What should good poetry be?

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What should good poetry be?

Postby Firebird » Sat Mar 18, 2017 3:19 pm

Below is a great description of what Eliot thought good poetry should be.


'... And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)'

T.S. Eliot from his Four Quartets

Does anyone else have a description (either by themselves or by someone else) of what good poetry should be?

Cheers,

Tristan
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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby k-j » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:39 pm

Always liked Kafka's "axe for the frozen sea within us", albeit he's talking about literature in general.
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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby k-j » Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:49 pm

Also, whoever it was that said poetry is what gets lost in translation.
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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby the stranger » Tue Mar 21, 2017 3:04 am

"Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people" ~ Adrian Mitchell

"I use the language I use to my friends. They wouldn't believe me if I used some high-flown literary language. I want them to believe me" ~ Adrian Mitchell

The above ring true for me.
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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby Ros » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:13 am

https://www.happenstancepress.com/index ... -and-flour

If there isn't some sort of craft involved, some sort of careful choice of words and language and syntax, of rhythm and cadence, then why are you bothering to write in the form of poetry at all?

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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby Antcliff » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:22 pm

I quite like the Wallace Stevens line....although it fits only part of poetry.

Something like...it should almost evade understanding.

Note: almost..i.e. in fact not.

I tend to think of poetry as being divided up between those who put the content on the page and those (my own inclination) who prefer to imply. Certainly my own taste, in reading and writing, tends towards the idea that the art of the unsaid is as important as the art of the said.


Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur
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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby Firebird » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:05 am

Kj, I like the translation one a lot, but that would make the translation of poetry almost impossible.

The stranger, I like Adrian Mitchell's poetry a lot, but I'm not keen on limiting poetry to one kind of language - the language he uses to communicate with him friends.

Ros, I broadly agree, but there are many different approaches to the craft of poetry. IMO they are all valid art forms.

Seth, I agree, this is a divide, although I think the implied side is winning if you read journals such as Poetry Review.

I like Steven's line as I don't think poetry always has to add up perfectly to be good poetry, as not all things add up in life - sometimes it's about giving a feel of what it is to experience a situation, and this feeling doesn't always have to add up to something that can be precisely understood. We poets are not trying to be scientist, who are constantly trying to pin phenomena down with very precise language that can only be understood in one way.

For myself, poetry should open up meaning, not close it down as scientific writing tries to do. I understand that it very difficult to use language precisely on the surface while creating a broadening sense of meaning. But often this is what good poetry achieves.

Thanks all for giving your views.

Cheers,

Tristan
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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby Firebird » Thu Mar 23, 2017 11:25 am

Some time ago, I went to an open lecture at Sheffield Uni about creativity, and the lecturer (I can't remember his name) said that for him a poem should be something that is on the verge of falling apart, but just holds together and hints at many things but doesn't necessarily have to make overall sense. I quite liked that idea. He also said that because a poem doesn't make sense (within itself), this doesn't mean that this poem can't help us make sense of our world. Another interesting idea, I thought.

Cheers,

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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby JJWilliamson » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:48 am

From a purely personal point of view, I find it very difficult to emote about poems that seem to be
doing their best to keep the reader out. There was a trend, not so long ago, especially in America,
to wrap poetry in the unfathomable. If it was impenetrable, seemingly academic with a bohemian sway
it was generally applauded.

Now don't get me wrong, because I love metaphor (even complex ones), simile and a host of rhetorical devices,
which includes layering (my favourite) but without accessibility it all falls flat, unless you're writing for a specific audience.
EG Lawyers at a law convention might pen an "in house" poem.

That's the beauty of critique. If a poem is missing the mark entirely, due to a lack of understanding, it's good to know
where the difficulties lie. Similarly, it's good to know what's working.

"Good poetry" can be both objective and subjective at the same time. We can examine craft and the finer nuances of poetic intent
till the cows come home, but if the content is uninteresting we might not, may never label it as "good". That said, one man's poison etc.

Just ask people if they can name their favourite poem. Most of them will differ or will quote a much loved poem from their
school days (nowt wrong with that). Then ask them why it's their favourite. Sometimes it's difficult to say exactly why.

So, without writing an essay, there's my two penneth.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child
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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby Ros » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:18 am

Show, not tell. So this: http://antiphon.org.uk/rb/?p=148

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Re: What should good poetry be?

Postby Firebird » Mon Mar 27, 2017 8:45 am

JJ, I like the idea of poetry being accessable, but my only problem is with accessible poetry is that all too often it's retro/backward looking/conservative (poetically speaking) and dumbed down.

Often great art hasn't been appreciated in the time it was produce; it was way ahead of its time and people were not ready for it. Maybe some modernist/post-modern poetry is like this. Poetry doesn't necessarily needs to be accessible.

Ros, Nice comment.

Did anyone read Simon Armitages article in the Saturday Guardian? I like what he says about writing a poem: "(I) try to get the sound of it and the sence of it operating in concert; I try to get to that place where the writing transcends by every measure its original intention and ambition, and has the feel of having created something inconceivable".

Cheers Both,

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