Idea Or Sound?
#1
I have very little experience or knowledge in the writing of poetry. But one thing became clear to me very early on. I would oftentimes end up in this predicament where I *seemingly* had to make a choice between the idea of the poem or the sound texture of the poem (I mean you don't have forever to write a poem). Which was most important?

Obviously, you always want these two things to fall into place, and it's wonderful, even exhiliarating when it happens, at whatever talent level you're at (mine being mediocre at best Confused). At times I've found myself wanting to invent new words and petition for their inclusion in the OED just so I could finish a stupid line of poetry in such a way that both the idea and sound texture came out right.

I've found that more often than not I reluctantly choose the idea of the poem over the sound texture of the poem. Just wondering how others have felt about this, where their biases lie?

I don't know. Just one of those persnickety poetic things.
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#2
We can't give you an idea. We can help you with sound. So I'd go with idea every time, as long as you understand (as you apparently do) that there's still more work to be done to bring it out perfectly.

Because I firmly believe that poems should be experienced aloud as well as on the page -- and neither position is more important than the other -- it is vital that a poem sounds the way you want it to. But like I said, that can happen in the workshop, not in your head. The more you workshop, the more you'll be able to do on your own.
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#3
(03-22-2014, 02:58 PM)Leanne Wrote:  We can't give you an idea. We can help you with sound. So I'd go with idea every time, as long as you understand (as you apparently do) that there's still more work to be done to bring it out perfectly.

Because I firmly believe that poems should be experienced aloud as well as on the page -- and neither position is more important than the other -- it is vital that a poem sounds the way you want it to. But like I said, that can happen in the workshop, not in your head. The more you workshop, the more you'll be able to do on your own.

Point taken.

I'm such a lone bird that I've been tending to watch other poems being critiqued (packing those into my mind), then returning to my own and seeing if I can apply what I saw/heard to my own.

But there are definitely times where I want to throw a particular line/stanza out there and ask..."can anybody tweak this in such a way that it comes out better; I've exhausted everything I can think of".

When I first started playing with poetry (before I stopped for a stretch of years) I briefly got into the performance poetry scene in Seattle (the Seattle Slam). I could always get around the sound texture problem because I was able to twist/bend/schmooze the sound texture live in such a way that it came out right, ways in which you might not read it on the silent page.

Anyway...
You can't hate me more than I hate myself.  I win.

"When the spirit of justice eloped on the wings
Of a quivering vibrato's bittersweet sting."

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#4
Do that. You won't always get what you want, but it never does hurt to ask. Workshops are valuable because of that shift in perspective.

Spoken word is very forgiving. We tend to love it more for the performance value than the words -- though of course the words are important too. On a page (or screen), they're naked and unadorned. They've got to hold themselves up. But fortunately, here we have a lot of people with plenty of Gok Wan-like experience in getting poems to look pretty regardless of the spotlight -- and even those who don't have the experience still have ideas that might just do it for you. The trick is in getting everyone to a point where they know that they're ideas only, not imperatives.
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#5
You cool. I've only been on this site for a bit, but I'm a devourer by nature. Totally dug your workshop threads. Played with them one whole weekend long (none too successfully but...).

Honestly, I think I've completed only 2-3 poems since I restarted. I'm completely obsessed with this long 18 poem poetic opera that's been building in my head for like 12 years. I only have excerpts to put out there. 95% what I do in this way is that.

That's kind of why it's a little weird in that way for me.

Hard to explain. Pay no mind. lol
You can't hate me more than I hate myself.  I win.

"When the spirit of justice eloped on the wings
Of a quivering vibrato's bittersweet sting."

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#6
Hysterical Nothing is too weird for us here!

Playing, even without success as you measure it, is success. Poetry without play probably shouldn't exist (given the nature of 95% of the self-published shite available, make that definitely shouldn't exist -- fortunately, the other 5% get it and realised early that the publishers don't).

Write limericks. That's the best advice you'll ever get.
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#7
Never tried. I've got a sick sense of humor at times, so maybe that would apply.

Anyway...thanks.

(Now back to Blue Velvet...rewatching after years as I drfit into Zzzzzz's...)
You can't hate me more than I hate myself.  I win.

