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Thanks for the useful, link, Badge! Seems I just missed Finch's workshop. I have at least one of her books (The Ghost of Meter -- Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse)

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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About her work, Ron Silliman has said, "Annie Finch is an American original, a master of control who shows no fear of excess, and none of quietness either. With a perfect-pitch ear for the American tongue, she is a
formalist
as much in the tradition of Robert Duncan and Bernadette Mayer as of Hart Crane and John Berryman. Calendars is a marvelous book, filled with poems whose directness and simplicity are deceptive – they have depths and delights that appear to go on forever."

 

http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/1006

 

http://home.earthlink.net/~arthur505/finch01.html

 

 

I think her choices and feedback reflected a particular aesthetic.

 

Do you regard yourself as a formalist Tony?

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Thanks (again) for these additional useful links, Badge.

badger11 wrote:

 

Do you regard yourself as a formalist Tony?

I don't think I'm a formalist, because I dabble with traditional forms only within very limited confines. I've always identified most with James Wright, and, at this point, I'll say it's because (among other reasons) Wright wrote both "formal" (which I'll refer to as "metrical") and "free verse" (which I'll refer to as "free form poetry"). But it wasn't Wright's metrics which got me interested in poetry in the first place, rather it was his free form poetry. When I first read his poem TWILIGHTS, it became and remains today (and if I had to choose only one) my favorite poem of all poems, one poem that somehow "defines" me. In fact, in the beginning, I read only Wright's free verse and was quite disinterested in his (earlier) metrical verse to the point that I totally disregarded (almost spurned) it until I, myself, became interested in metrics (accentual-syllabic), language, and how, in English, the two are inseparable. I like musical poetry. This is not to say that other verse isn't musical, but, in my opinion, writing in meter is like applying a formula guaranteed to yield a musical poem every time.

 

Of course, I understand that there are other poetic devices which create verbal music, too. On pages 91 and 92 of his book How to Read a Poem, Burton Raffel has a wonderful discussion about poetic musicality and contrasts two poems. Both are free form poems. Raffel writes,

Musicality is, of course, a relative matter: some poets have better ears, some have worse, but none are totally tone-deaf to verbal music. Gregory Corso, however, comes pretty close:

 

From Another Room

 

Dumb genius blows

feeble breath into my windowless room

He -- the sagacious mute

rap-tapping a code or doom

-- the drunkard punched the wall to have his storm!

Through the crack! Through the crack!

My feast was in the easy blood that flowed.

He goes on to say that,

The lack of musicality here -- and throughout virtually all of Corso's work, which is often high-spirited, ingenious, even delightful, but which never sings -- may not be immediately obvious, especially to the relative beginner in poetic matters. The poem should be read aloud, first of all (as indeed should all poetry). If 'From Another Room' is read with attention to its natural stresses, it will sound something like a four-hundred-pound man in very flat sandals stomping across a marble floor. There is almost no rhythmic variety: bang, bang, bang, comes the poem, line after dull line. Even in a poem only seven lines long, so remarkable a lack of grace becomes oppressive.

Next, Raffel contrasts Corso's "ponderous verbal music" exhibited in the poem above with "the intensely graceful flow" of a poem of more lines but essentially the same length, written by Denise Levertov --

 

to the reader

 

As you read, a white bear leisurely

pees, dyeing the snow

saffron,

 

and as you read, many gods

lie among lianas: eyes of obsidian

are watching the generations of leaves,

 

and as you read

the sea is turning its dark pages,

turning

its dark pages.

 

-- and he goes on to discuss extensively the poem's "superb musicality" and "delicacy of rhythm." This is not to say that Corso's poetry is bad -- if one reads what Raffel wrote above, it is clear he calls it "high-spirited, ingenious, even delightful" -- but, according to Raffel (and I tend to agree), it's not musical. I like "From Another Room" in some way, but, to me, only lines five and seven are musically pleasing. Why? Taken by themselves, the lines are written in perfect iambic pentameter. I'm sure there are people who like Gregory Corso's work, but, I'll take Denise Levertov's to the reader any day over Corso's From Another Room. That's just my taste.

 

When I bought Finch's The Ghost of Meter from Grolier Poetry Book Shop (in Cambridge, Massachusetts), I had a little buyer's remorse when I got it home with the other books I had purchased. While at the store, I had looked quickly inside and saw scholarly discussion about meter, but I had not noticed the books subtitle: Culture and Prosody in American Free Verse [emphasis mine]. The book was like $40, and I still haven't read it -- I suppose someday I will -- but my point is this: I think all poets, "formalists" and those who despise metrics alike, recognize that all poetry has rhythm and musicality (or it should anyway); the English language itself has natural cadences that, when harnessed, whether in a metrical or free form poem, deliver a pleasing musicality. I derive enjoyment from that, whether I'm reading or writing a poem.

