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What The Hell Is Poetry?
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What The Hell Is Poetry?:

Remarkably Unremarkable
15 internets if you got the "What The Hell Is Kwanza?" reference.

Anyways, yeah, so, like, poetry. The fuck is it? I read poetry and I think "Oh, they're getting across a point but instead of writing it in a prose, they're stressing emotions."

So I think, "That's easy, I can do that."

And then I write a poem. This is when I realize that, a) my poetry seems extremely mediocre from my choice of words, and b) I have no idea if I am doing it right. Poetry is all about freedom of expression, right? Well I can't do that. I have to have rules to follow. It's the same reason I never finish sandbox games.

Poetry doesn't have to rhyme. I get that. But sometimes I'll see poems that are indented to the left, then center, then the left, then the right. What. The. Fuck.

What purpose is that? How does that help get your point across? Why do people prefer poems that rhyme anyways? Am I stupid for not understanding poems that seem to make no sense to me at all, using stream of consciousness to create the equivalent to literary abstract art?

Please, poets, explain poetry to me. I have poetic inspiration. I know I have a poet's vein and I can write wonderful poetry. Hell, I don't even care if it's wonderful or not. I just want to write. But I feel like a complete idiot because I'm a fucking published writer who can't understand something as simple as poetry.

edited 24th Sep '11 7:08:46 AM by tendollarlameo

All I can say is that poetry may not be as "simple" as you think, published author or no. However, if you know poetry is one of your creative expressions of choice, but aren't sure of how to approach it, start fresh.

Read collections from the greats. In my experience, poetry is not really defined by rules, per se, but by eras. Find what you like (Romantic style, Postmodern?), try to understand what they did, channel your voice, and start from there.

 3 annebeeche, Sat, 24th Sep '11 1:18:35 PM from by the long tidal river
watching down on us
I have a rather old fashioned view on poetry, and it is my belief that indenting sentences this way and that isn't really poetry. Others may argue otherwise and that's fine as I don't really care.

The idea behind poetry is its sound—how words are put together in such a way that it is rhythmic and aesthetic to the ear. Poetry is meant to be spoken aloud and heard. If it doesn't sound like poetry, to me it is not poetry.

edited 24th Sep '11 1:19:13 PM by annebeeche

Banned entirely for telling FE that he was being rude and not contributing to the discussion. I shall watch down from the goon heavens.
Shadowed Philosopher
I'm not sure how you define it, or where precisely the dividing line is between poetry and word art. I just enjoy writing sonnets, because it's a real challenge getting it to 1. fit the meter, 2. rhyme and 3. not sound stupid.
Shinigan (Naruto fanfic)
 5 Tzetze, Sat, 24th Sep '11 1:48:59 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
using stream of consciousness to create the equivalent to literary abstract art

Of course, people use stream of consciousness in prose. Ulysses, As I Lay Dying, etc
 6 Dec, Sun, 25th Sep '11 12:24:53 AM from The Dance Floor
Stayin' Alive
I'm not much of a poet — the only poems I've made that where worth reading had no structure whatsoever — but I think I know enough to understand why I don't get it. So:

Poetry is all about freedom of expression, right?

Ahahaha — no. You're thinking Freeverse, maybe even the ethos behind a lot of modern stuff, but that's hardly all there is to poetry. Look up sonnets, or limericks, or even haikus. If you need more rules, look for the forms that have them.

Poetry doesn't have to rhyme. I get that. But sometimes I'll see poems that are indented to the left, then center, then the left, then the right. What. The. Fuck.

What purpose is that? How does that help get your point across? Why do people prefer poems that rhyme anyways? Am I stupid for not understanding poems that seem to make no sense to me at all, using stream of consciousness to create the equivalent to literary abstract art?

I always understood poetry as having historically came out of music. It has patterns, repeating sounds (such as rhyming) and rhythms, which gives it a lyrical quality without anyone actually having to sing. It's weird, but when done right it can give a nice underpinning to the words.

