a fashion" to be a good poet, so I write novels instead) I've got to wonder about modern art/poetry... is it REALLY all that "awe-inspiring" or is it just so obtuse that no one can make heads or tails of it? Or is it because they, as "the illuminati of the art/poetry world," simply don't want to sound stupid by saying "It's just a bunch of sepia brush strokes on a piece of wall!" or "It's just a bunch of phrases strung together that don't really make sense but throw out emo(tional) words!" No, instead they go, "Oh Wow! You've captured the essence of the soul in those words/the canvas! Yo've opened my inner-eye so that I can see myself and all the ultra-multi-dimensional me's coming together, mixing in flux! Yes, the allegory and metaphors capture the power of the ocean and the lightness of the sky and point out their dissimilarities in a universal juxtaposition that perfoliates the limerence within!" In other words, "it's ugly, it's bullshit and I hate it, but I'm not going to be the first to say so because then I'll sound like a hayseed." *sighs* Today's poetry has no more resemblence to the more substative works of John Donne, Phillip Larkin, Ted Hughes or W.B. Yeats than, oh hell... I don't follow and I dispise "modern" art... than the latest artistic "God" (or "Goddess")of todays paintings come close to classics like Rembrandt, Dali or even the early, abstract Picasso (who was just trying to bring back childlike innocence and fun into painting). "Modern" Art/Poetry...Tis all "merde" designed to make the culture scions, critics and trendy patrons look superior to us "commoners." *grins* End of diatribe.

PyroJack... or April's "Jackanoodles" - website of choice
2006-01-13 00:08:39

I disagree that all modern poetry is crap, any more than all modern art is crap. There are plenty of good artists and poets around these days. There are certainly those who create impenetrable cyphers as well. There are also a hell of a fuck more shlubs who are calling themselves "artists" and "poets" when they're not even close. Welcome to the worship of individualism.

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2007-03-17 14:21:49

As of Mar. 26, 2007, only Diaryland members will be able to post comments. Hopefully this will change soon, but I'm being spammed with 40-50 porn links in my comments pages a day, and it has to stop.

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