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Anna
27471.  Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:08 pm Reply with quote

*wipes away tears*

That is one of the funniest things I've read recently, and definitely the most entertaining poetry analysis I've ever read. "Arse-dribble" is SO apt. I almost wish I was still at school - I'd love to wheel that quote out in a poetry essay. =D

 
naegling
46848.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 11:33 am Reply with quote

Sadly, all that people will take from this is the 'arse-dribble' comment, and not the good points he makes. Oh dear! What an indelibly illiterate thing for a literate man to say. An attention seeking publicity gag? I suspect he regrets saying it.

All this will achieve, I fear, is a round of rhyming doggerel, whacked out from people for whom any notion of originality and invention was discarded with their placentas.

The Kitchen Villanelle, as part-quoted, is unremarkable. It is a less memorable poem than the truly awful example of contemporary writing. It won't send me rushing to buy the book.

I agree with his choice of poets: Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Ian Patterson, Don Paterson, Wendy Cope who write in formal paradigms as well as vers libre.

This irritated me: "Sorry I cannot take your call right now/ So leave a message when you hear the tone." That inspired me to think about metrical patterns in speech.

Bid deal. Spoken English approximates naturally to iambic rhythm, therefore it is pretty common in English poetry. Who used it mostly? Shake something or other?

I think Stephen should have taken the opportunity to use his eminent position to encourage good poetry regardless of formal models?

Ah well! I do like QI.

 
Gray
46863.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:47 pm Reply with quote

Actually reading the book reveals that he makes a clear argument very early on that imposed restriction and limitation, in the form of metre, are one of the main factors in good poetry. All art, in fact.

'Formal models' are simply the commonest instances of these restrictions. Without them, you're back in Anything Goes territory, which does not constitute good poetry.

He also makes the very sound point that if you want to break the rules, you do at least need to have a thorough understanding of what those rules are, and a great deal of the book is taken up with the history and development of the formal models.

 
naegling
46869.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 2:11 pm Reply with quote

Hi Gray

Thank you for your detailed reply.

Quote:
imposed restriction and limitation, in the form of metre, are one of the main factors in good poetry. All art, in fact.
Which is an argument that simply promotes opinion as fact.

In fact, the vers librist revolt against strict versification in France was preceded by Leaves of Grass and the prose poetry of Charles Baudelaire, as well as Gaspard De La Nuit, or does none of that fall under the definition of poetry (or art) because it does not conform to the traditional rules of prosody (defined by the OED as the Science of versification) - that is your imposed restriction and limitation.

In fact, it raises the issue that something which conforms to prosody is a work of science foremost. It also implies that free verse is not science.

Free Verse is, by definition, verse composed of variable, usually unrhymed lines having no fixed metrical pattern, which kind of falls into your anything goes classification. A style practiced by Rimbaud and Laforgue. Or, if they don't count, lets chuck Pound, Eliot and Lowell into the mix, or doesn't their work qualify as good because they abandoned restriction other than the rules of the language they wrote in.

The poets cited in Stephen's rant are sufficiently wise, as I hope am I, to embrace all forms of poetry as equally valid, and not to confuse form, or the lack of it, with quality, validity and art. If you are going to make a value judgement then seek out the trash in traditional verse as well as the dross (and there is plenty of it) in modern poetry. Point out the rubbish that drives a coach and horses through language to force a rhyme or metre, or paint a pretty picture. There is plenty of that too.

I actually agree that to understand the rules you are going to break before you break 'em is a good idea, but I would not be arrogant and prescribe it.

I cannot imagine that Stephen would discount the poets I mentioned above. However, my arguments were based on the comments in his article, not on the book. At some point I will read the book and deliberate accordingly. The history and development of formal models will interest me greatly. The books I have already are somewhat heavy and long winded.

 
Gray
46921.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 6:40 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
Which is an argument that simply promotes opinion as fact.

Well, I think at best it promotes it to 'theory'. And not my theory, I hasten to add.

I wouldn't say Eliot's work is without its restrictions. They're not, for the most part, metrical, but I took care to say that metre was only one of the restrictions that makes poetry 'work'.

Quote:
Free Verse is, by definition, verse composed of variable, usually unrhymed lines having no fixed metrical pattern, which kind of falls into your anything goes classification.

Again, metre is just one of the restrictions. Not the whole thing.

I'm afraid I know nothing of the other poets you mention, but I feel sure you can give a concise introduction to them and their particular types of constraints.

