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brokenfingers
03-30-2005, 07:17 AM
I have a question.



I am definitely not a poet and havenít really had much exposure to it but Iíve come to appreciate the power of poetic verse to slap the reader upside the head or kick them in the chest. Or make them dizzy, or make time stop for a moment, or cause mist to form before their eyes orÖ well you know what Iím saying.



My question to the people here who write poetry: Do you edit and re-write your poems? And if you do, do you do so extensively?



Or do you just slam it down, straight from the gut, and let it lie there on the page?



I know re-writing is an important part of fiction and non-fiction writing Ė but Iíve always assumed that poetry is a more emotional form of writing, that part of its power derived from the transference of raw emotion to the page. So Iím just curious if poetry is spontaneous or if it is like other writing. Or if itís ??????....



This might seem a stupid question to some, but Iíve never ever really read any poetry (except for school Ė and who the hell really reads that??) until recently and Iíve become kinda intrigued by it. So Iím kinda out in left field with the sun in my eyes as far as that goes.



Anyways, I was just curious. Any comments are greatly appreciated.

alanna
03-30-2005, 07:27 AM
I usually write all my poems long hand, and keep re-writing them until they sound/appear right. that usually means five or six re-writes, which is why I buy notebooks made with recycled paper! :) then i type them, and occasionally go back and tweak a word or two. sometimes after a while i go back and totally rework the poem, but that's rare.


hope this helps!

-alanna

wurdwise
03-30-2005, 07:51 AM
I write them on the computer, and the inspiration usually leads to what you described, just slamming the words down. They get edited a bit for form, rhyme or meter, but not very much. They flow, as if the words are already there, I just have to type them. I wish writing a novel were that easy!

Alphabet
03-30-2005, 08:03 AM
Usually a full poem comes in two 'parts', the first rush of inspiration and wording, that usually is either the complete poem or most of it with a few sketchy 'I want to get from here to there' spots, and then the second visit where significant pruning and adding happens. After that I can sometimes look at the poem and each time try a new variant, usually deciding to stay with the original but sometimes taking the variation instead. Sometimes years later I can look at a 'finished' poem and see a word that can change or chop, or a line that can split differently to enhance the meaning or impact.

Sometimes you only get a part of a poem, little more than a theme/concept/emotion with perhaps three or four lines down. Those have to be filed, usually on the backs of envelopes, and revisiting them to try and tune in to the rest of the poem is usually hard work. Those are the ones that take the longest, sometimes forever.

Sometimes it is good to look at the poem, find the punch, and then just write a totally new poem around the punch, often when you do that you get a far tighter and more intense poem.

But sometimes you want to transport the reader instantly to the scene, other times you want to meander leisurely to your destination.

alanna
03-30-2005, 11:05 PM
I write them on the computer, and the inspiration usually leads to what you described, just slamming the words down. They get edited a bit for form, rhyme or meter, but not very much. They flow, as if the words are already there, I just have to type them. I wish writing a novel were that easy!

lol, it works just the opposite for me. words "flow" when i write a novel much better on the comp, and poetry is easier to write longhand. i think it's because ina novel i'm thinking three sentences (at least) of what i'm writing, and in a poem i'm thinking of the word choice for the next word. does that make sense?

Sarita
03-30-2005, 11:34 PM
In the initial rush of emotion, I just write. Sometimes I'll change a word or two, but for the most part I leave them as is. I just started sharing my poetry, it's normally just for me and very personal. I never type them on the computer, unlike my WIP (novel) which is exclusively done on my laptop. In my case, the mood hits me and I jot down my lines, sometimes in a notebook, sometimes on a napkin. ~Sara

William Haskins
03-30-2005, 11:45 PM
i compose in my mind, building line by line until i recite pretty much the completed poem.

then i write it down, maybe tweak it slightly, and move on.

life's too short.

(you might find some inspiration and amusement in the film "a merry war" with richard e. grant. it's based on george orwell's novel "keep the aspidistra flying". the composition of a single poem is an undercurrent of the entire story)

http://imdb.com/title/tt0119453/

Paint
03-31-2005, 12:23 AM
I go both ways. Sometimes I get a thought, line, or word and build around it. Then there are those really heady moments when I am just about asleep and the whole poem appears. I grab the pencil and jot it down before it escapes into sleep land. Usually I am happy with the way it is. I have also had the muse grab me by the collar when I am doing something unrelated and I have to excuse myself to write. The poem "Fort Davis" (see posts) was written in the presence of ghosts, most interesting and a little erie.

:-O
Paint

Julianne
03-31-2005, 03:59 AM
Brokenfingers,

You said


...but Iíve always assumed that poetry is a more emotional form of writing, that part of its power derived from the transference of raw emotion to the page. So Iím just curious if poetry is spontaneous or if it is like other writing.


Most spontaneous poetry is pretty awful. :eek: It also accounts for a lot of what I see posted on the Internet (e-zines not included).

