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What is a finished poem.


waxwings
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I believe any poem put in the public eye should look like a finished product from which reasonable reader would see the poet, as a presumedly literate writer. No argument that a poem may be never truely finished, but published poems are certainly damn near to that. I would think that even in this forum we should be more discerning, because we do have the option of marking a poem CA, unless we are completely averse to suggestions re some feature that makes the poets literacy questionable, and poets like any other writers are considered to posess a mastery of writing well above what an average. We should not leave gauche spets merely due to some oversight, some misapprehension or anything errors because we have the desire to hear what others think of our work.

 

Let it be clearly know that here I have not seen any truely poorly executed poems to wich my above statement applies, but I have seen many that do suffer from 'faults' not intended by the author .

 

Let it be also known that I can not be overly effusive in praising a significant and artistically accomplished poem. A few well chosen comments re the truly outstanding features are enough, and it is a standard proceedure among peers, which I think we here are, to present a review (and forget the idea of it being a critique, which some lesser lights consider a critcizm, i.e., something like a put down.

 

I have had the privilege of being part of other forums, even groupings of poets that gather to talk eye to eye. In the latter, we have even formal critique sessions, where mebers do submit poems for a formal critique by some notable published members. Moreover, those in the audience, including those who have submitted poems, do participate in offering their five cents. And then we also have workshops where some topic re the craft of writing poems is addressed. All of these serve as a indispensable part of how to learn to be a better poet. The part where the audience participates is of special value through hearing various views, not just those of the 'experts'.

 

As a matter of fact, there is a prescribed set of suggestions just how to critique a poem, because doing so is a sacred responsibility to avoid the slightest chance of offending your peers in any sense of the word.

 

A critique is a compassionate, sensitive and respectful review of the all the strengthn and some of the weaknesses in the way a poem is expressed. It is never the poet or the poem that is being judged, only the level of maturity of writing skills which are hardly a part of tha poet's natural, intrinsic and God given talent.

 

I would think that the division of Member Poem Overflow would be the place to bring a poem to first, unless a poet is, as I am, at times, knowing that a good poem somehow does not seem eo come across as the poet would want it to, in which case the Workshop division is the place, and where the posting should include the poet's own indication of why the poem is posted there.

 

There is also no question that some poems are ripe enough to be iposted in the Member Poems division. That would avoid having other than the most unexpected glitches but a definite mention of what the strong parts of the poem should be made rather than the bland and meaningless statement , "This is your best poem ever" esp. insulting if one or more of the poets previously posted poems have received the same 'accolade' by the same respondent. I post only those my poems there that have been sitting in my 'to be revised file' for months, even years and are beyond my acumen to be further polished. Poems of mine I pompously feel are finished will not appear there, for I save them for the book I still hope to publish before I die.

 

I have enough experience, outside and above my own uncertain talant, to say much, much more, but it would be more fun if we could share thoughts that have not yet even occurred to me.

 

So, this is the time for those of you that are serious about writing poems to throw in your thoughts. Remember, I write poems in hope some poetry will leak out from in between the lines as someone reads them.

Edited by waxwings
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Thanks for starting another fine Literary Discussion topic, Waxwings.

 

I would think that the division of Member Poem Overflow would be the place to bring a poem to first, unless a poet is, as I am, at times, knowing that a good poem somehow does not seem eo come across as the poet would want it to, in which case the Workshop division is the place, and where the posting should include the poet's own indication of why the poem is posted there.

The "Overflow" section is there, because Member Poetry has a three-poem-per-week limit, and we don't want to hamper anyone from posting all the poems he wants. If someone wants to post more than three, he can post the excess in Overflow.

 

But I think I understand what you're getting at with these thoughts. I view this board as a showcase, a publication of sorts, and a forum for "accomplished works" may someday be in order. But I think it's also important to recognize that people post for a variety of reasons. For example, some may just be posting to have fun.

