The-Quality-of-Poetry-on-Scribeslice

Group: The Quality of Poetry on Scribeslice

Quality in poetry

I am wanting to start a discussion group for serious poetry writers. Much of the writing called poetry on the site is poor and has no rhythm, meter and little metaphoric content. Instead I see overuse of aggressive adjectives and nouns in place of inspired language.
I don't want to appear negative. I'm not suggesting that we take apart any specific submissions but that we try to consider how the general position could be improved.
I think that this group would not appeal to writers who seek vivid emotional catharsis though I accept that this is necessary for some and should be catered for on other parts of the site.
OK, I've stuck my neck out. How about some discussion?


Harry Wells

4th May 2013


Excellent idea to start this very informative group. I will definitely try to be as regular as possible in here.

One idea that you can work on is to introduce a certain type of poetry, explain it briefly, and then write something in that genre, also allowing us to write in the same vein here. Kind of like a prompt I guess.

A suggestion only. I am hoping you already have some ideas up your sleeve. :)


Asma Ahsan

5th May 2013


That's a good idea, Asma. Before I get to that stage I'm going to wait and see what other members think constitutes good poetry.


Harry Wells

5th May 2013


Personally, I would find it difficult to explain which poetry I find good or bad, although I would tend to make the judgement. I do agree there is a tendency, probably in poetry across the whole internet and in real life, to disregard structure, rhythm and originality in favour of catharsis. I'm almost certainly guilty of this myself (hopefully just on occasion) and I think it serves a purpose when first getting used to writing poetry. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. However, these kind of poems are best left on the hard drive or in journals. The kind of poetry that you intend for others, especially strangers, to read requires a great deal of thought and effort, in learning the finer points of the craft, even if you don't directly use what you've learned in your writing.


Mere Poulard

5th May 2013


Well said.


Harry Wells

5th May 2013


I agree. I used to write a bit like that in college, but then, I stopped writing only untill recently. The gap in between was almost of 20 years so you can imagine the RUST in my mind.

I am always trying to improve my writing style so any forum that supports improving your writing skills is always a welcome site for me. :)

Harry, you need to write about the basic forms of poetry that we should be using in our writings, so we can start working on some new ideas.


Asma Ahsan

5th May 2013


Iambic Pentameter is the most used form of meter in poetry. An Iambic stands for a beat, just like you would have in music. One iamb is two syllables - an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed one. The best way to think of it is like a heartbeat. da DUM. The word 'nowhere' is one iamb. 'no' is the unstressed syllable and 'where' is the stressed syllable. The iamb can consist of two one syllable words or the last syllable of one word and the first syllable of a following word. The prefix 'pent' means 5, so a pentameter means that you will have 5 iambs in a line. This will mean that you always have 10 syllables in each line. Look at one of Shakespeare's most famous lines from Hamlet "Now is the winter of our discontent." That is a line of Iambic Pentameter.

I didn't say it would be easy! You'll need to keep thinking about it.

I wrote the following poem in iambic pentameters. It has many faults and I welcome analysis and comment.

Title:The Patchwork Quilt Maker
She sits by the window for the best light,
Surrounded by a pile of folded quilts
That waits as for the princess and the pea.
Her mouth, a quiverful of pins, permits
A muttered mmm mmm mmm if you should have
The nerve to ask, ‘What’s for dinner tonight’?

On a side table is a confusion,
Though she would deny, of remnants, patches,
Scraps of cloth that have absorbed the essence
Of those who wore or laid out on the bed
A petticoat perhaps a bridal gown
From which she’ll set out, yet unstitched, a quilt.

In her head, run tumbling blocks, fat quarters,
Cathedral windows, log cabin, lone star,
English piecing, nine patch, bear’s paw, pinwheel.
Disparate bits and pieces yet from these,
The needlewoman makes with cotton thread
That blend of old and new, a counterpane.


Harry Wells

6th May 2013


"Good" is a concept that is hard to define.
What is good in one eye, in the other is blind.
The words I write are not pleasing to all
But write them I must, the words will still fall
Like rain from the sky or snow on the ground
My words will keep falling and making no sound.
It's just my way to clean out my head
To say what I must and then go to bed.


Don Yarber

6th May 2013


So I need to write a poem with ten syllables in each lines?


Asma Ahsan

6th May 2013


That would be a start, Asma.


Harry Wells

6th May 2013


I am a bit slow when it comes to a new concept. It takes me time to absorb stuff. Let me think it through.

This line for example.

She sits by the window for the best light,

You say it should have five iambs. It has ten syllables. Can you break it down for me? I want to learn this.


Asma Ahsan

7th May 2013


Asma, I think an iamb is two syllables, the first 'unstressed' and the second 'stressed'. It can be written as 'da DUM'. I think the easiest way to see an example is by looking at verse that has the stressed part in bold, like the examples found on the Wikipedia page for Iamb http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iamb_(foot). You wouldn't necessarily have to put the stress where it should be for a line of iambic pentameter, but it is usually the most natural sounding way when read aloud.


Mere Poulard

7th May 2013


Ok, thanks! So how many iambs in this line?

