Poetry is Dead

Discussion in 'Writer's Block' started by predicate, Jun 21, 2004.

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  1. Anaphora

    Anaphora was here

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    Hahaha... man, just to let you know predicate, there's been like 3 or 4 people who have gone at Brit's thing about personal meaning, in the last couple months even, he won't listen to reason...

    When you said you read/memorize the classic poets 'Up here"... are you in Sacramento by any chance? I know there's a biggggg formalist community there, who are as stubborn as all hell. I've talked with some of them online, and many have the same exact opinion as you about contemporary poetry. There are other things that have effect on a reader than meter. Yes, changing the rhythm does add extra meaning to a word, but unusual line breaks can do that as well. Formatting can do that, though, usually weird formatting is a trick of young poets trying to be different, or the mentally handicapped like Michael McClure... why I hate the guy so much I'm not sure... I can't help it.

    Stepping away from poetry for one second, I'm just curious about your opinion on fiction... personally, I cannot stand F Scott Fitzgerald... he writes too slow, and dry and I just have never been able to get into his 'classics', but Kurt Vonnegut, I adore... and for some reason, I have a feeling that you would loathe Vonnegut... just as a comparison to poetry, vonnegut is like a... let me think, say Virgil Suarez, or... better yet, a Charles Simic, whereas Fitzgerald would be more like a... Rudyard Kipling...

    I do agree to a point. I agree that people need to learn their basic forms, learn to use iambs and anapests and learn to properly use alliteration (so it doesn't call too much attention to itself, too many young poets overuse the fuck out of it)... and assonance, and even anaphora... properly. BUT, I don't think that free verse is inherently crappy because it doesn't necessarily take special consideration for meter or rhyme. Kay Ryan has a nice little quote, she uses rhyme a lot in her poetry, she said
    "Rhyme is always funny... Rhyme is such a big show off. Most twentieth century poets seem to have felt burned by the garish excesses of Victorian rhymers (who didn't seem to know that rhyme was funny). As a result, for many years now poets have shied away from rhyme altogether. This is a great pity; rhyme is one of out deepest and earliest pleasures. Rhyme is also just plain useful in a poem. Through its offices, some bits of sound adhere to other bits, and the poem cohere to itself."

    Have you tried reading Michael Bugeja, or Peter Meinke? They're both neo-formalists (if that even is a term) yet keep an open mind about alternatives to formalism...
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  2. Why have you got to mention me in nearly every reply? Its not about listening to reason, its not about me being stubborn to your logic, because it goes deeper than that. If you could show me a standard that we could all agree on, then maybe I would listen to you, but thats never going to happen, is it? So putting my name in every post to make me seem as if I am completely alien to the obvious truth just doesn't wash.
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  3. predicate

    predicate New Member

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    As for prose, that is something I will talk about in this thread, though not as confidently as I talk about poetry (but one last point about that. Many of the master prose stylists - do you know how they became so good at writing? You guessed it, they read the classics, and COPIED out many, many passages. Rhetoric was taught at school for ages - it's a shame they don't do it anymore). Anyhow, I'm not particularly fond of the modernists or post-modernists. Prose reached its pinnacle in James Joyce, who, in just about every way imaginable, capped off all of the prose stylists before him. I think Joyce is a god, and if I didn't study poetry so much I would dedicate all of my time to studying Joyce.

    Back to the point, the modernists wanted to break off from their past poetry- as well as prose writers, and wound up writing some really funky (in a bad way) works. Post-Modernists were even more traumatized than the Modernists (this is debatable, sure) and wrote absolutely wretched books afterwards (refer to Robbe-Grillet as an example).

    That's all I can really say about prose. Once in a while I come across a good yarn in post-1900 writings, but I usually spend most of my time reading either poetry, essays on poetry, or Joyce and essays on him. With the, say, 20% of my reading time left over, I'm really quite fond of non-British fiction in the 19th century - Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Flaubert, Balzac, Stendhal, Zola, Dumas (and I've yet to read Hugo, but I'll read him this summer. Proust (though post-1900, but still great) I'll read mid-August, perhaps). The English haven't really mastered fiction as the Russians and French have.
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  4. without trying to sound too biased or patriotic--RIggggggggggght
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  5. predicate

    predicate New Member

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    Please - no British novel is anywhere near the level of a War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, or Madame Bovary. Who do the British have? Dickens, George Eliot? You think Great Expecations (the best English novel I can think of) or Middlemarch (second best) can compare to any of those three in their mastery? I'd give the nod to Joyce for writing in English - albeit notoriously difficult English - but he's Irish. English poets crush all other poets, but the novelists can't compare to the Russians or French.

