1. tanvi02
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    tanvi02 Member

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    is content more important than writing style in poetry or vice versa?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by tanvi02, Aug 13, 2010.

    what is more important? writing style or the content,theme of the poem
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'm not much a poet, but I'd say they're probably equally in importance- I certainly think they are with fiction.
     
  3. gabelpa
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    gabelpa Banned

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    For me poetry needs to include more attention to structure, word choice, meter and flow than prose. I suppose that would be writing style. Without a sense of style, poetry is just a bunch of short, gramatically bad sentences loosely strung together.
     
  4. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whilst it is very important to remember that good poetry has something to say, it is at least equally as important to remember that, indeed, it has to be said with a certain style. As with almost everything a balance needs to be struck, but if I had to choose I'd go with style over theme, but that's only a personal opinion. Others will undoubtedly prefer it the other way around, but there are varying types and readers of poetry to account for this.
     
  5. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    For me, style trumps content regardless of medium (though obviously the best works have great content as well as style).
     
  6. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    For me writing style can only be:
    - Bad: In which case I simply stop reading and usually never try again with the same author. (IIRC this happened to me with Ken Follett, for example).
    - Acceptable: In which case it's all about content. This is most of what I read.
    - Beautiful or technically impressive: In which case I'll read even an uninteresting content. It happens from time to time.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm a full time poet and mentor many aspiring ones, so my answer is neither is more important than the other...

    if one's 'writing style' isn't up to acceptable standards, it won't matter what the content/theme of the piece is... and if the content/theme isn't interesting to readers, it won't matter how well it's written...
     
  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I figure that content is important in any writing, poetry or prose. But prose can get away with, well, stinking. I probably won't read it, but smelly prose gets published a lot. Poetry can't get away with that.

    So it's style. Poetry isn't poetry unless the art of language is emphasized.
     
  9. miss_darcy
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    miss_darcy Member

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    I'm not much of a poetry reader but when I do read poetry I like the story it tells and how well it flows. I'm not one to sit down and analyze a poem, that's not really my thing, so if it's talking about something that is abstract and you really have to analyze, then I won't like it. I like being able to understand and relate in someway to a piece of writing.
     
  10. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    Imagine that the poem is about the untimely death of a child and the mother's extreme suffering. Imagine a poet trying to convey that in a series of limericks or the "Hickory-dicory-dock-the-mouse-went-up-the-clock-..." meter and rhyme scheme. Style and purpose must compliment each other in order to avoid such incongruities.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The one that is more important is whichever is lacking in the poem under consideration.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    great point!
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This is a rather negative way of looking at literature. If a work is exceptionally strong in one area, but somewhat weak in another, it may still be well worth reading. On the other hand, if all aspects of a work are roughly equal, in the sense that they aren't "lacking", that work may still be tedious and forgettable.

    Great works survive the decades (and sometimes even centuries) because their strengths are great, not because their weaknesses are negligible.
     
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  14. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Besides which, content (unlike style) isn't really something that can just be fixed in poetry. You decide on your subject (the content) and then you write the poem (which is almost purely 'style'). It's easy to change words, images, structure in order to enhance your style, but once you've decided on your subject (and narrative, if it's a narrative poem), there isn't generally a whole lot you can do to "improve it".
     
  15. Cogito
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    Not at all. I'm not considering the poem as a fait accompli, but from the persepctive of the poet creating the poem. At some point, you have a well-balanced poem, and that is the goal. It is also functional, rather than a dogmatic, answer to the question posed.

    I disagree. The content can have more than one layer. In fact, poetry should possess more than just a surface meaning. All the layers are part of the content. If you are working on a poem, and decide it needs more depth, you can most assuredly add to or modify the content to add dimension. You can extend a metaphor, eliminate distracting imagery that weakens the metaphor, even add an additional layer of meaning.
     
  16. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    But with things like changing imagery or metaphors, you're talking about writing style: those are stylistic features that change how the content is considered, rather than changes to the content itself. I mean, in the sense that the words in a poem are content, there's only so much you can add. When you get down to changing word order, images, structure and stylistic features, you're dealing with matters of style more than matters of content, although in both poetry and prose the two are intimately linked. It just happens that in poetry, style is far more important.
     

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