1. Torana
    Offline

    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2007
    Messages:
    9,659
    Likes Received:
    128

    Abstract over clarity

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Torana, Oct 14, 2007.

    Ok this is something that I have now spent countless hours thinking about after a fabulous review maia has done on a poem I asked her to give me some help with.

    The thing is that I was told not so long ago that what people like with poetry has now changed. That you are better to write something that is completely abstract and full of words that not many can understand, but it sounds good.

    Although I have now been told not to put in all the fancy stuff and concentrate on being consisely clear and truely poetic. I completely agree, 100%. But I just want to hear what everyone else thinks on this topic.

    (that is if you understand what I am talking about, I have this way of making people not understand ><)
     
  2. RomanticRose
    Offline

    RomanticRose Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2007
    Messages:
    491
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I think i almost understand what you are saying. {wink}

    I hold with the definition of poetry that someone told me a long time ago. I'm sure they got it from somewhere, but I have no idea where.

    Poetry is words put together in such a way that they cannot be paraphrased without losing meaning or essence.

    I guess I don't have a lot of business posting on it, since if someone put a gun to my head and told me to show my poetry or they would pull the trigger, I would have to at least think about it. My poetry is utter crap flambe, but it helps me get my head clear.

    Sorry for the ramble.
    Rosalinda
     
  3. dushechka
    Offline

    dushechka Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Canada
    I'd agree with that statement. But in my case at least, there has to be a balance between the abstract and the "normal" words. I just think abstract is funner to write, and to read. Simply because nothing is being spoon fed to you. The interpretation is entirely up to you.
     
  4. Isis
    Offline

    Isis Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New Yawk
    I think clarity is key and that abstraction leads to a loss of emotion. I guess you're saying 'abstract' in the art sense - it's hard to understand, not among the realm of real experience, not literal. And that's true: if you fill up your writing with convoluted statements and hazy ideas, twisting things up so nothing comes out making clear sense then, yes, that's not going to do anything. But a lot of the time it's not a case of making things interesting, but making an idea that says very little seem as though it's saying a lot. There's a difference between complex and slightly crazy imagery or metaphor that's interesting for its own sake ... and complex wording that's just there to make something "sound good". Poetry is not a vehicle for making yourself sound intelligent or enlightened or whatever.

    When I think of "abstract" poetry, I think less of something that's obtuse and confusing (which is what you're saying, more or less) but of something that relies on telling rather than showing. Abstractions are things like love, happiness, pain, fear, sadness, soul, heart, death -- generally the emotional "buzzwords". Abstractions mean so many different things to different people that they're generally useless in a poem, and poetry should be rid of most of these. They work only to tell the reader what they should be feeling or should get out of the poem and don't do anything to actually evoke a reaction. It's the difference between being told "I went to Italy, it was very pretty" and "I went to Italy, and the mountains loomed low and gray around the valleys in spirals and there were flowers bursting from every window box." Which one is more interesting?

    I think also that there's a difference between imagery and metaphor that works and "the fancy stuff". A clearly and simply worded image - even if it's technically understandable by anybody above a sixth-grade reading level - will be far more emotionally complex and intriguing than something vague dressed up with five-dollar words.
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    amen to all that, isis!

    sorry, torana, but whoever told you that is neither a poet, nor one who's studied good poetry... it makes about as much sense as most of the stuff i see on the internet that the unknowing/undiscerning seem to think is 'poetry'... and that is, in fact, merely what the terms 'doggerel' and 'poetaster' were coined to refer to...

    there's nothing wrong with writing such stuff for fun and personal reasons, but while they might be called 'poems' by their makers, it just isn't 'poetry' in the world of literature... in the same way an amateur's doodles wouldn't be considered 'art' in the art world...
     
  6. wordwizard
    Offline

    wordwizard Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Messages:
    1,316
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    I think overall it shouldn't matter. You are writing for you....even when you are writing a piece to sell of show off. It should be made with your own style. So if abstract or oldschool poetry is your thing then go with it. If you are going to try to write like other people you are going to run into a lot of problems. I know it is good to try new things and step out of your comfort zone, but it still should be done with your style and within your abilities.
    cheers
    WW
     
  7. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Abstraction should not be confused with obscurity. Abstraction is a method of whittling away distracting and irrelevant details, to highlight a particular aspect.

    Abstraction may be used to strengthen a metaphor, for example, by taking away elements that might muddy the metaphor.
     
  8. Frost
    Offline

    Frost Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Messages:
    670
    Likes Received:
    20
    Location:
    Australia
    Word.

    Sometimes the line it self can be quite blurred between whats abstract and whats obscurity, if you dont write with care. I've fallen into this trap. I try not to anymore. But the point is, I'd prefer something abstract and worthy of though over something that is spoon fed to me.
     
  9. evizaer
    Offline

    evizaer Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2007
    Messages:
    343
    Likes Received:
    7
    I've read a thousand poems that are complete crap because the writer used forms of poetry to restrict an idea (most often a very concrete idea) that, it seems, they'd much prefer to relay through prose. That poetry it terrible and should not be shown to others, because it's void of anything truly useful emotionally or otherwise--it's a diary entry.

    I've read a thousand poems that are generic and have nothing in them but the basic facts of a situation we've all encountered stated plainly. This poetry is also terrible because it does nothing to make you feel--it entirely relies on the past experiences of the reader or the writer to give it meaning. It does no work. It's truly nothing aside from some words thrown together that everyone can relate to directly. It's boring. There's nothing clever in it, there's nothing to make your jaw go slack. Boredom manifest.

    Then you have the poetry that's abstract and difficult to the point of self-mutilation. That stuff I haven't read as much of, because it's much more difficult to write, but it's equally terrible. The overly clever is just as annoying as the not-clever-at-all.

    Those three ways of writing poetry all fail because they make a caricature of the idea of poetry--At their most base way of being, they appear superficial as poetry, but if you examine them, they lack a crucial aspect: The poetic spirit.
     
  10. Aarrcc
    Offline

    Aarrcc New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2007
    Messages:
    10
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The Midwest.
    While abstract poetry may certainly have merits in conveying a vague theme will progressively strengthens over the course of the poem, being overly clever with wordplay or overly eloquent words (such as what I do) just reeks of verbal jackass-ism.

    Many may get tired of traditionalism and experiment solely for themselves, with surprising results. However, there are certain traits of poetry that must be preserved in order to keep its title as poetry.
     

Share This Page