    Sorry, but, yeah, you are sounding very patriotic.
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  6. You have the tendency to think that your opinions are in stone while everyone elses are worthless. War and peace? what about a little ground breaking novel by mary shelly? hmm.
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  7. predicate

    predicate New Member

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    Please, just because I'm assertive, it does not mean that I think that I am infallible. Concentrate more on the discussion at hand an less on guessing what's going on in my head, thanks.

    If we're to discuss what are the best books ever, it will always be a matter of opinion. The only sway one can have in such a discussion, if any, is what the majority think, or what the most respected sources think. I've had similar discussions about this with other people at university - one just got his PhD - so I'll hold their opinions as valid.

    But, really, what's your barometer for mastery? And why, of all the English authors, would you pick Mary Shelley? So many others surpass them. If you want to pick a woman, George Eliot is far more respected than Shelley. If you want to pick a Romanticist, Jane Austen takes the cake. I'm curious: what is it you think is so groundbreaking about Frankenstein? I've studied it in two different courses, and it was never studied as a "groundbreaking" work; more as a period piece or as an introduction to the Gothic. I've known some professors who despise the book altogether.

    Frankenstein seems far too simple for it to receive top honors. The three texts I've cited before are far more complex, it seems to me. But, hey, let me know more about your decision.
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  8. Anaphora

    Anaphora was here

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    To be honest, I find a lot of what you mentioned a bit dry... perhaps its the way I was brought up, but I prefer the postmodernist writings to modernist... they have more depth to them, yet aren't difficult reads, though, I am basing this mostly off conrad/faulkner... joyce is on my list of summer readings, I was going to read dubliners, but if you have a suggestion I'd appreciate it... as for mastering fiction in english, there are a good number of excellent writers out there, but its not often that they are published by the huge publishers until at least their 3rd or 4th novel... there simply isn't nearly the market of readers as there once was even as late as the 1960's... TV, internet, mp3's, portable dvd players... most people would rather see the movie and be done in 2 hours... the only major exception would probably be Harry Potter... which I've yet to read as well... But seriously... the classic puritan literature is studied mostly because it is classic, some of it is worthwhile, but not altogether that much... yet, its studied almost as much as any other genre...
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  9. You sure act like it. If you need references, see everyones comments in this thread


    Thats your problem, you think a PHD equals a better opinion. some people can teach you the truth even behind academic Logic.


    I picked Shelly not because I thought It was above the many other great novels, but to show you that you had obviously overlooked English Novelists that deserved to be on par with russians and the french.

    if you think the concept of frankenstein 'the modern day prometheus' was far too simple, then well I think we haven't really got anything else to talk about.
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  10. predicate

    predicate New Member

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    Anaphora, if you want to read Joyce, then, yeah, start with Dubliners. If you like it, move on to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. If you liked both, and you're dedicated, try Ulysses. I'll tell you, the first time I tried it, I got 200 pages into it, and wanted to rip it up, shit on it, burn it, and kick it, because I thought it was so awful. In my second attempt I read it all the way through, enjoyed what little I could understand of it, but felt disappointed at all that I missed/didn't understand. My third time was marvellous, since I had a distinguished Joycean scholar teach Ulysses, and I finally understood a lot of what I was missing out on. Trust me, Ulysses is a wonderful novel, but it is meant to be reread, rather than read.

    I think Classics get a bad name and are greatly misunderstood. Classics aren't studied just because they are old, but because they're amazing. Madame Bovary - so I've been told - is in many ways the best novel ever written. William Faulkner was once asked what are the three greatest novesl ever written. His answer: "Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina, and Anna Karenina."

