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comment by bioemerl
bioemerl  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why I think the tech interview process is broken – Medium

Poetry has no place in computer science. Poetry in general seems to me like the writings of people who are massive egos and/or think they are deep when they really aren't saying or thinking anything valuable or interesting.

That said, I agree with the concept of your students blog post.

user-inactivated  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I dunno. Seeing as how poetry is an art form that people can use to explore themselves and the world around them, from the absurd to the surreal to the very real and very serious to the wonderful to the painful, it brings out an analytical side in people. Seeing as how it's often a very different way of analyzing the world around you compared to relying on hard data and numbers, I can see how it could encourage people to be more versatile.

That said, if you think poetry is all about the egos of the writers, you must be reading some really shitty poetry. I haven't dabbled in it for over a decade, as I've just moved on to other things, but seeing as how it's an art form that had existed for millenia and has been an integral part of almost every culture with a written language, the sheer variety of work out there is mindblowing, and the depths and breadths of the subjects and concepts mankind has touched upon through poetry even moreso.

kleinbl00  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My primary beef with poetry is that it's the most self-referential of all writing forms. Practitioners of poetry judge it by a different set of standards than avid readers and avid readers by a different standard than casual readers. Ask a man on the street what a poem is and he'll say "something that rhymes." Ask a poet if their stuff rhymes and they'll look as if you just asked them if they rape cats. I have never before experienced such literary scorn as when I told an English teacher my favorite poet was Kipling. Meanwhile, stand at a bus stop and ask people who their favorite poet is. You'll generate a lot of blank stares. If you're in, liking someone with commercial success makes you a peon which means if you're out, you're never making it in.

Prose is anything that isn't poetry. Poetry is everything else. Any category that covers Basho to Coleridge is going to have something to piss off every human that ever walked the earth, it'll just be all different shit... and poets tend to explore the corners where normals never tread. The end result is that if you find something you like, you're wrong because it sucks but if you ask for something you should like, it will suck.

I had an author tell me once that the best sentence ever written was

    so much depends


    a red wheel


    glazed with rain


    beside the white


And really? Fuck off. If an English teacher is gonna mark me down for starting a sentence with "so much" but then bukkake the fuck out of William Carlos Williams for doing the same, you are effectively telling me that poetry is poetry because you say it is, not me.

user-inactivated  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not gonna ask a person on the street for their opinion on poetry for the same reasons that I won't ask a random person on the street for their opinion on how to best handle nuclear policy. Chances are they haven't given the subject more than a cursory thought, let alone are equipped with the knowledge or experience to come out with a well thought out, constructive answer. If I want someone's opinion on poetry, I'll seek out someone with a background in literature or art. If I want someone's opinion on nuclear policy, I'll seek someone with a background in science or law.

I dunno. I think that's just the whole argument that art is subjective. When I was in college, I loved the shit out of everything from Basho to Ogden Nash, while my art teacher love surrealist prose poetry like Joe Wenderoth's Letters to Wendys and half my classmates were sporting semis over guys like Saul Williams. None of us agreed with each other's taste, but each of us knew enough that it was wrong to say others were "wrong" in their tastes.

mk does fucking amazing landscapes. I would never want a landscape hanging up in my house. He probably doesn't care too much about embroidery, where I wouldn't hesitate to buy an embroidered piece if it caught my eye, if only to later give it away. However, he'd probably know a good piece of embroidery when he sees it and that's because while written, audible, and visual arts are subjective, if you even half know what you're looking at you stand half a chance of telling if it's amazing, passable, or utter crap. If someone needs to go out of their way to convince you that a piece is amazing, chances are it's really not. In short, not accounting for taste, just like you don't need a refined pallet to recognize bad food and you don't need traditional education to recognize bad art.

As for breaking rules, poetry is as much of a tool for analyzing language as it is for analyzing the world. If you want to write something and "break the rules" of conventional writing, call it a poem and no one will say shit. Not that it really matters, because as far as I'm aware, the conventional wisdom seems to be that outside of a formal setting, no one gives two fucks for any rules in language, conventional, unconventional, formal, colloquial, or otherwise.

kleinbl00  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

All art is subjective. Some art is more subjective than others. The standards by which poetry is judged by insiders is so radically different than the standards by which poetry is judged by outsiders that it's not even funny.

