Karl (louderback) wrote,

Ranting about poetry

Calliope, the muse of epic poetry and beautiful speech. Euterpe, the muse of lyric poetry and music. Thalia, the muse of bucolic poetry and comedy.         
I've been arguing again…         

         <rant>Calliope, Euterpe, and Thalia sustain me! This happens periodically; I take the bait and wind up frothing at the mouth all day. It could be worse, this could be happening in a bar. Although, now that I think on it, I don't recall the last time I discussed poetry in a bar.

         Speaking of one of those forums where you may post your poetry for critique or review, someone who remains nameless — you know who you are, Brady — asserted that "99% of the poetry on this site is shit." My reaction was, "…and your point?" This generated a lively discussion and some name-calling.

         I think most poets would agree with me that the vast majority of what is posted on the internet as poetry is poetry only by courtesy. By and large the "poets" out there don't craft their poetry, they simply spew words in unrhymed, free verse. Which is to say they simply put out a bunch of words in non-sentences stranded on individual lines unusually arranged.

         This is not a criticism. I don't care for such efforts, preferring very strongly metered verse and poetic forms, even if those forms are self-defined. Still, I can appreciate free verse and the attempts to be thereby evocative.

         Poetry, all art in my opinion, is about evoking in the audience a response. Failure to do so means your attempt lacks merit. If nobody cares about your poetry, it is bad. So it is with your novel, your painting, your sculpture, and interpretive dance. If nobody pays attention you've failed.

         This does not mean that you have a right to read your verse in public. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (or the 1st amendment of the US constitution for Americans) guarantees your right to speak. There is no law saying anyone has to pay you any attention, and afflicting your verse on an unsuspecting public is heinous. Confine your readings to poetry circles in your home where you masochists can flagellate one another with words and leave the rest of us alone.

         Every photographer I've known and many artists have told me the same story. "99% of what I do should be burned. I have to take 100 pictures to get a good one. I have to paint 100 paintings to finish one worth keeping." There's nothing wrong with that. Any manufacturer will tell you there is an "acceptable loss rate (ALR)". For anything you create, be it Deloreans or horsehead bookends, you will have some that don't meet your manufacturing specifications and have to be discarded. So it is with poetry. It is sad that, in 10,000 you lose 1 horsehead bookend and 9,999 poems.

         Back to the original question: "99% of the poetry on this site is shit." "…and your point?" The internet doesn't have a quality filter on much of anything. Of course, most of the poetry posted will be awful, most poetry is awful. That doesn't make it less heartfelt or less genuinely "poetry". Further, why shouldn't the "crap" be posted. Emerson said, "One man's justice is another's injustice; one man's beauty another's ugliness; one man's wisdom another's folly." Mark Twain said, "In all lies there is wheat among the chaff…" What, pray, is poetry but sweet lies from the lips to bewitch the soul?

         The definition of poetry needs some refining, in my opinion. I am beginning to feel that nothing should be called poetry that doesn't answer "what is the poetic form" and "what is the rhyme scheme" right up front. Even if the answer to both of those is "none" that will, at the least, let your audience forego the burden of trying to discern patterns where none exist.</rant>

         Oh well. Having got that out of my system I suppose I should go write poetry. I think not.

         Recipes added today: Welsh Baked Eggs, Gratin Dauphinois


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