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  1. #61
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    Discipline and Pleasure

    It's a terrible mistake to compel children to go to school by State law to read poetry.

    Good taste suggests poetry is best read for pleasure, and compelling children to read poetry ruins the pleasure.

    Unfortunately our free, secular and compulsive education is based on Prussian Pedagogy whose purpose was to instill discipline at the cost of pleasure.

  2. #62
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    Poetry does nothing.
    lol, lazy poetry
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  3. #63
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forever_Jung View Post
    Don't dismiss him just because he's not "accessible"
    Neither accessible, nor interesting, nor thought-provoking...
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  4. #64
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    How is "alienating people" automatically bad? You could argue that a lot of people are too stupid to appreciate truly worthwhile art...and frankly I think there's something to it. There are plenty of people out there who don't enjoy SHakespeare and MIchelangelo because they can't be bothered.
    Michelanglo is easy to understand even by people today. I see reprints of the Sistine Chapel mural everywhere. Shakespeare has endured specifically because he was accessible. Most of his contemporaries were college educated playwrites who were appealing to the "elite". Skakespeare was uneducated and appealed to the common people of the day. Do you know what happened to Shakespeare's contemporaries? Me neither. They have long been forgotten. Shakespeare, on the other hand, has endured for centuries and considered the greatest playwright who ever lived.

    I would say Shakespeare can be good even today if done by experienced people who are willing to put in the effort to make it accessible. When the director and actors put in the work to make the play accessible, then the audience thinks it is good. If they don't make it accessible then the audience thinks it is bad.

    T S Eliot and Paul Celan are both considered difficult. You will have a hard time with The Waste Land unless you read Eliot's own footnotes at the very least, and preferably also look at some background info on the literary works, historical incidents, etc that he references. It is also considered one of the great artistic works of the twentieth century. It's one of my favourite poems and phrases from it dance through my head at the most unusual and appropriate moments. It moves me emotionally and stimulates me intellectually. Paul Celan is considered by many to be the greatest post-WWII European poet. He is also widely described as esoteric, hermetic etc (not really accurate, but that's another story.) His poem Death Fugue is thought by many (including me) to be one of the greatest if not the greatest Holocaust poem. It's not "easy", nor is the rest of his work. It's beautiful and harsh and pushes the limits and pushes the reader to their limits. Celan wrote the poetry that he HAD to, to work out the trauma of his life and to bear witness. He didn't write difficult poetry to be a pretentious ass. Every bit of evidence from those who knew him and those who read him is that he wrote just what he had to, and did it brilliantly and movingly.

    And that poem Salome quoted...it's a poem, not a play.
    If you read her post carefully you will find she also quoted me while I was talking about Shakespeare. My reply was staying on topic.

    I feel sorry for you if you think that the Matrix and Star Wars are greater than the greatest poetry of the last century. I really have to wonder if you're kidding here.
    I consider accessibility to be one of the requirements of great art. It's not that I think the Matrix and Star Wars to be greater than the greatest poetry of the last century. It's that you and I will not agree about what the greatest poetry of the last century was. If T.S. Eliot is difficult to appreciate, then I don't think he's a great poet. I find Langston Hughes to be accessible, so I probably rank him higher than you do.

    So, you think nothing is worthwhile if it requires effort?
    Not exactly. I think that art is not good if the creator requires the audience to do a lot of work. I think the artist should do the work instead of the audience doing the work. On the other hand often with good art if you dig deeper you find there is more there then you would find at first glance. A person is rewarded for digging deeper, but the work is also enjoyable even at first impression.

    This is how good art is crafted. It works on several layers. It can be appreciated on a shallow level and on a deep level. This is not easy to do, but there have been artists who have done it in a variety of media. These artists are a cut above the rest. They have real talent and ability. Lazy and untalented artists make art and expect their audience to do all the work.

    Just because something requires some effort doesn't mean it can't ultimately be "accessible." Besides, who's to dictate that "difficult" poetry sucks and "easy" poetry is the good stuff? Who decides on that definition? Because I enjoy poetry which took me years to fully appreciate (as well as poetry which I've quickly appreciated and grasped), it means I have bad taste?
    No you don't have bad taste. You have niche taste. You are actually lucky in that you are among the minority of people who can appreciate a dead artform like poetry. Good for you.

    It is the poets that are bad. They are satisfied writing poetry for a tiny (and often elitist) niche. If they wanted to be good they might actually try to make their poetry accessible. But the poetry culture has told them that it is good to be elitist and mediocre. Poetry culture encourages poets to suck. Poetry could actually be a vitally alive artform if the poets worked on making their poems accessible.

    Are you sure this isn't just the disease of modern society that anything requiring effort isn't worthwhile?
    I am quite sure this is not a modern phenomena. Like I said Shakespeare was uneducated and made his plays appealing to the common person. Gone With the Wind was written by a newspaper journalist who had no background in writing novels. She was not trying to appeal to an elitist crowd. She was just an ordinary person writing for ordinary people, but the book sold like crazy and the movie is the greatest selling movie of all time. Once Mozart was on his own his operas and symphonies played to huge crowds, much larger than was conventional at the time. Mark Twain stood out at his time for using a language that was much more accessible to the common American compared to his peers. Michaelangelo is so accessible that he is still enjoyed by many people today. I could actually go on and on there are so many examples.

