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comment by kleinbl00

This is my beef with poetry:

If you enjoy it without any education, you will be pilloried by someone with too much education. If you like something because it's accessible, that means you're a peon with no appreciation for the obscure. If you enjoy something on the face of it, you are clearly a shallow creature with no depth.

A Pushcart Prize-winning high school English teacher with an Instagram account? The man is living a parody.




rrrrr  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

None of those things are problems with poetry. They're problems with assholes who like to talk about poetry or play games with poetry. The trick is to ignore the assholes and enjoy poetry.

_refugee_  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I will say I find the current atmosphere of modern poetry to be entirely too "serious", without humor, certainly incapable of looking at itself with any humor or without a certain smug pretension. Half of the rockstars I see coming up in the modern poetry community are writers I could never be or write like because I don't have the requisite experience with oppression or want to constantly write about it.

There are fun poets and fun poems out there, and even fun lit mags that have a better attitude. But they're one offs, hard to find, and as a whole the community doesn't foster these groups or people with such attitudes at all - there isn't going to be a renaissance where everyone stops looking down their noses anytime in the foreseeable future in the poetry community, (I guess the American poetry community is the one I'm mostly referring to and have experience with) and it's a pity. Poetry's very busy isolating itself.

humanodon  ·  183 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yes, I agree that the American poetry community in general is overly earnest and self-inflated. I think I've shared this before, but in Jennifer L. Knox' A Gringo Like Me we see one of those hard to find examples that you're talking about. Maybe it's just me, but poetry in the popular consciousness (in English at least) is supposed to be something transcendent, transformational. It's supposed to be achievable by an elevated class of humanity and enjoyed by similarly elevated people, which is fucking dumb. Anyway . . .

cW  ·  174 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This is hilarious, thank you for posting it. Reminds me of a poem one of my classmates wrote for workshop, which is published now, apparently, in her collection. Unfortunately, the published version took out my favorite line, which, if I recall correctly, went "The dog is at the ass end of the yard." Anyhow, the poem's still quite good, and happens to be part of the google books sample, if you wanna check it out: https://tinyurl.com/y9sh5dda

humanodon  ·  173 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Haha, it was a decent poem, but I think I would've liked to have seen that line in it. Congrats by the way on the album! Hope all is well in cW world!

cW  ·  171 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thanks a ton, man! Things are going pretty well, and I'm aiming onward and upward. Heading down to the RV inspection place to pick up our airstream today, so that's big news. What's new in your world?

It's so funny and true about workshops, in my experience: the writer always ends up taking out your favorite line. Oh well, it's worth it getting to be part of the creative process, I suppose. De gustibus non disputandum est! (Or some such).

ArtemusBlank  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

As someone that has competed in poetry slams before, I can agree with this. I do a lot of humor and satire pieces but they just don't resonate with an audience at times because the poetry slam audience is a lot of times looking for that piece about race, despairing emotion or some other social issue. It is the same thing over and over again with some different words I feel. It's frustrating to compete at times because I kinda know what the audience is looking for but it's not exactly me. There are times when I hit well with an audience but It's become less and less often these days. I could conform to what the audience wants as I'm a minority myself but I really don't want to go down that road because it wouldn't fully be me. There are times when I look at the poetry slam community and I just walk away to other poetry scenes that don't focus on slam at all because I feel like I fit in better at places where no one really cares about slam.

rd95  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    There are times when I look at the poetry slam community and I just walk away to other poetry scenes that don't focus on slam at all because I feel like I fit in better at places where no one really cares about slam.

Do that. Write for a new audience, yourself.

_refugee_  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Art often is about/driven by self-expression and I agree that this should be among a young (or even old) artist's driving forces to create. However, it's foolish to think that art and self-expression can exist in a vacuum without an audience and that be totally fulfilling. If you only share your self-expression with yourself, it can feel kind of masturbatory.

