I was talking to a friend of mine on Twitter about the another friend who was criticising the ‘floweriness’ of the language used in poetry (see my previous Tumblr post Fuck it. My gay mate is dead). Here’s a summary of what we decided:
- ‘Flowery’ implies a pile of doily words that distract from the underlying idea. I don’t want to do that (and don’t think I do, generally). I should always beware, though.
- Words set up resonances in people, and the idea is to get the right ones that work in the most people. Poems may use unusual words but only because the weight and shape and rhythm of the words adds to the meaning of the poem.
- If you break the poem down into ideas, and the ideas don’t stand for themselves, then that’s probably not a good poem. The ideas can be simple and profound, but without an idea a poem is just froth.
- Re: 3: the idea can even be, ‘to make a stream of words that have no meaning but are beautiful in themselves, like a song’.
- Avoid pretence at complexity and deep meaning. This is probably what my other friend thought poetry is doing, and it’s what a lot of naive poets do, and maybe she was trying to take me down a peg or two. But, actually, I was trying to use words to communicate to as many people as possible. Perhaps I failed? It was written quickly on Facebook as a response to an idea, so it hadn’t been edited properly. But I don’t want pretence words, I just want to use the full English language to provide a sensory experience that enhances the underlying core idea.
- Some poetry is elitist, flowery showing-off, even if it has an underlying theme, and this is not good. Much as we respect T.S. Eliot, we did use one of his poem as an example :) Here come the flames.
So now you know :)