    This is not a modern phenomenon. If anything it is a timeless phenomenon that (for some reason) surprises elitist intellectuals of every generation. Even the New Testament is a story about a carpenter and some fishermen who won the attention of the crowds away from the elitist intellectuals. What endures is always made by the accessible person who appeals to the crowds. The elitists that appeal to a niche are forgotten.
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  5. #65
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post

    It is the poets that are bad. They are satisfied writing poetry for a tiny (and often elitist) niche. If they wanted to be good they might actually try to make their poetry accessible. But the poetry culture has told them that it is good to be elitist and mediocre. Poetry culture encourages poets to suck. Poetry could actually be a vitally alive artform if the poets worked on making their poems accessible.
    What I know is that the best poetry tells the truth. This is something that most of my favourite poets emphasize. In some cases, their "truth" will be accessible at a glance. In other cases, it will require more digging. The latter can be more rewarding, or at least equally rewarding.

    I'm not going to change my truth to be more or less accessible. It is what it is. If people are being deliberately obscure and obstructive and elitist, sure, that's their bad, I think - unless this is the essence of their truth. But believe me, many of the most rewarding artistic experiences I've had in any field have required long periods of time. It might start out with a modicum of appreciation and turn into something life-changing. Over the course of months, or years. Some poets' work hits me almost right away like a flash of light. This happened to me recently with World War II poet Keith Douglas. Some poets got under my skin, with a bit more digging required, over a period of years. Paul Celan falls into that category. Both are among my very favourite poets. Both use imagery that I recognize on an extremely fundamental level. It is truthful.

    I find your definition of what is "good" and "bad" to be extremely narrow, that's all. I'm no elitist intellectual. I love poetry, some of it extremely famous, some pretty obscure. I love classical music and the art of Caravaggio, Turner and Vermeer. I also love 80s hair metal and John Hughes films and Sherlock Holmes and spy stories. I love what is inspiring or entertaining or truthful or revealing and what I enjoy. Some of it is "highbrow", some is "lowbrow". Except for some of my literary tastes, I think most of my passions are actually relatively mainstream (perhaps at the slightly unusual end of the mainstream - but still mainstream). But saying that millions on millions have to love it for it to be good, or that it has to be lovable within the first five seconds, I find that so narrow.

    The past couple of years, thousands of people packed into a concert hall in central London to hear the nominees for the UK's top poetry prize, the T S Eliot Prize, read their work. Work which many would call too highbrow or elitist. But the scene I saw sure didn't look dead to me. A few years ago the nominees would read in a small theatre in Bloomsbury. Poetry is particularly alive at the moment, from what I see. But maybe you feel that because it's not packing out Madison Square Gardens, it's automatically "dead."

    Sure, there's a lot of crap poetry out there. Some of it is Hallmark twaddle. Some of it is pretentious nonsense. But excluding all but what millions are going to want to read, calling it bad - especially, calling it bad because it may justifiably be called "difficult" - I'm never going to agree with that. Easy doesn't equal good and difficult doesn't equal bad.
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  6. #66
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    What I know is that the best poetry tells the truth. This is something that most of my favourite poets emphasize. In some cases, their "truth" will be accessible at a glance. In other cases, it will require more digging. The latter can be more rewarding, or at least equally rewarding.

    I'm not going to change my truth to be more or less accessible. It is what it is. If people are being deliberately obscure and obstructive and elitist, sure, that's their bad, I think - unless this is the essence of their truth.
    I agree that good poetry (and good art in general) tells the truth. I am not saying to compromise the truth. I am saying poets should make it more accessible. They should do it without compromising the content of their message. Hard to do? Of course. I've been saying the whole time that this is hard to do, but it is what poets should be going for.

    But believe me, many of the most rewarding artistic experiences I've had in any field have required long periods of time. It might start out with a modicum of appreciation and turn into something life-changing. Over the course of months, or years. Some poets' work hits me almost right away like a flash of light. This happened to me recently with World War II poet Keith Douglas. Some poets got under my skin, with a bit more digging required, over a period of years. Paul Celan falls into that category. Both are among my very favourite poets. Both use imagery that I recognize on an extremely fundamental level. It is truthful.

    I find your definition of what is "good" and "bad" to be extremely narrow, that's all.
    (Referring to bold) it's not surprising you find my definition narrow. I am holding poets to a much higher standard than most people do. That probably makes my definition of "good" seem narrow.

