Lancashire County Palatine Tourist Bard

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What constitutes 'Poetry'?

Sat, 17 Dec 2016 10:11 am
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Lancashire County Palatine Tourist Bard

And should anything which is not 'Poetry' be permitted on the Poetry Blog?
Sat, 17 Dec 2016 10:13 am
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seems to me to be more of a 'family resemblance' than a strict definition. which means some might not see it. i'm not really worried about permission as such, as i cannot change what other people do or do not do. if i see something not-poetry, either i'll ignore it or ask how it is relevant.
Thu, 29 Dec 2016 07:46 am
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Poetry is writing that concentrates on language, as contrasted with writing that concentrates on story or factual explanation or dialogue/action etc. Not that poetry can't contain all those things, it can; but that its main focus is on the sound, shape and 'feel' of language.

Well, that's my definition at least.
Thu, 29 Dec 2016 12:02 pm
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All good writing creates sound, shape and feel, even company reports.

I think, maybe, it's the presentation of line breaks and the freedom from static punctuation that gives 'poetry' to words, that ability to 'fly' out of the harness of the humdrum inflicted upon prose. Much 'stream of consciousness' prose is pure poetry, but still shackled by right and left definition of the organized page. And the mind responds to these boundaries by 'boxing up' also.

IMO, space defines 'poetry', the freedom to think. But not so much blankness as to lose our sense of the word associations. Too much space and words drop down a pit without connective understanding, and nobody cares what the writer's intent might have been. It may have existed clearly in the writer's mind, but it has not carried through to the reader's comprehension.

So - deliberate directing of the reader's thoughts and emotions, using only the most necessary words to effect a desired result,with space to breathe and think, for me defines poetry.

I'm done. I don't want even to reread it.

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 01:25 pm
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I agree with your first sentence, but the point I was making has to do with the emphasis put on language. Reports just need to be comprehended - they are not intended to be beautiful. As long as they get over the information required, they have done their job. Poetry, however, has to be more than informational. It has to be beautiful.

'Course, what constitutes beauty is another question entirely!
Sat, 31 Dec 2016 05:40 pm
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A useful way to continue this discussion would be be quote a piece of someone`s (posthumous?) poetry (of whatever genre) together with a fairly long opinion as to whether this is `poetry`... or not.

Poems are not mystic `untouchables` and common sense will - in the end - clear any mute points up.

The question of what constitutes `beauty` could then be discussed with the object of the question on the page in front of you.

Dr Johnson`s words are still true:

`for by the common sense of readers, un-corrupted with literary prejudices, after all the refinements of subtilty and the dogmatism of learning, must be finally decided all claim to poetical honours.`

Democracy (of the commonsensical kind) still rules.

(but only when the actual poem is in front of you)
Mon, 2 Jan 2017 09:48 pm
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Poems often try to say more than can be said in words; to cram in more than can actually fit on the page; to unleash a subtle ether whose power is increased even as it eludes perception.

"Why attempt the impossible?" says an unhappy poet about to change his profession. Well, a collaboration is possible between muse, poet and audience, the upshot of which can be something close to success in the unlikely project.

It is these admittedly rare occassions that bring a tear to the eye and a sigh to the bosom. That sell the books and put bums on seats. That inspire huge numbers of good people to take a part in the trinity- willing muse, sincere poet, generous audience.
Tue, 3 Jan 2017 04:56 pm
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What prompted me to join WOL was a curiosity about what constitutes poetry - so I am delighted to have discovered this intriguing thread. Love the idea of willing muse, sincere poet and generous audience. I guess the sincerity of the poet links to his/her use of space and choice of language - keeping it spare and true.
Sat, 7 Jan 2017 10:56 am
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Sun, 8 Jan 2017 09:18 am
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Exactly!...which brings us to...placings of (and reasons for) line breaks - particularly in `free` verse - and the reason for length of utterance in any poem.
Sun, 8 Jan 2017 01:06 pm
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Which brings me back to HRH his Bobness!
On Mr tambourine man he continually extends verses at will to disrupt the organised flow of the song/words, thereby creating more and more a feeling of unending rhyme. I hope that makes sense, if not play the song.
Sun, 8 Jan 2017 01:22 pm
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I think I (half?) `get` what you mean about Dylan
extending verses (between the choral-like stuff)
for his `unending` effect. He also uses the assonant,
rhythm, and rhyme elements of various words as a
a (continuing`?) kind of `poetical` catch up in those
verses...Strangely (and maybe daftly) this kind of
stuff reminds me of Rap poetry.)

