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What are your quirks? Any flaws?


tonyv
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In an interview with Philip Larkin that I read recently, I came across the following thought provoking questions and Larkin's candid answers:

 

INTERVIEWER

 

As a writer, what are your particular quirks? Do you feel you have any conspicuous or secret flaw as a writer?

 

LARKIN

 

I really don’t know. I suppose I’ve used the iambic pentameter a lot: some people find this oppressive and try to get away from it. My secret flaw is just not being very good, like everyone else. I’ve never been didactic, never tried to make poetry do things, never gone out to look for it. I waited for it to come to me, in whatever shape it chose. [emphasis mine]

To a follow-up quesion, Larkin replied, "A well-known publisher asked me how one punctuated poetry, and looked flabbergasted when I said, The same as prose."

 

As a beginner writer, I think my biggest flaw is not writing enough, but that's probably more of a character flaw than a writer's flaw. I mean, I know how to do it, starting with initial observation and reflection, but I just don't take the time to do it as often as I should. It's probably something I can easily correct. I just have to get serious and stop being so lazy.

 

Also, as I endeavor to be clear, I have a tendency toward verbosity. I guess that would be a writer's flaw, because things often can be expressed better without it. So, I'm working hard on correcting that.

 

As for punctuation, I'm in the same camp as Larkin. I punctuate poetry the same as prose (to the best of my ability, that is).

 

In any case, I found the emphasized part of Larkin's quote above extremely encouraging. No matter who the writers are that we as writers may idolize (for lack of a better word in the moment), they're only people with a particular talent and skill. We get to see their best, perhaps even their worst. They may even see their own writing as we see ours -- not very good. For some, writing may come easier (or it may appear to come easier), but from Larkin's words, it's reasonable to conclude he had to work hard at his writing. I have to work hard at my writing, and I derive inspiration from his reply.

 

What are your quirks? What are your flaws? :unsure: Tell as much or as little as you desire.

 

Tony

 

 

Paris Review Interview with PHILIP LARKIN

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

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What are your quirks? What are your flaws? :unsure: Tell as much or as little as you desire.

 

Hi Tony,

 

Thanks for the question... and for the interview link.

 

For starters, I'll echo the following:

 

As a beginner writer, I think my biggest flaw is not writing enough, but that's probably more of a character flaw than a writer's flaw. I mean, I know how to do it, starting with initial observation and reflection, but I just don't take the time to do it as often as I should. It's probably something I can easily correct. I just have to get serious and stop being so lazy.

 

Also, as I endeavor to be clear, I have a tendency toward verbosity. I guess that would be a writer's flaw, because things often can be expressed better without it. So, I'm working hard on correcting that.

 

I'm messy. And disorganized in my process. For someone who is otherwise extremely orderly (all of my clothes, shoes and accessories are lined up in my closet in a fairly complicated system of order according to season, style and color), when I write there is always a clean-up process that seems vastly inefficient to me. I write poetry by hand, which bothers me because when I write prose, it is on the computer and much more organized as well as more environmentally friendly. When I write a poem I can take up half a notebook with my scribblings and usually dozens of scraps of paper litter the floor around me before I am finished. I also have a nasty habit of rewriting an entire piece on a fresh sheet just to change one word or correct a misspelling because how it looks is so important to me in how it sounds or feels and it seems necessary to do that before I move forward and write one more word.

 

As a result of all this I tend to lose words or phrases that might have been useful for that or other poems, and because I am so disorganized and have a total lack of self-acceptance about it, I have no way to capture them for later and end up just throwing them out, which bothers me... though not enough to do anything about it, because having paper all over the floor bothers me more.

 

The whole process feels irritatingly angsty, which is why I'm not as disciplined. It's akin to exercise I suppose. The more sets of fifty sit-ups I do, the easier it is to do fifty sit-ups daily. If I only do a set once a month, it's irritating and I don't want to do it the next day because the memory of the discomfort is still fresh. But unlike exercise, writing poetry (or prose, for which I'm admittedly less attuned to my internal editor - case in point), isn't something I can easily avoid despite how hard I may or may not try. Nor do I want to. But I fight it tooth and nail all the time. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but I'm pretty certain that it doesn't come from a lack of intense navel-gazing on my part. :icon_razz:

 

As for punctuation, I use it irreverently... even in prose (which tends to annoy some of my professors). And I overuse the ellipsis... all the time. Hahaha!

