Archive for June 12th, 2010

June 12, 2010

on poetry

by jhon baker

This morning started with Mahler but has nicely moved on the Bach, as nothing else would do.
Last night I was kept up by the question – is poetry really subjective? and I think I’ve a simple answer for this question – a resounding no and yes. Poetry has two distinct levels of quality, the first is where most people stay in fear of being wrong – the truly subjective, do I like it? which has no bearing on whether or not it is a good poem. this can be anything from being able to relate to it to liking the way it sounds. on the other side there is the measurement of academia – is it a good poem regardless of my personal connection to it? this looks at the treatment of everything from meter (if present) to symbolism. A great example of this is Emily D.’s ‘Because I could not stop for death’ – great poem on both levels and you do not need to know about the massive amount of symbolism and adherence to meter to enjoy it as a poem, it speaks to a great many people who don’t know that the ride with death passes through her life from youth to old age (which she never made it to, eventually slamming on the brakes for death). It is also a sound poem. There are a great many poems out there that I do not care for but are great poetry and I am able to look at them from these two angles. In my taste and opinion a bad poem is a bad poem but there are a great many people who truly enjoy bad poetry. I have yet to like a poem that is bad but yet to like all the poetry that is sound. This has a single exception that I know of – my own poetry, I am unqualified to judge it’s academic and subjective merit and at times I hate my own work so I leave that to others.
this may sound as though I am saying all academic poetry is good – far from it, most poetry tries to be too academic and fails in a spectacular way, this is where a lot of poetry is lost in the realm of bad. When the poet writes what they like it tends to come out shining on all fronts, when the so called, self called poet writes it tends to not work on either level. but there are no strict rules that govern poetry so this makes it harder and the reason why people shy away from it in terms of it’s poetic merit.

As always I retain the right to change my mind.

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