But - with the exception of the penultimate verse -
I think that his imagary is `all over the place`...(It
doesn`t `fit` with the voice or the - comparatively
even - jingle of the guitar)

The penultimate verse is more composed and even
typographically more poetically expressive than the
somewhat ragged rest of it. (which I think tends to be
saved by our image of him as a modern troubador)
Sun, 8 Jan 2017 09:51 pm
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So can a drum solo be poetry then?
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 05:00 pm
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I came across this quote and it reminded me of this discussion:

poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words - Robert Frost.

seems simple enough whichever way it ends up on the page.
Fri, 13 Jan 2017 05:09 pm
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Poetry to me is a song without a chorus. It has rhythm and evokes emotions through a varied use of literary devices.
I believe that Poetry has more than one meaning. However, I believe it always has to have rhythm and a message put to words (latent or revealed).
That's why I believe a drum solo only becomes a poem when you find meaning to it and then put it into words.
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 12:01 am
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I was only really kidding when I mentioned the drum solo, in response to somebody saying that poetry was 'rhythm'...

(Not that rhythm isn't involved in poetry, but it can't be the only thing...)

I do like the idea of poetry being like a kind of dance with language though. But I also think trying to define 'poetry' is a slippery affair, as it keeps on changing its shape. And long may it continue to do so.
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 11:25 am
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Yes, I agree. Rhythm.
Mon, 16 Jan 2017 10:54 pm
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When I think of what constitutes 'poetry' these days, I think more in terms of a map, or a network/knotwork of interconnecting strands, rather than one straight line or even a tree with branches. A 'concrete' or 'visual' poem may not have much in common with a rhyming sonnet, but if it's in some way concentrating on language even if in just its visual sense, it's on the map, and there will be roads to it. Those roads may go in some very convoluted directions, may hit some cul-de-sacs along the way, but you can get there if you wish.

Too many definitions of poetry are like the routes on your sat-nav: they get you to where you're going alright, but they don't ever veer off to look at something interesting along the way. And maybe if you follow a different route, there might be an interesting museum or exhibit. You might find yourself looking at the Largest Pear Drop in the World or something.

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 11:12 am
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The discussion returns to the question of purpose.
Keats: poetry should strike the reader as a remembrance of his highest thoughts. That's stuck with me for years, & I liked Colin's line, ah, Robert Frost! Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words. Isn't that what is looked for?

In other words, I would be slow to dismiss mystic elements in a poem, for they may spring from deep in our nature and often have a spiritual meaning. Often not. For the love of word patterns, ease of speech, proper rhythm and tone, poems are so much the better, and these are all the recognised components of thought. Words that match the thought then. As that allows for some variety, for poetry in general I'll go with Eric's early response and also settle for a 'family resemblance'.
Sat, 21 Jan 2017 09:33 am
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"Do not forget that a poem, even though it is composed in the language of information is not used in the language game of giving information."


"If prose often resembles the natural language of ordinary speech, poetry is resolutely artificial, even when it tries to imitate the diction of ordinary speech. The poem is always different from the utterances it includes or imitates; if it were not different there would be no point in setting these utterances or writing these sentences as poems."

Veronica Forrest-Thompson

"But how then can you really care if anybody gets it, or gets what it means, or if it improves them. Improves them for what? For death? Why hurry them along? Too many poets act like a middle-aged mother trying to get her kids to eat too much cooked meat, and potatoes with drippings (tears). I don’t give a damn whether they eat or not."

