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A form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities.

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What Makes Poetry?

  • Nov 17, 2009
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What makes poetry, at least for me, is the simultaneity of ideas and the greater density of language among a host of other 'makings.' I attempt a linearity and the sequential in my poetry; these are the chief features of prose. Much of my poetry is very much like prose and this is, as I say, because of the sequence and the linearity in my work. I do this partly to make it readable. I’m after simplicity and communication, not obscurity and complexity. But these goals can’t be reached all the time. I write quickly in both forms; the length of novels puts me off. I don’t have the energy and enthusiasm for fifty to one hundred thousand words with characters, story-line, etc. Also I don’t like writing dialogue so most story forms are out of my league. And reworking pieces of writing is also something that does not interest me, although I often rewrite a poem when posting it on the internet for some specific purpose.  I write a piece and move on: poetry or prose. When I read it later on: says, weeks, months or years later the poem feels like the work of someone else. It feels fresh, new or it feels stale, or, or.....It is then that I write a new poem. This was the approach of the Irish poet, W.B. Yates. His poetry and style serve as one of my many models. I may make the occasional alteration or many alterations but, as Yeats says, he makes a new poem whatever alternation he makes. And so do I--at least that is how I see the process.

I find the approach of Marjorie Pickthall(1883-1922) to poetry relevant to my approach.  The music of poetry and the supremacy of thought was more important than the "heavy mechanism of verse," as she put it.  Strict adherence to form was "ruinous to the temper."  One year before her death in 1922 she was "more firmly rooted than ever" in her opinion that rigid schemes of construction and melody were "fatal" to poetry in the English language (Remembrance 131-32). In the context of her poetry, these remarks suggest that Pickthall conceived of poetic thought as a pleased and pleasing, yet exact and musical, manipulation of a wide range of literary contexts.(1)

My poetic, like Pickthall’s retains traces of what Walter Pater called "speculative culture," which must perceive and disseminate a reality of "the inward world of thought and feeling" where the flame of perception burns "more eager and devouring." Her search for literary intensity gradually matured into the psychological paradox of a longing for death that was, at the same time, a desire for life.  But my approach to poetry has many differences to Pickthall.  She had no use for her contemporaries. Due to the internet I have access to more contemporaries than I can shake a stick at, so to speak.  She took no part in the established systems of politics, sociology or religion; her chief desire was for liberation from all abstract ideas, systems and forms. I find that these fields, these disciplines, of thought, provide fertile worlds for my writing.

My poetic aims at what Baudelaire said of the prose poem in his Spleen of Paris: "Which of us......has not dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical, without rhyme and without rhythm, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of the psyche, the prickings of consciousness."(2)-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Alex Kizuk, “THE CASE OF THE FORGOTTEN ELECTRA: PICKTHALL'S APOSTROPHES AND FEMININE POETICS,” in Studies in Canadian Poetry, Volume 12, No.1, 1987; and (2) This quotation comes from Michael Benedikt, "Introduction," The Prose Poem: An International Anthology, Dell, NY, 1976, p. 43.

A poem is like an axe or an iceberg:
it breaks-up the woodenness of life
and sometimes melts life's frozen sea-
not global warming, inner warming
and my waters flow down to the sea.1
A poem is also like an opera,
unnatural really, however much
I try to make the intensities
something for quotidian man--
still it is unnatural--to most.
A poem is an exercise
in self-dramatization,
however much I try
not to pose & posture.
I find I come at a poem
like a hawk or a pigeon
in a dive and sometimes
I come up with nothing
at all, empty handed--
and I fly up and away
yet again in an endless
search of the skies:
to survive, to eat,
to fly unrestrained
as the wind or on
the air's still space.

1 Thanks to a former student, Serene Anderson, who sent me a photo of an iceberg, including the part beneath the surface and to Franz Kafka in Poets at Work: the Paris Review Interview, editor, George Plimpton, Viking Press, 1989, p.41.

Ron Price
16 November 2009

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November 17, 2009
This post has nothing to do with "The Culture Club." I am not sure if this "review" is supposed to only concern itself with "The Culture Club" or if it can deal with a wider topic-base.-Ron Price, Australia
November 17, 2009
Hi Ron, I just moved your review over to the data point, Poetry.  This will help others find it more easily :)

On the topic of writing, I thought you might find this review by @cenobite7 about Reviews on Lunch interesting.  It has definitely inspired my review writing! :)
November 18, 2011
Belated thanks, devora. I just saw your post.-Ron
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RonPrice ()
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Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymns, lyrics, or prose poetry.

Poetry, and discussions of it, have a long history. Early attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric, drama, song, and comedy. Later attempts concentrated on features such as repetition, verse form and rhyme, and emphasized the aesthetics which distinguish poetry from prose. From the mid-20th century, poetry has sometimes been more loosely defined as a fundamental creative act using language.

Poetry often uses particular forms and conventions to suggest alternative meanings in the words, or to evoke emotional or sensual responses. Devices such as assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhythm are sometimes used to achieve musical or incantatory effects. The use of ambiguity, symbolism, irony, and other stylistic elements of poetic diction often leaves a poem open to multiple interpretations. Similarly, metaphor, simile, and metonymy create a resonance between otherwise disparate images—a layering of meanings, forming connections previously not perceived. Kindred forms of resonance may exist, between individual verses, in their patterns of rhyme or rhythm.

Some forms of poetry are specific to particular ...
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