 

I know I could have answered your question with a simple yes or no, Badge, but I felt it warranted further explanation. I read the defense of meter essay that Finch wrote in the link you supplied, and the discussion reminded me of the letters James Wright and his contemporaries (Bly, Hall, et al.) wrote back and forth to each other. Bly was a champion of the "new method" which strayed away from metrics while Wright "defended" metrics. Though Wright also wrote using "the new method," he felt that Bly, rather than simply extolling the virtues of the new method, was attacking and completely discarding metrics. Wright's own curious blend of metrics and free form poetry came from his having been influenced by Whitman and Robinson, one a "formalist," the other not.

 

As for form, these days, I find myself trying to write mostly in iambics, specifically iambic pentameter, though I did try to write my poem OUR TIME in iambic trimeter, having been influenced by Louise Bogan's SONG FOR A LYRE. What got me the most excited by iambic pentameter was when I discovered EDGAR BOWERS. Musical, metrically competent, flawlessly crafted, replete with modern content -- I can't get enough of his verse, and I aspire to write like him.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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New Formalism, or Neo-formalism, was a late-twentieth century development in American poetry that sought to draw fresh attention to traditional forms of verse in terms of meter, rhyme, and stanzaic symmetry.

 

http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5667

 

I don't see a problem with this, though like all movements it has a historical context and typically is a reaction.

 

 

became interested in metrics (accentual-syllabic), language, and how, in English, the two are inseparable. I like musical poetry. This is not to say that other verse isn't musical, but, in my opinion, writing in meter is like applying a formula guaranteed to yield a musical poem every time.

 

I must admit I'm more interested in image than music (in fact most poetry I read silently). I read that William Carlos Williams was seeking an 'American' voice:

 

Williams had no interest, he said, in the "speech of the English country people, which would have something artificial about it"; instead he sought a "language modified by our environment, the American environment."

 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=81496

 

Hope you find your American voice within the English formula! icon_biggrin.png

 

badge

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tonyv

 

Contrary to Raffel's opinion I find Corso's poem as musical as astute the reader may be. Corso's poem is open form--the newest label applied instead of 'free verse', a complete misnomer, for no verse is free except when it is not verse, in the strictest sense of that term when apposed to prose.

 

Problem is that, although we are told to not pause at the end of a run-on line, we do by shear habit due to influence of poems past.

 

I suggest you try to change corso's line breaks according what Lewis Turco calls syntactical prosody, and you may find it more musical.

 

If there is further thought, I will supply that poem w/ different line breaks plus an rxtra "a" (L4). Of course, the poem's L6 is, at least for me, altogether unpalatable, i.e., the repetition does nothing due to the weakness of its content.

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badger11 wrote:

I must admit I'm more interested in image than music (in fact most poetry I read silently). I read that William Carlos Williams was seeking an 'American' voice:

 
Williams had no interest, he said, in the "speech of the English country people, which would have something artificial about it"; instead he sought a "language modified by our environment, the American environment."

Very interesting the part about reading silently, Badge. I read both silently and aloud. I'm wondering ... when you say you are "more interested in image than music," are you referring to imagery or the appearance of the poem on the page ... or both? And did WCW think that traditional forms/metrics and a poem's capacity for imagery were inversely proportional? I know, at first, he spurned the sonnet:
... [Williams] thought that we don't live in a sonnet world. He said that writing a sonnet in modern America was like 'putting a crab into a square box. You've got to cut his legs off to make him fit.' Yet he changed his mind reading the sonnets of Merrill Moore: 'The sonnet, I see now, is not and has never been a form at all in any fixed sense other than that incident upon a certain turn of the mind. It is the extremely familiar dialogue unit upon which all dramatic writing is founded.'

 

[The Making of A Sonnet -- A Norton Anthology, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 2008, p. 182.]

Williams' own sonnet is included on page p. 192-193 of the book cited in the quote immediately above:

Sonnet in Search of an Author

 

Nude bodies like peeled logs

sometimes give off a sweetest

odor, man and woman

 

under the trees in full excess

matching the cushion of

 

aromatic pine-drift fallen

threaded with trailing woodbine

a sonnet might be made of it

 

Might be made of it! odor of excess

odor of pine needles, odor of

peeled logs, odor of no odor

other than trailing woodbine that

 

has no odor, odor of a nude woman

sometimes, odor of a man.

 

-------------------------
--WCW

Okay, so it's not in meter, and it has no rhyme, but Williams (obviously) acknowledged that it's a sonnet (a form, unless he has redefined the sonnet altogether.)

