Thursday, May 06, 2004

Blog Future

My hope for my blog spot, if I were to continue to creatively write, would be to have my blogspot serve as a forum for people to critique posted poetic entries. I think it's always interesting to write a poem, and have it be interpreted by readers, and get responses to see if the message you wished to convey with your poetry was indeed conveyed, or not. From there, poetry could be altered, to emphasize or soften some of the criteria Vendler mentioned in her text, in order to properly deliver the message the poet wants the reader to recieve.
Blog Poem

Mark Strand's "Keeping Things Whole"

In a field
I am the absence
of field
This is always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

I really enjoyed this poem from the very first time that I came across it and read it in Vendler's Anthology. It's something about the shortness of the poem that talks about keeping things whole. It encompasses everything, but in so little space. I enjoyed the initial confusion of reading, "Wherever I am/ I am what is missing". While this poem doesn't have a loud rhyme pattern, the rhythm is incredible. The line breaks are placed perfectly. "I part the air/ and always/ the air moves in/ to fill the spaces..." I suppose my attraction to this poem, isn't so much what it says, but how is says it. It's basically just pleasant to read, and I remember my attention being immediately caught after reading just the first stanza.

Blog Song

"Parachute" Guster

There we stand about to fly
Peeking down over land
Parachute behind
What was that moment for which we live?
Without a parachute about to dive
I find myself convincing
Blindly falling faster
How easy
Know the place I’m leaving
And the rest just is gone
Oh the adoration
But how much strength does it take
For exploration
For split decision
Or are you stronger to remain
I find myself convincing
Blindly falling faster
How easy
Know the place I’m leaving
And the rest is just gone
It crept up on me
Ignored all my pleas
Begging to leave
No justice to name me
Fell out of the sky
Cease it to be
Without a reply
Gravity fails me
And when I awoke
I knew what was real
Hope to convince you
Lies they all torture me
Opened the door
Knew what was me
I finally realized
Parachute over me

I know that we did not use this song in any of our classes, but if the idea of those presentations was to discuss song lyrics that stand alone on a page as poetry, I believe this song is a fine example. The musical counterpart only further emphasizes the mood and tone of the poem, so that the reader/listener becomes more engulfed in the mind of the speaker. I feel like the music in this particular song acts like punctuation does on the written page. Rather than the pauses marked with periods or commas, they are marked with brief instances of silence. Rather than the climactic points being marked with capital letters or exclamation points, they are marked with cresecendos and beats of a bongo. There is clear symbolism involving a parachute, but the analogy doesn't get repeated so much that the lyrics become predictable. There is no one refrain that becomes "awkward" to read, in the absence of the music. I feel that this song may be considered poetry on the written page, and music to the ear when listened to.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

In the process of reading Rimbaud's "The Art of Poetry" in order to apply his mantra to other poetry he has written, I was drawn to his knack for appealing to the senses. He constantly describes music, light, smells, and temperature. Without coincidence I believe, Rimbaud's poem, "Sensation" has strong descriptive qualities that make the reader enticed. He begins the poem, "On the blue summer evenings, I shall go down the paths,/ Getting pricked by the corn, crushing the short grass:" These lines share an end rhyme that initially grabs the attention and interest of the reader, but as he states in "The Art of Poetry". "You must have music first of all, / and for that a rhythm uneven is best." which implies that Rimbau frowns on consitency and predicatability. He steers away from a systematic pattern after the first two lines of "Sensation" by matching the last words in the 3rd and 4th lines not by their sound, but by their meaning (both anatomical words), "In a dream I shall feel its coolness on my feet./
I shall let the wind bathe my bare head."

