Friday, November 18, 2005

Embracing all forms?

Irish Poets said:

By embracing all form the poet cannot fail, as s/he will not be restricted and
can engage with all the schools and groupings.

But I wonder if that's possible. I have to say that everyone has their biases and I'm not alone in this. I don't think I'm going to go back to writing regular iambic pentameter any time soon. I like sonnets, but my sonnets owe as much to Ted Berrigan as to Shakepeare, and they certainly don't "scan." Yet I do have that skill, because I taught it to myself early on. You choose the techniques you use to suit the kind of person/poet you are, and because of what the writers you admire have chosen.

But do young poets writing now need it? Irish Poets again:

the crop of young and thrusting urban poets scrambling about the world today,
are all concerned with making a name for themselves, but very few of them have
metrical ability.

I'm in a dilemma. Does a video artist, or installation artist, need to know how to draw? Apart, that is, from the ability to storyboard the video, or come up with a reasonable sketch of what they want the installation to look like? So if a poet uses, say, a lipogrammatic technique, rather than rhyme, does that person need to know how to rhyme?

But then writing poetry is different from visual art...

well, yes, unless you're talking visual/concrete poetry. It's also different from music, unless you're talking sound poetry a la Bob Cobbing. Rhyme and metre are part of the poet's toolbox, available for use should you feel inclined; what if you don't feel inclined? Picasso could draw by the age of fifteen, but gave up on the ability to draw what he saw in front of him and became a Cubist. Can Damien Hirst draw? Is Tracy Emin deliberately a bad drawer, or just a bad drawer, and does it matter?

Yet it matters that we have the skill to rhyme and do meter, even though we never use it. Hmmm... I'm still in a dilemma. Maybe a basic skill is required, like even punk bands have to learn a couple of chords to play even a note. To play the freest of jazz, though, you have to know your instrument inside out, and you have to know music probably better than your average orchestal player, because you have to keep the sound together even while you're tearing it apart.

In the end, the more knowledge of technique, the better. Three chords always gives you more options than two. But technique doesn't make you great. There has to be passion - but therein lie a whole host of questions - what is passion? for starters.

Someone else can answer that one for today.

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