"When the spirit of justice eloped on the wings
Of a quivering vibrato's bittersweet sting."

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#8
lots of words were created for the art of writing. the portmanteau being some of the more famous ones. as long as the word doesn't seem forced go for it. ideas are the seed of the poem and the sapling, and the fruit, the words and sound are the fertilizer. reading feedback elsewhere for me is a must. you tend to get a lot more of what bad stuff smells like and what good stuff looks like. listen with a discerning voice and keep doing what you're doing.
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#9
(03-22-2014, 03:35 PM)NobodyNothing Wrote:  You cool. I've only been on this site for a bit, but I'm a devourer by nature. Totally dug your workshop threads. Played with them one whole weekend long (none too successfully but...).

Honestly, I think I've completed only 2-3 poems since I restarted. I'm completely obsessed with this long 18 poem poetic opera that's been building in my head for like 12 years. I only have excerpts to put out there. 95% what I do in this way is that.

That's kind of why it's a little weird in that way for me.

Hard to explain. Pay no mind. lol


I have found that taking those fragments and pushing to put them together, even with sections that I feel may not be as good, has worked to the poem's benefit in three ways.

Sometimes those connecting lines I push prove as good or better than the core I started with.

By pushing through to something complete enough to post I have gotten the benefit of much helpful critique. No one's banning me if it sucks, why not throw it out there to see if anyone sees something I don't that will help? Posters often have suggestions that will light the bulb on the the weak lines.

I also find that when people give their time to help me I feel more committed to working on the poem so they haven't wasted their time.

Idea vs sound? The choices are different for each word in each poem. When I have a form in my head, even an imaginary one, Smile, I will sometimes sacrifice an idea or sound for the sake of it. Sometimes I hold on to a word for dear life even if it irks every reader because to me it is vital, either for sound or idea.

Reading critique of others' poems is a great education. Critiques on my own make me realize what I need to hold on to and what I can let go. Sometimes the choices are surprising.
billy wrote:welcome to the site. make it your own, wear it like a well loved slipper and wear it out. ella pleads:please click forum titles for posting guidelines, important threads. New poet? Try Poetic DevicesandWard's Tips

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#10
(03-22-2014, 11:39 AM)NobodyNothing Wrote:  I have very little experience or knowledge in the writing of poetry. But one thing became clear to me very early on. I would oftentimes end up in this predicament where I *seemingly* had to make a choice between the idea of the poem or the sound texture of the poem (I mean you don't have forever to write a poem). Which was most important?

Obviously, you always want these two things to fall into place, and it's wonderful, even exhiliarating when it happens, at whatever talent level you're at (mine being mediocre at best Confused). At times I've found myself wanting to invent new words and petition for their inclusion in the OED just so I could finish a stupid line of poetry in such a way that both the idea and sound texture came out right.

I've found that more often than not I reluctantly choose the idea of the poem over the sound texture of the poem. Just wondering how others have felt about this, where their biases lie?

I don't know. Just one of those persnickety poetic things.

I would choose sound every time. Ideas are just vehicles for poetry, not the other way around. Focusing on ideas tends to produce bad poetry. Prose is a much more efficient vehicle for exposition anyway. If the idea doesn't fit the sound just change the idea.
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#11
Interesting you should say that, milo. I will always tell a student not to allow rhyme, in particular, to drive your poem. The poet must stay in control at all times, and if you have to alter your course for the sake of a rhyme then change the rhyme -- there's always another option.

Perhaps the only real option is to have a vocabulary large enough to draw from, so that sound never becomes a problem in the first place.
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#12
(03-23-2014, 05:55 AM)Leanne Wrote:  Interesting you should say that, milo. I will always tell a student not to allow rhyme, in particular, to drive your poem. The poet must stay in control at all times, and if you have to alter your course for the sake of a rhyme then change the rhyme -- there's always another option.

Perhaps the only real option is to have a vocabulary large enough to draw from, so that sound never becomes a problem in the first place.

I think not allowing rhyme to drive a poem is good advice, but mostly because it sounds forced not because the idea is altered. Better to alter the idea and allow natural rhymes. I think separating yourself from your narrator makes it easier as frequently the ideas may be ones you don't agree with.

