"Without definitions, poetry is impossible."
When theory discussions are relevant to the presentation of poetry, you'll find them on Theory Tuesdays at Literary Magnet.
Enjoy and discuss!
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Monday, February 25, 2013
So after someone telling me that Homer and Tennyson didn't write poetry I'm wondering what it is I do then?
Not that I'm Homer and Tennyson-class--but you get the idea. Poetry has become something either indefinable or unimportant or both.
Perhaps that's why this blog (and the magazine it came from) is called "Strong Verse" not "Strong Poetry." I'm interested in the craft of writing verse, not slapping a silly "it's automatically art" label on some words.
More to it though, what's the delivery system of poetry?
Back when poetry was first created in those good old prehistorical times folks didn't read nor write--so they had to listen to a poet chant. Maybe they did it around a fire, maybe in what would become an amphitheater.
At any rate is was the voice that mattered. Folks could only see large gestures--so there could and likely would have been some motion--but an emphasis on that was what drove us to drama (the first split from poetry?).
Then along came the historical world. Folks could read--well, some of them--but performance was still king (at least if your audience was more than the king who could read anyway). But poets, who now could rely on the exobrain of paper for memorization, could devote more time to versecraft. Hence the rigor of national poetic forms.
Then came printing and the rise of literacy.
Here you have the ability of verse to reach the person interested in poetry before the poet. This creates a few problems, notably the difficulty of transmitting inflection and performance. The Beatles could create "concerts" with their Pepper-and-on albums but that's because they could record. Printed words don't carry the same weight.
Which speaking of, the rise of printing mirrored the rise of musical notation which could carry the same weight as performance. Unfortunately no such easy guide was given to the written word. Readers had to rely on a knowledge of rhyme and meter to eke out how a poem should be read (unless they were lucky enough to catch the poet--and how often did that happen? Legit question, btw).
Also now the music of poetry had to compete with the standardized (and far more performed) music of music. And drama and and and.
Then came sound recording and broadcast capabilities. While wax recordings of Tennyson exist, what is clear in them is that there's no notion of performance. He intones and warbles "Haalf a leeeague, haalf a leeague" in a rhythm familiar to many who attend contemporary poetry readings. Even the reportedly gorgeous and vivacious Edna St. Vincent Millay reads her poetry as if she's at a funeral.
Why do we think people want to listen to this?
Who has effectively recorded poetry (without music)? Garrison Keillor?
Is it really that hard or is it simply unlearned?
At any rate it hardly matters because TV (and more importantly internet distribution of video).
But where are the poets of TV? Of film?
Why did we stop in the 19th century and leave well enough alone? Did all of the folks who would have been our greatest poets just become song- and screenwriters?
Aural storytelling is powerful. Visual storytelling is powerful. Why not have some animated or even live-action recreations of poems?
We must rethink our delivery methods. Print is wonderful and powerful but we can't leave performance poetry to the performance poets and visual poetry to the avant garde.
What do you want to see as a poem?
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
What does the world of writing look like when you can pick up your poem and pass it around?
Developments like this will rend the veil between purely visual and purely linguistic art (it's difficult at this point to call such theoretical work "aural" though one would assume the proper areas of the brain will still be activated).
Who will be the first visual poet to make art from this?
Friday, February 15, 2013
So I love learning about new publications and new poets.
Saw this lovely poem in The Collagist (thanks, Sun Dog Lit!) and I had to share:
of potential humiliation. So is conversation.
This is when every girl is out of your league,
when you realize such leagues even exist.
Monday, February 11, 2013
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Here is a brief article on Sylvia Plath's final days.
I put that here, at the beginning, because it's not the drama of suicide that is important in Plath's death. Suicide is indeed terrible. Please ask someone for help. No one wants you to die.
What we lost, however, was our finest modern practitioner of the sound of the English language. Had she not killed herself, Plath would still be with us, alive and likely kicking at the ripe old age of 80.
What we have instead is a controversial collection of Plath's last work, butchered by her estranged husband, Ted Hughes, and "restored" by her daughter, Frieda. While I prefer vastly the thematic arc of her original intent (moving from "Morning Song" to The Bee Cycle, specifically ending with "Wintering": from "love" to "spring"), the "manic woman" that Plath became in the American consciousness was, essentially, cemented by Hughes.
This results in an awful lot of eye rolling when I name Plath as a great poet. People know her, if at all, as a violent, lost soul, the author of "Daddy" or "Lady Lazarus."
At Literary Magnet, my new literary magazine, I've said a bit more about the way I learned to love Sylvia Plath.
What I'd like to say here, though, is that as poets and lovers of poetry, remember the words Plath placed together. Study them. Live within those sounds--the only place she remains.
As people, simply love each other and don't, in the words of Jillian Becker, "endure long remorse" for something that could have been done.
Friday, February 8, 2013
Joshua Mehigan's "The Orange Bottle" is just fantastic.
It's got everything I've been calling for since I started this blog. It's narrative, long enough to satisfy, and plays with sound in some wonderful ways:
For instance, listen to the way Mehigan changes sound in this stanza near the poem's end:
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Now that the morning newspaper tradition is obsolete, what do you do to fill that void?
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Back in 2006, I was awarded a grant for the furtherance of poetry.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Clearly, I don't get Poetry.
A Don Share tweet led me to this poem which gave me apoplexy:
"The Gargantuan Muffin Beauty Contest."
Love is in the air, it’s in the whisper of the trees.
Which 20th Century books are more important to the West?
1900s: Heart of Darkness (1902) versus The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
1910s: Ethan Frome (1911) versus Peter and Wendy (1911)
1920s: Ulysses (1922) versus Winnie-the-Pooh (1926)
1930s: Of Mice and Men (1937) versus Mary Poppins (1934)
1940s: The Stranger (1942) versus The Little Prince (1943)
1950s: The Old Man and the Sea (1951) versus The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955)
1960s: Catch-22 (1961) versus A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
1970s: Gravity's Rainbow (1973) versus The Princess Bride (1973)
1980s: Beloved (1987) versus Redwall (1984)
1990s: Infinite Jest (1996) versus Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (1997)
Monday, February 4, 2013
So like, people, like really like to talk about poetry being dead.
This bro is all "DAG YO, SLAMS KILL POETRY"
When what he probably really means is that a lot of performance poetry is bad.
Well, duh. A lot of poetry is bad.
A response here addresses some points, but skips over its most important one:
"poets should learn their trade."
We should ALL be excellent writers AND readers.
Look to the March 7th reading, everyone. You'll see some living poetry for sure.
What would you all think of a "graphic epic"?
That is, an illustrated verse narrative?
Do you read graphic novels?
That sort of thing?
What if the words sounded as good as the story read?
What if it also were presented in not only a static format but also like a "motion book" a la Reading Rainbow?
If you're reading this, I'd love some commentary. Don't just think it, type it!