You don't have to like Bierstadt to recognize he was skillful. You also don't have to know anything about art. But compare and contrast: one has a wikipedia article, one was on SNL:

    I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast. Forgive me, they were delicious - so sweet and so cold.


    It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.

Here's the problem:

    If you want to write something and "break the rules" of conventional writing, call it a poem and no one will say shit.

But then when you compare the shit you wrote to some of the shit that poets think is the shit, you're left wondering what the fuck the fuss is all about.

I can vomit up limericks in realtime. That doesn't make me a poet. Why? Because limericks aren't poetry.

Except neither was haiku.

Poetry, more than any other art, is the domain of 'fuck you, because we said so.'

user-inactivated  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    I can vomit up limericks in realtime. That doesn't make me a poet.

I mean, except it does, if you want to call it poetry and call yourself a poet. Literally anything falls under the umbrella of "poetry" today. Prose poems? Shit. Those are just paragraphs. Spoken word and slam poetry? I don't like that format, but arguably it's poetry.

I think one of the big hang ups people tend to have with poetry is that they think because it's art, it should be hard. Becoming a good painter or drawer? That's hard. You gotta develop good spacial reasoning, appreciation for colors, etc. Becoming a good sculpture? That's hard. You gotta have a good understanding of the materials you're working with, patience. Etc.

Poetry? Poetry is easy. The amount of time and effort to go from being a bad poet to a passable poet to a decent poet is very small. That's because it's two core parts are language and analyzing the world. We literally embrace both those concepts day in and day out. We're so immersed in language that it is a core part of our thought process. We're so analytical about the world and we don't even know it, that we hire people to analyze the world for us. Traffic and weather patterns, stock prices, people who research chemistry and physics and outer space, on and on and on. We're curious, driven creatures who use language to express the world around us and our roles in it. There's no mystery. It's like walking. That's a huge reason why poetry is often used in therapy.

    Poetry, more than any other art, is the domain of 'fuck you, because we said so.'

That's elitism in general. A huge part of life is catching a lucky break and then spending half your time afterwards justifying why you deserved that lucky break. Can the system be gamed? Somewhat. Are there politics and unwritten, unspoken rules about the whole thing? Yeah. But that's true about almost every major aspect in our lives from dating and relationships to job hunting and careers.

As with almost every other thing, the people who are in power tend to be in power partly because they're lucky, and at their core they realize it and they realize that their grasp on their power is tenuous at best, so they become dicks, to cut back on the competition, for fear of losing their power. So they create social circles and they create rules and they create elitism, because they want to hold onto what they have.

What's lost to the history of the world is millions of creative people, from writers, artists, and musicians, to discoverers, inventors, and philosophers, who we will never hear about because they weren't in the right place at the right time. That's alright though, because so much is loss to time. What's important though is that those people took it upon themselves to explore the world, to explore themselves, and to create, and to find a way to connect with others in the process, thereby discovering their personal humanity and in the process enriching mankind's humanity. But don't take my word for it . . .

"Art is about discovering your style and connecting with people who appreciate it."

kleinbl00  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thus we come full circle - the act of creating poetry need not be difficult. BUT something that can be created easily is difficult to discern mastery within. SO mastery within poetry is (seemingly) arbitrarily assigned by elitists. THUS lots of people hate poetry - an easy thing whose merit is arbitrarily assigned by elitists.

Lost in all this is the fact that people who aren't interested in a literature class for its own sake aren't generally interested in poetry either. So when they're forced to regurgitate some canned wisdom about why Aldo Leopold is a genius but all Kipling is doggerel, it sticks in the craw.