 

I'm looking forward to reading other responses here. This should be interesting.

 

Thanks, Tony!

 

~Rachel

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I'm messy. And disorganized in my process ... I write poetry by hand, which bothers me because when I write prose, it is on the computer and much more organized as well as more environmentally friendly. When I write a poem I can take up half a notebook with my scribblings and usually dozens of scraps of paper litter the floor around me before I am finished. I also have a nasty habit of rewriting an entire piece on a fresh sheet just to change one word or correct a misspelling because how it looks is so important to me in how it sounds or feels and it seems necessary to do that before I move forward and write one more word.

 

As a result of all this I tend to lose words or phrases that might have been useful for that or other poems, and because I am so disorganized and have a total lack of self-acceptance about it, I have no way to capture them for later and end up just throwing them out, which bothers me... though not enough to do anything about it, because having paper all over the floor bothers me more.

That sounds like me, Rachel. I'm not organized at all. I, too, always write ideas by hand. Sometimes I'll even end up with the skeleton of a poem, but that's when the writing by hand will stop, because I end up doing what you say you do: write page after page over. I've tried notebooks, but even that doesn't work; I'd need fifty of them just to work on one poem. It would be inefficient, because if I decide to set the poem aside, where would I start my next one(s)? In the same notebook(s)? It would become really hard to keep track at that point. So, I'll usually start with a couple of papers, and, when I have the ideas, I'll switch over to anywhere from two to ten word processing documents. I find that word processing documents are the best way that I can coordinate ideas, especially as I strive to write in meter, and that's something that certainly complicates things for me. Also, like you, I tend to lose a lot of words, phrases, expressions, etc., because I throw the scraps out when I'm done with the poem. Alek tells me I shouldn't throw anything out. Larkin said in the interview that he never threw anything out. But I'm afraid that, until I get serious -- which better be soon! -- I will continue to lose things. Frost kept notebooks. He said in a Paris Review interview that he didn't even have a desk, and that he always used a lap desk. Therefore, there's no harm, no foul in our using whichever way works best for each of us. I just have to get serious, find that way, and stick with it.

 

Thanks for telling about your methods. I wouldn't have expected to read that they're similar to my own.

 

Tony

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

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goldenlangur

Hi Tony and Rachel,

 

What a great topic, Tony and I love the responses you both posted here.

 

I agree about the problems of punctuation. It is one of my flaws, in prose and particularly in poetry.

 

Another flaw is that I often write quickly without much planning. Of course, I do try to avoid the basic problems of SPAG as much as I can. However, I think some forethought and perhaps immersion in the motifs and ideas is hugely needed in my writing.

 

I am pretty clueless about meter in Western poetical forms and although I love reading sonnets and other forms I don't think I have the courage to attempt any of the forms that many on the board seem to use quite effortlessly.

 

A problem I have about my writing is that it is often seen as exotic. I wonder if I will ever be able to get the reader to go beyond the sense of exotic to read and understand a little of my writing in a more universal way.

 

 

Does if of this make any sense?

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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goldenlangur

Many thanks Tony for the link to the Paris Review interview with Larkin. :D I read it with interest.

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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A problem I have about my writing is that it is often seen as exotic. I wonder if I will ever be able to get the reader to go beyond the sense of exotic to read and understand a little of my writing in a more universal way.

 

 

Yes, I can understand that need to escape a 'label', though sometimes the reader is acknowledging a wonder and acceptance of another culture. An opportunity for a reader to escape their own cultural bias. This is a positive when there is so much conflict due to misunderstanding of cultures.

 

On a more practical note anonymity can be retained quite easily in cyberbase: avoid using avatars, disclosing gender/age/country, and threads that give a 'biography'. The poem is allowed to survive without a context readers are defining by 'knowing' the poster.

 

badge :rolleyes:

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Just a quick confession - my poems, especially longer ones are suspected being prosey. I'm trying hard to make a difference between prose and poetry. But I find some published poems are more prosey by certain standards. Here's an interesting article "On the Prosing of Poetry". What do you say?

 

http://webdelsol.com/LITARTS/Boston_Comment/bostonc1.htm

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Just a quick confession - my poems, especially longer ones are suspected being prosey. I'm trying hard to make a difference between prose and poetry. But I find some published poems are more prosey by certain standards. Here's an interesting article "On the Prosing of Poetry". What do you say?

