“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? / The world would split open.”
Poet Muriel Rukeyser

Monday, June 25, 2007

Mending Walls: a conversation about poetry continues

diane at faithincommunity is leading us in our most recent dialogue about poetry....join us! Scroll down to Mending Wall...

some things we are discussing. From John Ciardi's book, "How Does a Poem Mean," (1975):

a poem functions like liturgy in that there are two basic levels similar to "primary theology" (the experience of God, the divine, worship at it's best) and "secondary theology" the analysis of that "experience." A poem is meant to be experienced as a "performance," and then how it is interpreted, or rather, how we come to understand the poem.

a poem uses symbol, or "something that stands for something else." In poetry a symbol is like a rock dropped in a pool, it ripples out in all directions and the ripples are in motion, who can say where the last ripple disappears. In the process of forming these ripples a simultaneous effect is put in place - the effect of being the same and the effect of its opposite. Ripples both mirror themselves and effect their opposite.

symbols signify something more than the literal self which gains emotional expansion and intensify over time.

there is a rhythmic resemblance between poetry and prayer.

poetry is a series of interpretive pictures, the words suggest feelings, images, music, an interplay between surface words and what lies underneath.

words evoke feeling, involve the whole body, have a history, and create a picture.

Every word is a feeling, every word has it's own personality.

Words involve the whole body in the process of breath and muscle needed to make the sound of the word. Every word has a muscular feel:

mimetic: when the saying of the word enacts what it denotes ie oily
onomatopoetic: when the saying of the word imitates the sound the word denotes ie buzz, splash

a word has a history: languages die but words tend to live on. the word may fall short of it original meaning but the surviving word continues to be used, albeit, somewhat "chipped or broken."

With few exceptions, every word traced back far enough is either a metaphor or an onomatopoeia.
Check out the poem and join the conversation!