Then, some time in the last century, it started getting all weird and, well, "abstract". Like in literature and art, they sort of had a forceful movement focused on dissolution of the rules, and started experimenting with things like how the poem looked on paper, or breaking meter, or not even using words at all. Sometimes the rule breaking was done for a reason, sometimes rules where broken just because they could be. Hell, sometimes no one knew there was rules. If you're not in the know, it's hard to tell the difference.

I think the most important thing for you to do is start simple and learn all the jargon. They're playing speed chess, you're trying to figure out what the hell a rook is — referencing them while you're learning is only going to confuse the hell out of you, especially if they aren't even playing with rooks. Settle for trying to figure out what the basic structures behind poetry are, like meter. Go on the Other Wiki and Wiki Walk your way around from there.

Also, try to find poems and poets you actually like, so you can slowly start to figure out what you want out of your own stuff. At the very least, learning will be a bit more inspiring that way.
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit
Deviantart.
slice of lice
[up][up][up] Agreeing with this, you might as well be asking "What is art?" The best answer is probably something like "I know it when I see it" and therefore the definition differs for everyone.
Forget the tropes until after you're done.
Poetry and prose are rather different methods of writing, so just because you're good at prose doesn't mean you'll be good at poetry. It's the opposite for me, really.

Also, poetry isn't really simple at all. With the more complex, structured types, I love the challenge of keeping to the restrictions while still making it flow naturally.

Poetry tends to rely on figurative language more then prose, and some forms of poetry also rely on the visual appeal of seeing it written out. Shifting the alignment of lines in poetry isn't normally arbitrary, it's used to force the reader's brain to put a small pause there while realigning itself, altering the tempo and feel of the poem.

Here's an excellent example of spoken poetry. In prose, it'd still be said with emotion, but the inflection would be different, altering the overall feel. And...that's all I can say off the top of my head, sorry.

edited 30th Sep '11 9:18:54 PM by Katrika

"You fail to grasp the basic principles of mad science. Common sense would be cheating." - Narbonic
 9 Leradny, Fri, 30th Sep '11 9:19:02 PM from Alameda, CA
Poetry is literature with a more defined structure than prose literature.

Start from the structured end, if you're having trouble. Find out what a sonnet is, and the difference between a Shakespearean one and a Petrarchan one. Find out why you can sing nearly all of Emily Dickinson's poetry to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" (it's because she writes almost exclusively in ballad stanzas). Read up on traditional rhyme schemes and whatnot, and just go from there. For you, it may be a case of having to know the rules before you can break them.
 
 11 The Handle, Wed, 2nd Apr '14 3:58:49 PM from Location, Location, Loca
Poetry is when you convey unconventional feelings through unconventional wording. A lot of epics are only poetic by accident; it is perfectly possible for a narrative work to be perfectly congruent with a certain metric, and yet be bereft of poetry save for the rhythm.

"Don't believe in me, who believes in you. Believe in you, who believes in yourself."

For the record, I find that Gurren Lagann has some of the most compelling poetry I've ever heard in my frickin' life.

Walt Whitman's still my favourite, though.

edited 2nd Apr '14 3:59:11 PM by TheHandle

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun wentand then it dawned on me.
Raven Wilder
Poetry is what you get when you write something down, but always hit Enter before the words reach the right-hand margin of the page.[[/half-kidding]]
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
 13 The Handle, Fri, 4th Apr '14 2:00:54 AM from Location, Location, Loca
[up]That wouldn't work on this site. You'd need a crapload of antislashes.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun wentand then it dawned on me.
 14 Poisonarrow, Fri, 4th Apr '14 3:59:25 AM Relationship Status: In love with love
Poetry is fiddling with the words until I hate myself.
Feminist in the streets, sex slave in the sheets
 15 Bisected 8, Fri, 4th Apr '14 7:51:15 AM from The home of Richard III Relationship Status: I-It's not like I like you, or anything!
ego veritatem fermento
I've always thought of poetry as just being prose that's designed to sound nice when it's read aloud (i.e. there's an audio component along with the semantic one).

