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William Haskins
06-15-2005, 09:49 PM
sometimes confessional poetry can be compelling. most of the time it's not. such is the case with a lot of novice poetry, including some of what gets posted on sites like this.

it ends up big on exposition (telling) and short on metaphorical weight (showing). so, i'd like to recommend a little exercise that might illuminate this trap that so many young poets fall into.

let's take a sample line of what one might find in this highly personal style of poetry:

when you left me, my life was over.

okay, sure it's a basic (and somewhat horrible) example, but not totally unrealistic. now, imagine you had no words at your disposal with which to express this sentiment.

imagine, instead, you had to draw it. you look within yourself and see the emotion embodied in your "life being over" as, say, a lonely figure driven to the edge of a cliff. a dead end. it seems like there is no possibility of moving forward, only falling.

now, you have created a metaphorical vehicle for that emotion. and it can be visually evocative and emotionally powerful in a way that expositional whining simply cannot. armed with this visual representation, you can now use language again, but this time in a different, more poignant way.

when you walked out my door,
you took the world with you and
left me perched on this precipice, peering
down on nothingness
afraid to fall.

again, quick (and fairly lame) example. but this time, it connects both writer and reader in a common visual realm.

and that's a good thing.

-william

Sarita
06-15-2005, 10:26 PM
Excellent post! Can we rename it to POETRY PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT COURTESY OF WILLIAM HASKINS....

No really, I'm guilty as charged. Painting is one of the ways I've opened up my poetry. Take for example the painting I had in my profile... I wrote a thousand poems about that theme, then I painted it. The clarity came crashing through. Love and making it, is sweet. When it feels a certain way, you can't resist it, like a dragon fly drawn to orchids. That dragon fly can get nourishment from any flower, but to pick the orchid... ahhhh the best of the best. Isn't that what we all want in love?

Okay, I'm rambling. Can I be your padawan, Master Haskins?

maestrowork
06-15-2005, 11:27 PM
Good post, Haskins. The same "show not tell" concept in story writing can be applied to poetry as well. The best poetry/story is evocative and provocative. I try to do that in my own writing -- sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. You take a simple concept, then expand it using metaphorical details to evoke that theme... that's powerful, I think.

Cassie88
06-15-2005, 11:53 PM
Great post, Will. Thanks!!

Paint
06-16-2005, 12:50 AM
Guilty as charged, William. Being a blunt person (I like to call it honest) I get in trouble with this.
Some of the people in this forum have not had formal training in poetry (me-couldn't put the paint brush down) and a post like this is welcome information. I did get a critique, not here, telling me the poem was too personal and would not be understood. So that 'common visual realm' is very important.
It's a very good thing. Why be here otherwise?
Paint

mommie4a
06-16-2005, 12:55 AM
Very instructive post not only for poets or wanna be poets, but for us narrative nonfiction writers trying to get the best storytelling elements out of every fact and observation.

You might have to start charging, William.

Godfather
06-16-2005, 01:02 AM
william. you have just saved any beginner poets from falling over the precipice their staring over. and myself too, i always knew those poems weren't.... great, but you, you laid it down plain and simple. you got your message across, that's what a poet does, no?

thank you william.

dare i?
:Lecture:

i dare.

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 04:35 AM
you crazy kids.

Vanessa
06-16-2005, 05:33 AM
This is all good indeed for the mind that needs to concentrate on the technical formality of writing poetry, instead of creating from the heart. Personally, I believe that poetry is something that is described by its writer. It's a form of literature that depicts the writer's mind. How can anyone critique something so personal? One either appreciates it or they don't. Again although good points are covered here, I believe that poetry is a free form of expression and should always be that way.

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 05:53 AM
Again although good points are covered here, I believe that poetry is a free form of expression and should always be that way.

this is not the issue at hand, however. i think we can all agree that poetry is a free form of expression.

my contention is that language, in its deadest and lowest form (the buzzing conversation of convenient, pedestrian words) is actually an oppressive force that restricts the very freedom you speak of.

now, no one will dispute that poetry is constructed with words, but we must first escape language before we can tame it enough to truly open a window into our soul.

so what i suggest is a mental metaphor machine.

free ourselves from the expositional by rejecting the overt and explicit. since poetry, like other forms of writing, functions at its best when it's visual, then we go to that realm. we imagine the emotion, not by its name, but rather by its symbolic significance. once we have established in our own mind our pain as a stormcloud, our lovemaking as the blooming of a flower or our loneliness as a distant universe with one star in the sky, then we have our poem. it doesn't require language. we can hold it inside and feel its full power.

but we do have readers to think about, so we then go back and pick and choose the lively words, the beautiful words, the heavy, the dark, the light, the sad words. and we rebuild the poem from the foundation of a mental image -- into a string of words become far more than the sum of their parts.

hey, i encourage freedom. but freedom is found away from the well-worn path of empty cliches, dead-obvious words and language that could be from a radio commercial.

-william

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 05:59 AM
My issues with a lot of poems are: word choices, rhythm/cadence, and complexity.

Frex, I try to pack a lot of feelings and emotions and meanings in as few words as possible (carefully chosen words, strong words, vivid words, metaphorical words)...

What do you think about that, in terms of the "language" of poetry?

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 06:05 AM
i think that's dead on. i address that in the second response in this post:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=111335&postcount=10

mommie4a
06-16-2005, 06:09 AM
This is a tough one for me, William. The points you raise in your most recent post, for a few reasons. First of all, I'm into nonfiction and while narrative nonfiction borrows from poetry and fiction, I respect clarity yet don't feel that metaphors are always clear.

Now, maybe that depends on the writer and the reader. And some writers - in whatever genre - decide that certain audiences might be excluded because of the language used and the writer is okay with that. Remember the brouhaha with Jonathan Franzen and Oprah and not wanting to appeal to folks who read what Oprah recommends?

But sometimes the topic is something I want to pursue but I know the audience must be addressed in a certain way, a way that doesn't obfuscate the information. That doesn't mean my writing can't be poetic, but I have to be careful that they'll understand.

And, as a novice poetry reader and not even a novice poet, some metaphors in poetry drive me nuts because I just don't get it. Does that mean I need to read more poetry, less poetry - or I'm not meant to read poetry? I don't know.

I guess I hate the idea that poetry would be inaccessible to people because the presentation, the genre, is over their heads. And I guess I would never want to suggest that there be a Chicken Soup kind of poetry for everyone because that seems to play to the lowest common denominator.

I guess I just want everyone to get along.

No wait, that's for another thread.

I guess I just want everyone to have a chance to "get" poetry and want to believe that it can be accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try.

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 06:15 AM
Jill, I think part of the allure of poetry (for me anyway) is the deeper meanings behind the actual words. Sure, we can have poetry that talks about the beauty of the sun, the moon, of people. But I myself am drawn to the ones that have deeper meanings, and you really have to dig to understand what and how the poet was feeling when he/she wrote it... I think that's VERY sexy.

In fiction, we call it subtext -- not everything has to be spelled out. But when the readers get it, it's very powerful.

