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Zine maker, peace activist, writer, reader, feminist. I like listening to good listeners. Email me at robotmad (gmail).

Monday, May 29, 2006

poetry isn't prose #14

Poetry is concise, compact thought. It usually has line breaks—the line is the main unit of thought. Poetry is like prose boiled down and condensed. It’s more likely to address the reader. Poetry is usually more with a punch. Poetry has more to do with sound. Poetry is effective in both content and form. Poetry is about sound as much as sense. Sometimes poetry can be almost entirely sound with very little sense.

I dislike the way poetry is bad-mouthed by people who don’t get it. They admonish, “Just come out and say what you’re trying to say” because they value clarity. But what they don’t understand is that poetry can be clearer than prose. Good poetry is at least as clear as prose.

I also dislike the way some people use poetry to get sympathy. They write autobiographical poems about depressing subjects just for attention. That’s a misuse of art. It’s okay to be autobiographical, and it’s okay to be depressing. Making art about painful past events can help a person understand what happened. But I hate it when the writer is trying to make me feel sorry for him. It creeps me out and makes me angry instead.

I love the way poetry is brief. It’s instant gratification. You don’t have to muddle through preliminaries. Also, I love the way poetry can be accessible to all people.

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