Monday, 4 February 2013
Topic 2 for PP Chatroom: What Is Poetry?
Since we posted our first PP chatroom topic about whether poetry is dead or not, we have received little written note; nor will many people long remember, but we are happy to know and report that there have been quite a number of pageviews; that is to say, as some readers stop and take a brief look, what we are trying to do here does mean more than just a promotional experiment, and that is exactly what we can hope for at the moment.
It seems that there are more kinds of poetry now than ever before. In addition to all sub-genres of traditional poetry, such as Epic, Ode, Sonnets, Sestina, Ballad, Blank Verse, Couplet, Elegy and Dramatic Monologue, we have had every kind of free verse, from visual/concrete and minimalist to various innovative/experimental pieces. Some poems have regular or irregular line divisions; some do not at all; others may have or may not have words or verbal content; and still others could be moving pictures or static collages. This situation clearly demonstrates that poetry as a literary genre (phenomena?) has been expanding continuously in terms of theme, form and style. Given the way contemporary poetry evolves, one might expect that it will someday develop into an all-embracing art form to include all verbal and visual artworks.
What are, if any at all, the most distinct defining elements of poetry, or, what is poetry?
Your written comments on or response to the topic are more than welcome in the box below or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comment by Michael Dalvean
I am new to this forum so please forgive any mistakes I make in regard to protocol etc.
My main reason for joining is to get some feedback on some work I have done on the analysis of poetry. Basically, what I have done is uuse some rather amazing software to look at how less experienced poets use language as opposed to more experienced of "professional" poets. THe main finding is that professional as opposed to amateur poets tend to use more concrete language than amateur poets and also use fewer emotional and psychological terms than amateur poets. Thus, the dictum "show rather than tell" does seem to apply.
Because it is possible to quantify what makes a "professional" poem I have used this information to give a rank to a number of poets whose work appears in the anthology 'Contemporary American Poetry' (Poulin & Waters, 2006). That is I rank contemporary American poems on a scale from "amateur" to "professional". The upshot is that, of the poems in the selection, 'Working Late' by Louis Simpson is the most archetypically professional (contains more concrete language and less emotional and psychological language while 'Blackberry Eating' Galway Kinnell is the least archetypically professional.
I would be interested to hear the response of anyone to the basic research so that I can refine the methods in the light of criticisms and suggestions.
To look at the paper please go to
and select "Download This Paper".
I hope to hear from you soon.