I admit, sometimes my poetry can be really cryptic -- like "WTF is the meaning of this?" I have people say to me, "Well, I think I get what your poem means..." and they're most often wrong. LOL.

In fiction, sometimes I go overboard with complexity and subtexts. Some people prefer everything to be clear and explained.

I don't know... I think once you get to the deep and metaphorical, you are approaching art. ;)

mommie4a
06-16-2005, 06:17 AM
I agree, completely. There's much poetry I enjoy even when I know I'm not getting it all. And as a writer, I love the challenge of writing in the subtext. No question about either of those points.

Again, I think this has more to do with my frustration when I don't get it. I guess I just have to keep reading and working at it and bugging William.

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 06:17 AM
i don't think what i suggest builds any walls between writer and reader. on the contrary, i think it tears down walls, by bridging my experience with yours, but (and this is important) elevating it above common conversation.

cliches, for instance, were at one time poignant. can you imagine the very first time someone ever heard someone say their heart was broken. if you forget you've heard it a million times, it's a quite powerful phrase.

but to us it's dull and empty, rendered by use to almost meaninglessness.

if you read it in a poem, the little jill inside you might say, "hell, everyone's had their heart broken. so what?"

but if you truly encounter a freshly unique and powerful metaphor, you will be jolted from a sort of linguistic complacency and suddenly, you'll have a empathetic response to the writer's experience, and (this is huge!), it will make you see your own pain or joy through new eyes.

mommie4a
06-16-2005, 06:21 AM
if you read it in a poem, the little jill inside you might say, "hell, everyone's had their heart broken. so what?"

but if you truly encounter a freshly unique and powerful metaphor, you will be jolted from a sort of linguistic complacency and suddenly, you'll have a empathetic response to the writer's experience, and (this is huge!), it will make you see your own pain or joy through new eyes.

As a writer and reader, I appreciate this point since, as a writer, one thing I always have in my mind is making the reader feel or see something he or she has never felt or seen before in the way my writing has made him or her feel or see.

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 06:23 AM
mostly, my first post was just me thinking out loud. none of it really means anything anyway.

Pat~
06-16-2005, 06:29 AM
Some good points, mommie4a. I, too, am a non-fiction writer and enjoy writing poetry--but probably would never post my poetry because I fear my metaphors aren't complex enough! I also rarely write free verse, preferring the less popular traditional forms. I'm doomed to obscurity, I know. :Shrug:

I like the idea of more show, less tell, and employing the senses...but I also really want to communicate to the reader. And heavy use of metaphor might actually hinder that communication. I mean, I might be writing about my life being over and the other guy reads about my standing at the cliff and has a totally different perception of the experience...for all I know he's a hang-glider and thinks the adventure is just beginning.

So, I use metaphor, but very sparingly. (But neither do I whine.)

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 06:30 AM
but if you truly encounter a freshly unique and powerful metaphor, you will be jolted from a sort of linguistic complacency and suddenly, you'll have a empathetic response to the writer's experience, and (this is huge!), it will make you see your own pain or joy through new eyes.

Yes. People PMed me about my Venus Fly Trap piece -- another take of the savage nature of sex/lust/love. Once they get it, it can be phenomenal and powerful. It touches people on a primal yet intellectual level -- it's just awesome. And that's very satisfying for both the poet and the readers.

brokenfingers
06-16-2005, 06:45 AM
Damn. The things I miss when I'm busy as hell.

Haskins you're right on about everything you said. Very well articulated.

You were able to put into words a lot of things I felt about poetry and the way I try to write poetry.

Excellent post.

(Damn that Haskins!)

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 06:46 AM
(But neither do I whine.)

yeah i figured that one would come back on me at some point.

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 06:59 AM
A lot of Emily Dickenson is difficult to understand, but she can make you see a rose or a sunset like it's the first time. She can make you re-feel a "broken heart" like it just happened. There are some writers that can write poetry without using a lot of metaphor, but it's rare and if they're not giving us metaphor, they're giving us something else. Although, I can't for the life of me, think of an example.

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:00 AM
Who's the poet that wrote that short poem about eating the piece of fruit? Ya gotta cut me some slack, I'm tired.

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:01 AM
Maybe it wasn't fruit! lol You know it's got that line...."you were...saving..." something like that.

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:02 AM
William Carlos Williams?

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 07:04 AM
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

- William Carlos Williams

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:05 AM
I knew you would know it..... YES..... I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks!!!

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:07 AM
Now, I'm assuming since you know it by heart...or it's close by...that you also love this poem. Do you? And can you explain why this poem, so simple...touches us the way it does?

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 07:07 AM
but is it really just a simple message about eating someone's plum?

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 07:07 AM
Now, can we do an analysis? Why is that poem great?

Edit: Haskins and I cross-posted. Yeah, to me, that's it. It's not really about eating the plums. It's about something deeper (subtext). It's about the relationship between the poet and the "you" in the poem... note the placements of the words: saving, so cold, so sweet...

There's a knife in there...

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:09 AM
I love this! As Vote Bot would say Discuss

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 07:11 AM
And "Forgive me" -- so much conveyed in those two words, and it's not literal!

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 07:12 AM
williams was a rather deviously clever poet, prone to short, imagist works (which i am totally attracted to in my own writing).

the obvious answer is we like it because of its sensory and tactile potency.

but it works on multiple levels. it can be a note found on a refrigerator or it can be an exploration of selfishness and temptation.

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:12 AM
Yes, it's all about subtext...and these simple words say so much more. It kills me ..that poem

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:13 AM
Is it Williams who wrote the poem about dancing with his father? Or was that someone else?

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:14 AM
Will, you should be teaching an online poetry class. Really. I know you're busy, but maybe some time in the future. I'm in.

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 07:18 AM
i'm an idiot. don't listen to me.

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:20 AM
Yes, Ray, "forgive me" .....I forgive you, I forgive you...anything...

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:22 AM
i'm an idiot. don't listen to me.

B******T!

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:24 AM
Well, I'm going to bed...or I'm at least signing off. Now, Will, you gotta write out the poem about the dancing with the father.... not tonight, if you don't want..but maybe tomorrow?

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 07:34 AM
The whiskey on your breath
Could make a small boy dizzy;
But I hung on like death:
Such waltzing was not easy.

We romped until the pans
Slid from the kitchen shelf;
My mother's countenance
Could not unfrown itself.

The hand that held my wrist
Was battered on one knuckle;
At every step you missed
My right ear scraped a buckle.

You beat time on my head
With a palm caked hard by dirt,
Then waltzed me off to bed
Still clinging to your shirt.

-Theodore Roethke

mkcbunny
06-16-2005, 09:43 AM
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

- William Carlos Williams
I'd just like to point out that this is a fine example of simple, "common" words used well. It's all in how they are put together.

Very clear, useful postings, Will.

brokenfingers
06-16-2005, 09:49 AM
And "Forgive me" -- so much conveyed in those two words, and it's not literal!Man, am I feeling dense. I don't get any sense of metaphor or message in this poem. It seems to me a straight snapshot that maybe describes a relationship.

Anyone care to post what you see in it? Haskins? Sara? Bueller?

