Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Strong Verse Blog: an introduction

With over a year and a half since my first post, I think it's high time for a Strong Verse primer. The declaration is good and the numbers and prosody are useful in their own ways, but every system of thought needs an introduction, so here is mine:

Forms of literature:
There are three forms of literature: Prose, Poetry, and Propago. Propago is a bit of wrenched classicism that means "literature that also has images." Ergo comix, moving words, word art, etc. Feel free to come up with a better word, but it's important to acknowledge the "new" form of literature as it takes its rightful seat among Poetry and Prose.

Definition of poetry:
Prose is easy to define. It is simply written-down language. Propago, even, is easy to define -- as I did above. Poetry, however, needs a bit of help, as evidenced by the eternal (and silly) question "what is poetry?"

Poetry is writing that is dependent upon the syzygy of content, sound, and form. In a previous definition I said "image" instead of content -- but content is far more accurate.

All writing can be art. I defined art a few weeks ago, but I'll repeat the definition here:

Art is work of quality made for the indulgence of others. Ever since Kirby's criticism, I've been trying to find a "better" word than indulgence. I don't think the word exists that conveys enjoyment, enlightenment, and sometimes punishment -- except perhaps "schooling" but that's a bit slangy for me.

This blog is concerned with oral poetry. Indeed, my contention is with the three divisions of writing that "visual poetry" is propago and should be understood and studied as such. Tl;dr -- if it's not written to be spoken, it's not poetry.

This blog is concerned with formal poetry over "free verse" poetry. Indeed, I would prefer that most "free verse" poets realize what they write is prose, stop putting it in lines and work within flash fiction, a worthy and noble cause. This is not to say that poetry cannot be written without the aid of a metrics of some sort -- note the definition is "form" not a specific kind of form. The art is in the imposition.

This blog is very concerned with the state of poetry and poetry readership in the US. Suffice to say that I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of US poets with most of the rest falling to our failing educational system. I do not blame publishers, as I wouldn't ask anyone to throw away money. I do, however, think that the cronyism inherent in American poetry is shameful though inescapable. I'll do a 6b here and say that I generally talk about poetry in the US because that's where I am. I don't know how the "scene" works in any other country, so unless a reader wants to tell me, I'm a bit short on info.

This blog promotes narrative verse. This is not simply to be contrarian. If both quality and readership are in the toilet, perhaps we as poets need to do something different. Experimentation is tried and tired. I think we should stop naval-gazing and do something difficult -- like telling a good story in a way that sounds as good as it tells.

This blog serves as a place for reviews -- either of new literature or of poems and poets I think people ought to know about. If you'd like me to review a work, I will generally be glad to, though I will not write a negative review, as I'd prefer not to give any press to a work I find distasteful.

As with any blogger, I am prone to a bit of off-topic ranting and raving. I support no party and am against chaos and violence.

Well that's it. Weather permitting, I'd like a post or two every week. We'll see.


thecatalyst13 said...

I am writing an aesthetics paper with an introduction sub-section titled "poetry for the people" and it seems you've already said everything I'm writing and have been thinking for the past few months. Very interesting and I imagine there are many more who feel the same way. I've read a few of your posts so far and after class will read more. I'm sure you address it in a post somewhere (I've read the narrative poetry one), but what do you suppose that we do about this?

Alrenous said...

A piece of art is a technology that confers no material advantage, yet is still valuable.

I have the same problem - what, exactly, do I mean by 'material'?

People want art, even though it doesn't help them get food, keep the weather off, get laid, get promoted, or in any way save them labour.

Technically, that's 'entertainment' - as you yourself noticed - but the connotations there are all wrong. Entertainment is frivolous, and relieves stress. People would want art even if they were never stressed, and the whole point of discriminating between high art and low art is that high art is supposed to have non-frivolous value.

I think donny has the right of it, in that the definition does not point properly to the ineffability - at least, at the quality of art that is, as yet, ineffable. The only way for the definition to work is to know it defines art in advance, so you know it's supposed to include that je ne sais quoi.

But, you are also right in that it does not need to 'contain' this ineffableness to properly define art, it simply needs to allow it, or to wave in its general direction.

I suspect your point about communication misses the mark. The buyer of the art need not see anything in the work that the artist intended. The buyer need only want to buy more.

Hah! There is an art to defining art.

Anthony Robinson said...

Um yeah. Jarman and McDowell already did this over 30 years ago. It was called the Reaper. Hilarious, but mostly empty.

G. M. Palmer said...


Okay first of all, today's Captcha is "woombra."

That is awesome.

Secondly, I'm reading some interesting research now that points to the importance of narrative.

I understand, largely thanks to our previous discussions, that there was an effort 30 years ago to reinvigorate narrative verse.

It certainly worked as it's resulted in works already reviewed here.

The work can't stop, however, if anyone is interested in poetry being more than a tenth of a percent of what people read.