Frank O'Hara
Wed, 25 Jan 2017 10:56 am
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T.p. Archie

Stripped down prose
Sun, 29 Jan 2017 04:52 pm
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Poetry is language with layers of meaning. A poem appears to be complete in itself. It has patterns of different kinds, and rhythm is one kind, but it can play with rhythm and break out of it too. It can use aspects of language from phonology to syntax, word patterns and sound patterns and playing with meaning. But it has to take you somewhere, and not just toss you around.
Sat, 4 Feb 2017 08:19 pm
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T.p. Archie

Sounds interesting. When I go to writing groups, most of what I hear is forced form. Sometimes I feel like saying: ditch the dodgy rhymes.
Poetry is a matter of taste. Though I never intentionally strip out rhythm and rhyme, I consider the promotion of form over content, a waste of effort. My primary motivation is a response to: do you have anything to say?
Sun, 5 Feb 2017 09:24 am
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So why isn't that prose, tp?
Sun, 5 Feb 2017 11:40 am
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T.p. Archie

I could call forays into science fiction, prose. That isn't quite cheating. Like most writers I'm happy to bastardize techniques to my purpose. It's not poetry but it's satisfying.
Sun, 5 Feb 2017 11:16 pm
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Form should be appropriate to content. Witty rhymes fit witty pastiches. Rhythms might be heartbeats or the pace of walking or a train journey. Rhythm might also express anger or certainty. Why do most hymns have such predictable patters? because they are designed to make you feel safe. Modern verse breaks up rhythms to make you feel unsafe. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it is a cheap trick. If you think about the effect of the language you use when writing you can convey a lot more than a statement of fact.
Tue, 7 Feb 2017 04:29 pm
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Following my point about the necessity of having
the actual words in front of you, Here are the first
four lines of a fourteen line poem by the recently
deceased poet Tom Raworth:

`never entered mind

forgotten monkey amber
delights my introspection

but bubble massive armour
fermentation magnet arc`

The complete (short) poem - together with a review
can be found here:

This particular poem is - in my own opinion - an insult to
the intelligence of an educated reader...what does anyone
else think?
Fri, 17 Feb 2017 04:38 pm
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I think it's kinda wonderful. No idea what it's about. Don't care. 😍

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 02:55 pm
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Lancashire County Palatine Tourist Bard

The piece is total bollocks - incomprehensible gibberish - as is the review.

The following piece by none other than the late (better late than never) great LCPTB is an excellent example of ad hoc verbiosenessity, conceived in the throes of an amber nectar induced hangover.

Always On My Mind

forgetting Orangutan pink
horrifies my world view

and fairy liquid diminutive epidermis
flat as a witches’ tit repels line

intellectual Trump reason
break χονδρίον chondrion the

stingy rum and raisin ice-cream

chain mail blank
stares defibrillator

arriviste physical darkness
sounds atonally flat

glamour Uranus complicit
freely flowing
Sat, 25 Feb 2017 09:17 am
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You've got it there, Lancs.
Sat, 25 Feb 2017 11:19 am
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Not a good copy. You haven't stuck to the form. It's three words per line with a single word on the last line - as the commentary makes clear.

Try again.
Sat, 25 Feb 2017 11:48 am
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RE: 'monkey amber'.

In my opinion, words are loaded with connotative power, far beyond the obvious, and made even more dynamic by association with other certain words. I think the reader has to be quite experienced/well educated to enjoy the suggested scope inherent in a phrase, the choice offered by proximity and sound.

Each word is like standing on a cliff edge, waiting to be pushed; but the fall is through your head, your mind. The words are mind-games. But what's wrong with that? Unless - no mind - no forum.

I can't write like this entirely, but I use the wealth of word connotation and association all the time, hoping for depth that I don't have to elucidate. Maybe I kid myself.
Sat, 25 Feb 2017 04:50 pm
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That's a very good explanation, Cynthia. "Do not forget that poetry, though it uses the language of information, is not engaged in the language game of giving information." (Wittgenstein)
Sun, 26 Feb 2017 10:48 am
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T.p. Archie

I'm comfortable with the notion that some require form to be observed. The Sufis make a distinction between the container and the content.
"When you realise the difference between the container and content you will have knowledge."
And on form:
"When people believe that the form is more important than the Truth they will not fine truth but will stay with form."
The question is: what is it for?
Sun, 26 Feb 2017 03:02 pm
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