Ray? What do you mean by your statement? What do you see in those two words?

Man, it's bugging me now! ;)

Sarita
06-16-2005, 03:24 PM
Anyone care to post what you see in it? Haskins? Sara? Bueller? Someone crazy for liking cold fruit? Man does that hurt my teeth!

Selfishness. He didn't want to be forgiven, he liked it and would do it again, given the chance. What else would he do, given the chance?

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 04:57 PM
Sara is right. It's about selfishness, or even a tint of vengeance -- like yeah, you wanted that plum. Guess what, I ate it!

Have you ever said something to your loved ones or friends, like: "Oh, forgive me!" -- it doesn't mean you really is asking for forgiveness. It's more like sarcasm.

The reason this "forgive me" is sarcastic is because of the two wonderful, succinct lines that follow: So cold, so sweet. It's a taunt. Especially after the lines "You probably save for breakfast" -- "Save" is on a separate line! The message is clear.


Imagine:

wife: you ate the last of the ice cream I saved for bedtime!
husband: oh, forgive me! It's deliciousl. So cold. So sweet. (Do you really think the husband has any remorse? No.)


Like William said, this poem is great because you can enjoy it just by admiring the simplicity, and the vividness of the words -- the sensory, etc. Or you can dig deeper (selfishness/temptation) and get something else out of it.

The same techniques (subtexts, etc.) can be used in story-telling as well. That's why people study literature, to get what's hidden under the superficial meanings of the texts...

Paint
06-16-2005, 06:06 PM
When I read William Carlos Williams poem on fruit, I read control into it. I know, I know, it's an issue with me. I guess it depends on where you are in life how you read the deeper message in a poem. When said poem hits a core issue, like
William H. says "It's huge!"
We need people like William on this thread (Thanks again W.) people who stir up the soup. As you know if the soup is not stirred, all the good stuff settles to the bottom and the soup becomes bland. If we all write alike, what fun is that? Who would read it?
One of my favorite poets, (poetess?) Sylvia Plath. Why? She takes a common object like cotton and makes it velvet to the reader.
Fun thread!
Paint

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 06:22 PM
okay, since i think we can all agree that "this is just to say" is a wonderful little poem, let's put it through some paces, based on what i've proposed in this thread.

please note that i don't in any presume to speak for mr. williams (who was generally quite coy about glossing his own work). but let's reverse engineer it through the sausage grinder of the metaphor machine on the assumption that the writer wanted to poetically express the nuance of tempation and selfishness.

in a purely expositional form, it might be something like:

even if i love you, even if you're close to me, i want what i want and i will take it, asking for forgiveness later instead of permission now.

okay. this cuts to the core of human nature, but it's hardly a poem. so we reject the commonspeak and go to the symbolic canvas. what could represent tempation? hmmm... biblically speaking, nothing works better than fruit. it's practically primal in the judeo-christian mythology of the psyche.

but, an apple... well that's too obvious. and since the apple already carries the symbolic weight of the tree of knowledge, it brings its own unnecessary baggage. so, why not a plum?

next, let's look at the tone. it's not a frantic apology, it's casual in its insincerity. and what's more casual than a quick note scribbled and left on a refrigerator?

so now, we have the metaphor (fruit) and the vehicle (the epistolary form). the writer can now rebuild it, return to the tools of language, having constructed it internally.

in the first stanza we have the confession. but not a back-pedalling, attempt-to-justify confession... it's brazen and unflinching. unapologetic.

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

next we have the recognition that the selfish act has certainly done harm (to someone the writer is close to, since the note on the refigerator suggests cohabitation.

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

next, we have the empty gesture of a weak apology. after all, we can't sincerely apologize for our nature; hence, the apology is limited to the simple phrase "forgive me", before the writer returns to the bolstering of his own case ("hey, they were sweet and delicious and so cold... what do you expect?")

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.

- William Carlos Williams

overall, a wonderful poem, extraordinarily layered.

Sarita
06-16-2005, 06:28 PM
I also love the probably. It removes the guilt. "I know you were saving them, but I'm going to say probably so that I don't claim full responsibility." Starting the second stanza with and also give it something so... hmmm, I don't want to say casual, maybe careless.

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast.

rich
06-16-2005, 06:46 PM
Perhaps, using William's introduction as a starting point, some pg ud can post poems in that spirit: no bad metaphors, no forced metaphors, no cryptic metaphors--and, some with no metaphors, but much more show than tell.

Unnaccustom as I am to romantic poetry, I'll take the bad example Will posted and try to make something of it:

<<when you left me, my life was over.>>

She left me,

disappearing on the busy street.

As she weaved through the crowd

I could see only her

And then nothing.

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 07:13 PM
Is this a prompt? ;)

[never mind]

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:20 PM
wow, i went to bed and came back to all this. Terrific stuff. Funny, when I read Williams' poem, I melt. ..and I read it almost as a love note.

Will, thanks for ..is it, "My Papa's Waltz".... I remembered it a few minutes after I logged off last night. I moved twice in the last few years and somehow, a box of books went missing. Filled with antholgies of poetry, my Plath, Dickenson, my Dylan Thomas, my Anne Sexton, ...oh God... Now, I need to refill the shelves... Can anyone suggest a good anthology? One that would include the best 19th, 20th Century poets? I'll ask this is a new thread.

Cassie88
06-16-2005, 07:22 PM
Ray, why don't we start a thread where people have to post a poem "in the style of"....we can start with William Carlos Williams... and use diff. poets diff weeks....or do you or anyone else have a better, clearer idea?

maestrowork
06-16-2005, 07:28 PM
Oh Cassie, I'm just digressing from my novel. I don't really know anything, let alone trying to write like the masters. I shall now disappear...

Paint
06-16-2005, 07:30 PM
Grind it up? Okay...from my angle, which I have already posted as 'control.'

I have eaten the fruit, I wanted it, and I am 'God' and do what I want. You are insignificant, hardly worth an 'apology.' I am king. (Why do I need to be king over you? Because I am insecure, that is the real reason I am leaving an apology. I am secretly afraid you will not like me.) I do not ask permission to your face because I am afraid of your anger or, God forbid, rejection.

The plums represent sexuality, they are always 'ripe.' Maybe I am afraid of your sex. So I will consume it.

Patronizing on the last verse. I will compliment you with an apology that will represent you.

mommie4a
06-16-2005, 07:30 PM
I imagine Williams and the person to whom he's speaking to be naked during this exchange, a midnight rendezvous during a sleepless early morning. Tilted head smiles on both faces. It's amusing, it's happened before, it will happen again, and they like the pattern as much as they love each other.

William Haskins
06-16-2005, 11:07 PM
<<when you left me, my life was over.>>

She left me,

disappearing on the busy street.

As she weaved through the crowd

I could see only her

And then nothing.


interesting take, rich. i enjoyed it.

-william

Alphabet
06-17-2005, 02:16 AM
Ok... "when you left me, my life was over."


This vacant space
In the middle of my world
Has trapped me.

