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NeuroFizz
03-17-2006, 07:56 PM
Is it just me, or is the tone of poetry here at AW overly dark, serious and moody? Am I correct in finding uplifting pieces in the minority? And how about playful, humorous? I've thrown some of them in, and I realize they are not deep-thinking pieces. Granted, I haven't gone back in the archives here--I just don't have the time. But, if I am even partially correct, is this a trend that goes beyond AW? This is intended as a serious topic for discussion, and let me fertilize it with a more insidious question? Do poets take themselves and their work more seriously than writers who specialize in prose--fiction or non-fiction? Does this affect the balance of serious, dark and moody versus uplifting and playful/humorous pieces? Is the nature of the beast such that the required precision of the craft shapes the tone of the work? I'm talking on a population level, not on an individual level, and I'm afraid my knowledge of poetry, historically and in contemporary survey kind-of-way is puny.

I'm just curious to see how people here react, and please, I meant to disrespect if anyone detects an offense. I am trying to probe the beast, blindfolded like I am.

Stew21
03-17-2006, 08:05 PM
Is it just me, or is the tone of poetry here at AW overly dark, serious and moody? Am I correct in finding uplifting pieces in the minority? And how about playful, humorous? I've thrown some of them in, and I realize they are not deep-thinking pieces. Granted, I haven't gone back in the archives here--I just don't have the time. But, if I am even partially correct, is this a trend that goes beyond AW? This is intended as a serious topic for discussion, and let me fertilize it with a more insidious question? Do poets take themselves and their work more seriously than writers who specialize in prose--fiction or non-fiction? Does this affect the balance of serious, dark and moody versus uplifting and playful/humorous pieces? Is the nature of the beast such that the required precision of the craft shapes the tone of the work? I'm talking on a population level, not on an individual level, and I'm afraid my knowledge of poetry, historically and in contemporary survey kind-of-way is puny.

I'm just curious to see how people here react, and please, I meant to disrespect if anyone detects an offense. I am trying to probe the beast, blindfolded like I am.

the last one I wrote was dark, but most of the haikus I do aren't serious at all. Then there's the one about tomatoes...surely that can't be construed as "dark", and the one about childbirth - though painful, it was intended to be touching.
I love the humorous ones. I LOVE the work you do. I read your "conversations" and cracked up. I like Truman's playful pieces, too. "Roly-Poly Lucifer" comes to mind.
I do think that people go for the "deeper" emotions because they are more easily described (ETA: not easily described just more easily made to be concrete? does that make any sense?)and the playful is a bit more difficult to pull off sensory wise. I don't know that poets take themselves more seriously than other writers, but possibly with fewer words in play, it is not quite so easy to set a "funny" scene.
hhmm...I'll have to think on it more, I'm doing more rambling than explaining it seems. (and I am positive others here have more information that would do a much better job of addressing your questions...I'm an amateur!) :)

Is it a trend? I don't know. I'm the wrong person to answer that. It's not just you though, they seem to be in the minority.

Stew21
03-17-2006, 08:10 PM
I'm also thinking that if a poet is "inspired" to write that it is the things that touch deepest that inspire, move, etc. Maybe that is more typically "dark" emotion because it is somehow more overwhelming or bigger or fights harder to get out of our heads.
I also find that I am more "witty" in other kinds of writing than in poetry. I had always assumed that to be because I haven't practices writing the subtlety required to do humor in poetry.

I love this question! I can't wait to read the other answers.

Paint
03-17-2006, 08:31 PM
I love humorous poems too! I particularly remember Truman's "Refried Beans" poem. Fun! He brightens up the page around here.

Paint

ddgryphon
03-17-2006, 09:01 PM
Well, I don't expect to be much help in lightening the mood -- in fact another downer is on the way. But, why? I don't know. I'm a bit of a malcontent. I'm not an overly dark person. I'm more drawn to the Sylvia Plaith, Anne Sexton, Edgar Allen Poe group than I am to Helen Steiner Rice or James Whitcomb Riley group. And I will admit that I'm no lover of Rice, but Riley I like among many other cherrier poets.

Why don't I write more happy shining people poetry? I don't know, certainly I don't take myself all that seriously, and I LOVE humor -- you would be amazed at how much time I spend at comics.com, ucomics.com, kingfeatures.com, I frankly love to laugh. But poetry, for me, is a serious business.

I don't disagree that the tone is somewhat dark, but we have TrumanCoyote, Poet in a Hat, You, NF, and others to balance us out. I don't think the darker tone necessarily means that the poet takes themselves really seriously. I think it can mean, what I said, that they feel poetry is one of the best vehicles for expressing deeper (or darker) images.

Sorry, not much help.

Good question though.

William Haskins
03-17-2006, 09:08 PM
Is it just me, or is the tone of poetry here at AW overly dark, serious and moody?

well, setting aside the fact that you use the highly subjective term "overly", i would say you'd almost have to inventory the work and judge each individually. i'm not sure what the tally would reflect, but even so, there's no monolithic "poetry" here, but rather a bunch of individual poems by different people.

that said, i can say with some certainty that my work would gravitate toward the dark, yes.