 

http://webdelsol.com/LITARTS/Boston_Comment/bostonc1.htm

 

 

I always find such polemics sad since they attempt to narrow and confine writing. My pleasure is in reading and listening to poetry. I love the variety:

 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/au...tem.html?id=718

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Hi Tony and Rachel,

 

What a great topic, Tony and I love the responses you both posted here.

Thanks for joining in, gl. :)

 

I agree about the problems of punctuation. It is one of my flaws, in prose and particularly in poetry.

I don't know if I'd consider it an outright flaw, Golden. Just as with grammar, even the "experts" often disagree with each other when it comes to punctuation. It's interesting when I come across the usage notes that accompany some words in the dictionary. They will say things like "sixty percent of the usage panel favors this usage" for a particular word. And punctuation is often a matter of style, as Waxwings points out when he suggests that a writer obtain a style guide to assist in his writing. I have several, and they sometimes conflict with each other! After all, that's why we have editors. Waxwings knows his punctuation, but he has pointed out more than once that he even has a computer program that will flag mistakes in punctuation.

 

I am pretty clueless about meter in Western poetical forms and although I love reading sonnets and other forms I don't think I have the courage to attempt any of the forms that many on the board seem to use quite effortlessly.

I try hard to write in meter. For me, it doesn't come easy. But as I tell Alek, it's no big deal; it's just something that excites me in this part of my learning curve. Alek even thinks it's a hindrance to my creativity. I have written poems with some pretty good meter and outright banal content. What I'm ultimately left with when that happens: a bad poem. As far as writing in other forms goes, I have not yet gotten the courage to tinker more with haiku and tanka. Even prose poems are a bit daunting to me.

 

A problem I have about my writing is that it is often seen as exotic. I wonder if I will ever be able to get the reader to go beyond the sense of exotic to read and understand a little of my writing in a more universal way.

I think that's not so much a writer's flaw as it is a matter of a reader's perspective. Your subjects and settings are often exotic to Westerners, but I think your messages are universal. I have detected even occidental attributes in your works.

 

Tony

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

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Many thanks Tony for the link to the Paris Review interview with Larkin. :D I read it with interest.

I found his quote so inspiring that I wanted to use it as a signature but wouldn't dare: "My secret flaw is just not being very good, like everyone else."

 

Tony :)

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

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Just a quick confession - my poems, especially longer ones are suspected being prosey. I'm trying hard to make a difference between prose and poetry. But I find some published poems are more prosey by certain standards. Here's an interesting article "On the Prosing of Poetry". What do you say?

 

http://webdelsol.com/LITARTS/Boston_Comment/bostonc1.htm

Thanks for the link, Lake. I read the article with great interest. I think what the author's trying to get across is that poetry should make use of poetic devices. She focuses a lot on free verse, because it's easier to point to a lack of poetic devices when you already can exclude meter and rhyme. Absent those, we can look for alliteration, repetition and refrain, allusions, effective use of line breaks, and a host of other devices. I suppose there could be people who think that good free verse can exist without any of these devices. To that, I say, metaphor's a biggie, but is it enough?

 

As I mentioned in my reply to Goldenlangur above, in my opinion, a work that contains poetic devices can be just as bad. Take, for instance, my poem EVERY DAY. I'm quite pleased with the form. It's a fourteen line poem (a sonnet of sorts) with a rhyme scheme of ABCDEFGGFEDCBA. I think the iambic pentameter is competent. But is it a poem? Abstraction after abstraction, cliche upon cliche, it's completely devoid of imagery and amounts to nothing other than an exercise. It's no more a poem than free verse that's devoid of metaphor and any poetic devices. Additionally, unless "Every Day's" free verse textbook counterpart were to contain a controlling metaphor and some great imagery, absent any other poetic devices (including effective line breaks) what would differentiate it from prose? I mean, why use line breaks at all if they're not somehow pleasing? Why not lump it all into a paragraph? We can all still admire it as a quality literary work.

 

I think there has to be a balance to make a poem work, whether it's a metrical or free verse endeavor. The Simic poem used in the article is absolutely terrible. But this one by Charles Simic is something different altogether:

 

Empire of Dreams

 

On the first page of my dreambook

It's always evening

In an occupied country.