 

I, myself, want my best work to be posted in Member Poetry, but in my catalog there are a few I think are quite a bit better than the rest. And this is where the Member Archive comes in. I've toyed with the idea of separating my own archive index of poems into groups of "the not so good" and "the better." Eventually, I think I might even omit from the index the links to my more deficient poems, but until I have more, I think I'll simply separate them first. That's the nice thing about the Member Archive method of indexing one's poems: each member can include the ones he wants. I'll add in also that if anyone wants his works moved around between the various forums, please let us know, and we'll be happy to do it.

 

There is also no question that some poems are ripe enough to be iposted in the Member Poems division. That would avoid having other than the most unexpected glitches but a definite mention of what the strong parts of the poem should be made rather than the bland and meaningless statement , "This is your best poem ever" esp. insulting if one or more of the poets previously posted poems have received the same 'accolade' es. by the same respondent.

"This is your best poem ever" is not necessarily insulting if the person really thinks so. Obviously, previous times that accolade may have been handed down, the implication was "so far." With the submission of a new poem, it's conceivable that the new poem is the best. But "best" could simply mean "one of the best." With the music I like to listen to, I'm often amused when something new comes out, and I usually can't believe how good it is. I'll say to myself that it's not possible for the artist (or someone else) to do better. But soon as I'm done saying that, the same artist (or a different artist!) comes out with something just as good. I say the same thing to myself, and the cycle repeats itself. Of course, with the artists I'm listening to, their output is almost never not good.

 

Ipost only those my poems there that have been sitting in my'to be revised file for months, even years. Poems of mine I pompously feel are finished will not appear there for I save them for the book I still hope to publish before I die.

Hey, comeon, Ikars! I hope you won't let that ideal limit you. It's the same sentiment my co-admin shares, that a book is somehow better than an online publication. I disagree vehemently. Yeats' Leda and the Swan is the same masterpiece on a reader's computer screen as it is in a book. Now, keeping in line with the question in the title line of your topic, I'll leave you with three versions of Leda and the Swan from an old literature textbook I have.

 

Tony

____________

 

Leda and the Swan (an early version)

 

Now can the swooping godhead have his will

Yet hovers, though her helpless thighs are pressed

By the webbed toes; and that all powerful bill

Has suddenly bowed her face upon his breast.

 

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

All the stretched body's laid in that white rush

And feels the strange heart beating where it lies.

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and Tower

And Agamemnon dead ...

--------------------------------------Being so caught up

Did nothing pass before her in the air?

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

 

____________

 

 

Leda and the Swan (a later version)

 

A rush, a sudden wheel, and hovering still

The bird descends, and her frail thighs are pressed

By the webbed toes, and that all powerful bill

Has laid her helpless face upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs!

All the stretched body's laid on the white rush

And feels the strange heart beating where it lies;

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

----------------------------------Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

 

____________

 

 

Leda and the Swan (the final version)

 

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

 

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

 

A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower

And Agamemnon dead.

----------------------------------Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

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

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Having at least one of one's poems published by some widely recognized magazine or a respectable anthology should be any poet's desire.

 

But, if this forum is to have some cachet, which it has (I have googled up many instances), having a poem here and in a special section is nothing to sneeze at. But that poem should not be editable by a slob like me for some too obvious a mistake in literacy/style. Why do you think I cannot keep my hands off an excellent poem that is submitted as a non-polished version. It is no honor to edit a good poem that shows little polish in the way it is written. And by 'written' I do not mean the poetry but plain English that is at least above 5th grade level. I have taught poetry to 4th graders who, though they are hardly sophisticated re the level poems here display, writte in adquate English..

Edited by waxwings
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  • 2 weeks later...

Some would say that the poet writes the same poem, in variants, over and over. If there is some truth in that, and I know there is because I've done it, then perhaps we are never finished and each version attempts to best the previous one or at least change the color of the ink. I think this is not what you are getting at, but in this sense, I am rarely satisfied that a poem is finished. There are too many colors. I may walk away from it, never-the-less. Or, having let it rest, I might start over.

