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To Footnote or Not to Footnote?


Blog Posted:7/3/2014 8:47:00 PM

I once read a statement that a poet  should not explain or interpret his/her work. That in doing so, it breaks the contract between writer and reader. The work should stand on its own, hence no exegesis is or should be required. That has been my practice in the past, the exception being some notes in the "About this poem" section, which in a few cases, I have used to deconstruct the poem, explaining the references and metaphors used.

Normally, this suits me fine, but on multiple occasions, when I enter a poem in a contest, I have found that the poem places very low, even though well constructed, has interesting metaphors and references, multi-level meanings and good content. At least on two or three occasions, I can only conclude that the poem must have been beyond the comprehension level of the judge. Nothing else makes any sense.

Recently, some comments suggested that I add a footnote to a poem. Several comments following that one said that the footnotes really helped.Some said that they learned a lot by reading the footnotes. I have decided to do this for a while to see how it works out. I am not being patronizing. I know several of the regulars are well-grounded in literature and other fields and have no such need.

What do you think?

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  1. Date: 7/5/2014 2:15:00 AM
    I do it when I write on Indian culture , history or traditions otherwise I agree with you that it should be left to interpret by the readers in whichever he mind stirs.

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  1. Date: 7/4/2014 8:37:00 AM
    I do it on those occasions when it would not otherwise be understood. Like why did I write 3 different poetry forms for the suite

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  1. Date: 7/4/2014 7:35:00 AM
    If there's a word or name that is very unusual a brief footnote is fine by me, we are all learning, but a footnote which explains the poem is not OK for me since I too believe the reader should be encouraged to interpret & the writer should be able to present what they intended or rewrite it. Many footnotes are longer than the verses, these I don't like at all.

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    Jerden Avatar Roy Jerden Date: 7/4/2014 11:56:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    In the old days, defining an unusual word was helpful, I'm sure as one might not have a dictionary ready. But today, using a modern browser like Chrome, it's unnecessary. You can highlight a word or phrase with the mouse, right click and search Google from the context menu. Not doing so is just laziness, IMHO.
  1. Date: 7/3/2014 10:03:00 PM
    Some writes require footnotes simply because the topic/subject/write is either so complex or so personal. Myself, I see it as a personal call to be made by the poet. Several times comments by members having stated my footnotes have helped them greatly in understanding a particular line ,phrase or stanza

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  1. Date: 7/3/2014 9:55:00 PM
    Roy, I am a bit addled sometimes and so any little extra footnote can sometimes help me appreciate a poem better. (in the event that the topic was a difficult one for me OR when the poet used a style or jargon very difficult for me). you should see if it helps or not!!!

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My Past Blog Posts

 
Pi Day 2015
Date Posted: 3/13/2015 3:05:00 PM
Foodies - Part 2
Date Posted: 1/7/2015 11:30:00 AM
East Jesus Contest Judged
Date Posted: 1/2/2015 9:21:00 AM
Happy New Year to the World of Poets
Date Posted: 12/31/2014 6:23:00 PM
Merry Christmas to the World of Poets
Date Posted: 12/25/2014 5:54:00 AM
Foodies - Part 1
Date Posted: 12/20/2014 2:01:00 PM
How kids perceive their grandparents
Date Posted: 12/19/2014 5:55:00 AM
Got Writer's Block?
Date Posted: 12/6/2014 8:10:00 AM
Clean and Clever Limerick Contest Update
Date Posted: 11/17/2014 7:51:00 AM
My First Short Story - Accepted for publication
Date Posted: 11/2/2014 6:46:00 PM
Happy Halloween
Date Posted: 10/31/2014 7:18:00 AM
Non-Christian Poetry Contest Update
Date Posted: 10/19/2014 9:05:00 AM
New Contest - Religious Poetry: Non-Christian
Date Posted: 10/5/2014 6:40:00 AM
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Date Posted: 9/30/2014 10:57:00 AM
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Date Posted: 9/11/2014 8:19:00 PM
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Date Posted: 9/3/2014 12:58:00 PM
How to do a scansion of your poem to verify the meter
Date Posted: 8/19/2014 6:03:00 PM
Too Subtle?
Date Posted: 8/15/2014 1:39:00 PM
New Feature -Poet's Notes About the Poem
Date Posted: 8/2/2014 12:31:00 PM
Free Verse: Start here or finish here
Date Posted: 7/21/2014 7:04:00 PM
Bogus Entries in Contests
Date Posted: 7/19/2014 6:46:00 AM
Punctuation and Capitalization in Poetry
Date Posted: 7/18/2014 6:35:00 PM
About Poem/Poem Notes/Inspiration, etc.
Date Posted: 7/18/2014 8:17:00 AM
Bawdy Limericks II Judged
Date Posted: 7/6/2014 2:48:00 PM
To Footnote or Not to Footnote?
Date Posted: 7/3/2014 8:47:00 PM

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