118 comments on “Biology of Poetry

  1. I agree with renemutume above– awesome piece of work. Should be required reading for a university English class. Especially loved: “Poems need to be seen with the ear and heard with the eye.”

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  2. First thank you for visiting my page , secondly I liked your approach simple wording it can reach all readers there is a Sence of honesty that I admired
    Thanks for sharing.
    Best regards
    Zara M.

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  3. Wonderful, however, I also recall that my great -grandmother (daughter of a slave mother with a owner of a farm), also wrote poetry. She could not write really well, but she felt like doing it. The innocence, the clarity which she was able to present, was really incredible. She poured all her heart in it. There are poets and poets. I agree with what you wrote and I also disagree.
    I can feel the passion in your words, I can identify all the love you placed in expressing it… Beautiful!
    However there is room for poets of all levels of poetry.
    In Brasil there is a tradition of ” Cordel literature”. Cordel means a string. The poet has to be really good, because he or she has to make poetry on the go while singing it. The poet has to be really fast thinker and has to rhyme. They would not be able to fulfill the above conditions, however it is a wonderful experience to listen to them singing poems. They are also made into pamphlets and sold in fairs.
    http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar_en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=822&Itemid=1

    Once in Rio de Janeiro I met taxi driver that made poetry and sang them, non stop for 45 minutes (while he drove me from the bus terminal home).
    It was incredibly beautiful and a delight.

    PS: I strive for honesty too.

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    • Thank you so much for your wonderful thoughtful comments. As I said, I still have much to learn, and you’ve taught me some new things here. I wasn’t aware of cordel literature. But the fact that its sung supports my view that the aurality of poetry is crucial. Seems to have similarities to rap music. The fact that its composed instantly and sung simultaneously tells me its authors have extremely quick minds. Certainly quicker than mine. The chance for reflection is needed for me. And I often use it to rewrite or adjust my poems. But obviously others don’t need to do that, and I can only admire them. Thanks for sharing all this with me.

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  4. Pingback: Biology of Poetry | chrisnwogu

  5. Awesome piece. “Poetry needs to be read by people other than poets.”

    I couldn’t agree more– I feel this accounts for the lack of commercial success for modern poetry. Only musicians and celebrities can coax book sales from the general public. That and the fact that haute couture poetry of the moment looks like nonsense.

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  6. Hi Paul. Very interesting. I have always written by how I feel. Thank you for liking my poem ‘ Alleyway’. Best Wishes, The Foureyed Poet.

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  7. Hi Paul. Thank you for liking my poems ‘ Reminsce, Unwanted Guest and Dog Walk’. And now for following my poetry journey. Best Wishes. The Foureyed Poet.

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  8. “Poetry needs to be read by people other than poets.” When we give readings, we usually don’t advertise them as poetry readings–We just give the names of the poets and the overall subjects. Some people who attend don’t even recognize the writing as poetry but love what they hear. I judge these poems as successful. As a result, a reading advertised as being poetry recently had a packed house with people standing. This I call success. As with all else in life, we need to compete for attention with a number of genres and media. No one likes a bore. Make it interesting and important and people will listen. Thanks for visiting my new blog.

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  9. Absolutely beautiful. Your thoughts are stunningly clear and concise– and evoke a visceral response– much like poetry. I have loved to write since childhood– and find that poetry for me is a part of processing– it’s creation has an eb and flow much like that of a poem. thank you so much for liking my post. i’ll definitely be reading more of yours.

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  10. Hi, I agree with your comments, all of them. Thanks for liking my poem “Memories”. I must have done something right.

    I will be following your blog and look forward to more of your insightful wisdom.

    Cheers,
    Dennis

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  11. Paul, your “Biology of Poetry” ranks in the Top Five essays I have read to date on the nature of poetry. I found myself wanting to shout “Amen!” with every point you made. I am now an OFFICIAL follower. Oh, do I get a badge or membership card? *g* Drop by my poetry/haiku blog “Randa Lane…” any time. Love to have you!
    -R-

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  12. Some terriffic points made and a real insight to those not of a poetical nature. I particularly agree with what you mean by poetry needing to be read by the heart. Too many people cut open the ball to look inside for the bounce, trying to decipher a hidden meaning or see an allegory when there may not necessarily be one; poetry is often written for poet’s need to write poetry – just vent pure emotion (as I notice in some of yours). Congratulations on an excellent piece of writing, sir.

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  13. My wife recently came across a Canadien radio station on Sirius. Love the music, very mellow and soothing. Don’t understand a word of the lyrics and it doesn’t matter. It’s the melody, the rhythm and the rhyme that come through even to a person who only knows a half-dozen French words. When people can lay aside the illusion that words must always carry meaning and always be easily accessible, maybe then they’re ready to put appreciation ahead of understanding. Maybe then, they’ll be ready to actually enjoy poetry.

    Thanks for posting your essay; very worthwhile.