    I base my conclusions on those works which give the most in-depth and complex character portrayal. If we were voting for best literature overall, Shakespeare would by far get the nod for this. But, for fiction, the English haven't really delved into the complexity of human interaction as the Russians and French have - only George Eliot has come close.

    BritBoy - whose opinion would you value greater in basketball: a retired professional, or some regular fan? What about in matters of plumbing: an honest professional who worked for over 20 years at plumbing, or your handy buddy down the street?

    I'll value the PhD's opinion only because he's been working with literature far longer and far more extensively than the regular Joe Schmoe has. He has read more literature, read and wrote more literature about literature, and thought far more about literature than the non-PhD. The PhD has dedicated his life to reading professionally, while the average person reads only occasionally. So, I'll pick the professional's opinion over the layman's.

    But, as for the Promethean theme, yeah, it is rather simple, and only one dimensional: the over-reacher gets punished. Hell, her husband, P.B. Shelley tackles Prometheus far more impressively in "Prometheus Unbound," and shows us the depth of his punishment, and how he handles his punishment nobly, while Vic Frankenstein only cries, goes koo-koo, and lusts for revenge.

    I considered this subject of the English vs. the Russians and the French before, and have considered the best the English have to offer, and, unfortunately, Mary Shelley is not on par with any of the best in any of the three countries. There are much better women writers, gothic fiction writers, and, hell, writers overall.

    But then again, fuck me and my opinion because everyone thinks that I think I'm a god. Fuck everything I've said, all the time I took to write out thorough responses to every point raised, because you don't like the attitude you think I have.
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  11. illpoetical

    illpoetical raising the bar everyday

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    Predicate- i'm not really here to argue with you. but i took intro to poetry too and i read all of those "great" poets that you mentioned and i really do not like them. do i respect them and their writing ofcourse. however, i cannot totally disregard every poet that isn't eliot whoever else you said. i've written in all of the forms sonnets, sestinas (sp), prose, narrative, haiku, yadda yadda, and i honestly think form writing is to confining. i like to establish my own parameters to write within. my favorite period of writing is the harlem renaissance around the 1920's. i relate to poets such as angelou, l. hughes, cullen who wrote with a lot of structure, giovanni, gwendloyn brooks, and bennett, sonia sanchez and others. straight up i like these poets becuase i can RELATE to them. i can't relate to a white 30 year old man from england like i can a black 28 year old man from new york. let me take this time to say that i respect your argument and understand where you are coming from. i don't agree with a majority of what you said, but i agree with the fact that many poets need to read more. i don't read poetry as much as i would like but i think that i have a grasp of the ideals and structures that those poets utilized. i'm basing this on what you said in the opening statement. 1) becasue i post on the board and if you say my poems are terrible, i must defend them. 2) not every person that posts on the board is as old as you or i. many of these poets are young and innovative and need inspiration not criticism. no serious writer is going to discard their writing for a year in an attempt to placate your outrageous feelings. poetry is not dead, read poet and writers magazine, the new yorker, atlantic monthly or any of the magazines that are dedicated to the poetic canon. like i said, i respect your argument but you came across in a matter of fact way. i could write in all the different styles, but would the general reading public outside of english teachers notice the difference? people read words nowadays and feelings and emotions, not iambs and meter and foots. i might break out my poets companion and whip up a shakesperean sonnet for you, but why? i like writing in free verse. and before you piss on yourself in anticipation to reply to me, understand this i studied literature in undergrad and i have a plethora of novels and works to refer to. finally, i do agree that reading is one of the keys to better writing, so i await your response.

    oh p.s. was my vocabulary alright for you.

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  12. runofthejamill

    runofthejamill or not.