William Haskins
06-17-2005, 03:03 AM
love the juxtaposition of open space and claustrophobia.

mkcbunny
06-17-2005, 04:32 AM
I'm interpreting the apology as a genuine admission of will-lessness rather than a proclamation of selfishness. I don't read it as saying "I took what I want because I wanted it!" but, rather, as "I'm sorry, but I am what I am, and I cannot prevent myself from giving into something so wonderful." To me, it's sexual, but in an erotic, "How can I help myself when presented with temptation" way, vs. an "I'm going to take what I want regardless of your feelings" way.

Like mommie4a, I also see it as a love note. The note-writer sees the irresistible plums and cannot help but want them. They are, metaphorically, the female plum-owner.

That said, if I were the woman, I think I'd worry about his finding and enjoying equally juicy fruits elsewhere.

mkcbunny
06-17-2005, 04:42 AM
Imagine:
wife: you ate the last of the ice cream I saved for bedtime!
husband: oh, forgive me! It's deliciousl. So cold. So sweet. (Do you really think the husband has any remorse? No.)

This has happened to me, and I have to admit that I get disporportionately angry about it. [smiley removed for Will's sake]

When I read the plum poem, I don't feel the sense of carelessness about the fruit-eating that the above interpretation suggests. It seems as though the plum-thief was hopelessly seduced by the plums.

brokenfingers
06-17-2005, 04:48 AM
Well, personally - I think the guy has a problem and needs to see a therapist about his plum obsession.

brokenfingers
06-17-2005, 04:51 AM
OK, that was a joke.

Forgive me.
Though you expect
Better of me -
My brain,
It is broken.

WriteRead
06-17-2005, 04:54 AM
Well done, William!

I use, though quite intuitively, it just comes out while visualizing what I wanna say, what I call IMCOSO - IMage, COlor, SOund. This is an abrr for an expression that someone else coined "image, color, sound") and I've made into an acronym.

In short, "SHOW, DON'T TELL!", indeed.

Dan

brokenfingers
06-17-2005, 04:54 AM
Hahahahaha! Sorry again.

I'm with Jill and those who read it like a love note type thing.

The way I saw it was the guy acted on impulse but then had second thoughts due to his realization that his significant other had probably put that plum there for a reason and so he's offering a lighthearted apology - commensurate with the light offense.

Kinda like:

Damn, I'm sorry honey that I didn't put the toilet seat down. You know I do love you...

maestrowork
06-17-2005, 05:10 AM
Funny how one can interpret a poem so many different ways.

When I read a poem, I like to go to the dark places. ;) A love note is cute, but why use metaphors of eating someone else's plum? I'd like to think there's deeper meaning than that -- and once you twist that reality, you suddenly see "selfishness." I'm sure we've all done that: consume something we know we shouldn't have, then offer a half-hearted apology:

"I did it, and I am glad."

Again, for me the indication is the arrangement:



Forgive me

It was delicious
so cold
so sweet



...still doesn't look like a true apology to me. ;)

I think the darker interpretation is so much more interesting... IMHO.

Cassie88
06-17-2005, 06:03 AM
But Ray, even a love note can have deeper meaning.

mommie4a
06-17-2005, 06:05 AM
But Ray, even a love note can have deeper meaning.

I know what you mean, Cassie. I hate when my love notes have deeper meanings - I try to mask it, but I just can't get shallow enough. My husband always says, what did you really mean by that? Men.

mkcbunny
06-17-2005, 07:17 AM
A love note is cute, but why use metaphors of eating someone else's plum? I'd like to think there's deeper meaning than that -- and once you twist that reality, you suddenly see "selfishness." I'm sure we've all done that: consume something we know we shouldn't have, then offer a half-hearted apology

Well, I'm seeing it as more of a romantic admission of imperfection than a "cute love note." The reason I see this is that the man [let's assume it's a man just to stay on track] is admitting a flaw. That flaw may be selfishness, lack of will power, lust, whatever. But revealing one's flaws to another is an indication of trust. So, what I read is a person admitting they have no control when faced with temptation. That combined with the plum-sex metaphor, to me, makes it kind of bittersweet. Afterall, as I mentioned above, he's apt to find more plums around.

I can definitely see it the way you're suggesting. It just doesn't stick with me that way for very long. The more I dwell on it, the more melancholic it seems. It is quite possible that this is just my frame of mind at the moment.

Now, if the plum-thief is a woman ...

William Haskins
06-17-2005, 07:19 AM
The more I dwell on it, the more melancholic it seems.

there's no escape from the shadow.

mkcbunny
06-17-2005, 07:24 AM
there's no escape from the shadow.
Could be the dead fish I found in our pond this morning has me interpreting things through a sad, romantic filter. Maybe I am reading more sincerity in the poem than there is. Then again, however I see it is true.

William Haskins
06-17-2005, 07:30 AM
well, there's a whole other theory i have about happiness and sadness, but that's for another day.

mkcbunny
06-17-2005, 07:40 AM
well, there's a whole other theory i have about happiness and sadness, but that's for another day.
Lemme know when you get that one going.

maestrowork
06-17-2005, 07:42 AM
That's the thing about poetry, or art in general. It evokes and provokes, but it doesn't tell you what you should feel, or how you should interpret it. The viewers/readers bring his and her own world views to it, and they feel something personal or profound, based on their own existential experiences. And one day you may see a painting and feel certain way, then the next a whole different way.

Take the "Mona Lisa smile" for instance... you can have a thousand theories about that smile, and probably none is what Da Vinci had in mind (he might very well have had nothing specific in mind).

mkcbunny
06-17-2005, 07:43 AM
And none of us are wrong. [Damned smiley removed again]

maestrowork
06-17-2005, 08:13 AM
precisely

Godfather
06-17-2005, 11:54 PM
i understand what your saying william,
and normally, i don't like those poems

but maybe the poet has thought about metaphores
thought about possibilitys for their poem.
and decided that in your face, simple language is the best.

maybe complex language and whatnot is stronger.

take dylan thomas. i had no clue as to what he was on about when i first read do not go gentle. did you? but it's a hard hitting poem, and once you understand it, its even more hard-hitting.

maybe its language your talking about and not necessarily metaphores
a lot of poets don't use metaphores.
do not go gentle wasn't a metaphor,
that was just the way he used the language.
if he had said

don't die without a fight.
old people should really fight when they're dying
fight against death.

that's pretty much the same as

do not go gentle into that good night
old age should burn and rave at close of day
rage, rage against the dying of the light.

not a metaphor, but very strong all the while.

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 12:21 AM
sigh. i give up.

er... "the good night" that dylan doesn't want his father to go gentle into is a metaphor for death!

the poem is built on a metaphorical foundation, and is riddled with metaphor, simile and symbolic imagery throughout. this is not simply language... this is the deliberate manipulation of language for the distinct purpose of bridging the intellectual mind with the visual mind.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 12:49 AM
yes, but the poem itself isn't actually a metaphor. it contains metaphores.
maybe i got the wrong idea from what you were saying
but i though you were saying to build your poem on a foundation of metaphores, or make the poem a metaphor.

apologies.

also, using metaphores can confuse readers to think a poem has different meanings.