Am I correct in finding uplifting pieces in the minority? And how about playful, humorous?

probably.


I've thrown some of them in, and I realize they are not deep-thinking pieces. Granted, I haven't gone back in the archives here--I just don't have the time. But, if I am even partially correct, is this a trend that goes beyond AW?

actually, i believe the reverse to be true. because of the relative strength of criticism and discussions of the craft here, i think AW has less self-indulgent, navel-gazing, dark-for-the-sake-of-darkness poetry than many, if not most, internet sites.


This is intended as a serious topic for discussion, and let me fertilize it with a more insidious question? Do poets take themselves and their work more seriously than writers who specialize in prose--fiction or non-fiction?

i think so. my own view (speaking for myself only) is that poetry is much more about art than about commerce. i am not bound by market forces and, as such, i'm not obliged to write to entertain. i can write from my heart, black though it may be.


Does this affect the balance of serious, dark and moody versus uplifting and playful/humorous pieces?

again, it can only affect the balance in the absence of a counterweight. a mister funnypants poet or miss spunky-spiritualism could arrive on the scene and tip the scales within days.


Is the nature of the beast such that the required precision of the craft shapes the tone of the work?

maybe. i find poetry serious business, even when the tone is not. therefore, even humor should have a contextual dynamic that makes it piercing (ideally).

ddgryphon
03-17-2006, 09:21 PM
therefore, even humor should have a contextual dynamic that makes it piercing (ideally).

Which is one of the things that makes Truman's work so special -- just to name someone who expemplifies this.

JRH
03-17-2006, 10:42 PM
Hi Neuro,

Poets tend to reflect the world they live in, (since it is the source of their experience), and it's a pretty "serious world out there, (even for an
optimist).

I tend to think very seriously about most things as that's my nature, although that can sometimes lead to humor too, (if only of the satirical or ironic kind).

However, if it's just pure humorous diversion you're looking for, you might try this:

The Could've Been Cowboy

I was born a city boy.....
But that's not the way it should have been.
I yearn for those golden days of yore,
When gals was gals and men was men;

When giants walked the smog-free Earth.
And legendary deeds was done.
T'was then a man could show his worth.
'Pains me to think what I missed out on.

Coyotes howl at the misty moon.
The Wild West ended....much too soon.

I never got to brand a steer;
Never got to punch a cow;
Never tied no dogies down.
Never-mind I don't know how.

I never wrestled with a bear;
Never stared down a rattlesnake;
Never rescued a maiden fair,
But I could.....make no mistake.

I could've pulled a wildcat's tail,
Or turned a tide of buffalo.
I could've shot a black-hat down,
Or maybe, scalped a fallen foe.

I could've rode a buckin' bronc;
Could've made a flying mount.
I did that once at a "Bawdy House",
But most folks tell me that that don't count.

Coyotes howl at the mystic moon.
The Wild West ended....much too soon.

I studied all the old-time flicks.
I know just how the West was won.
I've honed my skills on video games
'Til I'm mighty handy with a gun.

I paid my dues on mechanical bulls;
Drank whisky-neat 'til the sun came up.
I practiced singing out-a tune
'Til even the walls begged me to stop.

Well, I couldn't make my bed roll-up,
So I got me a fancy sleeping bag,
And a backpack, and Coleman stove and stuff.
Now, all I need is a faithful nag.

Hi, Honey!

I picked up a new pair of snakeskin boots,
And I look great with my wool chaps on.
Just top it off with my ten gallon hat,
And it's plain to see where I belong.

Coyotes howl to the mournful moon.
The Wild West ended.....much too soon.
To me.....those coyotes sound mighty fine.
I'm a cowboy born.....in the wrong dang time.

Copyright (c) Fall 1982 James R. Hoye

JRH

kdnxdr
03-18-2006, 03:34 AM
enjoyed the read very much. thank you.

Nyna
03-18-2006, 05:03 AM
Well, I don't know how relevant this is, but I'm reading a book discussing mood disorders as they relate to the 'artistic temperament' -- especially bipolar disorder. It quotes several studies which show that writers, artists, and poets are 18 times more likely to suffer some sort of mood disorder, and that of those artists, writers, and poets, poets are the most likely to commit suicide. The book is 'Touched with Fire,' by Kay Redfield Jamison, and it's fascinating reading, but a bit scary. (Okay, really scary. I'm on the verge of self-diagnosing again, which always happens when I read pychology books.)

So, uh, not to imply that every poet -- or that most poets -- are depressed, but there are certainly studies that show we are at greater risk. Something to watch out for, at the very least.

ddgryphon
03-18-2006, 06:52 AM
Like alcoholism, man, 1 step and 1 day at a time. (Yes both my grandfather's were alcoholics)

JRH
03-18-2006, 07:42 AM
Hi Nyna ,

We debated this on another Forum I take part in, including several "studies. that made a connection between "creativity" and "depression" or even "suicide, but none, that I found, that proved those theories, and you can find equal numbers of studies that say depression and suicide are more prevelant in all segments of society, today.

