Posts tagged ‘my own arrogance’

January 6, 2011

in rebuttal to some comments from yesterday

by jhon baker

Mel, I have enjoyed your work in the past and will continue to do so in the future. In general, artists have very strong opinions about things and are not very reticent about sharing them. However, I am a bit dismayed that you did not truly read my commentary or that of those who disagree with you who I believe had quite solid points that are left unaddressed in rebuttal.
None of us here are stroking the phallus of academia – we are saying something quite different and that you and L. do not see that invalidates your argument in it’s entirety.

Here is a list of things I did not say in my argument:
 – Academia is the only way to go. (we are not stoking the phallus of academia here)
 – you must adhere to rules to write good poetry. (on the contrary, actually, I say you should know them in order to write without them)
 – you must dissect a poem to find its value. (I don’t know where you and L got this from)
 – without training, people should not try new things. (quite the opposite which is clearly stated in my original commentary.)
– of the “1000 styles of poetry” [sic] you must be versed in each of them to create without boundaries. ( I am unaware of all 1000 and would need to research that bit of proofiness, however, this has no place in my argument and does not follow my line of thought.((but there may be truth to it – I don’t know, I don’t create without constraints)) )

What I am saying:
 – You must learn to further your art, learning from those who are better and more advanced – reading only what you write and that of people of you caliber does nothing to extend your endeavor.
 – Writing in one style is not writing without restriction if you only know that one style. On the contrary – you are totally constricted to that one style.
 – Learn what is offered to know – then forget what you have learned to write without restriction. (mel, you did this and it seems to have benefited you quite handsomely)
 – My comment on the MBA has more to do with putting me in the position of teaching to expound on a greater level the value of learning not the value of formal training.
 – thinking that you don’t need to learn and shouldn’t study to be able to create truly and that is what is best is self centered in the extreme. (I find it difficult to parse why you are defending a line of thought that is so partisan, allowing no room for other expression)

What I should have added:
  – Whether or not any of us wants to admit it – all creation is done within constraints, chosen or unchosen – being able to choose your constraints creates more informed and better work.
 – I am basing my commentary on what he says, where quoted or referenced, not what he intends as I do not know his intention – I only have his direct wording.
– reading and quoting from his blog where he tries to pass himself off as a well learned and trained writer.

What I should have left out:
 – My personal opinion of his poetry as it has little to do with what I am talking about. Though I did think what I read was bad and self-centered – it may have been poor examples of his work as a whole – he may well be the second coming of Bukowski (who was indeed a trained writer and obsessive autodidact as well.)

Your argument is not a direct rebuttal of my statements but a continuation of L.’s which did not address my commentary and took everything I said out of context and inflamed it beyond its point.

Answer me this -, in poetry, after you have nearly mastered one form (in this case, free form) how is it creation to continue to write in that form when it isn’t a choice but a limitation by chosen ignorance.

and L. You made my point with your argument about the laws of the land – you are not able to exercise your freedoms without knowing what they are, and the limits to them. If you create within one form only without knowing the other avenues how can you possibly expect to further your art? As K said – how can you create from within a box? I am sorry, L., I cannot answer your question without first knowing who the greatest poet ever is, and having some information about the parental tutelage as you inferred.

Is someone who can change oil a mechanic? Someone who can install a faucet a plumber? when you take out the garbage are you a garbageman/woman/person, when you mow your lawn are you a landscaper, when you fix a chair are you a woodworker, file your own taxes an accountant? what makes the difference? and are you limited to not do these things because you aren’t fully informed? of course not.
If you are not learned should you resist the urge to write poetry or paint? not at all – you should give in to the temptation to create – if it suits you, you should continue in the endeavor and learn, study – no institution is necessary for this, but a love for what you are trying to do.

I thank you all for weighing in on the thought process and turning it to a debate of sorts – I would hope that you always feel comfortable enough here to disagree with me and my “elite” (so called) opinions.

I look forward to the beating that I may get as a response to this post. If writing in rebuttal on your own blog – I only ask for direct quotation of what you are rebutting and a link back. If you choose to not do this, that is fine as well but not honest. I chose to not link back in my original article as I didn’t want to bring the argument to the person in question as I have no want to hurt his feelings or dissuade him from continuing to learn. This may be a mistake and I will consider informing him directly of my commentary.