Good poetry requires thought and practice and revision just like other forms of writing. It is a craft. It has rules and terminology and all that good stuff.

If you are serious about writing poetry, I can recommend a few books. Just let me know. :D

Julianne

William Haskins
03-31-2005, 04:10 AM
Good poetry requires thought and practice and revision just like other forms of writing. It is a craft. It has rules and terminology and all that good stuff.

i couldn't disagree more. poetry requires only the ability to think and feel, and an adequate vocabulary to articulate it. that's it. maybe a pencil and paper.

the rules and terminology are components of an artificial orthodoxy. that's not to say that critical analysis and adherence to form can't be enjoyable and perhaps even enlightening; it's just not vital to the process.

alanna
03-31-2005, 05:33 AM
I read a pretty good essay today on pretty much this topic-on the craft/emotional writing of poetry. It was written by T.S. Eliot, and his point of view is very original. if anyone wants to read it I can try to find it somwhere online. I summed it up in a sentence...hold please while I search for my notebook...::rummages:: Ah. here it is.

The poet uses the real world to fuel their work and builds in technique from the past but in content from life as it is and has been, putting their personal emotions aside for the purpose of creating art the resonates for the whole.

Please excuse my grammar- this was a quick jot. It's an interesting essay.

JAlpha
03-31-2005, 05:39 AM
Good poetry requires thought and practice and revision just like other forms of writing. It is a craft. It has rules and terminology and all that good stuff. Julianne

My fiction writing only started to get published, after I studied the craft of writing poetry. It's all about learning to make every word count. Now, I can freely work in both mediums, fiction and poetry, and have an equal amount of success publishing both. And my degree is in the visual arts. Just think of it as cross training!

JAlpha

Julianne
03-31-2005, 06:15 AM
JAlpha, you said


My fiction writing only started to get published, after I studied the craft of writing poetry. It's all about learning to make every word count.

I started the other way around - writing poetry first and then, later on, fiction. I still sometimes find myself editing my fiction as if it were poetry...making every word count. Good point!


Alanna, thanks for the excerpt. I'll do a Google search with a couple of phrases from your post. It seems the Mr. Eliot agrees with the idea that poetry is craft.


William Haskins, you said


...poetry requires only the ability to think and feel, and an adequate vocabulary to articulate it. that's it...the rules and terminology are components of an artificial orthodoxy. that's not to say that critical analysis and adherence to form can't be enjoyable and perhaps even enlightening; it's just not vital to the process.


:Headbang: That's just silly! It's this way of thinking that has resulted in the Internet and editors in-boxes being littered with bad poetry. Look at it this way. If other forms of art - such as fiction writing, sculpture, music, oil painting, etc. - all involve learning a skill, then why doesn't poetry? Good poetry is much more than someone's emotions dribbled out onto the page with whatever words come into his or her brain, just as good fiction is much more than random words in prose format.

However, I think we'll just have to agree to disagree. :)

William Haskins
03-31-2005, 06:30 AM
That's just silly! It's this way of thinking that has resulted in the Internet and editors in-boxes being littered with bad poetry. Look at it this way. If other forms of art - such as fiction writing, sculpture, music, oil painting, etc. - all involve learning a skill, then why doesn't poetry? Good poetry is much more than someone's emotions dribbled out onto the page with whatever words come into his or her brain, just as good fiction is much more than random words in prose format.

first off, bad poetry predates the internet by a long shot.

poetry developed independently among myriad cultures. structure and "rules" and theory were imposed upon it. it didn't grow from design. it's organic as an art form (and i would also argue that painting and sculpture and music (the closest analogous art forms, in my opinion) also don't require adherence to convention or formal training of any sort.

fiction writing (and non-fiction), i'm with you all the way. but then, this is the province of the editor and the publisher, and also artifice.

daniel defoe, while writing the first novel, didn't consider the "rules" now inscribed as gospel in the halls of academia.

i'm fine with agreeing to disagree.

Alphabet
03-31-2005, 07:06 AM
I'm with William Haskins on this one, except I'd add...

...poetry requires only the ability to think and feel, a message to convey, and an adequate vocabulary to articulate it.

I hope he won't mind my modifying his sentence as it said the rest so well (IMHO)

brokenfingers
03-31-2005, 08:38 AM
Thank you everybody for your input.

JAlpha hit it right on the nose as far as why poetry interests me. I feel it is an essential tool in a writerís toolbox. The power to evoke vivid images and strong emotions, plus the ability to condense your message in as little a package as possible Ė these are all things I wish to learn.

I would say that Alphabetís method strikes closest to what I figured would work best for me. But as most things in life Ė we all must walk our own particular path to reach our destination.

As for Mr. HaskinsÖ.. well, we all know his powers were ill bought and so are far beyond the realms of mortal menÖ.