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  14. Hello Mr. Lenzi,
    Thanks for reading my Haiku and thereby leaving a bread crumb trail from my blog to yours. I’ve been here for more than an hour savoring the flavors and allowing the words to flow through.
    This is a beautiful read. The ideas slide through my mind giving form to my half-developed sense of poetry and writing. The expert use of color sooths my eye.
    I hope you don’t mind that I’m forwarding a link to some friends.
    All the best to you, Vickie

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  15. Rereading your words about poetry and what it is…and what it can be…how it needs to be read..You are an amazing writer and you write with such clarity and even flow…I came to your site again to thank you for your many visits to my blog! I am honored by your visits and encouragement! Reading your fine poetry, tells me I have a long way to go to reach such finesse!

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  16. Man, you understand the show, which I doubt most academics get. You first sentance could have been written by me. Thanks for an insightful blog.

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  17. Good morning, Paul! Your writing is exquisite! I am having technical difficulty with WordPress. It will NOT allow me to hit LIKE but does allow my comments…so here you are! I want to thank YOU for your many visits to my blog–your presence encourages me forward! I think you have great peace in your soul…I am searching for it. Your blog has a pleasant format and the words carry it to the highest plane possible!

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  18. I especially like your thought that a poem needs to be spoken. I always speak my poems out loud as I compose, and often fiddle around searching for the correct number of syllables or a word where the accent falls just right. I think I am still in the stage of writing descriptive poems.

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  19. The poetry scene does need to change. It is becoming a semi-dying art form. It has to start at the reads and open mics. Poets need to entertain an audience and not just sit there with their book and recite.
    Poetry will spring back with the community, but we must first serve something to the community, and then get a response.

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  20. A wonderful essay Paul – full of real insight. I was delighted by your insistence that a poem should be read or whispered repeatedly by its author. I’m an habitual whisperer of poetry who longs to shout it out. This airing is a crucial step in the production of a poem. I sometimes worry that blogging encourages me to release poems before they are ready. I know that I spend far less time on revision now than I used to. Poetry is a special language and as different to prose as, well …. to quote Paul Valery “walking and dancing”. Not everyone agrees. Wordsworth and Coleridge disagreed with each other on this point I seem to recall. I shall stick to my guns. Fabulous piece of work.

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  21. Thank you for stopping by and liking my page. I have just read and pondered over “Biology of Poetry” and enjoyed it very much. Though poetry itself tends to sneak quietly out of the room when we try to describe it once and for all, I continuously carry on this same kind of disquisition in my head. It does my heart good to read that others are doing it too. A wonderful essay!

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  22. The biological facts of poetry, here under your microscope and in front of your telescope–also a tall glass of pure water for the body of our minds! One more physicality of poetry’s biology is when it is written with ink on paper, made tangible. Once tangible, the energies of the paper and the ink help spin the words. Try this experiment in the laboratory of your physical and poetical body: think a poem, study it out with pen and ink, revise it, cook it in the warmth of your mind and brain cells for a bit, then take it out of the heat and call it done. Write it again as a product–use fine ink and paper with a good weave. Then let it walk with you, dine with you, sleep with you: those words on paper and ink.

    Doing this experiment is about playing in the laboratory of the spirit, but it will get an individual closer to the meaning of “soul” than just about anything else except walking on a forested hill near the ocean on a rainy summer day where the clouds allow periods of sporadic sunlight as if all of nature were manifesting an inner Vermeer.

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  23. Such an interesting blog Paul and thankyou for sharing your thoughts – I especially liked the comments on metaphor and the heart,

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  24. This is wonderful, I absolutely agree with you. I’ve always loved words and their sound and rhythm, but only recently started to “write poetry”, and this is a a post I will come back to time and again as it so beautifully expresses the fledgling feelings that I have had when writing. A fantastic and thoroughly satisfying read! I really look forward to following your blog.

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  25. I think I did this backwards. I usually read poems, then get around afterwords to read about the poet. But I got so caught up in this article. I have never heard poetry described in quite that way. I avoid most attempts to explain it in any higher sense than what naturally, organically comes from the head and heart. But I found myself nodding at so many of your descriptions.

    This stood out for me: ‘Poems need to be seen with the ear and heard with the eye.’ That’s not surprising because the sentence itself is a poem. Thank you for visiting my blog and for sharing.

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  26. An intense and satisfying essay about the inner soul of poetry.

    “Poetry lives in the realms of the imagination. Poetry is essentially creative. Poetry does depend upon words, and music, and measure, and rhyme.” – Father Lawrence J. Vaughn

    “It is when life is unable to endure the pain of silence that it breaks into a cry which is poetry – and in poetry all art is included.” – Lady Margaret Sackville of England

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  27. Pingback: Poetry Must Be Consumed | Blog of Author Robert S. Eilers

  28. Paul, I am relatively new to the fine art of poetry. Simply, I write about life experience and topics which, hopefully, readers can relate to. Your words are magical and articulate more than I ever could say on the subject! I am also new to WordPress so still stumbling my way around. Thank you for liking a couple of my efforts so far. Take care.

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