Relative to creative artists, it may be said that ALL forms of creative artists tend to be more sensitive both to their own feelings and those of others, as well as being more aware of events happening in the world around them, than the average individual, but MOST who have suicided were either "lesser" talents or "promising" ones who, because of their suicide did not achieve their potential, There are, of course, exceptions to that as there are to every EVERY rule, and I'd be the last to claim otherwise, but I do think it generally holds true.

The truth is that the pressures that creative artists face, both internally and externally), have always been tremendous, and that is particularly true in this day and age.

It's not enough to have talent, because the numbers competing with you are greater than ever before, the difficulties in getting published or displayed are greater than ever, and, the "Criticism", one must face, both from the "public" and your "peers", is brutal.

It takes a thick skin and a world of self confidence to overcome such obstacles, but it CAN be done, although it's little wonder that SOME can't take it, but, even then, their numbers are small, compared to those who continue trying, and hopefully, even eventually succeed.

Never forget that many creative artists we respect today, never found acceptance in their lifetime, or, at the very least, had to toil many years before such success came, and trends and cycles in all forms of creative arts are always changing, if one has the patience to wait them out, and never let it get you down.

So, by all means, be aware of such studies, but also be aware that they are generalized and may have little if any application to any of us as individuals, (whether they claim to or not)

JRH

Nyna
03-18-2006, 09:47 AM
Yeah, I kind of thought that might be the case. I'll definately be reading more about it... sorry to bring up something that's already been discussed. :) And I'm always more ready to believe things like this because artistic creativity and depression both run in my family...

JRH
03-18-2006, 10:21 AM
Hi Nyna,

Don't misunderstand me, it hasn't been discussed on the Water Cooler, that I know of. The discussion I took part in was on ShadowPoetry,com The statistics and theories are valid enough but I don't think they necessarily have much meaning for us as individuals unless we let them.

JRH

Pat~
03-18-2006, 05:58 PM
NF, just to let you know, you are not alone in this observation. I admit to expressing this thought once before in the Poetry forum, when I asked William if he could offer us any "uplifting" poetry for critique. (Not meaning his personal poetry, but that of established authors that he posts for critique.)

rhymegirl
03-19-2006, 03:38 AM
This one wasn't too dark, was it, Neuro? I like light-hearted poems sometimes.

CHICKIPOOS, The Best Poets

Some poets write
while imbibing some booze,
And some poets write
'cause they suffer the blues.

Some poets write
stuff so bad that you snooze,
And some write
to let off their hot-tempered fuse.

And then there are poets
in little red shoes,
Who are they? The ones
William calls chickipoos.

kdnxdr
03-19-2006, 05:42 PM
I'm not a history buff and I know there was alot going on politically preceeding the dark ages. However, I have wondered what was it like as the "light" seeped away and "darkness" overtook that period.

I have often wondered, once there was a Dark Ages, there can be another Dark Age.

Scripturally, there is actually a scripture that referes to the condition of mankind that says, "the days will wax darker and darker".

Might humanity be on the brink of that darkness and creative people are sensitive to that shift and reflect it by their expressions of creativity?

Is there an abyss of darkness that, by it's gravity, drains light from life?

rich
03-19-2006, 06:03 PM
I write and prefer humor in even serious poems.

O Lord, allow me
At least a few fish this day.
My buddy, one less

I lurch far forward
From the sharp bend of my pole
Another stump, hooked

The fish eagle dives
Snatching unsuspecting bass
“Please, leave some for me”

The sun’s rays cause sweat
Beads to drop from brow to reel--
And me, out of beer

A box in a shed:
Within, a tangled treasure
Of forgotten lures


The best laid plans of
Mice and Men shrink in the midst
Of the picky trout

The old fishing hole
Memories of hooked whoppers,
Whatever their size

How many great lures,
From impatient casts, still swing
From the tall flora?

Feed a man a fish,
It’s one meal. Teach him to fish
He’ll mooch your tackle.

Proverb for the skunked:
Blessed are the poor of catch
For they lie the best


Rosebud 8/205

kdnxdr
03-19-2006, 07:51 PM
Have you published "Haikus for Fishermen" yet?

The last one, alone, could haul in some cash sported on a hat or shirt!

(I personally love wearable poetry)

JRH
03-20-2006, 09:30 AM
Actually these are Senryu rather than Haiku because of their humorous nature, but they make an excellent series by any name.

Well done.

JRH

rich
03-20-2006, 04:12 PM
Thank you.

The ten were published in Rosebud 8/05, and currently waiting somewhere with The Yale Angler Review office.

They are more haiku than senryu. The dividing line is vague: humor doesn't always make it a senryu. Nature, seasons, are more in line with haiku. Some folks see mother nature and human nature as the distinction, some don't.

JRH
03-21-2006, 12:57 AM
I'm aware of the distinction and usually tend to lean toward the concept of human nature , (particularly being humorous) as being primary, although I'm inconsistant on it too. Here is one of mine that is posted with my Haiku although it should be senryu by my own definition.

string and hook and worm
dangled from the old bridge head
catching fish a bonus

Copyright (c) 11 Feb 2005 James R. Hoye

JRH

kdnxdr
03-21-2006, 07:43 PM
senyru or haiku
enlightening dialogue
see the cherry tree