 

As for the "speech of the English country people," having "something artificial about it," I am reminded of a postscript to a 1958 letter (in which iambic and non-iambic verse is discussed) that James Wright wrote to Donald Hall:

'P.S. Lib and I saw Sir John Gielgud. Iambics? Nonsense! Imagery and honesty! It was so beautiful. We felt like crying. God, man is greater than poetry -- but only a great poet can make you feel it.'

 

[
A Wild Perfection -- the Selected Letters of James Wright
, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005, p. 186.]

I suppose if WCW was referring to old English, I could see how it might sound artificial in America even in the past 200 years, but if he was referring to meter, I'll side with Wright. English is English, and the accents are the same no matter the accent.icon_smile.gif

badger11 wrote:

Hope you find your American voice within the English formula!
icon_biggrin.png

 

badge

I hope so, too. icon_smile.gif James Wright had a distinctly American voice, and, as I said above, he wrote in both metrics and free form/open form poetry.

 

Thanks again for the interesting topic.

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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waxwings wrote:

Contrary to Raffel's opinion I find Corso's poem as musical as astute the reader may be. Corso's poem is open form--the newest label applied instead of 'free verse', a complete misnomer, for no verse is free except when it is not verse, in the strictest sense of that term when apposed to prose.

Was it Eliot who first said this re "free" verse (if I remember correctly)? Didn't he prefer to call it "free form" poetry? I can see how "open form" might be the latest buzz word, and I'm certainly not averse to calling it as such. [i realize I called it "free form" poetry a la Eliot(?) in my first reply above.]

waxwings wrote:

 

Problem is that, although we are told to
not pause
at the end of a run-on line, we do by shear habit due to influence of poems past.

 

I suggest you try to change corso's line breaks according what Lewis Turco calls syntactical prosody, and you may find it more musical.

 

If there is further thought, I will supply that poem w/ different line breaks plus an rxtra "a" (L4). Of course, the poem's L6 is, at least for me, altogether unpalatable, i.e., the repetition does nothing due to the weakness of its content.

Yes, I understand, but this does make me wonder what the reason/logic behind Corso's line breaks might be. I mean, if his line breaks don't contribute to the musicality you mention, why not just write the whole thing out as prose?

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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waxwings wrote:

Contrary to Raffel's opinion I find Corso's poem as musical as astute the reader may be. Corso's poem is open form--the newest label applied instead of 'free verse', a complete misnomer, for no verse is free except when it is not verse, in the strictest sense of that term when apposed to prose.

Was it Eliot who first said this re "free" verse (if I remember correctly)? Didn't he prefer to call it "free form" poetry? I can see how "open form" might be the latest buzz word, and I'm certainly not averse to calling it as such. [i realize I called it "free form" poetry a la Eliot(?) in my first reply above.]

waxwings wrote:

 

Problem is that, although we are told to
not pause
at the end of a run-on line, we do by shear habit due to influence of poems past.

 

I suggest you try to change corso's line breaks according what Lewis Turco calls syntactical prosody, and you may find it more musical.

 

If there is further thought, I will supply that poem w/ different line breaks plus an rxtra "a" (L4). Of course, the poem's L6 is, at least for me, altogether unpalatable, i.e., the repetition does nothing due to the weakness of its content.

Yes, I understand, but this does make me wonder what the reason/logic behind Corso's line breaks might be. I mean, if his line breaks don't contribute to the musicality you mention, why not just write the whole thing out as prose?

 

Tony

 

Poets as a breed do mature as more info and new ideas and cross-fertilization become available. Would Eliot not adjust his view were he alive today. Not to diminish the greatness of poets that went before us, some us are likmely to be the past greats of tomorrow, not just by our works but for those new ideas we can bring.

 

TANSTAAFL The word " free form" can apply to only to poems that have no or totally random "form' and that last term is way too general to me and should be relegated to describing only those things that are not altogether formless. Even "open form" is too loose for my taste but labels are needed or we would write sentences and paragraphs if we did not have labels forthe larger notions surrounding poetry.

 

There is a faction of poets that insist that free verse lines should end in strong words, i.e., nouns or verbs. Ha, I say to that.

 

As for Corso, he like any other reasonably ambitious poet, or one who does not want to die totally unnoticed, may look for a way to distinguish her/him self from the mass. e.e.c. ertainly managed but his poetry is better than iit looks for the form makes them difficult to read and enjoy without first studying the dickens out of them. I want a poem to grab me and like your Slave Girl make me find it has more to offer even when I thought I had sucked its goodness dry. And it isn't finished yet, I hope.

