Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Notes on Poetry

Dr. Edith Tiempo's "Six Poetry Formats and the Transforming Image: A Monograph on Free Verse" is a dissection of the nature of poetry especially in light of the free verse so prevalent among today's young writers. I was privileged to hear this in draft from Mom Edith herself during last year's summer workshop.

Here are some notes I cribbed from the book. Of course, it's best to get the book itself for the full explanations and illustrative examples. (At P200, there is no reason not to get it.)

How can we tell if it is really poetry?
* subtlety
* indirection
* fresh insights
* literary instruments

Characteristics of poetry
* indirect, structure in metaphor
* articulated in metaphor
* manifested as image
* "casting the material in metaphor or image...dramatic, suggestive image"
* "without the structuring of metaphor, there is no poetry"

Metaphor enhances
* goes beyond the bare presentation of literal statement
* allows and facilitates the reader's right to make his own creative response

How does poetry work?
* through the image or situation that is charged with symbolic meaning
* in the singularly heightened way it uses its own internal literary instruments

External limits
* length and formation of lines
* meter
* rhyme
* rhythm
* euphonic diction patterns
* juxtaposition
* typographical idiosyncracies

Internal limits
* tone
* nuances
* understatement
* ambiguity
* suggestiveness
* indirection
* thematic tension
* contrast
* ellipses
* fresh stratagems and insights
* inventive reproductive use of words
* internal rhyme and alliteration
* symbolic details

Music-related attributes
* rhythm
* metrical beat
* rhyme
* euphony
* alliteration
* onomatopoeia
* repetition
* assonance
* dissonance
* other sound effects

* minimalist lines
* long lines
* stanzas
* interludes

The Six Poetry Formats
I. Without the use of conventional external limits of rhyme, meter, and other traditional features like regular stanza patterns, special imagery, and diction; emphasis on internal limits and metaphorical framework -> free verse

II. Free verse, with or without internal limits, without metaphoric structure -> prose

III. Regular rhyme and meter, with internal limits, with metaphoric structure -> poetry well crafted

IV. Using rhyme and meter, with or without internal limits, without metaphoric structure -> prose

V. With rhyme and meter, with metaphoric structure, inadequate use of internal limits -> poetry of neat but uninventive craftsmanship

VI. Free verse, in metaphoric structure, with rhymed lines or other traditional features, with or without meter, with internal limits, the lines extressed as prose-like statements

"...and the work is play for mortal stakes..."
--Robert Frost