Monday, February 26, 2007

And poetry is...

... what, exactly? It's not like I'm the first to ask that question, nor is it one I lose much sleep over. However, cuz of a poetry Friday post over on What Adrienne Thinks About That, I've been thinking a bit about it.

One of the interesting things about writing humor is that folks tend to quickly dismiss or lessen what you do, and I think that's often true in terms of what qualifies as "poetry" to different people. Sure, it's a sliding target no matter how you define it, but I tend to think humor gets the short end of the stick.

But the real reason this keeps popping up for me is that from time to time folks say that Fibs are not poetry. Now, I make no claim that my search Fibs are anything other than fun riffs on found material, though I think they fall into the Flarf category as well. But many Fibs written by me and strewn through the comments of The Fib and More Fibbery and elsewhere on the blog... well, they are definitely poetry. 20 syllables laid out in the proper form isn't enough, but trying to pinpoint a precise definition... be it based on Fibs or anything... well, maybe one of y'all has the answer, but surely not me.


Kelly Fineman said...

Poetry, like pornography, is subject to individual perception. Many folks seem to think that poetry requires a depth of meaning that I feel unnecessary. Others think it must be all gloom and doom; still others, that it must always be funny. Some who write free verse think that forms are archaic and outmoded. Some who write in forms think that free verse is anarchy and lacks discipline.

As you know, I like lots of it -- including forms like the Fib (and hey, the Fibonnacci sequence is mentioned in my Poetry Dictionary as a valid form, so it's got some momentum behind it) and the kwansaba (a newer form -- I talked about it last Monday on LJ), as well as free verse.

What I don't think is that it's fair to denigrate poems and other poets just because they aren't to your taste. I checked out Adrienne's post, and I have to agree with you that it looked and sounded like poetry to me, and the use of humorous metaphor and rhyme puts it squarely in that camp, even if it doesn't reveal deep truths about the human psyche.

And it can't be said too often -- funny doesn't get the credit it deserves (it's far harder to do well than serious -- almost anyone can spew a number of maudlin free verses loaded full of opaque imagery at you, but very few can write something that's truly funny).

Nancy said...

Well I had comments, but Kelly already said it all much better than I would have. So... Yeah, what she said!