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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry for the newer generations

Poetry for the newer generations: A suggestion (November 6, 2008)

I am no poet by any stretch of the imagination from a professional perspective.

Actually, I never made the least effort to learn the techniques or the nomenclature of poem writing. Whatever that I might have learned in poetry resemble writing prose without knowing what prose means.

Thus, my suggestion is plain candid; it is very probable that the long history of poets and poem writing has generated schools that suggested the same idea, or close, without me comprehending the premises of the schools.

My idea is a scream, to be able to read a poem that is comprehensible enough to form at least an idea of the subject matter, to form a beginning of some sense in the emotions.

In yesteryear, schools taught Latin, Greek and mythologies of various civilizations.  If this is the case in some schools, then this article is not intended for their graduates, at least the brightest of them.  Are you not tired of reading notes for every verse that are longer than the whole poem?

My suggestion is that poets stop throwing around symbols, symbolic meanings, and mythological names, but to do their due diligence or homework explaining, in poetical verses, the story behind each name and symbol.

Maybe new imagery would be created, new interpretations would be offered that are not conforming to the traditional understanding, or for the poet’s benefit, readers would catch a glimpse of his philosophy on the mysteries of life, the Universe, beauty, freedom, liberty, human rights, and a long series of abstract concepts.

Mythologies were, long time ago, based on reality and constituted classes of philosophies in every civilization; and knowing the stories behind each of the mythological characters would enrich greatly the education of the bland newer generations.

This cultural process would be enhanced if the stories are written in genuine poetical verses that can be memorized as songs that honor the spirit of human kind through time immemorial.

In a previous essay on “Omar Khayyam and Hafiz” I had this flash, a conjecture, of how the  process of writing poetry begins to take flesh and bones and which is as follow:

1. once a poet start writing then abstract notions replaces gradually real life constraints and inadequacies and

2. when the poet realizes that he is indeed talking in abstraction then he explodes and soars into incomprehensible symbolism and mythological meanings originated in the antiquities; the sort of odes that hard neck poets appreciate.

And what are the interests of the general public in all that?

Just leave it to the specialists to explain the meaning and beauty of the imagery and symbolism.

I don’t think that my conjecture is devoid of evidences.

Take any poet and you realize that his early poems and the last ones are fraught with abstractions.

In between, a few poets volunteer to express their true feeling of their limitations, confusion, and inadequacy; well, the verses and words are clear and unambiguous enough to feel that their emotions are real and genuine.

Why these poets had to revert to abstraction later on?  Is it because criticisms based on intimate feeling and experiences become very touchy to continue in that vein?  Most probably, in their old age, poets are terribly hurt of their degeneracy and degradation and are humiliated to share with others their conditions.

In every language the same imagery and selected “poetic” words recurs indefinitely.  You finally realize that one good poem is representative of the spirit and poetical aspiration of a whole civilization; you read one poem in one style then you feel that you read them all.  Then you are glad that you can read several languages so that you may compare the richness in imagery.

The genuine poets are those that can create new imagery that reflect the state of their deeper emotions and feelings.

The Japanese poet Basho (1664-94) wrote:

“Write your poem in a single breath

As you are felling a tree

As the Samurai rushes toward his tough adversary

As you slice a water melon with a sharp knife

As you crunch into a juicy fruit

All the verses are but a vast mockery

Don’t try to walk the pathways of the wise

Discover what the wise person was seeking

Let me summarize my suggestion:

Poets and writers:

Write about your own feelings in a single breath. The editing has its own time, pace, and process: As long as you have the strength Not to alter the initial impulses that drove you to write breathlessly.

If this is very hard, then at least do your due diligence to explain the stories behind the symbolism in clear and poetic verses that sing to our soul, the way the language in your own culture sings to your soul.




December 2021

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