Statement of Philosophy

A site for exploration and discussion about verse, poetics, the aesthetic, and creative writing in general.

Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.

★★ The Latest Posts on Hatter's Adversaria
Something I Read #17 – D.S. SavageDelillo's Underworld – a Review/Response
Visual Labyrinths in Body DoubleSomething I Read #16 – David Perkins

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Free Verse by Charles O. Hartman (sort of)

Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody (Northwestern UP, 1980)


Two Thoughts (and a Note) on the Poetic After Having Barely Started to Read Charles O. Hartman's Free Verse: An Essay on Prosody

-- corrected a terminological error, Nov. 20, 2013

And when I say "barely started to read" I mean only as far as the second paragraph. So, before I continue, for those of you who are unfamiliar with what the phrase "thoughts on reading" indicates, keep in mind I have only read two paragraphs of Hartman's book. This is not, then, an engagement with the ideas therein but only ponderings prompted by that little bit that I have read. As such, it is very much the thoughts that I am bringing into the book (and, as such, it rather prompts a follow up essay after the fact, to speak out of the ideas of the book).

To note, this post is the post on terminology that was cued in the post two back on "Rocket" by Todd Boss. Though, it obviously because something larger when happenstance had me pick up the Hartman book.

Thought #1
back to top

This is from the second paragraph:

That year [1908] Y.S. Omond wrote a short article on the subject of verse for a widely read intellectual journal, Living Age. [. . .] In the article, he poses an innocent question: "It is not uninteresting to ask what determines the length of verse-lines." Omond observed that the length of lines readers were willing to accept, and poets were therefore willing to try, had gradually increased until "Tennyson ventured at last on nine beats." The progress might be sustained, but Omond dared to doubt that is "can be considerably prolonged without substantial other modification."

There is an interesting though not at all uncommon phrasing within that sentence: "what determines." The phrasing speaks an assumption within the question: an assumption that is in the limited context only presumed in the Osmond quotation, but which is nearly ubiquitous in conversations on poetry and its writing. It is an assumption that in a great measure predetermines both the nature of the answer to the question and that answer's invariable and inevitable failure as a lasting solution to the question.

The assumption is that both the question and the answer, and the subject of the two lie within the domain of the quantifiable and qualifiable. To say it again, when you hear this question asked and explored in contemporary poetical circles, it generally carries the assumption that "if one is to ask a question as to the length of line-verses (or anything else about poetics for that matter), then that question is an exploration of the measurable, the discretely identifiable, the definitionally qualifiable." The question, as it is written in the quotation is then the search for that some thing that "determines the length of verse-lines."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Poetry that Writers of Poetry Have No Excuse Not Reading, Parts 1 and 2

Poetry that Writers of Poetry Have No Excuse Not Reading, Studying, and Reading Again, Parts 1 and 2

-- minor edits and changes, Nov. 15, 2013

I began this list earlier this year on the sister blog, The Poetical Works of Alfred Tennyson Loaded Successfully. Unfortunately, you need only glance at the blog to see that my web attentions have primarily been here. (I never even got around to editing the little thing.) Since it fits well in this realm, I am going to bring it over here.

The idea is rather explained in the title: poetry that is as good as it gets in English, but which so called students of poetry -- writers of poetry -- seem to continually ignore in favor of things more contemporarily seminal[FN], like newest and latest from whoever's in what journal. There has been floating on the web a little spat of reading lists created by this that and whoever poet or filmmaker or scholar. This is my contribution to the ferver.

But I should restate the key point: this is not merely an ongoing Top 100 list of poetic works. The point here is that these are works that should be requisite canon within the particular field of the writers of poetry. At least, of those writers who aspire to something greater than conventional pop. These are works that open the doors to the high art of poetry. Their value is beyond the cultural or the literary-historical. They are works of beauty.

[FN] And by "seminal" I mean "poetry whose style you should copy if you want to try to get published in the poetry journals."

I title this entry "Parts 1 and 2" because the first five come from the post on Tennyson. The rest are here added. More will come, as they come to mind or to attention.

"Rocket" by Todd Boss -- Poetry Daily, 11/13/2013

from Poetry (Nov. 2013)
poem found here

first lines:
Despite that you
wrote your name


the very important importance of lines


Lines, again, I know. I am constantly returning to lines or line breaks. But in truth no matter how I might want to go explore and strengthen other arguments to different conclusions, I invariably return to the primacy of the "line" in poetry and for poetry. If there is to be any sophistication to the writing of poetry, then it must begin in the idea of the "line."

--- And immediately I recognize that there is in the above an issue with terminology as to the word poetry. Though, rather than address it here in very-brief, I will give it its due in a separate post, to follow this one. ---

Now, why the quotation marks around the word line? Because I want to leave open exactly what a "line" is, and give definition to it that only goes as far as "a discrete visual unit on the page." That way, the idea includes such things as vertically typeset text (where a line more narrowly defined might only include a single letter); visually broken or stepped lines; concrete typesetting (which I consider mostly a gimmick but which inhernetly proposes the idea of the visual structure being a "line"); and even, possibly, the prose poem (which, in its finer forms, might be considered a very long but nonetheless one-line poem).

To me, not crafting lines is the equivalent of etching an image into the side of a large block of marble and calling it "sculpture."

    "You do realize that sculpture is rather inherently an exploration of three dimensions?
    "I'm postmodern."
    "You're a looney."