Hour before the curfew.

A small provincial city.

The houses all dark.

The store fronts gutted.

 

I am on a street corner

Where I shouldn't be.

Alone and coatless

I have gone out to look

For a black dog who answers to my whistle.

I have a kind of Halloween mask

Which I am afraid to put on.

 

----------------(Charles Simic)

 

I'd call it a poem and a good one at that.

 

Tony

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

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I always find such polemics sad since they attempt to narrow and confine writing. My pleasure is in reading and listening to poetry. I love the variety ...

Thanks for the link, Badge. I added it to the LINK ARCHIVE. And I like what you've said here. When it comes to "What is poetry?" perhaps it's all just a matter of taste best expressed by "I know it when I see it," a school of thought that's lauded by some for its candor and criticized by others for its lack of concreteness.

 

Tony

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

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Great topic and even greater responses. I love to hear how others approach writing. Typing with one hand and with surgery tomorrow morning on my mind, I would love to get into this dicussion in more depth later but had to jump in for just a moment before trying to get some sleep..... Ha Ha...

 

Rachel, I have scraps of unfinished poems next to my bed, on the table next to the couch in my den, on my desks both at home and my office and in the center console of my car. I'm not really messy about it, they are neat scaps but theystill exist with 1 line or one phrase or maybe a couple of lines. I usually work out a poem in a notebook, I have dozens and I rip out pages that have been rewritten to another page but those hit the trash can not the floor. But the final write now that's a laugh....my poems are really never finalized... but my close to final draft is done on the computer, I find it easier to move words and lines around there. Whatever works for you, but if you are bothered by the mess, move the trash can so the discarded pages can hit it. :rolleyes:

 

GL, I am certainly one who has on more than one occassion called your work exotic and it is one of the features I look forward to when seeing your name. You take me into another world when I read your poetry and I simply love the experience. But it certainly isn't the only feature that draws me to your work. Your imagery is tangible and I am always touched by the emotion driving your work, I feel your poems before I understand them. Exotic isn't a bad word and I know it isn't the only label put on your poetry. I am pretty sure I used the label "exquisite" when mentioning your work to someone recently.

 

Tony, I am envious of your understanding and mastery of meter. And I so appreciate your mentioning "the learning curve" of your journey as a poet. I think we are all on a similar journey, we are just taking different routes, some of us on a hairpin turn, some trudging up hill and others just coasting for a while. But I don't think any of us have arrived at our destination yet. I have been privileged to have been around the Connection and now PMO long enough to have actually observed the growth of certain poets here, you included. You embraced something most of us run from and I think mastery of meter has brought musicality to your poetry. You are a different poet than when I first started reading your work and I am challenged by your example.

 

I have stalled long enough, I have to go to bed and lie there thinking about tomorrow. I am not really a chicken, well maybe a little, I just hate the idea of it. They are going to put a metal plate and screws in my wrist, now that just isn't natural. Besides, I have my 2 oldest granddaughters staying with me this week so they could go to horse camp. Their grandpa is going to have to take them there tomorrow, hopefully I will be home later in the day but I will probably be useless. But I have to be better by Friday because they will be showing their horses in a horse show for the first time and I am excited to see how they handle themselves. Allexa is 7 now and Trinity is 9, they look so cute in their boots and levi's, little cowgirls.

 

Good night, ~~Tink

 

'

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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This is great, tony. I feel like responding to almost every post, but that would take an even more lengthy a rant than what follows. What you started with was a question of personal quirks and habits, but it has turned into a discussion of the different aspects of writing.

 

My problem is that I am a very poor typist. Fast hunt and peck is what I do, and that prevents me from responding quickly, concisely and correctly at all times, because, as others have found, one can get lost in a surfit of words and often the best ones get overlooked and the central idea can be obscured.

 

I do my first sketches by hand, for I can write much, much faster than I, and, so it seems, some others can type. Thus, I have to re-read what I wrote and type it when posting. I wish we had the old dictaphones, for that would let me listen when typing to what I have written by hand.

 

I think we need (to continue this dicussion more fruitfully and to good purpose) to separate some of the notions that bear on poems. BTW, I do not 'write poetry', but write poems hoping there is some poetry in them. By poems, I mean literary compositions presented in lines considerably shorter than the page width alows, or, speaking of prose poems, in 'verse paragraphs' which have a notably low number of lines.