Because sure. Anything you say is poetry is poetry. But poetry that matters? That's determined by people whose standards they won't even explain to you because they know it'll only make you mad. So trust us when we say this poem means all this stuff and spew our answers back at us because we don't want you in this class, either, nerd, and if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that you shouldn't be here.

rjw  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Doesn't this mean that the problem is not poetry, but the people who attempt to speak for the whole of humanity when they say "this is good"? They exist in every medium! Tell them to fuck off

kleinbl00  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The problem is not poetry, it is the representation of poetry and those people who speak for the whole of humanity are the ones grading you. Tell them to fuck off and you get an F. Thus is the problem compounded - not only is your opinion invalidated, but your future success depends on accepting the opinion of rd95's elitists.

no one outside of art is generally required to participate in the evaluation and appreciation of contemporary art. On the other hand, you can't so much as graduate high school without being sheep-dipped in poetry every goddamn year. Thus, the low esteem poetry is generally held in by the United States at large.

user-inactivated  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Woah! Woah! Hold your horses here. Let's get one thing straight. They're not my elitists. I don't know who's in charge here and I'm about as far removed from the influencers of poetry as I am the influencers of nuclear policy.

Shit. I think part of the reason I like folk art and naive art and all that shit is because it's left alone by the "elites." I mean, you could point out all of those quilting magazines and wood working TV shows as kind of elites, but if you ask me, they're just passing on institutional knowledge . . . in a way that is similar yet different than colleges and still heavily commercialized.

Damnit. Now I gotta spend half a month reevaluating and adjusting my worldview again.

kleinbl00  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

They're not my elites either but again - poetry is uniquely challenged as a medium because the elites are unavoidable.

A picture can be propagated many ways. As can a song, as can a book. It will find an audience through typical propagation. A poem? We're not in the habit of reading poetry because on the one hand, people with culture will hold up William Fucking Blake as someone to admire and he rhymes "eye" with "symmetry" because of course he does. Meanwhile, the "poet" known most to Americans is undoubtedly Dr. Seuss who would not, could not, on a boat, would not could not with a goat but fuckin' A:

    Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,

    O, what a panic's in thy breastie!

That wasn't English even back then. Yub yub, mutherfucker.

So no. You can't point out woodworking TV shows as elites. They're saying "here's how to turn wood into furniture" or "here's how to turn fabric into decor" instead of "here's how to turn words into ART, no, not like that, yes we know that Blake put -ey on the ends of words to rhyme but you shouldn't, in fact, don't try to rhyme, it's limiting, art is good when we say so stop asking it won't be on the test."

I guess my overall point is there is NO art form so dependent on definition by tastemakers than poetry, and poetry's tastemakers are assholes. Except maybe they aren't. Maybe they're so busy exploring the realms of what poetry means that they forget that most of us haven't been human centipeding their art form for 20 years so we don't get how a 17th century asshole digested four times is somehow more "arty" than Dr. Seuss.

rjw  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yep I totally agree perhaps I just didn't say it clearly enough! I don't mean fuck off to teachers because they rule your life, I meant more to that sentiment (insofar as you won't be graded down for it).

In fact I think this is pointing at something else that I need to examine in myself. I think I am being too brash about this subject and not totally appreciating the amount of emotional pain that being dragged through shit literature lessons has done to people.

Perhaps I'm actually projecting my own experiences of English lessons. I had to be basically held in front of a piece of paper to write. Creative writing was something I only ever did under duress. I was always told that I had plenty of good ideas in my head, the problem was just getting them onto paper. Can you imagine how much damage that does to a young mind? I had to write something good! So naturally I never wrote anything.

kleinbl00  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I've had two of my screenplays optioned. I once (and hopefully again) shared an agency with Stephen King.

And I stopped writing for ten.goddamn.years because of shit literature lessons.

The pedagogy of literature is rank, rank, rank bullshit. I'm sure there are great teachers and professors out there but the only thing I ever got out of any English class is damage. I have stated to friends that have asked that the only reason I can think of for attending any high school reunion is the possible opportunity to punch some English teachers for stealing my life.

rjw  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I was saved from the destructive pedagogy of English lessons by doing two things:

- being bullied all the time so I was distracted by that

- not trying


ArtemusBlank  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

As someone who does perform poetry, I fully agree with this. When I compete in poetry slams, sometimes I do well and almost win the slam and other times I finish in dead last with low scores. Why? Well counts as good in slams in totally determined by what is common in slam poetry and what the audience wants. A typical slam audience is pretty much young liberal millennials of all races and looks . Either sad emotional poems, social justice issue poems or racial poems that uses the slam language works well with these type of audience. The thing about me is that I don't do those type of poems well. I do a lot of funny weird satire poems that tired to stray from the typical slam language.