Thus songs and poems can get away with odd constructs to preserve the pattern of a song, while prose can't.
 16 Le Garcon, Fri, 4th Apr '14 7:52:15 AM from Skadovsk Relationship Status: Gay for Big Boss
Blowout soon fellow Stalker
I thought poetry was just music without any instruments
Oh really, when?
 17 JHM, Fri, 4th Apr '14 7:08:51 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
Poetry is all about
trying to convey a certain flow
to a phrase or to a thought
as it moves along
where strictures of prose
impose restrictions
unrealistic to the purposes
of prosody free
to directly convey
a gesture of speech
or a gesture of silence
in rhythm or rhyme or melody—
this is the purpose of prosody.
 18 Matues, Fri, 4th Apr '14 8:24:18 PM Relationship Status: Reincarnated romance
Prose tells it like it is.

Poetry makes you work for it.
 19 Noaqiyeum, Thu, 17th Apr '14 9:17:36 PM from across the gulf of space Relationship Status: Showing feelings of an almost human nature
the it-thingy
Poetry:Prose::Rhyme:Reason
DRYH
OEOE
NSUA
TTRD
Well, how's this: practice.

If, as you say, you need rules then pick one of the more formal forms of poetry and practice writing some for awhile. Formal styles are out of vogue right now (hell, poetry in general is out of vogue right now) but they can be helpful in teaching you how to structure and order your ideas. Train yourself. Don't be surprised if you don't get it right away, and don't be frustrated. As you feel more comfortable with it, then branch out into the more free-form stuff.
 
 21 Vellup, Mon, 21st Apr '14 6:31:31 AM from America Relationship Status: The Skitty to my Wailord
I have balls.
All I know about poetry is that I have the rare honor of having been called bad at it as a sophomore in college. Like, seriously—poetry is one of those things that you think is impossible to fail at—I've seen a guy write down four literal lines about playing basketball and have his poem glowingly praised by everyone in the workshop.

And yet, the poetry I used to write was so incomprehensible that my entire poetry class had absolutely nothing good to say about it. Somehow, I think I should be proud for getting my poetry to be that poorly received without resorting to political soapboxing, self-pitying lyrics or random gibberish.

I'd post some of my horrid younger poetry, but they fell victim to being in a computer without backup a while ago. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing.

edited 21st Apr '14 6:33:56 AM by Vellup

They never travel alone.
 22 The Handle, Mon, 21st Apr '14 6:44:10 AM from Location, Location, Loca
Incomprehensible poetry really gets on my nerve. The fun thing is to make an allusive riddle full of symbolism, references, and suggestions, but one that can be solved; that's the reward of it.

If you write stuff no-one but you will get, do keep it to yourself.

I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun wentand then it dawned on me.
 23 Vellup, Mon, 21st Apr '14 7:23:13 AM from America Relationship Status: The Skitty to my Wailord
I have balls.
The unfortunate part was that I really was never aware that my poetry was incomprehensible—not until people started reading it, anyway. People—writers especially tend to be stubbornly blind to their own pitfalls. As far as I was concerned, the readers just weren't looking hard enough.

The quality of my writing really started improving when I decided to break the overly-emphasized Show, Don't Tell rule. Once I realized that it's okay (and in fact even preferred) to be straightforward as necessary in writing, I started to pick up and began finally gaining respect from readers—and damn, it did wonders for my self-esteem.

To this day though, all I really get about poetry is that I can recognize good poems when I hear them. Sure—I know there are different forms, different meters, styles and rhythms—but whatever poetry is—wherever that line between poetry and non-poetry is still escapes me. I think it's fascinating, that it's possible to understand so little about something, but be able to do it nonetheless. If not for the fact that I had to consciously learn how to write it, I'd almost call poetry a kind of weird instinct of sorts.

edited 21st Apr '14 7:48:32 AM by Vellup

They never travel alone.
The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.
Total posts: 23
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