I'm more interested, however, in why you think that swearing or amusingly constructed vulgarity is 'illiterate'. That seems to go against the 'libre' qualities of language that you're propounding.

 
samivel
46941.  Fri Jan 20, 2006 7:59 pm Reply with quote

I think the book is aimed at the general reader who may be interested in starting to write poetry for themselves, or for the beginner to develop their poetry. In which case, it's a fair point to start with the formal models, as it is better to know the rules that can be broken than to just write any old how and call it poetry. As for the free verse writers cited above (Laforgue, Baudelaire, Eliot, Pound and Lowell), I bet they knew the rules before they started writing free verse.

 
eggshaped
46955.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:20 am Reply with quote

Aynho - the ironic, childish and mildly irritating cheer made when someone drops a dray of drinks/food.

e.g. An Aynho is usually followed by some completely unfunny loser shouting "sack the juggler".

 
eggshaped
46956.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:23 am Reply with quote

Manby - the area near the changing rooms at a clothes shop, invariably inhabited by extremely bored boyfriends.

e.g. These days, most shops will maximise boyfireinds' embarrassment by placing their ligerie section as close to the manby as possible.

 
samivel
46957.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:29 am Reply with quote

I think you're on the wrong thread, eggshaped :)

 
eggshaped
46960.  Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:37 am Reply with quote

Thanks Samivel, I am a muppet.

 
naegling
47112.  Sun Jan 22, 2006 8:14 am Reply with quote

Hi Gray

Quote:
[quote="Gray"]
Quote:
Which is an argument that simply promotes opinion as fact.

Well, I think at best it promotes it to 'theory'. And not my theory, I hasten to add.

In your opening paragraph you said:
Gray wrote:
Actually reading the book reveals that he makes a clear argument very early on that imposed restriction and limitation, in the form of metre, are one of the main factors in good poetry. All art, in fact.

So you say, fact. I accept that you consider it a theory; I would suggest that it is an opinion.

The point I am making is not that the book is illiterate or that Stephen Fry is illiterate, or even that the term, 'arse-dribble', is illiterate.

If I said, or implied, that, "All modern poetry is rubbish", ( or "all verse is rubbish"), then I would expect any educated person to say that my statement was an illiterate statement, or the statement of an illiterate man. Or, put another way, the way I said it in fact, is that it is an illiterate thing for a literate person to say. (Note that I am not suggesting Stephen said that. This is simply an example to illustrate the point).

That would not be true in the event that I had read every single modern poem, of course. Note, also, that I have identified Stephen as a literate man. Only a fool would suggest otherwise.

I did suggest that what people would take away from this article are the more spicy remarks and would miss out on the interesting things he says. For example:
Quote:
'You can set yourself new rules or you can write with no structure for a particular poem and it can be very wonderful; I just think it's so much harder and so much less fun than using existing forms,' he said.
which is a fascinating point.

Regardless, all this is only my opinion, and I would not elevate it to theory or fact.

However, if such remarks send people rushing to buy the book, then that is no bad thing, especially for Stephen. If they actually read it and learn something about verse, then that is better.

I agree that it is a good thing to know the rules. I have spent much time learning them and I still am. But I would not prescribe it. I have no preference for free verse over verse. At the moment I am reading more about the history of free verse. I have read much about the history of versification. Indeed, I have learnt a little Ancient Greek, and a little Anglo Saxon, so that I may begin to understand the nuances of poetry in those languages. Next on my list is French. (I refer to the language. :) )

The proposition made is that all art is governed by rules (restrictions and constraints). That is what I refute. All science is governed by rules ... that's a different story and, given that prosody is a science, ipso facto, any versified poem is an exercise, an experiment indeed, in the science of versification. How you then decide what is, and isn't, art is another issue.

Technique is the Greek for art. Poetry is the Greek for creation.

Versification has produced some great poetry, some great art, but so has the absence of it.

Now, on the issue of learning about prosody before we venture forth as poets. It would be a poor English person who has not been inculcated with an understanding of versification from the moment they were born: Black Sheep and Spiders, Wheels on Buses and Wild Things; then in teenage years: 'Yeah, yeah, yeah', (Stephen recently hosted a radio program on nonsense verse), "Do ah diddy", "Hey, hey we're the Monkeys". Nowadays I suspect that children would most likely quote the Arctic Monkeys.

The point is that we have an ingrained inclination to verse, encouraged by the nature of our language, which bursts forth at weddings, funerals and on Valentine's day, usually as doggerel (here I must admit guilty as charged, albeit many years ago).

Knowing and using language and grammar qualifies you to write poetry. Whether it is good, or bad, poetry is the issue (perish that little rubber thought,we could be bouncing that around for many moons). However, that, as I mentioned before, is just my opinion.

 
Sebastian flyte
252861.  Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:28 pm Reply with quote

I got that book for Christmas :) have wanted it for ages to wean me off my crap adolescent and pre adolescent arse dribble poetry :D

 
Jenny
252880.  Sat Jan 05, 2008 1:53 pm Reply with quote

I want to buy that one for myself.

 
Sebastian flyte
252905.  Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:24 pm Reply with quote

:) I haven't started it yet though.

 
dotcom
252906.  Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:26 pm Reply with quote

I enjoyed it. It was interesting. I wouldn't say it drastically altered the way I write poetry (a pity, some might add), but it made me think more about different forms and styles, and I reckon it made me more open to reading "old" poetry.

 

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