When I look at performances of my poetry and see others in action, I don't think I'm that far away in terms of performances. People have told me they really liked the energy I bring to slams and how it made them laugh a lot. But the main thing about me is I'm not the typical that the "insiders" like. Even before I enter a venue to compete, there's a decent chance that it's already determined that the insiders or the audience want something emotional or racial to hang on to whether they want to admit it or not. Why? Well, everyone in these scenes no matter where they are from want the same type of thing when it comes to poetry. I went to The National Poetry Slam last August and it didn't matter where people were from, they pretty much wanted to see the same type of poems. The same type of poems outsiders wouldn't get or relate to. It was kinda like you had to be in to get these types of poems.

Those type of poems that regularly show up on Button Poetry's Youtube page are the ones that make big year after year. There is a lot of "fuck you, because we said so" in slam even if they don't actually say it to your face. You can't really be big even when you go outside of the box, there is a formula that wins slams and there is a formula for poetry in general on what people interested in poetry want to hear. It's never about the outsiders, it's always the insiders.

kleinbl00  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

And the insiders are moving the bar, and changing art, and evolving, and making things different and better and worse, and by the time any of that trickles out to the people who aren't living and breathing poetry it's delivered in the tone of "hunter green is so last year. This year it's seafoam. What kind of troglodyte are you?"

user-inactivated  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  
This comment has been deleted.
lil  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Poetry has no place in computer science.
I suppose some people would argue also that a communications course has no place in a computer science program. Many people, in fact. That's why there are so few courses like mine.

Here's the one poem that I put in my course book that so offended my student and confused the rest of them. It was in a chapter on perception checking.


  Where what I see comes to rest,

at the edge of the lake,

against what I think I see

  and, up on the bank, who I am

maintains an uneasy truce

with who I fear I am,

  while in the cabin’s shade the gap between

the words I said

and those I remember saying

  is just wide enough to contain

the remains that remain

of what I assumed I knew.


  Out in the canoe, the person I thought you were

gingerly trades spots

with the person you are

  and what I believe I believe

sits uncomfortably next to

what I believe.

  When I promised I will always give you

what I want you to want,

you heard, or desired to hear,

  something else.  As, over and in the lake, 

the cormorant and its image

traced paths through the sky

Troy Jollimore, The New Yorker, July 27, 2009|


OK, come at me.

kleinbl00  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The University of Washington required two communications courses of all engineering majors because Boeing, Microsoft, Genie and Weyerhauser were sick of getting engineers that couldn't speak English.

As such, every engineering student at the University of Washington was required to take two "tech writing" classes where the white kids are judged based on Strunk and White while the foreigners were judged based on Hooked on Phonics.

It's a vitriolic process all 'round. The foreigners hate the shit out of it because most of them are going back to Korea or Nigeria or Cambodia and fuck you, I can do your damn story problems why the fuck do I need to do a persuasive speech in Engish. The Americans hate it because goddamn it, we did all this basic shit two years ago in fucking English 101 except at least there, everyone was on a level playing field. The engineering departments hate it because FFS, now they have to hire TAs out of the Humanities department and squeeze another ten credits out of their students that could be better spent on something else. And the TAs hate it because the seething loathing they get from all sides for minimum wage can't feel good.

My TA took a list of subjects for our capstone presentation so there would be no duplication. Then she deliberately put the person who was duping mine the day before mine. So I had to throw out two weeks' work and wing one the night before, complete with eight minute powerpoint. Why? Because she was a bitch. Except two weeks later she realized that we all got to review her and UW's reviews were public because of a student reform that she didn't know about because she was new. So she spent an entire class crying and beseeching us not to skunk the shit out of her and we all sat, coldly watching, no one saying a word, letting her cry. Because she was a bitch. And she got fired. And fuck her.