It's not satisfying to create art that just collects dust afterwards. Maybe Dada would put on a ballet show for an audience of no one but we should acknowledge that art, from writing to dance including everything in between, almost universally relies upon an audience as much as a creator. What can you really effectively express if you only express it to yourself? Art is a conversation and writing is and wants to be part of that conversation.

I see a lot of the time that "you should write just for you!" and yes you should do that but that aphorism also puts this idea into heads that "you shouldn't want or need an audience to feel good about what you create," which I think falls a little far from the truth. I write great poems that I love but once I write them, I also want to share them with people. And it's natural and understandable to have that desire and feel irritated when the literary structure/canon/environment in which you write is never going to embrace you -- I still write, sure, and I find people to share things with -- it shouldn't ever stop someone from creating -- but tell you what it sure can do is knock the wind out of your sails a little.

rd95  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I agree. Mostly. I think in the case of ArtemusBlank though, who has complained quite a few times about the slam scene this past year, that maybe he oughta try something new for a bit. Maybe rediscover why he fell in love with poetry in the first place. Sometimes you just gotta let go of the world and be you, if even for only a little bit.

cW  ·  174 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I feel like the best rationale for "writing for the audience that is yourself" is to write that which compels you, in order to make sure you're speaking valuably to all those people more or less identical to yourself (which, statistically speaking, in a world so well populated, is a whole lotta people), and to all of the other types of people engaged in meaningful conversation with those people (which is actually a staggeringly large group of people). None of those people (except yourself) may be in the room with you, or perhaps even in your county. But they are most assuredly out there, in serious numbers. And one is much more likely to have deep, richly nuanced layers of meaning and intensity in expression for that audience than they are for the one that happens to be three tables over at the coffee shop.

Also, if you don't write (at least largely) for yourself, then you will likely have forsaken your inner compass, which probably has a great deal to do with why you started writing in the first place. I'm not going to pretend it's the only guide of value (I've heard Yanni doesn't listen to others' music, so as not to pollute the purity of vision), but ignoring it entirely is, in my opinion, a hollow and baffling experience.

am_Unition  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Jives well with the notion of "weaponized prestige" I've been railing against in my own personal life.

Communities of repute foster stagnation all too often, unless they have some specific characteristics instilled into their cultures. Still sniffing out those characteristics, but most are intuitive; healthy skepticism of authority, utilitarian, inclusive, etc.

kleinbl00  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You're not wrong? But if you ask someone who knows anything about poetry, you run the risk.

My entire interaction with academia and poetry was 100% about how everything I liked was doggerel and everything I didn't was genius. There are few things that make me want to put my fist through faces than hearing about goddamn red wheelbarrows.

thenewgreen  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    There are few things that make me want to put my fist through faces than hearing about goddamn red wheelbarrows.

It's a good poem though... (ducks head).

kleinbl00  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's fine. You can say that and no one will criticize you. However:

    When the cholera comes -- as it will past a doubt --

    Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,

    For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,

       An' it crumples the young British soldier.

    Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

I have had three "experts" tell me that the above is doggerel.

We can agree to disagree. But absolutely no one is going to lambast you for assuming the majority position that Williams is a goddamn genius.

thenewgreen  ·  182 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I've a always liked Ogden Nash poems:

There is something about a martini

Ere the dining and dancing begin

And to tell you the truth

It's not the vermouth

I think that perhaps it's the gin

I used to recite that, when I was a bartender, to my customers that ordered a martini. Tips increase when you you recite poetry. Pretty sure poetry snobs would turn their nose up at that one.

kleinbl00  ·  182 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's... a limerick. Limericks are held in such low regard that they'll teach you how to make them in 3rd grade but by fifth, when they ask for "poetry" they'll accept a fucking haiku (without paying any attention to the meter or kireji) but they'll refuse to accept a limerick.

When I had to hand in poetry I'd do sonnets. Teachers were so impressed that I could handle ABBA ABBA CDE CDE that you could write straight fucking nonsense and they'd take it.