'involuntary fondness' had one meaning, but people percieved it to have another, which led me to write 'intergalactic power of a poet'

so hmmm... it is debatable wether you are right or wrong.

lets argue :D

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 12:54 AM
you seem to couch your objections as a concern for the reader, but i suspect you're looking to absolve the writer from metaphoric responsibility.

if you're trying to make it easier on the reader, don't. they won't thank you. they'll see your work as flaccid and ineffectual, and feel like you're underestimating, or even insulting, their intelligence. they won't be moved, and they won't remember your poem.

if you're trying to make it easier on yourself, then shame on you.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:07 AM
hahaha
william, you got it opposite.

first of all, i don't write for my reader
i write for myself.
for me, its like drawing a picture
if i want to draw it
i'll draw it well.

i write for myself and only myself
of course, i would love to have readers
but even if i had a group of them
and none of them understood a poem
i wouldn't change the poem.
i might explain it, but i wouldnt change it.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:09 AM
I'm with William on this one. He was right on with his Dylan observations. Not to be rude, Godfather, but have you read the poem?

yes i have.

not to be rude, mein freund, but did you read my reply to his dylan post?

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:18 AM
do you understand what i meant now?

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:33 AM
you can ignore my dylan post, it was based on a misunderstanding

i know metaphores CAN make a beautiful poem. i use them myself
but metaphores CAN confuse readers.

but you seem to be forgetting that poetry isn't based on metaphores.
the other way around i would think.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:36 AM
i'm an idiot. don't listen to me.

that's what they always say

you saying that because you think it
or for attention? :)
sillly willy

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 01:37 AM
but you seem to be forgetting that poetry isn't based on metaphores.


/slashes wrist

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:38 AM
metaphors are based on poetry?

er... no.
just moreso that poetry is based on metaphores.

poetry can be very strong without metaphores
poetry can be very weak with metaphores

its the poet that makes a poem beautiful,
not metaphores.

but metaphores can help


(oh god, why did i challenge william?!)

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:40 AM
/slashes wrist


i'm not that bad, am i?

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 01:40 AM
yes.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:41 AM
okee dokee.

just sharing my views

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 01:41 AM
it's okay. you're entitled to them.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:42 AM
oh, and I would like to open this topic up to others. ANYONE? Have you ever been confused by metaphor?

will you read 'the eyesore' and tell me what you think after the FIRST read.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:43 AM
it's okay. you're entitled to them.

i'm right in some context though, am i not?

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 01:47 AM
no.

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:49 AM
yes i am.

metaphores *can* confuse people
and you don't need metaphores to write poetry.

Alphabet
06-18-2005, 01:59 AM
Babies only know how to say aaaghhh, waaaghhh, and after a while mama nana bbbbeh and Tttah - but you know what? language is made up of more than that - there are many many languages on the planet and they ALL are made up of more than that - even though it confuses babies.

It might be that some people would be confused by metaphors but that doesn't mean the metaphors shouldn't be used.. of course there might be some poetry written entirely for that audience, but just as Peter has the ball, Peter kicks the ball is not the pinnacle of literary craft, neither is metaphorless poetry the pinnacle of poetcraft.

That said, I don't think metaphor is essential to poetry - I think insight is essential, and sometimes it might be an insightful metaphor, other times it might just be clearly worded insight - it is the insight, rather than the metaphor itself that makes it memorable. (for me).

Godfather
06-18-2005, 02:02 AM
thats kind of what i've been saying.

i think you all misunderstood me to... an extent.

oh save me.

brokenfingers
06-18-2005, 02:36 AM
first of all, i don't write for my reader
i write for myself.
for me, its like drawing a picture
if i want to draw it
i'll draw it well.

i write for myself and only myself
of course, i would love to have readers
but even if i had a group of them
and none of them understood a poem
i wouldn't change the poem.
i might explain it, but i wouldnt change it.

I don't understand why a person who writes poetry for themselves with no concern for the reader and no intent to change their words would ask for a critique from another person.

If you have no intention of even making an attempt to bridge the gap between your feelings and the reader's perception of it, what are you seeking then?

If engaging your reader or trying to get them to see your vision in a way that they can understand and relate to is not your goal and you are only engaged in narcissistic rhyming or emotional venting, why should a person bother commenting on any of your pieces?

True poetry is felt deeply within a reader because the poet connects to the reader in a basic, fundamental way. If the reader doesn't "get it" or doesn't feel it, then in my opinion the poem has failed.

Which is fine - it happens. But if you don't care that it fails and have no intention of trying to "make it work" - then why post it?

If you're writing only for yourself, that is fine and dandy - but do not be surprised nor disappointed if you wind up with a readership of one.

I suppose I just don't understand a person who says that the reader getting it or enjoying it is not one of their considerations when writing. What then is the purpose of your writing?

I guess this is what has me puzzled. But then again, it isn't really important anyway. I should thank you, I guess. You've absolved me of any guilt I might have felt for not viewing any of your work or commenting on it.

Thank you.

Pat~
06-18-2005, 03:16 AM
er... no.
just moreso that poetry is based on metaphores.

poetry can be very strong without metaphores
poetry can be very weak with metaphores

its the poet that makes a poem beautiful,
not metaphores.

but metaphores can help


(oh god, why did i challenge william?!)

Okay, I'll jump into the fray :-).
I think I understand what godfather is getting at, though I think I would word it a bit differently. How about this? (And this is what I believe.)

Poetry can be strong without metaphors.
Poetry can be weak, even though it contains metaphors.
It's the message that makes a poem beautiful, not the number of metaphors.
Metaphors are only part of communicating a powerful message...they are a tool.
If metaphors confuse the reader instead of bringing to light the meaning of the poem, the tool has not been effective. (Now it's fine if everyone wants to have their own interpretation of that meaning, but as a poet, I write to communicate a specific thing to my reader, and am hoping that he 'gets' it.)

Comments?

maestrowork
06-18-2005, 03:46 AM
C'mon.


Some people like paintings of a bowl of fruits and flowers. Some people like a painting of a beautiful sunset and mountains. Some people like abstract art. Some people like Pop art.

Some people can't understand anything but a bowl of fruits. Some people find a bowl of fruits boring.

Some people find a painting of three straight lines intriguing: What does that mean?

Some people find a portrait intriguing: Why does Mona Lisa smile?

Some people find a bowl of fruits intriguing: Look at the realism of the lights.

Some people like Monet. Some people like Da Vinci. Some people like Picasso. Some people like Mapplethorpe. Some people like Warhol.

They're all "art" by some broad definition. If it moves you, it works.

I happen to like metaphorical poetry. At the same time, I don't like something that is so abstract that it takes Einstein to figure out the hidden meaning. I like something in between basic and abstract...

Pat~
06-18-2005, 04:01 AM
They're all "art" by some broad definition. If it moves you, it works.


Poetry is art, but it is also an attempt at verbal communication, (which paintings are not). If someone wrote an artistic poem which nobody could understand, to me it wouldn't 'work.'



I happen to like metaphorical poetry. At the same time, I don't like something that is so abstract that it takes Einstein to figure out the hidden meaning. I like something in between basic and abstract...