 

I have suggested to thoise younger poets who have found listening to me not a complete waste of time that a properly written poem does not need breaks because a good reader will read it the sme no matter how it is disposed on the page. As a matter of fact some have taken my advice to write out a poem which they are somehow not happy with as if it were prose and then possibly find out how to break it ?better?. Good prose poems are a good example that a poem may be indeed written as prose. For sure no one can better define a prose poem than to say it is written in lines that span the width of the page.

 

I caught this at a rather late hour, but will post Corso's poem, rewritten a la waxy, soonest.

 

BTW, many poets scatter their lines willy-nilly w/ extra horizontal spaces between words/phrases and random indents and horizontal breaks. That seems the same as trying to shock the reader with your acumen by usinga s many 4-letter words or at least one in the worst place. Master sculptors did not give their male figures penises, limp or erect to shock but because that is what men have. I envy women in a way because they have such beautiful breasts and their other charms are attractively hidden.

 

Others try at any opportunity to hang conjunctions and prepositions at the end of the line which does not work most of the time. In the case of prepositions one may belong more to the verb preceding because it modifies the sense of the verb rather than showing how it ties to its object(s) and is best left at the end of the line, but when it points to one of several likely ways how an object belongs to the subject-verb set the preposition should start the line.

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waxwings wrote
:

Even "open form" is too loose for my taste but labels are needed or we would write sentences and paragraphs if we did not have labels for the larger notions surrounding poetry.

Well-expressed!

 

waxwings wrote
:
There is a faction of poets that insist that free verse lines should end in strong words, i.e., nouns or verbs. Ha, I say to that.

I wonder why they feel that way?

 

waxwings wrote:

I want a poem to grab me and like your Slave Girl ...

I assure you, she's not giggling any more! icon_evil.gificon_lol.gif

 

waxwings wrote:

I have suggested to thoise younger poets who have found listening to me not a complete waste of time that a properly written poem does not need breaks because a good reader will read it the sme no matter how it is disposed on the page. As a matter of fact some have taken my advice to write out a poem which they are somehow not happy with as if it were prose and then possibly find out how to break it ?better?. Good prose poems are a good example that a poem may be indeed written as prose. For sure no one can better define a prose poem than to say it is written in lines that span the width of the page.

I agree: the "write it out as prose" test is usually a good way too see if a poem passes syntactical muster. And you do make a good case for the prose poem in its own right.

 

waxwings wrote:

I caught this at a rather late hour, but will post Corso's poem, rewritten
a la waxy
, soonest.

I look forward to it! icon_smile.gif

 

waxwings wrote
:

BTW, many poets scatter their lines willy-nilly w/ extra horizontal spaces between words/phrases and random indents and horizontal breaks. That seems the same as trying to shock the reader with your acumen by usinga s many 4-letter words or at least one in the worst place.

In the case of the former, I must say that I see no "rhyme or reason" to it. In the case of the latter, I ponder whether it's a kind of conversational style, the shock factor, or both to which they aspire. I suppose it depends on the poet ...

 

waxwings wrote:

Master sculptors did not give their male figures penises, limp or erect to shock but because that is what men have.

Good point. They didn't need to shock, like some comedian who isn't generally funny but thinks that his use of obscenities adds value to his act, rather their works had other qualities inherent within them giving them their artistic value. The sculptors were just being accurate.

 

waxwings wrote:
I envy women in a way because they have such beautiful breasts and their other charms are attractively hidden.

Hear, hear!

 

waxwings wrote:

Others try at any opportunity to hang conjunctions and prepositions at the end of the line which does not work most of the time. In the case of prepositions one may belong more to the verb preceding because it modifies the sense of the verb rather than showing how it ties to its object(s) and is best left at the end of the line, but when it points to one of several likely ways how an object belongs to the subject-verb set the preposition should start the line.

In all, it does seem that many pay almost no attention to the basic building blocks of the craft ... like having some kind of "method to the madness" behind line breaks.

 

Always a pleasure,

 

Tony

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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I'm wondering ... when you say you are "more interested in image than music," are you referring to imagery or the appearance of the poem on the page ... or both?

 

The sensory picture created by the poem.

 

I propose sweeping changes from top to bottom of the poetic structure…. I say we are through with the iambic pentameter as presently conceived, at least for dramatic verse; through with the measured quatrain, the staid concatenation of sounds in the usual stanza, the sonnet.

 

WCW

 

http://oyc.yale.edu/english/modern-poetry/...anscript16.html

 

I must admit I side with no viewpoint in how poets choose to shape the music in poetry. Viewpoints become polarised, exclusive and restrictive. Hence I entitled the thread 'variety' and that's what I enjoy in reading poetry.

 

A view on 'American' poetry:

 

http://www.poetrysociety.org/wakoski.html

 

 

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