She sits by the window for the best light,


Asma Ahsan

7th May 2013


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0aAWuUX5jU

Check this video. Its a bit wacky but quite good at explaining stuff.


Asma Ahsan

7th May 2013


she SITS BY the WINdow FOR the BEST light.

Thats five iambs, all in caps.

AM I right?


Asma Ahsan

7th May 2013


Give ME a GOOD REAson to surVIVE ALOne
WHY shOULD I even BOther to TRY liVING

Harry, What says thou?


Asma Ahsan

7th May 2013


Verily I say unto thee, Asma, thou hast twelve syllables within each line'.
There should be ten syllables consisting of five iambs (an iamb is two) for this standard form.
This is where it gets interesting: try saying exactly the same sentiment using only ten syllables per line. It will mean a raid on your vocabulary and good exercise for the brain.


Harry Wells

7th May 2013


Asma,
She sits/ by the/ window/ for the/ best light,
Meter isn't just an end in itself done for the sake of form. It is all about enabling smoother recitation aloud which is the best form of rendering poetry even if you recite it to yourself aloud. Read the line out loud and put a tiny bit more emphasis on each second syllable. Mere Poulard has got it right.
In the line above the first syllable in each iamb is unstressed while the second is the stressed one. (it doesn't always work out so simply but this is OK as an introduction).


Harry Wells

7th May 2013


Thank you for your help on this, Mere Poulard.
I'm glad to see that we have some discussion going.


Harry Wells

7th May 2013


Verily I say unto thee, Asma, thou hast twelve syllables within each line. Ten syllables thou shalt have. Thou shalt not have eight neither shalt thou have twelve but ten alone shalt thou have.
Hope you don't mind the jocular follow up to your question in the last line of your previous message. I'm not sure about your sense of humour.
There should be ten syllables consisting of five iambs (an iamb is two) for this standard pentameter form. Remember 'pent' means five iambs in this case.
This is where it gets interesting: try expressing exactly the same sentiment using only ten syllables per line. It will mean a raid on your vocabulary and good exercise for the brain.
We'll have a look at imagery and metaphor later if you are still interested.


Harry Wells

7th May 2013


Hi Don
Thanks for contributing. I have a feeling that your poem is saying that you write how it comes out without reference to form if that's how you feel at the time.
What did you want to happen with your poem in this group?


Harry Wells

7th May 2013


Lol. You are my kind of guy Harry. My sense of humor is a blast. :)

Shallst thou accept me in thy apprenticeship?

The YouTube guy is useless. :) I have thrown him out.


Asma Ahsan

8th May 2013


Harry, there is a rhythm in this.

Now is / the win / ter of / our dis / con tent.

Can you read the music in there? I can hear it.

Did I break it down right? If I got this right, then I can write this. I need to understand the pattern.


Asma Ahsan

8th May 2013


Ok, one more try

Give me / a rea / son to / live on / my own
What made / you think / that I / wan ted / this life

How is that. The rhythm fits.

It's like

da dum da da dum da da dum da da

I hear music in my head a lot. :)

You know it's a lot like the meter we use in Urdu poetry back home.


Asma Ahsan

8th May 2013


Well done, Asma. It scans beautifully. Are you going to finish the poem in pentameters?
I like the comparison with Urdu poetry because it underlines the fact that all poetry (if it's any good) in all languages benefits from meter.
Also I like your relating of it to music which has the same features. A good observation.
Forgive me if 'I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs'. Do you know the expression?
Poetry was recited from memory long before it was ever written down. That's why meter and rhyme are important. They help in memorisation.
On Scribeslice we see a lot of so called free verse, the writing of which I once heard described as being like playing tennis with the net down. Prose chopped up!
Do you know about 'blank verse'?


Harry Wells

8th May 2013


THE PROMISE

Give me a reason to live on my own
What made you think that I wanted this life

Living a lie is as bad as it gets
Yearning for love that is hard to conceive

Ending it all seems an easy way out
A promise of heaven, promise of peace


Asma Ahsan

8th May 2013


Sir Harry, first you check my creation, then we discuss blank verse. :) just so you know I always become the teachers pet, so beware. :)


Asma Ahsan

8th May 2013


Excellent in form, fair lady.
A bit of alliteration too in the words 'Living a lie'.
Looking at the meaning it's not clear if 'ending it all' refers to life or a relationship. However there's no need in poetry or prose to give it to the reader on a plate.
I often tell of this one but I have forgotten who the poet was. He was asked by an admirer the following question; 'When you wrote this poem I think you were referring to a lovely blossom. Were you?
The poet's answer was, 'Yes, if you thought so'.


Harry Wells

8th May 2013


I am always subtle. I leave it to your imagination. Let it suffice that ending it all promised heaven and peace.

Glad it turned out ok. Racked my brains for this one. :)

So about blank verse, How goes that kind Sir?


Asma Ahsan

8th May 2013


Your poem, Asma, has a feeling of being unfinished as if the first word in the next two lines might begin:
But........................'.
Do you feel like having a go at it?


Harry Wells

8th May 2013


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