January 5, 2011

not to piss anyone off

by jhon baker

Yesterday I was reading and interview with a so-called poet who wrote this tremendously bad poem (which I would offer a link but do not want to as I have no reason to hurt this mans feelings), I don’t know why I was interested in reading the interview after reading the poem but I was. Or maybe I read the poem only after reading a statement that knocked me cold.
The statement was (by memory) – “I am not acquainted with styles or technical jargons [sic] known to trained poets and therefore I write unrestrictedly [sic].” This is probably extremely close to what was said or exactly what was said.

I was struck cold by the statement that this so-called poet believes that he writes without restriction. Absurd. the two statements that make up the quotation do not follow. While I am not sure that I write “unrestrictedly” I am also not sure I would want to. My training as a poet is lack and as where I have studied several forms intimately, I am still studying fervently.
I wanted to reach out to him or comment, neither of which I did, and inform him that he is most certifiably restricted. In not knowing how to write in other styles, forms or what have you means simply that you are restricted to a single form – free form, that’s it. complete restriction – an inability to create outside this single parameter.

My greatest strength in writing is that I wrap myself in language and wear it as a skin. I am forever obsessed with it, and what can be done with it. My second strength is my understanding of the line and how it works and how it doesn’t work.
This is all from formal training and training as an obsessive autodidact.
To be without restraint is to know intimately and abandon it at will as it suits the purpose and created form or lack of form (which is still a form mind you.)

This person goes on to say that he doesn’t read poetry – only poetry by his fellow bloggers. I have to add that this is a further mistake.  It is a common thought that writers should spend more time reading than writing – I don’t know that I fully agree with that but certainly most of us are not so prolific that we cannot read a lot of what is offered – both academic and not. I tend toward the less academic but have a healthy regard for what has come before. Even Picasso studied the masters first and continued his regard and admiration of others works throughout his life.
I would think that not knowing what has come before – meaning that not only was there not a decent perusal of the subject but a complete and willing ignorance – would place you in the aspect of recreating the art from near scratch – this may seem intriguing and almost preferable when trying to create a new style or completely eschewing style altogether, but what you are doing is futile. One mind does not create a history, one mind does not invent wholly from nothing. Without a decent regard to style (meaning here writing in general, as in style manuals like strunk and white), and a decent regard for language (which how do we know language but by living in it and surrounding ourselves with it) what you end up creating is a jumble of words lined neatly along the left of a page (or center, or left). This is not poetry. Poetry is not anything and everything by choice in the matter. What is created is simply what has already been created, commented on and moved beyond.

I really don’t mean to offend anyone and am reasonably sure that the so-called poet in question doesn’t read this blog and has not heard of me at all (why would he?) – I do know that the connection I have to this person does occasionally read my blog and I do not want to offend her or put her in a position to feel like defending herself. I don’t honestly know that she would be up to the task anyway of defending this particular so-called poet. She requires no defense as she is a good person out in the world trying to do good things – I regard her highly and understand that she is only giving equal time and space to everyone who seeks it, my opinion of her selection of this particular person is not meant to reflect on her character, and should not be taken that way.

I also do not mean that he shouldn’t write – everyone should give it a try, much like waiting tables or receiving military type training, I mean to say that his regard for himself is self-centered in the extreme and he would benefit from some humility in his regard to his creations and seek to learn more about what he is trying to do. Seek to learn anything!

You cannot learn to write poetry from reading prose, you cannot learn to write poetry from doing nothing. The argument would then be that the masters would teach you to do nothing to perfect your writing – but therein lies my argument. You must first learn to do something correctly to later forget that you know it. There is a difference between someone who has learned deeply and proceeded to put it away in his/her mind than someone who has never learned at all.

Without knowing the restrictions (constraints) how can one possibly hope to avoid them?

That persons statement gives me energy to go back and get my MBA.

I reserve the right to change my mind.

March 29, 2010

strange day already – @ 8:23 AM

by jhon baker

Strange day already.
Brothers birthday and an old friends.
Happy birthday.
I realize that I am hitting enter after full sentences and not caring.
Doctors today and such.
about to hop in the shower and go out to Hampshire Napa with my son.
today may contain no other poetry than what follows here…


I’m happy to say that
I haven’t heard from you in awhile.

I guess… how are you?
what you been doing,
are you working.
how is the family if you
have one.
is that a new car.
did you ever solve that
is your whoever still ailing,
or has the obligatory disease
killed them off yet.
is your day to day in
good griping order…
and whatever other questions
that I have accidentally left off
should now be answered in
whatever order you like.

me? I am roughly the same
and still disinterested
in this general conversation.

– I wrote this.

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