I love the idea of the poet being in control at all times, as you know I have written quite a bit about it but I don't find these two concepts to be contradictory.
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#13
Perhaps we should identify which of these is the more precious to us at the time of writing and make that the one to sacrifice. If we hold to it tightly at all costs, then we're hanging on for our own purposes and not those of the poem.

Kill the babies.
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#14
(03-23-2014, 05:55 AM)Leanne Wrote:  Interesting you should say that, milo. I will always tell a student not to allow rhyme, in particular, to drive your poem. The poet must stay in control at all times, and if you have to alter your course for the sake of a rhyme then change the rhyme -- there's always another option.

Perhaps the only real option is to have a vocabulary large enough to draw from, so that sound never becomes a problem in the first place.

Yes to this. It is important, not vital, that the writer is in charge of the poem. Even when running on those rare but euphoric riffs when the poem seems to write itself you must never be consumed by the fire....though you may well bask in the heat.
This is not a metaphor. Control is always important... never stop flying. That small piece of advice, if you have to change course for the sake of a rhyme then change the bloody rhyme is pivotal. I would go further...if you have to change course because you cannot rhyme, then don't rhyme....but make that decision.
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#15
(03-23-2014, 06:25 AM)Leanne Wrote:  Perhaps we should identify which of these is the more precious to us at the time of writing and make that the one to sacrifice. If we hold to it tightly at all costs, then we're hanging on for our own purposes and not those of the poem.

Kill the babies.

Also, this is just the choice of 2 elements of poetry. I think a fantastic metaphor would trump both

Thinking about the rhymes I remembered how many times I wrote a poem with /no/ ideas just the thought of a clever rhyme. I remember when I was on vacation and I was thinking of the cacti/ fact I -cactus/practice rhyme and I ended up writing it and posting it on my phone.
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#16
I am sure people switch from emphasis on one, to emphasis on the other, with different poems.

Perhaps, though, we begin with an idea of some sort, even if provoked into life by dreaming up some neat phrase, no more. The idea shapes itself, and lives in a rather raw confused state, until we get going, and then we perceive that with the best will in the world, some words just don't 'go' or any rhyme will be forced. We start to tinker, turning words around, and in the process get a clearer idea of what the idea actually is, and also, why it seemed, in its way, to appeal to some hidden part of us. As words offer themselves, we see opportunities for producing the more nuanced, refined, idea, and in this way, the new set of words do not come as forced, and nor has meaning been sacrificed.

There is nothing like a bit of refinement....Smile

An interesting topic!
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#17
I think it probably stemmed from my use of the word "idea", or the phrase "idea of the poem". When I'm composing something, there's something that matters to me, that's everything to me when I'm in it, something that's evolving, something I'm chasing down, something I'm trying to creatively realize. Absent that, I wouldn't waste a moment's time on verse.

That's what I meant by the idea of the poem. It's there throughout the process. Most of the times I've given up on a poem, crumbled up and threw in the can, was the result of having lost interest in the idea of it, of having deemed it no longer worth fighting for. There's many other things I like to do. Smile

Anyway...
You can't hate me more than I hate myself.  I win.

"When the spirit of justice eloped on the wings
Of a quivering vibrato's bittersweet sting."

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#18
(03-23-2014, 06:47 AM)NobodyNothing Wrote:  I think it probably stemmed from my use of the word "idea", or the phrase "idea of the poem". When I'm composing something, there's something that matters to me, that's everything to me when I'm in it, something that's evolving, something I'm chasing down, something I'm trying to creatively realize. Absent that, I wouldn't waste a moment's time on verse.

That's what I meant by the idea of the poem. It's there throughout the process. Most of the times I've given up on a poem, crumbled up and threw in the can, was the result of having lost interest in the idea of it, of having deemed it no longer worth fighting for. There's many other things I like to do. Smile

Anyway...

I think it was clear enough and further I think it is something every writer will struggle with occasionally. My old friend Julie carter addressed it in this interview:
http://www.avatarreview.net/AV10/Miller_interview.htm
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#19
^^^Cool. Thanks. Off to a party now.

God bless.
You can't hate me more than I hate myself.  I win.

"When the spirit of justice eloped on the wings
Of a quivering vibrato's bittersweet sting."

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