Apr 25, 2008

More About Poetry and What It Is.

Last post I posed some questions about poetry that were intended to make you think. Today I'm going to give you my own ignoble and uninspired answers.

To balance the drudgery I've also provided a link to my workbook pages where I've been gathering other answers to "What is poetry?" I know I said you should come up with your own answer, but I never said it had to be an uninformed answer.  I enjoyed many of these articles and I hope you will as well.


What is poetry?

Poetry is the art of language.

Every art centers arround a medium. Painting is the art of light. Yes, I know they use paint, but that is because it was the most sophisticated way of manipulating color for many centuries. Modern painters often work with computers and manipulate light more directly. Sculpture is the art of shape. Dance is the art of human movement. Music is the art of sound. You can go on and on with a bit of thought.

Other types of writing can also be art, but they are not as directly connected to language as poetry. A novel is about the story, and I believe best described as the art of story telling. That is why it is much easier to translate a novel than a poem. A translated poem becomes a similar but new poem. A translated novel tells the same story.

So, I see poetry as the art of language.  To me it means that every aspect of language is mine to manipulate, twist, and torture in the name of art. But it does pose a bigger question. What is art?


Why do I write poetry?

I write poetry because I like the attention. Ok, that's not very noble, but after a great deal of navel gazing I have to admit that this is the core of my motivation. A distant second is that I enjoy writing poems. 

If I really had some all important message to share I'd use prose. It's more effective. If I had some deep emotional need to express myself I'd write constantly. I only write when I think someone might read and like my stuff.

I wouldn't mind making money, but I don't have much hope for that endeavor. Besides, money is the ultimate proof of attention. That, and you can buy stuff with it.


How do I write poetry?

My philosophy of poetry changes constantly and has too many side issues to cover fully here. I'll just list some of the highlights.

I try not to make excuses for the poem. I works or it doesn't.

The reader is more important than I am. What I meant to say is irrelevant. What I did or did not say is all that matters.

A poem is never finished. I've just lost interest in it for the time being.

I will always strive to be honest with myself and others. But I will lie my ass off to a poem if I think that will improve it in the slightest.

Poetry is about the poem, not my issues, my message, or the truth. I will sacrifice any of these to preserve and improve the poem.

I reserve the right to be inconsistent in my critiques, my poetry, and life in general. Why should I be chained to some silly philosophy of poetry.

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