I'm with you here!

maestrowork
06-18-2005, 04:31 AM
Poetry. Art.


But is the primary purpose of poetry communication?

I think if we see poetry as art, then we must accept the fact that it would communicate no more or no less than a painting. I mean, a painting communicates, too -- certain information. What do Monet's lily pads tell us? His paintings are not merely about aesthetics. Or are they?

Poetry or paintings, IMO, are about communicating ideas and feelings. A bowl of fruits is not merely a bowl of fruits. It communicates certain things: The opulence of the lifestyle? The mood of the painter? The ideal and beauty of symmetries, or randomness?

Likewise, poetry could merely just communicate the beauty of things: Sunset, flowers, moon, water, people. Chinese poetry, for example, is oftentimes about simple beauty of nature. There are no hidden meanings. It touches us at a very basic level: sensory.

Poetry could also communicate ideas -- something that is beyond the surfice meanings of the words. The eating of a plum: What ideas are conveyed? Suddenly we're talking about emotions and ideas; the mind and the soul.

Poetry could be functional by communicating certain specific messages. In that case, I agree, abstraction bars the "audience" from getting that message. It shouldn't take a PhD in psychology to figure out what a poem (or a painting, for cryin' out loud) "means" in this case.

... sorry about the rambling... I feel like I'm back in grad school again...

Pat~
06-18-2005, 04:41 AM
Poetry. Art.


But is the primary purpose of poetry communication?


... sorry about the rambling... I feel like I'm back in grad school again...

Me, too. (But I enjoyed grad school :) .)

How about this?
Poetry= Art+Communication

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 06:25 AM
hi. me again.

i'm going to post this and try to step away. everyone has to walk his or her own path, and i'm just another guy trying to squeeze a poem out of my soul every day or two.

but i was intrigued by godfather's and pat's contention that metaphor is not vital to poetry.

let me state up front, that it is certainly true that every poem does not rely on metaphor, and some are actually quite well-received. some well-known poets that often wrote literal, narrative work include auden, bukowski, kipling (for the most part) and shel siverstein.

however, it's helpful to note that, by and large, they wrote in rather narrow thematic realms: auden as a social commentator, bukowski as a two-fisted rogue, kipling as a sort of travelogue writer, and silverstein in a sort of comic way for children.

nevertheless, i stand by my contention that, in the vast majority of poetry that has stood the test of time, metaphor, simile and symbolism (that is, explaining the unknown in terms of the known) is its driving force.

below i've included excerpts from several poems. i chose poets that are as close to mainstream as a poet can get -- in the interest of keeping them familiar and warding off any accusations that i went fishing in obscure waters to get them (<-- hey look! a metaphor!)

take a look and tell me if they would be improved by scrapping metaphor/simile/symbolism in favor of literal exposition.


************************************************** *



I heard a Fly buzz
by Emily Dickinson

I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm

certainly, the stillness in a room can never really be like the "heaves of storm" in any physical sense. but dickinson explains the unknown (how she has envisioned the room -- heavy air, tension, pressure -- by comparing it to what we DO know, the looming weight of a burgeoning storm.


Alone
by Maya Angelou

They've got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.

now you tell me how your blood would circulate down to your tushie if your heart were really made of stone. angelou explains the unknown (her vision of the selfish and unfeeling) by comparing it to what we DO know, the weight, hardness and coldness of stone.

Mirabeau Bridge
by Guillaume Apollinaire

The night is a clock chiming
The days go by not I

we know good and damn well that night is just our side of the earth facing away from the sun, and apollinaire knew that, too. what we don't know is how precious and fleeting the night is in his mind, but he helps us understand it by giving it the urgency of a chiming clock.


Spleen
by Charles Baudelaire
Translated by Richard Howard

(I)
February, peeved at Paris, pours
a gloomy torrent on the pale lessees
of the graveyard next door and a mortal chill
on tenants of the foggy suburbs too.

february is just an articial segmentation of days, isn't it? how can it be peeved? and just what does it have against paris? baudelaire allows us to know his sense of the miserable weather by turning a page on the calendar into a malicious violent force.

As I Walked Out One Evening
by W. H. Auden

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

crowds are fields of wheat, huh?
must be why they're usually leaning whatever direction the wind blows...

A Poison Tree
by William Blake

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

now why would he be referring to his own self-consuming anger in a poem about a tree? why indeed?


A Red, Red Rose
by Robert Burns
O my luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June;

by the way, at the florist by my house, you can get love (or "luve") for roughly 40 bucks a dozen... could it be that there's something else to this?

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
by E. E. Cummings

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds

a furnished soul...fancy. does your soul have a loveseat? or could cummings have been alluding to the emptiness of the privileged life?

Break of Day
by John Donne

Light hath no tongue, but is all eye;
If it could speak as well as spy,

hmmm... spying's bad enough... what if light could lick you, too? you'd be taking the flashlight to bed with you.


The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

i won't insult your intelligence by even commenting on this one, except to say if you think it's really about a man standing at a fork in the road and picking his butt while he tries to decide which way to go, please never read another poem.

For the Union Dead
by Robert Lowell

"Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam."
The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now.

snow in the sahara? probably not, but the desert reference connotes expanse, desolation and loneliness.

Lady Lazarus
by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it--


A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,

please god, no! don't tell me that my cosmic love actually had a paperweight for a foot. talk about your birth defects.


The Plaid Dress
by Edna St. Vincent Millay

This violent plaid
Of purple angers and red shames; the yellow stripe
Of thin but valid treacheries; the flashy green of kind deeds done
Through indolence high judgments given here in haste;
The recurring checker of the serious breach of taste?

look out! attack of the colors... and this time, it's personal.

okay, i'm done. i really never meant to be preachy or didactic, but i care deeply about poetry and it's a pretty god damn endangered art form.

and metaphor, my god, it is THE fundamental building block of language, and of conceptual thinking.

a story:

two cavemen cross paths on the side of a mountains. one, crag, is fleeing a volcanic eruption. his hand is severely burned, flesh melted. he screams out in pain as he walks down the mountain. the other, zog, is out hunting. zog gets pissed at the noise.

zog: shut up! you scare away prey.

crag: but it hurt!

zog: how you do that?

crag: me touch river of fire.

river of fire? hell, that's poetry.

no? well it's damn well metaphor. poor ol' crag doesn't have a word for lava, or for molten, much less a concept of something he's never seen before. but you can bet he has a word for river and for fire. those are primal and integral to his existence. zog's, too.

so crag can frame the reality of something new by marrying seemingly juxtapositional images into something new, something that makes a new kind of sense.

okay, so that's it. if you're still reading this, you're insane. welcome to the club.

i just get flabbergasted sometimes.

flabbergasted, i say....

-william

Pat~
06-18-2005, 08:44 AM
hi. me again.

i'm going to post this and try to step away. everyone has to walk his or her own path, and i'm just another guy trying to squeeze a poem out of my soul every day or two.

but i was intrigued by godfather's and pat's contention that metaphor is not vital to poetry.

let me state up front, that it is certainly true that every poem does not rely on metaphor, and some are actually quite well-received. some well-known poets that often wrote literal, narrative work include auden, bukowski, kipling (for the most part) and shel siverstein.