 

I hope to touch on most of the points raised by previous posts.

 

To begin with, we use language/words to communicate to/share with others only three major notions: knowledge, belief and emotions. Could add attitudes, but they do belong to the area of beliefs.

 

There are only two modes--prose and verse--of communication, verbal or written.

 

Poetry can be written in either mode. That is to say, prose and poetry are not opposites. Writing that is truely prosy lacks almost entirely any and all elements which characterise verse.

 

Verse is said to be, at least in summary, typefied by

1) repetition of one or more of various language/speech elements including: vocalic echoes, like rhymes etc., words, word and syllable stresses, phrases and grammatical structuress, and

2) tropes/figures of speech, similes and metaphors being the better known, though there are many more being labeled according to rhetorics. Note: both rhetoric and poetry are related if no more than in having the intent of effective speech.

 

Writing is an art in itself. A poor writer cannot be a good poet any more than be a good novelist, essayist, journalist or storyteller. While one must be born a poet Many are) and cannot be made into/taught to be a poet, one can, fortunately, be taught or learn to write well. It is a question of desire to do so.

 

The larger the vocabulary the better, and a reasonably adequate familiarity about the subject of a poem is almost a must.

 

One must truly understand what punctuation does to use it effectively, and poems (except for the prose type) have line and stanza breaks to help maintain clarity. The current attitude among serious practitioners of the craft advocate correct punctuation or a total avoidance of it. The latter is possible subject to content and skill in breaking lines and skill in winding syntax in suitable fashion.

 

It seems, certain punctuation marks are fit for lengthy discourse only. I try to punctuate correctly but sparingly, mostly enough to maintain syntactic clarity. I hate it when someone reads into my poem what is not there, but more often than not it is my fault.

 

While prose, as in discursive speech, is judged by standards of truth and falsehood, verse is supposedly judged by its imaginative consistency, and that concept covers an awfully large territory.

 

...prose, words in their best order; ...poetry, the best words in their best order.... Coleridge

Edited by waxwings
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goldenlangur
... though sometimes the reader is acknowledging a wonder and acceptance of another culture. An opportunity for a reader to escape their own cultural bias. This is a positive when there is so much conflict due to misunderstanding of cultures.

 

I can appreciate this. Reading about another part of the world is quite exciting and also opens up doors to things one knew nothing about. But yes, there is a problem of 'label'.

 

 

On a more practical note anonymity can be retained quite easily in cyberbase: avoid using avatars, disclosing gender/age/country, and threads that give a 'biography'. The poem is allowed to survive without a context readers are defining by 'knowing' the poster.

 

Sound advice badge. A poem/prose piece should be able to stand on its own without too much context.

 

 

Thank you.

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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goldenlangur
Just a quick confession - my poems, especially longer ones are suspected being prosey. I'm trying hard to make a difference between prose and poetry. But I find some published poems are more prosey by certain standards. Here's an interesting article "On the Prosing of Poetry". What do you say?

 

http://webdelsol.com/LITARTS/Boston_Comment/bostonc1.htm

 

 

Thanks for the link, Lake. Fascinating article. Like badge I think that sometimes such supposedly learned positions tend towards the polemical and don't in practical terms, do much for an amateur like myself on one end of the scale and certainly not for those who are already in the know, on the higher end of the scale. The article mentions the prose poem, which is a hybrid of poetry and prose and the Japanese haibun is another example. But, then we also have writers like James Joyce, who deliberately set out to push the boundaries of what language is/can do and his works encompass poetry-like devices and imagery while inhabiting the physical form of prose and weaving philosophy, myths, languages, newspaper articles etc. Such richness and so challenging, mainly because he refused to be bound by what is and what isn't, whatever the orthodoxy of writing was, at the time.

 

For what it's worth, I think, what we say and how we say it, is something that evolves and you should learn to trust what you enjoy and love doing and go with it for as long as you can creatively until you discover something else to experiment, play and have fun with. :)

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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goldenlangur
I don't know if I'd consider it an outright flaw, Golden. Just as with grammar, even the "experts" often disagree with each other when it comes to punctuation. It's interesting when I come across the usage notes that accompany some words in the dictionary. They will say things like "sixty percent of the usage panel favors this usage" for a particular word....