Of course, once it appears "in print" and is "released" (hard to find agreement as to what that means these days) it is beyond the usual editing and one must defer to a variant for another view.

 

Edited by Gatekeeper

from the black desert

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Some would say that the poet writes the same poem, in variants, over and over. If there is some truth in that, and I know there is because I've done it, then perhaps we are never finished and each version attempts to best the previous one or at least change the color of the ink.

 

This is quite plausible and ties together nicely with a concept I tried to convey in my topic "Where's your "place"?

 

Tony

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

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Some would say that the poet writes the same poem, in variants, over and over. If there is some truth in that, and I know there is because I've done it, then perhaps we are never finished and each version attempts to best the previous one or at least change the color of the ink. I think this is not what you are getting at, but in this sense, I am rarely satisfied that a poem is finished. There are too many colors. I may walk away from it, never-the-less. Or, having let it rest, I might start over.

Of course, once it appears "in print" and is "released" (hard to find agreement as to what that means these days) it is beyond the usual editing and one must defer to a variant for another view.

 

 

Thanks for the thorough reply, Gatekeeper. Yes, I am not concerned about poems posted here being 'finished' in that ultimate sense you so well describe.

 

My concern is with the extent of a proper comment I should make re poems posted on this forum. I expect poems that are posted as finished to look having been written in a way that attests to both the authors literacy and her/his effort to insure that no fairly obvious errors due to carelessness in spelling, grammar and/or style. I see no reason that poems not been edited should not be posted under Workshop, Playground or Overflow. If they are posted under Member Poems and seem to be written w/o much effort beyond getting the gist of its inspiration, I find it a shame and a disservice (on my part) to the author not to point out, among my comments) the easily coorrectable (w/o any qualitative harm to the poem or the author's talent and imagination) gaffes while expressing my admiration of the significance of the poem and the high appeal of its more noteworthy elements.

 

I don't feel it right to falsely praise even the bassically better poem that has the easily noted elements that testify to ppor writing per se, that is a neglect of the fact that writing well is a skill that is not all that difficult to attain witha bit of extra effort.

 

I started this discussion in the hope of being able to adjust my expectations through comeents of my co-members. I am not infallible, but must hold on to some idea of quality untill shown by my peers the error of my opinions. All arts are subject to variable opinions, but I surely do not wish to be thought of by them as being merely opinionated.

 

I do hope more others chime in with their wiews, or what would be the use of having a forum for discussions?

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Am I reading it right? Rather than what a finished poem is, it seems to me that the suggestion is what should be posted on which section and how to crit. I'd love to receive crits in the Workshop, but find the poems posted there are less patronized than those in Member Poetry and it requires the reader to give more in-depth comments which I'm not quite capable of. I apologize if I have missed something here.

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Am I reading it right? Rather than what a finished poem is, it seems to me that the suggestion is what should be posted on which section and how to crit. I'd love to receive crits in the Workshop, but find the poems posted there are less patronized than those in Member Poetry and it requires the reader to give more in-depth comments which I'm not quite capable of. I apologize if I have missed something here.

 

Could say, I speak with forked tongue!

 

I have two strong notions:

a) for a poet having appropriate writing/language skills is very important and

b) avoidance of honest, kind and valid critiquing will prevent those w/ability to create poetic conten/images from gaining

the level of recognition hinted at in their less polished writings.

 

Accomplished and widely recognized poets are often referred to as wordsmiths, because they do have a better than average language skills and know how to write/apply those skills to deliver on the poetic images in their compositions.

 

How important writing skills are is said in the text from Red River Review's Statement of Purpose, I inserted in the discussion on creating the bulletin board tonyv has suggested.

 

You are hitting the nail, as to that this forum, excellent as it is, may have too many major divisions for anyone to find time to participate in more fully.

Edited by waxwings
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