This is art. (Robert Bateman, Cheetah Profile)
And this is art. (Salvador Dali, The Persistance of Memory)
This is (was) an artist, a film actress. (Marilyn Monroe.)
This is (was) an artist, a stage actress. (Barbara Cook)
Artist. Pianist. Yevgeny Sudbin.
Artist. Drummer and singer. Phil Collins..
Here is art. It is a verse written by Dorothy Parker.
A Very Short Song
Once, when I was young and true,
Someone left me sad-
Broke my brittle heart in two;
And that is very bad.
Love is for unlucky folk,
Love is but a curse.
Once there was a heart I broke;
And that, I think, is worse.
Here is art. It is a poem written by M.D Dunn (shared here for education purposes only and will be removed from this blog in the next few weeks.)
Inorganic, the sky’s baton
peaks and sweeps from a cloud podium
all the dips and warbles of feet
in fields. Wherever the city ends,
the concerto begins, cumuli
reflected in the vague suspicion
one has upon waking, a still dread
that survival does not relieve; clouds
writing the symphony of rain and shelter
that caps the prairie.
When we think of the arts, we often think of visual arts or dance or music and – perhaps because of humility—we don’t usually see our poetry as art.
My mother crafted some of the most gorgeous needlework, which is supposedly ‘just’ a craft. But when someone can transform a piece of cloth into a gorgeous sunset or a bouquet of roses with mere twisted floss and a variety of learned stitches, to me, that is an art.
Art is born of imagination, skill and practice.
Acting is an art, right? The actor learns how to believably portray emotion, how to project voice, the importance of gesture and facial expressions, diction, intonation, timing, dramatic pauses... etc etc. Most actors do go to acting school to learn their art.
A painter learns about the colour wheel, composition, perspective, light and shadow, how various mediums can be used and a variety of techniques. It can take years to absorb all the knowledge.
And what about poetry? How do we develop as literary artists? YES, ARTISTS. I know, I know, many of you will say, I am not an artist, Hell, I am not even a poet. However, most here are comfortable enough with their writing to say: I write poetry.
Hundreds of poets have already done their best to define what sets poetry apart from all other writing. One dictionary states literature is: writing in prose or verse regarded as having permanent worth through its intrinsic excellence.
Permanent worth?! Excellence? !! Holy crap! No pressure or anything! Nope, not one bit.
That being said, here are a few of my favourite quotes from poets:
Poetry is a language in which man explores his own amazement. – Christopher Fry
A poet is before anything else a person who is passionately in love with language-- W.H. Auden
Poetry is a dame with a huge pedigree, and every word comes practically barnacled with allusions and associations—Joseph Brodsky
Poetry is language in orbit.—Seamus Heaney
Poetry is a dialect of the language we speak, possessed of metaphorical density, coded with resonant meaning, engaging us with narrative's pleasures, enhancing and sustaining our pleasure with enlarged awareness –Dave Smith
I agree that poetry does not read exactly as everyday language. Literature is created through the use of trope, device, conceptualization or through the careful weaving of thought to bring home a sudden realization, yes? And it isn’t about overblown or flowery language or egghead words with five syllables. But I do believe that it IS about the artful arrangement of words. And like all the other arts, development only comes from application, study and practice. Why in the world would we think we are above all that and let our noses get out of joint when poets say that they take their art seriously? Sheeeesh. If no living poets ever studied the art of poetry, THE ART OF POETRY WOULD DIE!
The fact is that reading a good poem can feel like looking into a deep, deep well. First, we see the surface, maybe we’re even shocked to see our own reflection (what the hell am I doing in THERE?!) and we keep looking and we see more, a root, a bucket, ancient stone, even fossils, a lost locket ...
Me? I’m just a developing poet, so I read poetry not only for pleasure but to learn its ART. My well isn’t nearly deep enough yet, not even a third there, as far as I’m concerned! So, I try out devices. Some I like. Some? Not so much. I'll keep practicing, failing, picking myself up, and then try-try again. There is so much to explore! I get ridiculously GIDDY when I read something well-crafted, unique and mysterious that teaches me something different about poetry, something I can tinker with myself, puzzle over, ATTEMPT.
I see the beauty of the art in the works of others and fall head over heels for THEIR well.
Confession: great poetry inspires me like butter inspired Julia Child, like Versailles inspires a fledgling gardener, like Karen Kain inspires a three year old in a hand-me-down tutu!
Language can be as luscious, fully alive. It can recreate itself, I swear!!
So, what about you?
Are you comfortable saying that what you write is poetry?
What poetics do you tend to favour? What poetics can’t you stand?
Do you use irony? Do you prefer elements of contrast and comparison?
Do you redefine words, turn nouns into verbs, hit the figurative elements hard, revise your work?
What is it about your writing that makes it poetry?
Like Dave Smith, do you code your work with resonant meaning?
Do you intentionally dig YOUR well? Or is it a wellspring?
Do you have a favourite poet/ry quote? Care to share?
Is there a living poet outside of the soup walls who you’re po-crushin’ on?
Comments welcome, as long as grenades are not tossed and arguments are made in a (somewhat) friendly manner (no personal attacks or pulling of hair.) We are free to disagree... I invite discussion. You may go as off topic as you want. I don't believe that chatting/changing the subject or even a full spiel is trolling. So, you are safe on this blog as long as it falls within Soups blog rules (even if your comments/replies are fine with me. They carry the bigger stick.)