 

 

I feel reassured Tony that "experts" disagree on punctuation. Certainly there seems to be hope for people like me ;)

 

 

I try hard to write in meter. For me, it doesn't come easy. But as I tell Alek, it's no big deal; it's just something that excites me in this part of my learning curve. Alek even thinks it's a hindrance to my creativity. I have written poems with some pretty good meter and outright banal content. What I'm ultimately left with when that happens: a bad poem. As far as writing in other forms goes, I have not yet gotten the courage to tinker more with haiku and tanka. Even prose poems are a bit daunting to me.

 

 

 

I think it's admirable that you use meter in your work. After all, it is part of the poetical heritage of the west. Having said that, there are so many different strands of the western literary heritage. Aleksandra comes from another tradition and brings its particular vision and mark in her writing.

 

I am told that in Japan, poets stick to either haiku or tanka and it is only outside Japan that we turn our hand at all the forms. So I do understand how daunting these forms seem. I am beginning to enjoy more of these form now and find there is so much to learn and explore...

 

 

I think that's not so much a writer's flaw as it is a matter of a reader's perspective. Your subjects and settings are often exotic to Westerners, but I think your messages are universal. I have detected even occidental attributes in your works.

 

I am delighted that something of the west does come through in my writing. I think we imbibe quite a lot in our reading and traveling. :D

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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Great topic and even greater responses. I love to hear how others approach writing. Typing with one hand and with surgery tomorrow morning on my mind, I would love to get into this dicussion in more depth later but had to jump in for just a moment before trying to get some sleep..... Ha Ha...

I hope your recovery is coming along well, Tinker. I, too, often have just fragments laying around, whether in a notebook, a piece of paper, or a word document. Sometimes an idea will come from one. And with this:

 

... but my close to final draft is done on the computer, I find it easier to move words and lines around there.

I can certainly relate. In fact, I usually start long before the final draft with using the computer.

 

Thanks for joining in on the topic. Thanks, also, for your kind words on my own efforts.

 

Tony

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

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My problem is that I am a very poor typist. Fast hunt and peck is what I do, and that prevents me from responding quickly, concisely and correctly at all times, because, as others have found, one can get lost in a surfit of words and often the best ones get overlooked and the central idea can be obscured.

I'm not such a good typist either, Ikars. Though I'm not quite hunt and peck, I glance at the keys often and don't use the proper fingers.

 

I do my first sketches by hand, for I can write much, much faster than I, and, so it seems, some others can type. Thus, I have to re-read what I wrote and type it when posting. I wish we had the old dictaphones, for that would let me listen when typing to what I have written by hand.

I, too, start by hand, but I think it has more to do with the creative process than with speed. Somehow pen and paper help me tap the right side of the brain a tad better.

 

... I do not 'write poetry', but write poems hoping there is some poetry in them. By poems, I mean literary compositions presented in lines considerably shorter than the page width alows, or, speaking of prose poems, in 'verse paragraphs' which have a notably low number of lines.

I like the distinction you make between poems and poetry: " write poems hoping there is some poetry in them."

 

There are only two modes--prose and verse--of communication, verbal or written.

 

Poetry can be written in either mode. That is to say, prose and poetry are not opposites. Writing that is truely prosy lacks almost entirely any and all elements which characterise verse.

 

Verse is said to be, at least in summary, typefied by

1) repetition of one or more of various language/speech elements including: vocalic echoes, like rhymes etc., words, word and syllable stresses, phrases and grammatical structuress, and

2) tropes/figures of speech, similes and metaphors being the better known, though there are many more being labeled according to rhetorics. Note: both rhetoric and poetry are related if no more than in having the intent of effective speech.

Some excellent points. I learned from my mom that there's such a thing as poetic prose. I believe it.

 

Writing is an art in itself. A poor writer cannot be a good poet any more than be a good novelist, essayist, journalist or storyteller. While one must be born a poet Many are) and cannot be made into/taught to be a poet, one can, fortunately, be taught or learn to write well. It is a question of desire to do so.

 

The larger the vocabulary the better, and a reasonably adequate familiarity about the subject of a poem is almost a must.

 

One must truly understand what punctuation does to use it effectively, and poems (except for the prose type) have line and stanza breaks to help maintain clarity. The current attitude among serious practitioners of the craft advocate correct punctuation or a total avoidance of it. The latter is possible subject to content and skill in breaking lines and skill in winding syntax in suitable fashion.