    I'm no elitist intellectual. I love poetry, some of it extremely famous, some pretty obscure. I love classical music and the art of Caravaggio, Turner and Vermeer. I also love 80s hair metal and John Hughes films and Sherlock Holmes and spy stories. I love what is inspiring or entertaining or truthful or revealing and what I enjoy. Some of it is "highbrow", some is "lowbrow". Except for some of my literary tastes, I think most of my passions are actually relatively mainstream (perhaps at the slightly unusual end of the mainstream - but still mainstream). But saying that millions on millions have to love it for it to be good, or that it has to be lovable within the first five seconds, I find that so narrow.

    The past couple of years, thousands of people packed into a concert hall in central London to hear the nominees for the UK's top poetry prize, the T S Eliot Prize, read their work. Work which many would call too highbrow or elitist. But the scene I saw sure didn't look dead to me. A few years ago the nominees would read in a small theatre in Bloomsbury. Poetry is particularly alive at the moment, from what I see. But maybe you feel that because it's not packing out Madison Square Gardens, it's automatically "dead."
    I am not surprised that this scene you are talking about is growing. All of these people are coming together to listen to people read their work. I said in my first post that poetry is meant to be heard rather than read. That is how poetry is made accessible. It needs to be appreciated by people who listen to it. It shouldn't require people study it alone with a deep analysis. Now you are telling me a poetry scene is growing where people want to listen to the best poets read their work. You are simply confirming my original point.

    Sure, there's a lot of crap poetry out there. Some of it is Hallmark twaddle. Some of it is pretentious nonsense. But excluding all but what millions are going to want to read, calling it bad - especially, calling it bad because it may justifiably be called "difficult" - I'm never going to agree with that. Easy doesn't equal good and difficult doesn't equal bad.
    We are probably going to have to agree to disagree on this point then. All other things being equal, I will say that accessible is always better than inaccessible.
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  7. #67
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    You hate me when I tell you I am an elite intellectual, but you love me when I tell you I am an elite athlete.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Victor View Post
    You hate me when I tell you I am an elite intellectual, but you love me when I tell you I am an elite athlete.
    Indeed.
    "The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things." - Rainer Maria Rilke

  9. #69
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    I am not surprised that this scene you are talking about is growing. All of these people are coming together to listen to people read their work. I said in my first post that poetry is meant to be heard rather than read. That is how poetry is made accessible. It needs to be appreciated by people who listen to it. It shouldn't require people study it alone with a deep analysis. Now you are telling me a poetry scene is growing where people want to listen to the best poets read their work. You are simply confirming my original point.
    Not really...the vast majority of the people at those readings have already been reading the poems to themselves and had their books in hand to get them signed. They would have first read the poems in a collection or in a magazine and want to take the opportunity to see/hear the poets. It is a prize for a collection of poems published during the year - not for reading aloud. With this kind of poetry there will not be a great many people in the audience who know nothing about the poets, or haven't read them a bit already, and just want to hear poetry aloud.

    I don't think if you interviewed audience members, they would mostly say that they find the poems inaccessible without being read aloud. In fact, as much as I enjoy seeing/hearing poets read (because it's just a different experience, or it's someone legendary like Seamus Heaney...etc), in many cases I really appreciate and get more out of the poems when reading them silently to myself. I've been to the T S Eliot Prize readings several times. Inevitably, I find that some poets read really well, some not that well. Some poems really open up when I hear them aloud, some are definitely better when read silently to oneself. The part that moves me the most is when they read a T S Eliot poem at the start of the evening, in tribute. Because he's still the greatest. I love hearing Eliot read aloud but I also love going away and wandering through the fine details of his work. With poetry like this, you will find something new every time you read it. It will be a different experience for you repeatedly throughout your life.

    People who want to primarily access poetry as an oral art form go to poetry slams, which isn't so much my cup of tea. Some of us appreciate better through reading, than hearing, and some poetry is better suited to that. I can absorb it better when I read and reread, look at the whole poem at a glance, then absorb it line by line, then reread...etc. That's also mainly how I get inspired to do my own writing (as well as going out and having experiences, traveling, etc).

    I just enjoy doing the "work" with poetry which requires more time, or digging, or whatever. It's part of the enjoyment. It is incredibly satisfying when something unfolds before me and the pieces fall into place. But I've always loved literature and a lot of it is instinctive for me at this point, I think.

    Anyway, you're right, we're going to have to agree to disagree.

    By the way, I like Langston Hughes, but I like Eliot and Celan better - among many others. I think there is a lot of extraordinary American poetry but unfortunately a lot of people in America who appreciate poetry have little or no knowledge of the great poets of other countries, including other English speaking countries. This doesn't seem to be the case so much with poetry lovers in the UK. (Although Eliot is claimed by both America and England, and does seem to belong to both. Celan, of course, is in translation from German, which raises a whole other area of difficulty and interest).
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Exactly! Shakespeare was meant to be seen and not read.
    You are either being deliberately dense, or else you simply can't help it. The sonnet is about poetry itself and the timelessness of the WRITTEN word.

    Either way, it's clear to me that you fail to understand the power of poetry, if you think it's all in the performance. You certainly fail to understand Shakespeare's genius.
    A pitfall of unbalanced extroversion, perhaps.
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