Friday, April 09, 2004

Part One: Lyric Poetry and the New Criticism

The entire first section of the reading attempted to compare and contrast the New Criticism to other methods of analyzing lyric poetry. Within the wordy struggle to try and clarify and classify lyric poetry, I began to see a strong relationship between the lyric and other fine arts, such as painting. Someone who has never taken an art appreciation course in their lifetime, may still take a look at Van Gough’s “Starry Night”, and be awe stricken. They may not be able to explain why they like the painting in terms of composition, or the use of complimentary colors, yet the like it just the same. The same theory holds true for a lyric poem. Someone who has never studied poetry, in terms of the New Criticism or through any other means, may still read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”, and be completely moved. They may not consciously realize the importance of the line breaks, or mark the significance of the rhythm, yet they too, like a child in a museum, still get pleasure from the poem. Having this thought in mind while reading the first section, I found Frye’s description of lyric poetry very interesting, in the 6th paragraph. “These lyric genres, Frye points out, are more musical than painterly, more non-referential than mimetic. They do not present dramatic scenes to which we respond emotively but textured language that embodies forms of human sensibility.”
The first section seems to be trying to show that there is a right way, and a wrong way, to see lyric poetry. That we used to see it “that way” and now we see it “this way”. The reason I think there is so much controversy when trying to explain the theories within lyric poetry, is because it is more abstract than concrete. There will never be one way of seeing it, or interpreting it and that is what makes it lyric poetry as opposed to prose or an essay.

Part Two: Vendler’s Poems, Poets, Poetry: An Introduction and Anthology

Most of this reading I found to be repetitive, wordy, and confusing. Perhaps I do not have a full understanding, or even partial understanding, of what “theory” means or is. What I did understand, was the first paragraph of this section, particularly the first sentence, “The publication of Helen Vendler’s PPP is a significant occasion in the history of literary theory and pedagogy, because it pulls together this new scholarly work on the lyric and energetically and synthetically pursues what it entails.” I agree with that statement because I have been intrigued and excited with Vendler’s text since the beginning of the semester. The text is very easy to understand, unlike so much of the other writing on poetry, and even the first section of this reading. Vendler’s text is an introduction, and concentrates on fundamental building blocks of poetry. The basic format of her text, using examples to illustrate the topic, is simplistic. This is the real reason it is so different from so much poetic pedagogy that came before her.

Part Three: 2.1 Summary

It is interesting to read that the structure of Vendler’s PPP is unusual. “She organizes her discussion around lyric’s distinct generic intention, including the effect of this generic intention on the organization of artistic resources. As each new theoretical issue is invoked and treated, she presents analyzes of increasing richness, so that these analyses gradually gather up what her theoretical commitments presume.” (Cureton) Because after reading Vendler’s PPP, nearly in it’s entirety, I find it hard to imagine an author structuring it any differently. It’s all very logical and I am very surprised that it is “unusual”. Throughout every single chapter, Vendler gives initial clear descriptions of the topic she will be covering, and follows with several examples.
I particularly liked Cureton’s statement that “All contemporary students want to learn more about poetry, but they don’t want to do so at the expense of their own beliefs, tastes, and personal centers. They want to choose what to like and dislike, and they want their choices to be defensible within a larger community of readers, despite their limited experience. Any detailed discussion of poetic technique will tend to underline this limited experience and therefore threaten those beliefs and personal centers. But any neglect of these matters misrepresents the art; poetry becomes prose.” This statement again brought me back to thinking about painting, and specifically modern art. Someone naïve to the foundations of modern art, may stand in front of Salvador Dali’s “Persistence of Memory” and claim that it’s ‘ugly’ and that they don’t like it, which are opinions they are entitled to. But someone who has learned about the history of art, composition, color, and texture, is much more prepared to defend their belief that the same painting is a masterpiece.

Part Four: Toward Musical Poetics

The last section of reading, concentrates on Vendler’s lack of mentioning the abstract or ‘musical’ aspect of poetry. I think this is what makes Vendler’s text the easy read that it is. Rather than focusing on the ‘art’ of poetry, she focuses on the building blocks of poetry. She teaches a reader to notice rhythm, the development of a speaker, public and private life, etc. I think the reason she doesn’t try to show us what “algebra” is as a whole, is because that is when the controversy and confusion begins to arise. The music of a poem is what a reader takes with them after reading poetry. Vendler merely tries to teach her readers how to listen, so that the music they hear is as clear and melodic as the writer intended it to be.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

This was a lot less complicated than I had imagined.

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