JAlpha
03-31-2005, 08:51 AM
Brokenfingers,

Have you ever tried creating a haibun poem? That particular form is the closest I've ever come to being able to combine both my story telling craft and poetry.

I first learned of it through an on-line course with Flashquake. But, the instructor has been very ill and her course has been on haitus. If you aren't familiar with the form, you need to put it on your writer's to-do list.

Also, if your looking for a poem challenge pop on over to my haikuicide thread and play along.

JAlpha

sgtsdaughter
03-31-2005, 09:24 AM
In the initial rush of emotion, I just write. Sometimes I'll change a word or two, but for the most part I leave them as is. I just started sharing my poetry, it's normally just for me and very personal. I never type them on the computer, unlike my WIP (novel) which is exclusively done on my laptop. In my case, the mood hits me and I jot down my lines, sometimes in a notebook, sometimes on a napkin. ~Sara

i'm with sara . . . whenever the mood hits me poetry, in some form, gets jotted down. sometimes good, sometimes not but i do write it. expect, often i am at my computer and write my poetry, or i'll transcribe it here. and i do read mine at readings and submit it. poetry market is tight though, and very low pay.

Count_LeCo
04-01-2005, 01:38 AM
In this postmodern world, objective standards for art are as passe' as religious painting. Many of the powers that be in the visual art world are lauding the experimental, whatever shocks or challenges. Art is still about visceral response, but not about the experience of sublimity, or seeing the thing how it really is, but the response of revulsion, or laughter, or confusion, or some other sort of thing.

That being said, I think poetry is experiencing the same situation, or has experienced it. None of the powers that be in the poetry world are making headlines off of sonnets or limmericks, or haiku. Form is out and free verse is in.

Does that mean form was wrong or free verse is right?

No, its just fashion. The definition of a poem is so loose these days that almost anything qualifies.

All of that aside, I would say that good poetry puts into words something that is universally known but for which adequate words do not exist.

'The fog crept in on little cat feet' says more to me about the true nature of fog then 'The fog is a mass of water vapor."

I believe Van Gogh's Starry Night provides a more true picture of the night sky than a photograph. Good poetry does the same.

JAlpha
04-01-2005, 01:59 AM
[QUOTE=Count_LeCo]In this postmodern world, objective standards for art are as passe' as religious painting. Many of the powers that be in the visual art world are lauding the experimental, whatever shocks or challenges. Art is still about visceral response, but not about the experience of sublimity, or seeing the thing how it really is, but the response of revulsion, or laughter, or confusion, or some other sort of thing.

Hi Count,

As a visual artist and writer, I'd like to way in on your arguement. What you said about the postmodern art world is true, but they still teach color theory in even the most avant garde of art schools. That said, no matter how unstructured a good poem may appear, it's an illusion. It takes a great deal of understanding of the art of crafting a good poem--or for that matter a work of fiction--in order to be able to skillfully deconstruct one.

JAlpha

brokenfingers
04-01-2005, 05:55 AM
I agree that poems need that initial rush of emotion to give them potency.

There are different styles for different writers, and different writers write poetry for different reasons.

For those to whom poetry offers an outlet for powerful emotions, there is no doubt that setting the words down while the iron is hot is the only way. And once the words are out, and the inner pressure is relieved - the poem has served its purpose.

For this type of writer, the poem is a form of release for pent up feelings and frustrations etc.

Since I intend to use poetry as more of a form of exercise, I want to conjure up the feelings and thoughts I want to convey - and then slap down the words while they still have a pulse, while the blood is yet warm within them.

After that I would tweak and poke at them clinically, like a doctor examining his once breathing specimens and wondering how best to showcase them.

Jakalyn
04-01-2005, 03:49 PM
I have a question.




My question to the people here who write poetry: Do you edit and re-write your poems? And if you do, do you do so extensively?



Or do you just slam it down, straight from the gut, and let it lie there on the page?



With me, the poetry is the form of writing that does come from the gut. Like sara said, it's a mood thing. I can't count the amount of my poetry that was originally written on a napkin, or the back of a used envelope, etc.
I only write poetry with a pen and paper, the computer is for fiction and non-fiction.
The best poems I have are the ones that were written in 5 minutes, coming from the heart, and only require maybe 2-3 changes when I'm done. If I write a poem, and it takes me more than fifteen minutes (unless it's just extremely long), it will never be right, because it didn't come from the heart, and no matter how I rework it, I end up trashing it, because it never has the raw emotion that I believe poetry is supposed to be made of.

Granted, not all of them are good enough to ever submit anywhere, and many of them are too personal to, but when someone reads them, they get the feelings that I was feeling while writing it. I think a lot of this does come from placement of words and structure, choice of words, etc., but for the most part, I don't even think about that, it just happens.

Plus, I have found that the happier I am with life, the worse my poems become. All my best poetry was done during the most depressing times in my life.

rich
04-01-2005, 04:08 PM
I spend at least five minutes rewriting for every minute I spend on the first draft.