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    i agree, poetry is dead in mainstream daily life, but to people who it matters, never.
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  13. bobbythebear

    bobbythebear New Member

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    Tennyson was incredibly generic. A whole lot of fluff. So was Wordsworth. And if you were to ask the snobs of their day and age, they would tell you so. Out of the Romantic era, the only truly powerful voice was Blake. After that, some would say Eliot, others pound, others Yeats (I say Yeats). Right now, the voice is Saul Williams. If you dont see content and form in Saul, you are purposely not looking. Believe me, I've tested the waters.

    your deluded if you think all old poetry is great, or remembered. How many people read Ben Johnson outside of a college poetry class? hmmmmm? What about Coleridge? Can you recite "Leaves of grass," from cover to cover, without buying the book? NO?!?!?!!? Then I guess Whitman wasnt a great poet.

    intellectual twattle (not mispelled).
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  14. Kaybi

    Kaybi Guest

    hmmm.... what have YOU done to make sure poetry doesnt die?
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  15. Anaphora

    Anaphora was here

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    I've been planning on using Ben Jonson as a caracter in a story, but in modern times... The Romantics were very, very popular in their day. I like Pound of those you mentioned, and to be honest, I've seen through Saul Williams.

    Honestly, I used to be all about him. Bought Slam, she, recognized him right away in K-Pax... his hip hop cd... even , said the shotgun to the head... but I don't see him as nearly as good a poet as people like Billy Collins, Phillip Levine, Campbell McGrath, Yusef Kumanyaka (sp?) Stephen Dunn... there's a long long list... I don't necessarily dislike Saul, but his work doesn't stand up as well on paper as it does performed, (though some of it does) especially when compared to those other contemporary poets.

    I think poetry is as alive as ever honestly, it's just a form of writing that's in a constant stage of change, as is everything... as alliterative verse gave way to lyrical, sonnets and villianelles have given way to free verse...
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  16. bobbythebear

    bobbythebear New Member

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    I understand your angle, Anaphora. Saul is not my favorite poet either - I prefer Geoff Trenchard, because his words are fuckiing performed, on paper and in person, he has some real grit. Saul, however, is niether the traditional poet nor the fad of slam poetry, he is the voice of a particular change.

    Think of him in the same context as Joyce/Yeats/Pound, Wordsworth, Blake . . . he captures the ideas and techniques of his generation, which will be remembered as the generation of the early 21st century. The emphasis on spirituality (both as numerous traditions and as existing outside of those traditions), the homage to the upheaval of music this past century, the use of word processing formats/journalism/etc etc . . . he captures all that is new about our culture, which is the culture that is setting the bar for the rest of the world (political implications of that statement do not belong to this thread). His diverse and unique performance elements also seal his dominance of the new culture. I like Billy Collins, but he is not that voice.

    On The issue of Joyce . . . Finnegans Wake should be required reading. Anyone who can reach some sense of clarity in that book is equipped to understand any and all literature.
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  17. bobbythebear

    bobbythebear New Member

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    ps to predicate - a PHD is not comparable to a plummer or a seasoned ball player. Studying is not doing. Until you write your great poem, your opinion is average, like everyone elses.
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  18. MisterEThoughts

    MisterEThoughts MysteryOfUntoldTruth

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    DAmn This is too interesting this argument going no where people like whatever they like... CLassical POEMS were awesome and so are the ones now... POETRY IS POETRY you don't need to have different style to create poetry...
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  19. WordStylez

    WordStylez New Member

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    Word, I'm currently reading Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and it's already one my favorite books of all time. The passage that starts on page 180-something where he finally has his ephiphony is one of the greatest passages in literary history, in my opinion.

    On to more relevent things...

    I have respect for you Predicate, you seem like you know classic poetry and literature pretty well, but the fact that you say "poetry is dead" fucking disgusts me. Just because people don't write poetry the way YOU want it to be written, or don't express themselves in the ways YOU want them to, it doesn't mean "poetry is dead." If you feel that way, then I guess poetry is dead TO YOU, but don't come make such a huge generalization. It just makes you look ignorant. If poetry is dead to you, it's because of your own closed mindedness.

    Peace.
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  20. Anaphora

    Anaphora was here

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    I'm pretty sure he said poetry's dead mostly to start the conversation, playing a little bit of devil's advocate.

    I got caught up doing too much reading in Brit Lit/American Lit classes, along with an editting a lit journal class, that I haven't been able to get past the first story in dubliners, but re-noticing this I'm going to have to dig it out of my bookshelf once I finish my roommate's copy of 'for fuck's sake' which I'm sure predicate would ABSOLUTELY hate. haha, but I'm sure he's not a fan of Vonnegut either, who is my favorite author, that fucker cracks me up.
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