One of our assignments was a business letter attempting to persuade someone of something. I wrote a business letter to the dean of the college of engineering to persuade her to drop the communications classes. I got a D. Six years later the dean jumped off a goddamn skyscraper. I cheered her death.

I bring all this up because I think it might be valuable to you to catch a glimpse of the burning resentment I still feel for a class not unlike your own. You've never been anything but gracious to me and my keenly unpleasant experience within "writing for engineers" (and it was ostensibly tech writing!) has absolutely nothing to do with you. Looking back, I can safely say I was better with words than any teacher I had from about 8th grade on and even then, the fact that poets get away with grammatical murder because they're poets is the sort of thing that will drive a STEM student bonkers because they simply don't get to.

Pretend you're a runner. You're in the olympics. You win the gold because your time was the lowest. Then someone decides that in order to compete you need to do some floor exercises. You win the gold because you have the highest average score among ten judges that are using a byzantine process utterly opaque even to them (and, often, because they're bribable). There is no aspect of this decision that doesn't strike you as unjust, arbitrary and quixotic.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar but "poetry offends masculinity" could also mean "this stuff makes me angry and the only way I can think to explain it to you is to poorly string words together."

bioemerl  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Computer science is the study of computers. Schools require general education when you get a degree so that students have knowledge of art and other "higher cultures" crap. That's where communications courses belong, not in CS.

The humanities are the classes you half listen to before giving a bullshit answer to the questions the professors ask that they absolutely gobble up and love. Just throw in there about how meaningful and special it is and how it expanded your worldview. It's not about substance, it's about making them feel good. When your teacher asks you to write about your thoughts on the recent election and how that reflects on democracy you damn well know you are only allowed to write one thing.

    Oh wow, donald trump is evil and the system needs to be fought. Wow, republicans are racist and evil and repressing true democracy. Wow.

What's bad is that I agree with the concept of Trump being shit, but every bone in my body wants to write a big-ass paper on how awesome Trump is. Every instinct of me screams "come on, argue why he isn't that bad". But I don't, because I want to pass the class. There is no room for original thought.

If I were in your class, and as a soon-to-be graduating CS major I would be, I'd be writing big long fake paragraphs about how meaningful and great all these poems were, because I know it's fucking arbitrary and I know it's the best way to get a good grade. It's all about the generation of piles and piles of bullshit.


And here's how I think it's done right, how you really get people to think. Mind, these classes aren't really making people think, you are allowing them to express themselves. Some, many, will just not think or put any effort in. That's what failing grades are for.

The professor that I respect the most goes on rants about his thoughts and opinions. He asks us to find something and write "our thoughts" about it. That's it. No poetry analasis, no bullshit. Find something, think deeply about it, and give me your thoughts. He asks students to give a presentation about things and debate their thoughts, with no or little input from himself. We are not given a topic and a lecture, force-fed and opinion that we have to or feel that we have to pander to.

We don't even have points in that class. He looks at what we did and gives us a grade. I absolutely love that system.

We are not given a solid direction or a place to stand from. That's not how you create or inspire thought. Instead, we have a simple order. "Search, Read, Think, Share, Repeat". That's what general education should look like. Not poetry. Not bullshit. Even with all the liberal arts classes, I can assure you that the vast majority of students aren't learning to think, they are learning to bullshit .

To be fair, that was a CS course, but the important thing is that we were learning ABOUT computer science. The things we were to speak about were things that were strictly relevant to computer science. When our teacher talked he talked about situations like dealing with managers who ask for something they don't want, or about how it's bad to ignore security. He speaks from sixty or more years of experiencing bullshit and attempting to impress that knowledge onto people who haven't lived a fraction of that.

Classes that want to make us into thinkers should not lecture us and tell us what and how we ought to be thinking. Instead, they should inspire and create the structure necessary to force people to begin to think, and to think deeply, before they can progress. Bullshit shouldn't get a passing grade, and it gets that grade over and over and over again in the liberal arts classes.