Then I think we are agreed, after all. (Because I never contended that metaphor wasn't important, just not a necessary ingredient to poetry.)

.


below i've included excerpts from several poems. i chose poets that are as close to mainstream as a poet can get -- in the interest of keeping them familiar and warding off any accusations that i went fishing in obscure waters to get them (<-- hey look! a metaphor!)

take a look and tell me if they would be improved by scrapping metaphor/simile/symbolism in favor of literal exposition.


Improve upon what has already been accepted as great poetry?! Seems a waste of time (not to mention desecratory! Don't anybody mess with Donne and Blake!!). Of course, I could take a Shel Silverstein poem and ask you to improve it by adding metaphor/simile/symbolism, and that wouldn't necessarily make a case for literal exposition, either.... I think we're really agreed that both forms of poetry are valid, and can be appreciated.

************************************************** *

okay, i'm done. i really never meant to be preachy or didactic, but i care deeply about poetry and it's a pretty god damn endangered art form.


Nah, you weren't. You're inspiring, actually. I love poetry, too. And I especially love the endangered forms (traditional and rhyming verse).



and metaphor, my god, it is THE fundamental building block of language, and of conceptual thinking.


I agree that it can be fundamental to conceptual thinking if the metaphor is not too obscure; I love symbolism and metaphor, actually. (Allegorical fiction is the only fiction I enjoy reading.)


a story:

two cavemen cross paths on the side of a mountains. one, crag, is fleeing a volcanic eruption. his hand is severely burned, flesh melted. he screams out in pain as he walks down the mountain. the other, zog, is out hunting. zog gets pissed at the noise.

zog: shut up! you scare away prey.

crag: but it hurt!

zog: how you do that?

crag: me touch river of fire.

river of fire? hell, that's poetry.

no? well it's damn well metaphor. poor ol' crag doesn't have a word for lava, or for molten, much less a concept of something he's never seen before. but you can bet he has a word for river and for fire. those are primal and integral to his existence. zog's, too.

so crag can frame the reality of something new by marrying seemingly juxtapositional images into something new, something that makes a new kind of sense.


Love that last phrase, William! Reminds me of Christ's use of parables to communicate truth to people.



okay, so that's it. if you're still reading this, you're insane. welcome to the club.

i just get flabbergasted sometimes.

flabbergasted, i say....

-william
__________________



And yes, I am truly insane; I'm reading this after spending the last 2 hours on the philosophy forum (you think YOUR post was long).... Thanks for the welcome :-).

mkcbunny
06-18-2005, 09:33 AM
I've been considering the metaphor issue for an hour here after reading the posts, and I just cannot imagine writing poetry [or any form of creative writing, for that matter] without employing metaphors. I do think that it can be done, but the beauty of poetry, to me, is in how the writer makes connections between words and ideas. There's just more depth and more to think about when metaphor is involved.

Are the plums just plums? Maybe. Maybe not. But the possibilities implied by their being more than plums add a level to the poem that isn't there if they are only plums.

Speaking of the plum poem and how to interpret it ...

Today, I helped a friend move. He is getting a divorce, and thus everything in his old apartment had been divvied up into "his" and "hers." At one point, I was feeling a bit peckish, so I opened the fridge to see if there was something I could snack on. Looking at what was inside, it was clear to me that everything in there was "hers." All I wanted was something fast and easy -- a hunk of cheese or a handful of raisins -- but nearly everything seemed to require preparation [eggs, meat, ten sticks of butter, frozen quiche]. Right in the middle of the top shelf was a plastic bag filled with beautiful, ripe cherries. I laughed aloud, thinking immediately of the plums. Then I considered eating the cherries and leaving the WCW poem on a Post-It in the fridge. It seemed so appropriate at the time, and I was feeling mischievous. But I chose to leave the fruit alone since, under the circumstances, the recipient would surely have taken the note poorly.

I may have a new perspective on the plum poem for a while.

maestrowork
06-18-2005, 09:43 AM
Most of my poetry employ metaphors and symbolism... I can't imagine writing poetry without. Just can't.

aboyd
06-18-2005, 12:10 PM
I think Haskins' mention of Bukowski is worthwhile, in that a lot of Buk's poems employ next to nothing in terms of metaphor, but are still often OK to read. However, what's interesting is that even Bukowski can't escape it entirely (and he's not trying to, as far as I know). I just went back to one of his books and looked at the 12 poems I dog-eared. Most use metaphor. Most of the ones I didn't dog-ear are the ones that are just straight-talking, bland descriptions of his bar stool (or whatever).

You don't need metaphor. You can be successful with it. But to pique my interest, you need it.

-Tony

Godfather
06-18-2005, 01:07 PM
I don't understand why a person who writes poetry for themselves with no concern for the reader and no intent to change their words would ask for a critique from another person.

If you have no intention of even making an attempt to bridge the gap between your feelings and the reader's perception of it, what are you seeking then?

If engaging your reader or trying to get them to see your vision in a way that they can understand and relate to is not your goal and you are only engaged in narcissistic rhyming or emotional venting, why should a person bother commenting on any of your pieces?

True poetry is felt deeply within a reader because the poet connects to the reader in a basic, fundamental way. If the reader doesn't "get it" or doesn't feel it, then in my opinion the poem has failed.

Which is fine - it happens. But if you don't care that it fails and have no intention of trying to "make it work" - then why post it?

If you're writing only for yourself, that is fine and dandy - but do not be surprised nor disappointed if you wind up with a readership of one.

I suppose I just don't understand a person who says that the reader getting it or enjoying it is not one of their considerations when writing. What then is the purpose of your writing?

I guess this is what has me puzzled. But then again, it isn't really important anyway. I should thank you, I guess. You've absolved me of any guilt I might have felt for not viewing any of your work or commenting on it.

Thank you.

i really seem to be coming off as an idiot here and an a**hole as well but ok, here goes

ok, i was extreme in what i said.

really what i mean is, when i'm writing a poem
i write it first to get the message across
then i write it the way i think is the best way to write the poem.
if the reader doesn't understand the poem
well, i'm not going to change it.
because i think thats how the poem should be
and if i wrote it, it's my poem, my message
then, shouldn't i know how it should best be written.


the metaphor thing. i certainly, doubtless prefer metaphores. i always use them. i was just saying that it is not necessary to have them. metaphor is a technique of poetry. very important to poetry, and usually more powerful then other techniques. but it is not ABSOLUTELY necessary.

this is just how i think
and i haven't been reading or writing poetry for long.

so don't judge me on how i come across on this thread.

maestrowork
06-18-2005, 06:41 PM
Strictly speaking, you don't "need" anything to write literature. Grammar? Thptt! Point of view? Who cares? ... if writing is purely personal, then you can write pages and pages and pages of text without proper punctuations and spelling and grammatical accuracies... as long as you understand what you mean.

I know, for example, that Kitaro does not write music with standard musical notations. He uses drawings (scribblings, actually).

