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Kahhlos's avatar

What is poetry?

Asked by Kahhlos (61points) July 31st, 2010

I find myself sitting writing but i dont know what im writing, i know its the thoughts on the edge off my mind but in an overall i dont know

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21 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Poetry is not simply writing down fantasies, dreams, snippets of ideas and visions. You can do that in a private diary.

It is a discipline with rules about form, meter, rhyme schemes, figurative speech, various tropes and shapes; even the decision about where to break the stanzas has meaning.

Here’s one short definition.

I got hundreds of hits when I googled “What is poetry.” Here is page one.

janbb's avatar

Robert Frost said, “A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” Not a definition, per se, but a goal to strive for.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Here’s what says:

“the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.”

I also like to think that poetic language is sparse. It uses the least amount of words to express its ideas.

stardust's avatar

All of the above answers combined. If the soul speaks and it’s words are worked around what @gailcalled says, a poem is born

gailcalled's avatar

Robert Frost was more interested in form and meter than content, or that is what he has said on several occasions. W.H. Auden felt the same way.

Kahhlos's avatar

what would you consider this, please be honest… i wrote this to my ex-girlfriend one year ago-

Objective Vines
A thought encessant, well, and deeply penetrating, my mind explodes with vast amounts of emotion.
Day and night you kindly stand by my side.
Our souls twirling as tree vines, embodying and hoisting one as the other,
accomplishing the biggest journey of our lives;
planting our roots, permeating through this earth, our leaves expand to touch galaxies…
and on the beat of our nature we learn to continously live and grow.

Jeruba's avatar

You have a nice phrase in “the beat of our nature.”

Check the spelling of “incessant” and the definition of “objective.”

Frenchfry's avatar

It is a beautiful and elliquent way of express yourself…

zenele's avatar

Poetry is one or more sentences that, without punctuation or grammar, at times, has an affect on ones soul.

I just made that up. It could be wrong.

I wanted to correct your “details” @Kahhlos (welcome to fluther by the way) but then decided that you had, in fact, written something quite poetic – typos, errors, slips and all, look:

I find myself
but i dont know what
im writing,
i know its the thoughts on the edge off my mind
but in an overall
i dont know

ucme's avatar

To rhyme is such a wonderous gift
as beautiful & serene as Venus
I’d like to take her by the hand
And let her stroke my pe…........oh now come on!! I’ve gone & lowered the tone….again!

ipso's avatar

@Kahhlos – It seems to me the purpose of poetry, as art, is to “cause effect” (in yourself or others). The only way to be efficacious then is to know your audience.

As for me, I can’t tolerate anything but prose poetry. This is the best example I know of – from the sophomoric, yet highly efficacious, book T.A.Z.

..“A politics of dream, urgent as the blueness of sky.”

This and the rest of it means nothing when you dissect it, but it’s as powerful as it gets to some.

As toward the perceived validity of your words @Kahhlos – it’s not about that relative to the creation. It’s about YOUR satisfaction with the expression of YOUR emotions. Others be damned. You must speak to yourself first. You must find solace in that, otherwise you’re impoverishing the impetus of the creation of poetry.

downtide's avatar

For me to consider a piece of writing to be poetry, it must (a) have rhythm, and (b) be intended to evoke an emotional response. I may be wrong but that’s how it is for me. If it evokes the emotional response but has no rhythm, then it’s prose and not poetry.

Jeruba's avatar

@zenele, what do you mean, “without punctuation or grammar”? Most real poetry has impeccable grammar, virtually all poetry makes use of the conventions of grammar to convey meaning, and very little poetry even of the loosest sort dispenses with punctuation altogether.

An outright grammatical error in a poem is, as far as I am concerned, a fatal flaw. You can bend or break grammatical rules intentionally for effect (not affect), and that looks very different from simply committing a gaffe out of ignorance.

zenele's avatar

@Jeruba You left out “without punctuation or grammar, at times,

Some of the best poetry pays little or no attention to either, or, has fun with them; poetic license. There are too many examples to choose from, but Ogden Nash comes to mind.

I stand by what I said, and I’m surprised that you would take half a sentence out of context, and contest it – incorrectly at that.

Not cool.

Jeruba's avatar

Fie. I thought “at times” went with “has an [e]ffect.” Placement of the modifier is ambiguous.

In any case I made a firm distinction between deliberate and accidental violation of grammaticality. Bending or breaking rules intentionally is hardly the same thing as paying no attention to them; a poet in control of his language knows exactly what rules he is breaking and why.

I have not explored the full corpus of Ogden Nash’s verse, but I have read plenty of it. I’d like you to show me one that pays no attention to grammar.

janbb's avatar

* sigh *

ipso's avatar

Perhaps the larger point is that which is poetry is not exclusive to erudite masters of grammar and punctuation. (But it sure helps.)

Is Jim Morrison’s not “real poetry”?

I don’t think a poet needs perfect control of grammar and punctuation. I think his publishing editor does.

As a dyslexic, who struggles every day with the likes of affect/effect, I don’t want too many would-be poets railroaded to the Grammar Death Camp.

zenele's avatar

@Jeruba You have twice mentioned my little typo – I won’t bother to mention yours. Look for it; it’s there. I also think that when you decide to attack someone for nought, at least have the courtesy to quote correctly. Apology accepted.

Go explore further his corpus. More importantly, try to enjoy the journey; it’s only poetry. This is exactly why people think poetry is only for the elite and snooty. It isn’t – it’s for everyone.

Ogden Nash is Dr. Seuss for adults; and he never forgot it.

“Candy is Dandy
But liquor is quicker.”

He’d laugh at your use of corpus in this discussion; and would probably write a funny poem about it.

gailcalled's avatar

“The Purist
by Ogden Nash

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “a crocodile.”

Kahhlos's avatar

i think you are all right and thank you for the answers. we all have our own views of what poetry is, thus it is whatever it is for each of us individually.

zenele's avatar

Which is why I said “at times.” Poetry, with or without grammar, like beauty – is in the eyes of the beholder.

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