It's because they want bullshit, they don't want real original thought. The philosophy classes aren't about you thinking, it's about you understanding how plato thought. The reading classes aren't about your thoughts on the book, it's about learning the agreed on symbolism in the texts. It's not about what you think, or what you learn, or what you observed, it's about what you should think, what you should learn, what you should learn.

So, yeah, poetry is hollow bullshit. Does it have to be? No. But it is regardless!

If I want to think about the world, I will one day get a paddle boat and go out in a lake where I can close my eyes and just rest and think. If I want to improve the world, or challenge my values, I will speak to those who challenge them and try my hand at improving my local community. I will not sit in a brightly lit room while a teacher lectures me about how much beauty there is in the world, or how ones values should be reconsidered. I will not read a couple of sentences intended to be some deep and great meaning, or read some book written in great prose. I will read sentences of people just expressing their honest thoughts, and I will find within those meaning that is far more substantial and life changing than any of this poetry can ever be.

If I want to know the world, I will do it by observing the world, by debating with real people expressing real opinions. A college course is not such a thing, and no matter how much all these professors pretend to stand for "real honest discussion" that couldn't be further from the truth in the classes of today.

user-inactivated  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It sounds like you don't think poetry is bullshit, just poetry classes.

rjw  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This is a common thread I'm seeing here and in conversations I have with other people. It could be poetry, it could be modern art, it could be anything that doesn't rhyme or ring like a bell or make you laugh or want to dance. Fucking hell, world. There's so much beauty here and people are living their whole lives appreciating none of it because some fusty curmudgeon in a rotting hall said they had to do it this way. As if art itself wasn't a constant rebellion against backwards thinking. We're going to have to fight for this until the sun burns out, aren't we?

kleinbl00  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

But it is poetry, and uniquely poetry, that the entire Western scholastic system has decided you have to appreciate for the reasons we say in the method we choose. Contemporary art and contemporary music you can slag on with willful abandon. Poetry? Poetry is all about fusty curmudgeons whose opinions institutionally override your own.

rjw  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'd like that to change. I'm confused, it looks like we agree on basically all of this. Don't worry about it.

lil  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I invited someone to come at me. Thank you for responding. I want to respond not to your overall thought. There might be something to it and I'll leave that to the rest of hubski if they want. I do want to question a few of your statements which seem to be directed at me specifically:

    If I were in your class, and as a soon-to-be graduating CS major I would be, I'd be writing big long fake paragraphs about how meaningful and great all these poems were, because I know it's fucking arbitrary and I know it's the best way to get a good grade.
You think? Really?

1. Actually you wouldn't be in my class, because it's a graduate class.

2. If you wrote big long fake paragraphs, you'd have to do it over. I hate big long fake paragraphs. Insincerity is actually easy to spot.

3. We don't write essays about poetry ever anyway. I have two poems in my course book. One is posted in this thread, the other is about colons - the punctuation, not the body part. It's not a poetry class, but seems to have offended at least one student's masculinity, nonetheless.

4. You wouldn't get a good or bad grade because my class is pass/fail. After you rewrite your long fake paragraph, you'd probably pass. My requirements are that students be able to write and speak at a graduate level and understand some fundamentals about interpersonal communication. You could probably fake that part.

I find the ones that hate the class most are those that need listening and paraphrasing and perception checking and negotiation and teamwork skills the most. But that is just my opinion. I had a student in my class early this year. He hated the class and was able to transfer into a different CS grad program. No one wanted to be on a team with him and the other students were relieved when he left.

I have to abandon this thread now. I've left myself open, bleeding, and vulnerable. And I actually have 20 essays to read - some will be fake. I have to figure out which. (Just calling on steve for no reason. He always cheers me up.)

oyster  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not surprised that students who hate the class the most are also the ones who stand to benefit the most from taking it seriously as well. They probably gave up on developing the interpersonal skills years ago and buried the "failure" deep down so they could ignore it.

bioemerl  ·  433 days ago  ·  link  ·  

For what it's worth I made the assumption that your class follows along what is typical for a general education type class.

If your class, instead, opens up options for true general expression of thoughts and ideas, I would have to eat my words. If you, when talking about these poems, just ask for people's thoughts rather than saying "Say how this poem inspires you to think about how to change your worldview", you've probably got a class that I'd consider a very good one.

That said, it seems more to me like you've got a very "hoop-filled" class. It isn't your fault by any means, but the ultimate goal is to "make sure the students write like a graduate" rather than "forge students into people who are thoughtful and capable of expressing themselves".

    If you wrote big long fake paragraphs, you'd have to do it over. I hate big long fake paragraphs

The contents aren't fake, they are constructed. Fake, here, means the paragraphs were written with a general mindset of contempt. "I don't want to do this but I have to so here's some stuff". "Oh, hold on, not at the word count, lets add a paragraph". Where I might say "I see what the poem is trying to get at, but it is very ineffective at inspiring any idea of making my mindset change." I will instead say crap along the lines of "The poem inspires the mind to change by drawing analogies to the scenes around the main character, and draws attention to how who you think you are and who you actually are tend to be different."

It would depend on the class, but you just kinda follow along with the things you are told to see and observe, and viola! A good grade comes to you. You don't have to think, you just have to adopt the point of view the class wants you to take.

    My requirements are that students be able to write and speak at a graduate level

Your link seems like a really really low bar for graduate level writing. I guess you deal with people who pass under that bar, so it's understandable, but my assumption about "graduate level" is that "use proper grammar" is a given.

    I have to abandon this thread now. I've left myself open, bleeding, and vulnerable.

Yeah, I didn't think too much about what I said here, considering this is kinda your life and possibly your passion. Sorry if I fucked anything up for you, and I am sure that whatever you are doing it is beneficial in some way. Being critical and tearing stuff down is easy, you've got the hard job.

ButterflyEffect  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    Poetry in general seems to me like the writings of people who are massive egos and/or think they are deep when they really aren't saying or thinking anything valuable or interesting.

I'm interested in why you feel this way.

flagamuffin  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

probably because most of it is crap

don't know if the various "poets" have the malicious intentions that mr. bioemerl ascribes to them, but i'm a consequentialist so i don't care

i have written a few dozen poems and he's definitely right that it's damn hard to make what you write externally valuable in any way. not even sure how you would go about that

lil  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I was just re-reading a poem you wrote

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flagamuffin  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

yeah it's sort of confusing. i like my poems, for example, but i wouldn't publish them. i have occasionally liked poems by refugee, thenewgreen, etc -- wouldn't put 'em with keats though.

i just can't figure out why, necessarily.

i think external value is important in pretty much everything, but poetry is an incredibly opaque, personal form of art

ButterflyEffect  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Don't disagree on most of it being crap. Guess I've been on a bit of a Longley kick lately. My thoughts are that the value of truly talented poetry (holy subjectivity...) is the ability to convey or facilitate a greater sense of emotional clarity or purity.

The following quotes are attributed to Longley. Granted, there are very few people with his level of talent.

    And one of the marvelous things about poetry is that it’s useless. It’s useless. “What use is poetry?” people occasionally ask in the butcher shop, say. They come up to me, and they say, “What use is poetry?” And the answer is no use, but it doesn’t mean to say that it’s without value. It’s without use, but it has value.

    Well, it’s much more complicated than solace. I like the Aristotelian notion of catharsis. And I think what art can do is to tune you up. I mean, if you think of an out-of-tune violin, and tuning it up so that it’s in tune, I think that’s what art is, and that’s what art does. And good art, good poems is making people more human, making them more intelligent, making them more sensitive and emotionally pure than they might otherwise be.
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ArtemusBlank  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  

If I had to guess at why people don't like poetry or think it's a bunch of words without no value is because it doesn't really talk to them. Poetry to some people doesn't communicate to them the way a tv show or a song does. It's not simple enough to be understood and it doesn't have the action that people seek. When a person talks about their emotions in a poem, their words are only felt by people who have been in their situation before or those who are open to the language of a poem. When people see poetry, they see this complex thing that they don't want to deal with because it's usually a thing they don't have to deal with.

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Odder  ·  434 days ago  ·  link  ·  
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