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A Question for NON Poetry Lovers

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Picking up on the 'Art is communication' point, imvho the reader of literature (in its widest sense), does interpret what is presented, since how a character, word, concept etc is presented by the author, the reader is going to clothe that with the memory of his own experiences, which are by definition unique. The message is important, but from the reader's point of view is going to be coloured as I have indicated.
Oh, absolutely.

 

In all manner of communication, be it conversation, art or other, the recipient of a message will add, or perhaps even subtract, from that message according to his or her background. This explains why certain poems/songs/films are not appreciated until a later age, when one has experienced what is expressed in them, why saying sentence x or showing artwork y to different people can get very different emotional reactions, and so forth.

 

My meaning was simply to disagree with those who hold the opinion that art holds no message but that superimposed on it by our own experience, intellect etc. A simple question such as 'Why are you crying?' can mean different things to different people in different emotional states, yet to claim that the asker had no clear message in mind when he spoke would be silly.

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Thank you both for the kind comments. Using you example BJ of asking someone is crying, has a dimension as well, since the enquirer could have various meanings for asking the question e.g commiseration, disgust, scornful etc. I've found that seeing the meaning in poetry often involves elucidating the author's meaning in using a word, often with multiple possible meanings. Maybe its that elucidation process that non-poetry readers find troublesome.

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I actually did think of that as I was typing (the meaning of the question being defined by such factors as the speaker's relationship to the addressee, his or her tone of voice, choice of stressed word, etc.), but was afraid of obfuscating my point :friends0: which is that, regardless of what the meaning of the question is, the question has a meaning before reaching the addressee's ear.

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just thought I'd point it out being a pedant (been called worse)
... what a coincidental coincidence, me too - comrade :friends0:!

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Yes, I think the perceived difficulty ( for non-poetry readers) is the elucidation of meaning and getting the intrinsic meaning, as some poets obfuscate both :friends0:. How poetry readers convince, without coercion, that poetry has so much to offer is a conundrum.

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This isn't a very nice way to say it, but poetry makes me feel stupid. :D

 

I'm not a student of Literature. I stopped learning it since I was 15 years old, and now whenever I see Lit students discussing poetry, I'm simply blown off by their interpretations. It seems as if every word was inserted with a purpose, that nothing can be taken at face value. And I began wondering if perhaps the poet didn't mean for the poem to be so in-depth to begin with. Some of them truly sounded farfetched in my opinion.

 

I guess I'm just not an appreciator of abstract thought.

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I'm a student of literature Hercule, and I can safely tell you that a lot of it sounds like gobbledygook to me, too :D.

 

While I do believe that every word has a purpose in poetry (because, being the condensed medium it is, it cannot afford to waste space on the kind of purposeless words fiction can get away with), I think that a lot of literary theory does the field a disservice by crawling up mirrors of improbability and clever-cleverness.

 

While I'm all for analysing 'what Shakespeare meant by using this word and not this other similar, but not quite, word', I still try and ground my answers to such questions in common sense. Admittedly, some professors thought me old-fashioned for it, but no matter.

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I have to retract the points made by me in this thread a few months back :lol:

 

I will always choose a great novel over great poetry, but my general ignorance of it has subsided recently. Despite that, I don't have a great knowledge of poetry, so I would much appreciate it if somebody could recommend some lesser known poets for me to get acquainted with (I don't need to be told about Whitman, Byron, Baudelaire and so on ...)

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now whenever I see Lit students discussing poetry, I'm simply blown off by their interpretations. It seems as if every word was inserted with a purpose, that nothing can be taken at face value. And I began wondering if perhaps the poet didn't mean for the poem to be so in-depth to begin with. Some of them truly sounded farfetched in my opinion.

 

I totally agree Hercule. I enjoy reading poetry but some of it is incomprehensible. If you look hard enough at anything written you can put all sorts of meanings into it, unless the author actually says that's what he/she meant, how would you know?

It's a bit like art, there is a lot of pretentious nonsense attached to it. You get people waffling on about the deep intrinsic meaning of the juxtapositioning of the purple and yellow or some such other rubbish and all it probably means is that the painter was out on the turps the night before and suffering a bad hangover. :D

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I've recently discovered poetry and I like the fact I don't have to over think it, when I was at school you had to go over and over the same thing squeezing every ounce of meaning from it. When all I want to do is enjoy something.

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I agree Cookie. It's particularly true when you have to dissect a poem, it spoils your enjoyment, it somehow makes it a clinical reaction rather than an emotional one. I love reading people's poetry and commenting but only about how the words make me feel, not about it's structural makeup.

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Does it make me deranged that I love dissecting verse and could talk for hours about the structural make-up of poems :smile2:?

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Of course not BookJumper :smile2: It was a purely personal opinion, I've never been any good at looking at things objectively. Someone's got to know what they're talking about :)

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Objectivity, now what does that mean :smile2:? I think the entire reason I've always enjoyed dissecting poetry is because I tend to believe passionately in whatever I think a poem means and will defend my reading 'til the end of the world.

 

I do agree that dissecting, as it is often (but thakfully not always) done in school, can be dreary and leave for dead any budding passion one may have for the subject. I reckon its teachers should be clamped Clockwork Orange-style in front of Dead Poets Society and learn a few tricks from Mr Keating...!

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Objectivity, now what does that mean :smile2:? I think the entire reason I've always enjoyed dissecting poetry is because I tend to believe passionately in whatever I think a poem means and will defend my reading 'til the end of the world.

 

One of the things that is so important to remember when reading/discussing poetry is that we as readers are all different in our tastes. Where as one person may see a poem about a flower as being an allegory for love, another could interpret it as the stages of life or even death; some would just see it as an object- just a flower.

 

In school I do think it is important because interpretation shows creativity. To be able to use one's imagination and open up the brain in that way is very powerful and important in literature courses.

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In school I do think it is important because interpretation shows creativity. To be able to use one's imagination and open up the brain in that way is very powerful and important in literature courses.
Absolutely :smile2: I just meant that schools don't always encourage creativity, imagination and free thought during poem dissection, which is probably why so many people are sick of it by the time they've grown up. I was lucky.

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Absolutely ;) I just meant that schools don't always encourage creativity, imagination and free thought during poem dissection, which is probably why so many people are sick of it by the time they've grown up. I was lucky.

 

Oh yeah, I agree. Here the schools are awful when it comes to our English/Lit classes. Fortunately I had a teacher early on who's passion was so deeply rooted in her teaching that she was able to really help us grasp the power and beauty behind poetry instead of sluffing her way through it because it's mandatory. So many teachers just want to get through the unit, its unfortunate.

 

Sorry, going off down another lane here. :smile2:

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I don't remember a huge lot about the poetry I learnt at school now but I'm forever grateful to one very good English teacher who introduced us to ee cummings and Gerard Manley Hopkins (thanks Franklin where ever you are)

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I take my hat off to you fir getting EE Cummings - an old uni friend of mine tried to convert me and I could never see the fuss:lurker: but then, I'm old-fashioned; give me a shot of Byron and I'm happy :D.

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I had to laugh when I read this BookJumper. The fact that you wrote ee cummings using capitals :D I've always preferred free verse poetry to the more formal kind.

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Always glad to cause mirth :smile2::D I never got along with free verse; I find it hard to understand and even harder to write...! I need metre and rhyme to latch meaning onto, frame-of-reference like. I experience a similar problem with instrumental music, i.e. it could mean so many things I get overcome by artistic anxiety and feel positively dizzy, while you usually know where you are with songs that have lyrics.

 

... does that make sense?

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