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So there's been this complex discussion on a couple of other people's LJs about passivity and it was triggered by a particular poem by one of the people, and eventually I threw out an acrostic poem of my own and got a "wow" response.  Now, I 'm still learning how to write Poety with a capital "P" (which phrase is in itself a statement, since capitalization is no longer default), but certain types of verse come fairly easily to me.  I've read and watched and performed in so many Shakespearean plays that falling into iambic pentameter is like walking down a sidewalk and not stepping on the cracks: yes, you have to pay attention, and some times it''s trickier than at others, but it doesn't count as hard.   Using it for acrostic verses (where the first letters of each line spell a name or word or phrase) is just extra fun.   (Literally for fun:  I once wrote an acrostic sonnet on "CHEDDARCHEESES" inside an RPG on an in-character bet with another player.  The last line ended with a plea not to disappear "or else you'll leave me blue." )

Is it poetry? Techically, yes, but to me it's just verse.

On a quick subjective scale, I see three types.  One is the intellectual putting together of metered lines and rhymes (or sometimes freer forms) to convey a particular story, or meaning, or impression.  The flower is pretty, the widow is sad, the father is loving, and war is bad. .   Two is the raw emotion that defies forms.  i HuRt and YOU should sEEEE!  And the response is usually10% saying "oh you poor thing" and 20% saying "omg me too!" and 30% saying "STFU, you loser" and 40% saying nothing because they never bothered reading past the first line.  Third is putting together command of form and language, message and meaning, emotion and its response, to get to a level beyond (below?) comprehension of words on a page, to disturb the viscera, to pluck a nerve, to recalll a memory.  The taste of madeleines.  The scent of smoke on a summer evening (and when I say that, you smell it, don't you? but is it wood smoke, or cigarette smoke, or burning leaves, or the fire that destroyed your house? and can I write it so any one of those is enough?).   The "yes, that" response..   If you can get there,  to evoke that level of personal response in people you'll never know personally, is when you're writing poetry.  Or, Poetry.

And CHEDDARCHEESES doesn't come close. 
EDIT: To keep honest, if you search the "verse" tag in this journal, you'll find lots of examples of Type 1 and even Type 2, and not so much of Type 3.  Just hope to keep the  proportion moving in the right direction. :-P



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)
Whether the CHEDDARCHEESES verse was poetry or not, it's still impressive you can do that. I used to write what I thought was poetry when I was a teenager, including acrostics (I don't think I knew what they were called) and some maudlin typical teenage stuff. At some point--thanks to a good 12th grade English teacher, I think-- I realized what poetry was and wasn't, and how hard it is to write it and to describe what it is and isn't (you did a good job). I sometimes look at greeting cards with long poems/verse and think, "I could do that," but would I want to?
Apr. 27th, 2009 10:21 pm (UTC)
I think I was a little harsh, because I was reacting to someone with whose attitude I seriously disagreed. I still think there's sort of three kinds: (1) clever poetry that's mostly about word use, (2) emotional poetry that's mostly for yourself, to get feelings out on paper, and (3) poetry meant for other, meant to last, meant to touch some deeper chord of meaning and purpose. But I think writing ANY sort is good, even what might seem awful to other people, as long as you know why you're doing it, and what you're doing. I know exactly what you mean about "greeting card verse"... but, you know, I sometime wonder how much they get paid for it, and whether one can get into it part time? If I get around to finding out, I'll let you know too. ^_^
Apr. 28th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
Fascinating. Your categories are both about what the person is trying to do and also about how the poem is received. A person might be trying to do type 3 but end up only succeeding in accomplishing one of the first two, or might be contenting themselves with writing one of the first two and yet be "read into" by readers, who might see it as a type 3 poem.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )