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john k zimmerman

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My Poetics [#1]
by john k zimmerman   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Posted: Saturday, February 22, 2003

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from time to time i will be writing down my thoughts on writing in general and poetry in particular. these will be largely a matter of thinking out loud.

please comment


Poetic Language

Poetic language is not the stilted quasi-Elizabethan lingo full of thee’s and thou’s and doth’s as it is often portrayed and parodied. The language of poetry is akin to the language of everyday speech; they share the words and rhythms that the poet hears everyday. But the language of poetry is not the language of everyday speech, either.

First most conversation is meaningless out side of its context (that some of it is meaningless IN its context is another paper). Most conversation is full of contextual jargon, and innuendo that the in’s get and the out’s don’t. The language of poetry has meaning that is intended to be understood across contexts. Metaphor is not usually used in everyday speech and when it is it is used to conceal. In poetry metaphor serves not to conceal but to reveal.

The rhythms of everyday speech are defuse, unorganised. Poetic language
concentrates and organizes the natural rhythms of speech. Free verse does this
first by line length. A “line” of poetry is taken as a rhythmic unit, by varying the line length the poet enhances and varies the rhythmic structure of the poem. A long line tends to facilitate a languid, liquid laid back rhythm: a short line tends to give a brisker, more staccato rhythm. These patterns can be disrupted by the use of “enjambment” where a sense and rhythm marches from one line to the next. Rhythm are further modified through the use of alliteration and assonance, and
internal rhyme.

Finally, poetic language is sparse, terse, every word counts. Even the most luxuriant description, the most lyrical flight of fancy, is achieved with an economy of language. This economy is imposed by the parameters of line and rhythm. This sparse language leads the poet on the never ending quest for the right word.

Everyday speech, in contrast, tends to be verbose and full of malapropisms.

Poetic language, to sum up, is highly artificial even when it purports to be simple, “everyday” language. The poet’s challenge is “to keep ‘er between the ditches”: the stilted on the one side and the banal on the other.

It is a wild ride ...

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Reviewed by Andre Bendavi ben-YEHU

I did learn through the lines of this magnificent composition, which requires further study for a proper understanding.

I see poetry as the wet-nurse of the language and the guideline of its growth and perfection.

I close this with words of Master Aberjhani:
“... Every poet is rightfully entitled to his or her individual perspective and methodology, every poet’s voice is a valid and valued one.” ––ABERJHANI

In gratitude and respect, always.

Andre Emmanuel Bendavi ben-YEHU
Reviewed by m j hollingshead
i like this
Reviewed by Gwen Dickerson
Hi John! I'm reading and enjoying this informative article today, for the first time, almost 2 years after you wrote it, but as they say, "Better late, than never!"
Reviewed by Sandie Angel
Poetry is expression; but metaphors is used because most teachers say that a poem should not be too telling.

A straight forward "telling like it is" poem is worth less points in compared with one that has "imageries" and "metaphors"; and the one that captures the most points is one that has "imageries", "metaphors", "rhythm" and "rhyme".

Good message for all, John!

Sandie Angel :o)
Reviewed by Tinka Boukes
You know it all
I didn't
But now I do
Reviewed by erica
You certainly hit the nail on the head!! Loved this..
our thoughts and so true .

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