However, as you present your thoughts and ideas and emotions to someone other than yourself, that's when these rules or guidelines or "best practices" come in play. Surely, you don't need metaphor to write a poem. That's not what William said, that you MUST have metaphor, similes or symbolism to write poetry. The point is (and I believe I can speak for William -- or he can correct me), they make poetry so much more interesting and potent and profound and evocative and fun in comparison.

aboyd
06-18-2005, 09:28 PM
if the reader doesn't understand the poem
well, i'm not going to change it.
because i think thats how the poem should be
and if i wrote it, it's my poem, my message
then, shouldn't i know how it should best be written.Of course not. That's crazy talk.

Anyone doing an especially creative craft in relative isolation is going to suffer from being too close to the work. Poets -- especially new ones -- are typically great at getting the words out of their brain and onto the page. They are not typically great at anticipating the reader response.

Think about it. Reread what I quoted from you. You just wrote that you think your poems should not be understood. Is that what you meant? You said that if your poem wasn't understood, you'd leave it as-is because that's how it should be. Are you really trying to write incomprehensible poetry? And the fallout from that position is that your poetry is universally discarded as irrelevant. Is that right? If so, there's no point in continuing the conversation.

But I suspect you meant something else. What did you really want to convey? Maybe, what you meant was that only you know the words knocking around in your brain. Or only you can stay true to the vision you have in your mind's eye. Am I close? OK, well, why didn't you write that?

I think you didn't write that because you had no idea that what you wrote was ambiguous. In fact, I can see in multiple places in this thread that you're restating your position, correcting misconceptions. Do you honestly think your poetry is somehow exempt from that?

I know my poetry certainly isn't exempt from unwanted confusion (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=14284). But if I want it to succeed, I have to address it.

-Tony

brokenfingers
06-18-2005, 09:54 PM
Great post, Tony. I agree.

Godfather, I hope you don't take anything I, or anyone else here, has said as antagonistic.

As Tony stated and with which I agree, I think you just miscommunicated. That's OK though, you're young and "unformed" yet. I'm not saying that in a condescending way - I'm actually speaking about your writing. Writing is all about communication and is a vital component of poetry also. Not the only component but an important one nonetheless.

There is nothing wrong with stating your opinion - that is one of the purposes of this forum. But if not stated the right way, the message can be clouded and confused and leave readers with a different idea of what you were trying to say than you originally intended. A la your posts.

So we all must keep honing our craft - writing - so that the true ideas and thoughts we think are more effectively transmitted to others.

The same is true of poetry. I just think it's kinda funny to say you've only been writing for a few months and then say that if your readers don't get it - well, too bad. You know what is best and what you were trying to say.

But that's the key point. You know what you were trying to say, but writing is not for you to know what you were trying to say but for others to know what you're trying to say. Do you know what I'm trying to say? ;)

And we all write things that are misunderstood or that people don't get. I often ask semi-rhetorical questions that some may find highly sarcastic or snarky etc. To me, I'm just trying to get the person I'm addressing to re-look at their statements and look at it from someone else's point of view. To see what they communicated in a different light so they can then ask themselves - is that what I truly meant to say?

The thing is to recognize these things and try to improve your message skills. Writing isn't about great ideas or thoughts or feelings. Writing is only the medium for you to communicate these things inside of you, trying to beat their way out, to others. It is only one of many means to show others the individuality inside of you: your ideas, beliefs, thoughts and emotions. A way for you to say:

Look. This is me. Here I am. This is what I think and what I feel and I want to share this with you, my fellow human being. Can you relate? Have you been there? Have you felt that? Or am I just crazy?

If you can feel my words, then maybe we truly are brothers and sisters and maybe there is a grand scheme and maybe we all are truly one under the sun...

William Haskins
06-18-2005, 11:35 PM
best wishes to all of you in your writing. thanks for the discussion.

Godfather
06-19-2005, 02:17 AM
well, i don't have an audience,
i can't judge how any readers think when they read my poetry.
most people have different ideas.

so, if everyone is giving me their opinions on how they think the poem should be, which will all be different if they all have individual opinions on what the poem means on the message it's conveying, then i'm going to stick to the originally intended message, and keep it the way it is(if i'm satisfied with it.) instead of trying to cater for different opinions on the message. do you get me now? all that considering there isn't a target audience i've aimed for.

and the metaphor thing, i was simply saying it's not absolutely necessary to use them.


i came across as an idiot in this thread for saying the first words that came into my head. i think thats what i meant to say up there, so, yeah.

William Haskins
06-19-2005, 03:16 AM
i came across as an idiot in this thread for saying the first words that came into my head.

no, you didn't. you came across as a teenager who, like most teenagers, has the world all figured out. it's okay, like the rest of us, you'll wake up one day when you're 21 or 22 with a long life of adulthood staring you in the face and realize that all that wisdom has suddenly turned to vapor.

and no one can categorically say that anything you've put forth is wrong. you made the best argument you could as a 15 year old who's been writing a few months.

i made the case i did as a 39 year old man who was already seriously writing and studying poetry 10 years before you were born.

i admire the exuberance of youth and the fire of a young buck who holds the world in the palm of his hand.

it'll get heavier as time goes on, trust me. don't let it break you.

aboyd
06-19-2005, 05:35 AM
Godfather, I hope you don't take anything I, or anyone else here, has said as antagonistic.Hmm. Yes, if my post came across as antagonistic, then that's my fault. It wasn't my intention. I was just trying to draw a parallel between posting and poetry. Brokenfingers stated it in a much better way, so his post is all that is needed.

-Tony

kdnxdr
08-28-2006, 05:09 AM
PIH,

I'm assuming you've resurrected this thread as a memorial to the moderation of WH and because you find it a provocative exercise/discussion.

I didn't read through every post but, at the onset, I did like how William kicked the thread off with a prompt/exercise. Do you think that is something we might pick back up here and go through that kind of exercise together?

On the original prompt, I saw the image of the dying swan and began to structure some words around that image.

How about a prompt striving for a metaphorical representation? Hey?

poetinahat
08-28-2006, 05:20 AM
Hi, kd -- thanks for posting!

I didn't resurrect the thread; I just catalogued it. You've just resurrected it!

I didn't put a link to it as a memorial to William; I'm only putting together links to posts that people might find informative, inspiring, thought-provoking, fun, or useful.

Just trying to make it easier to find some very interesting stuff!

A prompt on metaphorical representation: good idea. Something I'm pretty bad with, or maybe just not familiar with. If you start it, I'll put it in the list!

Ball's in your court, my friend.

kdnxdr
08-28-2006, 05:37 AM
I will attempt to do that, what you said, however, I don't know if I will come up with a good one.......let's see


Having children that you love.
Came from a painful childhood yourself.
You want to give them a good future.

that's my concrete prompt, if this doesn't work, someone else take a "stab" at it.....

kid

poetinahat
08-28-2006, 06:02 AM
Oh, I get it: new prompt in this thread. I'm thick sometimes.

Okay, folks, check kdnxdr's prompt above, and have a go: see the OP for an example.