Of course they'd take straight fucking nonsense as free verse too

But not limericks

thenewgreen  ·  182 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Limericks are wonderful. Because they're so easy and ubiquitous, a good limerick is actually high art.

kleinbl00  ·  182 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I agree.

But neither of us teach English.

cW  ·  174 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We had some really wonderful sections on light verse in a few of my courses at the program. In particular, for our "80 works" course (a generative, fast-forward through the forms class) we were assigned several different forms of light verse, and the output was all regarded as seriously as for the other projects. Now, that's a grad workshop, not AP Lit in high school, which is where the stick first gets firmly planted, but I'm happy to report that quite a few academics, at least on the creative side, are taking light verse seriously enough to keep thinking about it after they stop laughing.

I think the Clerihew was my favorite of the light verse forms, personally. Here's a fun one:

There's no disputin'

that Grigori Rasputin

had more will to power

than Schopenhauer.

(by Dean W. Zimmerman)

cW  ·  174 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I feel like everyone's about as precious about poetry as they are about their highschool sweetheart, and that's whether they lay claim to it as a high-brow occupation of the oh-so-refined, as a supercharged, ultracool assault on society's failings, or as the humble framing of the everyday, as satisfying and disposable as lunch from a street vendor. Everyone seems very invested in a version of what poetry is/should be, which is most hilarious because (almost) no one is doing anything with the actual stuff, except for in those pursuits wherein we are forced to brush up against it, either in class, in song-lyrics, or in those various media which have divided poetry's many powers among them -- lyrical prose, the vaunted rhetoric of speechwriters, advertisements, homilies, etc).

This all means to me that "Poetry," as entity, shares a fate with all of the other subjects from the past that we argue about, not because they're happening now, but because they give us a sense of who we are, and why we mean something. We'll keep arguing over everything dead and gone that offers some force to be applied to the present discussion. The war over the present is waged in how we define the past.

Meanwhile, I think the only useful definition of poetry is flat-out descriptive and broadly inclusive. No one likes everything that is technically, by definition, poetry. And that's fine, or whatever. It's a fact anyhow. Taste is fine, inevitable, glorious even, but we should at least try to keep it out of our taxonomy ... at least, that is, if we don't want to constantly be the cause of our own vexation.

WanderingEng  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That's true of most things, isn't it? I think we've talked about that with respect to hifi. I read this piece and thought he was just saying "stop liking things I don't like!"

Didn't The Cure do this with Friday I'm In Love? I feel like I heard that once.

kleinbl00  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

My broader point is you can buy a stereo without running afoul of the audiophiles. You pretty much have to seek them in their lair if you want to find out about low oxygen cable. On the other hand, if you say something positive about Kipling in a room full of English majors, you will be informed of what a cultureless rube you are as a matter of conversation. Expertise in poetry is performed by slagging on the opinions of novices.

The audiophiles? They'll help you pick out a stereo at your chosen price point. Sure, if you ask about speakers that look like Daleks they'll pontificate until you walk away but the pontification is optional, rather than the fundamental demonstration of expertise.

rrrrr  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Try telling a room full of audiophiles that you dig Bose headphones. The reaction won't be far off what Kipling gets you. In both fields the self-appointed connoisseurs and defenders of high taste will do everything they can to shore up an identity they spent years building. Imagine if all those years of careful study and/or all that money spent didn't make you any better than you were before you started, or any better than this rube who's so infuriatingly confident! Imagine if it didn't gain you anything! Imagine if you'd done it all just for love! The horror! So... gotta fight for that hard-won identity.

kleinbl00  ·  184 days ago  ·  link  ·  

1) Having been in rooms full of audiophiles, I never speak, let alone tell them anything. Do not look the gorilla in the eye.

2) I am constitutionally incapable of digging Bose headphones. Although, yeah, you're right, QC-2s were pretty cool.

steve  ·  183 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    This is my beef with poetry:

In my limited experience, you could substitute the word art for poetry and you next paragraph would still work.