 

It seems, certain punctuation marks are fit for lengthy discourse only. I try to punctuate correctly but sparingly, mostly enough to maintain syntactic clarity. I hate it when someone reads into my poem what is not there, but more often than not it is my fault.

 

While prose, as in discursive speech, is judged by standards of truth and falsehood, verse is supposedly judged by its imaginative consistency, and that concept covers an awfully large territory.

 

...prose, words in their best order; ...poetry, the best words in their best order.... Coleridge

I tend to agree with your points here. I would add that, in addition to writing being an art, there's also a level of skill which can be achieved through study and practice. I tend to equate the "art" side of writing to the wellspring of concepts while equating the "skill" side of writing to the mechanics.

 

I like your contemporary, minimalist approach to the use of punctuation. Quite a few of my poems have been improved once I adopted your suggestions. But I also like options (in anything) and appreciate having the option of sometimes using certain marks of punctuation (like semicolons) so long as their use is not outright incorrect even if such use is not in vogue.

 

Thanks, Ikars, for joining and contributing to the discussion.

 

Tony

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

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tony, I truly appreciate you taking the time to fine-read my rant. It is a calming thing to have ones not quite half-baked ideas understood by another literate and thinking being.

 

As for semicolons, the Chicago Manual of Style is quite thorough on that score. While I too want to keep my own counsed (I am old enough, methinks), in that particulate case, a more thorough review tells me that poems (perhaps except for the prose type) semicolons are anathema, with the exception where a poem contains a longish sentence w/ several short interjectory phrases/clauses (separable from each other and the rest of the sentencethe by commas) in verse condensation is the ideal, and long complicated threads of thought dilute the assumedly expected almost instantaneous impact of what is being told.

 

Again, skilfull writing is always a way out.

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  • 1 month later...
A poem/prose piece should be able to stand on its own without too much context.

 

 

hi gl

 

Language certainly doesn't exist in a vacuum, and though the cultural context is so fragmented, communication depends on mutual reference points.

 

badge

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  • 2 weeks later...
Also, like you, I tend to lose a lot of words, phrases, expressions, etc., because I throw the scraps out when I'm done with the poem. Alek tells me I shouldn't throw anything out. Larkin said in the interview that he never threw anything out. But I'm afraid that, until I get serious -- which better be soon! -- I will continue to lose things. Frost kept notebooks.

 

Tony

Thank you, Tony. That I take as a compliment. I feel as Larkin :icon_razz: (I hope I am not being too modest :rolleyes: ).

 

 

I try hard to write in meter. For me, it doesn't come easy. But as I tell Alek, it's no big deal; it's just something that excites me in this part of my learning curve. Alek even thinks it's a hindrance to my creativity.

 

Tony

 

Ah Tony, not really but in some way yes. And as I explained to you my thoughts before, I think that is because when you are paying too much attention to a form, you may lose such a nice poetry at the same moment, IMO. While you count the syllables on your fingers, you can put down many words :D . But I am not saying that this is the proper way. I was saying that sometimes you can try the other way because always you are saying how slow you are. Of course because you do more math than the poetry :P - ok I am joking. But really my point was to do some free verse, to let your expressions come out to not wait for the form, you can still do that form even after or in another poem. So that would be the way you coming up faster and even to relax your poetry.

And of course I admire your restless attention and poetry quality at any point, but I would like to read from you something more relaxed and unstressed lines :) .

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Anyway, I would add here something about what I think it's a flaw for me. My flaws are that I go so fast over my poetry. I write it fast and never even remember my own poem. Many times happens to me to not even being aware what I am writing and what it means ( lol I imagine myself as Nostradamus while "watching" things that may happen unconsciously).

So that may be one out of many flaws. Because the English language is not my first language and I m still so far from a good English speaker, that is definitely one of the bigger flaws in my English poetry. There is always missing something, or me dealing with the word-choice and then looking deeper in their meaning to not look funny at the end.

 

Another thing, (again I think it's because of my language barrier) another flaw of mine is that I feel I'm a boring poet. I find monotony in my poems. Many times I see using same words as many times: shadow, dark, cry, song, bird... I see myself being lost by writing in the first person. I would like to become more often unconscious , and to make a strong poem icon_smile.gif

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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