FREEI can understand how students and readers in general are intimidated by the use of poetic elements in some anthologized poetry, but why are people still so intimidated by the contemporary...

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I can understand how students and readers in general are intimidated by the use of poetic elements in some anthologized poetry, but why are people still so intimidated by the contemporary free-verse poetry?

Has free-verse opened more doors for readers and writers of poetry to try and understand the creative process of writing or have we diluted poetry?

Can anyone write good poetry?

 

Asked on by hopscotch

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kmcappello's profile pic

kmcappello | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I like what you are saying about "entering the belly of the beast."  There is something almost subconscious or unconscious that happens at the moment of creation, whatever the medium may be.  As teachers of poetry, our challenge is to help students access that subconscious level through guided writing and activities which shake them from their routine.

As far as the issue regarding the readability of contemporary poets, I blame the way that poetry has traditionally been taught in school--as a puzzle which needs to be unlocked.  Much contemporary poetry is written to be read as an experience, not an essay; that is, to be read and enjoyed rather than analyzed.

I admit there are some types of contemporary poetry, like ellipticism and language poetry, which are harder to get through without knowing what the poet is trying to do.  But then again, there are some "classic" poets who are so dense and archaic that they are hard to understand as well.  But if students are allowed to read and enjoy poetry the way they do books of fiction, then they will be able to find those contemporary poets who speak to them in a way that the classic poets often can't.

timbrady's profile pic

timbrady | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

Why not?  The problem lies with what people call "good" poetry.  I always think of Whitman when this kind of discussion comes up.  His poetry was radical even revolutionary, and many people did not like it (many still don't :)) for this reason.  It didn't look like the poetry of the past, didn't sound like the poetry of the past, and so it couldn't be poetry.

I have a lot of trouble with modern poetry, not because of the words or the meter or the form (cummings) of any of that.  I have problems because it is so idiocyncratic that I have no idea what it is about.  I will not study a poem that requires me to study the poet's life first or to be familiar with Greek/Roman/Other mythology to understand it.  This is not to say that it is bad poetry, just that I do not feel it communicates to a wide enough audience.  I know many people look down on Dickinson and Frost, but they are among the poets who have helped keep poetry alive for years (even though I have no idea what half of Dickinson's poetry is about and am amazed at some of the stuff that critics find in there :))

I think Coleridge's definition of poetry is the still the most useful:  the best words in the best order.  Since words are the only way we interact with "reality," then when some of the great poets put these together in a way that makes us "see" things we have never seen before, that's poetry to me.  I thnk anyuone can learn to do it; I think it takes inspiration/genius to write on the level that Coleridge speaks of.

 

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Anyone can write poetry, but it takes a good ear for the "music" within the lines and a talent for choosing the best words to write great poetry.  I am a firm believer that some people just have a natural talent for writing, but that EVERYONE can learn to write proficiently with practice and discipline.

hopscotch's profile pic

hopscotch | Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Why not?  The problem lies with what people call "good" poetry.  I always think of Whitman when this kind of discussion comes up.  His poetry was radical even revolutionary, and many people did not like it (many still don't :)) for this reason.  It didn't look like the poetry of the past, didn't sound like the poetry of the past, and so it couldn't be poetry.

I have a lot of trouble with modern poetry, not because of the words or the meter or the form (cummings) of any of that.  I have problems because it is so idiocyncratic that I have no idea what it is about.  I will not study a poem that requires me to study the poet's life first or to be familiar with Greek/Roman/Other mythology to understand it.  This is not to say that it is bad poetry, just that I do not feel it communicates to a wide enough audience.  I know many people look down on Dickinson and Frost, but they are among the poets who have helped keep poetry alive for years (even though I have no idea what half of Dickinson's poetry is about and am amazed at some of the stuff that critics find in there :))

I think Coleridge's definition of poetry is the still the most useful:  the best words in the best order.  Since words are the only way we interact with "reality," then when some of the great poets put these together in a way that makes us "see" things we have never seen before, that's poetry to me.  I thnk anyuone can learn to do it; I think it takes inspiration/genius to write on the level that Coleridge speaks of.

 

Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.
Jorge Luis Borges

Writing poetry is not as easy as some may think.  I agree syntax plays a very important role. Having the right word in a stanza can bring an image to life.

Borge's idea of writing being like a guided dream is truly inspiring, one must first enter "the belly of the beast" that place where the creative process takes places in order to come out with the right image, words, emotions or situation.  Diving into the belly of the beast is not an easy task it takes a lot out of the individual, for it is a process that comes from an unknown depth to the exposure of the reader.

Some authors (mostly female) have referred to their poetry as their children, something that they have created and whether bad or good they must stand by it.

And yes, the classical poets are here to stay.  There is a lot to learn from their devotion, reflections, images....but there is also a place for contemporary poets.  A place of exploration and experimentation that is essential to keep poetry alive. In the end it is all circular, the contemporary poets learn from the classics, then break away from their guidelines; only to return once again.  The human condition is very much limited in poetic themes, some may disagree with this statement.

I do think that anyone can write poetry, but I think you have to be willing to travel to the creative realms, to be disciplined, to dream and to be in love with words.

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