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  #11  
Old 12-20-2017, 10:48 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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I did enjoy the article and don't really disagree with anything he says. I don't know if it's great advice for brand new writers. It's like the old cliched analogy with painting isn't it? Before you ask us to admire your abstract expressionism, prove that you can draw an accurate pair of shoes. It's easy to pontificate that craft/adherence to form stifles creativity etc once you can do it.

Hopefully, and ideally, learning the 'mechanics' of poetry should feel of a piece with finding your own voice, your own subject matter. It should come from the same elusive and pleasurable place. If it ever feels like a chore, like 'homework', do something else.

That's not to say that even learning 'forms' is a prerequisite for what makes a good poet. One can imagine a person never attempting a sestina, say, or even a sonnet and being a remakable poet. But 'craft' is vital.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 12-20-2017 at 12:31 PM.
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  #12  
Old 12-20-2017, 11:58 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
But 'craft' is vital.
Certainly. As I think Bazzett would argue as well. But I think craft--and here he means all manner of things, from form to pentameter to a Eliot's 'sad punctuation'--is but a tool and not the thing itself.

Even if we agree, we must be reminded of it. Many a time I've bucked at deconstructing my sonnet because it was a sonnet. We've had writers here who wouldn't and couldn't.

Perhaps it's a less meaningful piece in this venue, though, since we already have a number of strong writers who more or less agree with Bazzett and say so in the threads.
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  #13  
Old 12-20-2017, 12:35 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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I'm glad you posted it! It's made me think. It's added to the ongoing conversation I keep having with myself recently.

Oh and I looked him up. Enjoyed his poem about Trump stabbing people in the leg!
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  #14  
Old 12-20-2017, 12:44 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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But there's a difference between "craft" and strict adherence to invariable and inviolable rules. It's not an abandonment of craft if a skilled poet uses an off-rhyme or allows himself an extra beat in a given line, etc. Done properly, it's a mark of craft. Everything should be done well (obviously), and I would argue that nothing done well lacks craft. The essay makes it sound as if there's a trade-off you sometimes make, allowing yourself to be sloppy because you're compensating for the sloppiness by adding something else that more than makes up for it. But that's not an accurate way of putting it. We don't tolerate imperfection because there's a pay-off. If there's a pay-off, there's no imperfection.
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  #15  
Old 12-20-2017, 12:45 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Any discussion on the subject of craft as it relates to artists (actors, writers, painters, etc.) is fascinating to me. Thanks for posting Andrew.

Craft is the "how" of creating. This article is a reminder that writing poetry is first and foremost about harnessing the inarticulate vision of the imagination. How we craft it into a poem is a separate, overlapping skill.
For the poet, things like how we trap ideas, how we keep them organized, what kind of schedule/discipline we employ in our writing activity, how we keep projects, ideas, etc. cataloged, the tedious process of revision, the importance of getting opinions of others you value, etc. the physical space you find conducive to the writing activity, knowing where to mine for ideas (newspapers, the park, the store, etc.) on and on and on… comprise the craft. (How often does a poem come out whole? Never?) Craft is crucial to the process, but not in and of itself certain to produce a good poem.

There is a program entitled, "Inside The Actor's Studio" hosted by James Lipton of the New School University in NYC that is designed specifically for his student/audience. He skillfully interviews serious actors and writers about their personal approach to the craft of acting, writing, etc. I used to use clips from it to educate teachers on how to see themselves as actors and the classroom as a stage. Well worth a look. I'm sure you can find it on YouTube.
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  #16  
Old 12-20-2017, 12:49 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Slater View Post
The essay makes it sound as if there's a trade-off you sometimes make, allowing yourself to be sloppy because you're compensating for the sloppiness by adding something else that more than makes up for it. But that's not an accurate way of putting it. We don't tolerate imperfection because there's a pay-off. If there's a pay-off, there's no imperfection.
Not re-reading the piece, that wasn't something I took from it first round through. If he's saying such a thing, he's wrong. Your articulation of the relationship poets should take with craft is one I agree with 100%, though, and you said it much better than I could, particularly the last line.
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