Saturday, February 06, 2010

(Not) this day in BibChr history: poetry

(About) two years ago (not) today, we had one of our funnest, liveliest meta's ever.

It started because of a stupid poem that snagged my attention, and got me thinking and talking about what passes for poetry. An admitted Philistine when it comes to modern poetry — okay, most English-language non-rhyming poetry, period — I voiced my thoughts in my usual calm, non-inflammatory, mild way.

Hilarity ensued.

Actually, not so much "hilarity" as a really fun, contentful, educational, challenging discussion. Karsten Piper (son of John) graciously stepped in and offered some helpful, thoughtful comments, for which I'm still grateful.

So for the reading-pleasure of you relative newbies, I hereby point you here. Pour yourself a glass of white wine, or Martinelli's, have a slice of cheese or two.  Enjoy. It really is one of our best, thanks to the level of discussion in the meta.


Peter Eddy said...

I know this probably wasn't the take away you were hoping for (or expecting) from this post, but you drink alcohol? Aren't you worried that by announcing this publicly that you're going to be banned from Team Pyro?

Anyway, I haven't read the meta linked to yet, but hopefully that's evidence to the shock that I'm in right now. I thought you and Phil and Frank were the same people with different aliases. ;)

Brad Williams said...


Okay, you're killing me here. That poem that Karsten Piper posted was fantastic. At least, I thought so. (The Descending Theology: The Resurrection). It blew me away. Especially this:

it’s your limbs he comes to fill, as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.
That, my friend, is poetry. That's the kind of line that makes me wish I could write poetry. That line, juxtaposed in thought with the loneliness and coldness that was Christ's in death is just marvelous.

This is why you are killing me: I have worked hard to maintain my Alabama Baptist knuckle-dragging persona. Here you go outting me as an English Lit. major.


Barbara said...

Now you've gone and done it. I have to answer Doulos' comment (early in the thread) with a Shatner-like bongo drum/bass/flute in the background....

"And I'll hang around
As long as you will let me
And I never
in the rain.

You don't
have to
call me darlin'
You never even call me
Well I wonder
you don't call me
Why don't you
call me
by my name?"

DJP said...

LOL, Barbara.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I share your opinion on most modern poetry. Just too obscure.

And, frankly, I'm a simple herder of grasshoppers, with too little angst to "appreciate" most of the themes.

@Barbara, lol at the memory of Shatner and the bongos.

Didn't you post a link to that, Dan? Or am I confused?

Susan said...

That was some lesson on poetry. Karsten Piper was dead on when he said that the "'post-modern understanding of reality...says that the reader is a co-creator of meaning along with the writer.'"

And that poem by Mary Karr WAS good...although I thought the squid ink and black ice had to do with the darkness that hovered over the earth just before Christ's expiration on the cross (instead of the coldness imagery of the deep ocean and all that). It makes me wonder what that part of the poem is really saying (H-T Puretext in the meta).

Mesa Mike said...

You're not supposed to "get" this kind of poetry. You're supposed to participate by conjuring up its meaning from your own imagination.

See, modern poetry is just like the Bible!

DJP said...


Threegirldad, I am so sorry, I fat-fingered my iPhone and accidentally rejected your comment.

Here is 3GD's comment in full:

Let the record reflect that Karsten and I continued this discussion for several weeks via email (mainly consisting of me saying, "Huh?!" and him patiently explaining). Despite the fact that he was in the middle of a semester teaching classes, and surely had better things to do with his time than field questions from a dolt like me, all of his replies were timely and very gracious. The only reason that it came to an end is because our youngest daughter began to have serious medical issues. In his reply to my last note begging off for the time being, he made it clear that there was a standing invitation to resume whenever I wished. One thing lead to another, though, and I never managed to find the time to write back.

My main regret (other than my "poison pen" comments) is that I'm just not able to see the beauty that he sees in this sort of poetry. In that respect, I'll never be a Karsten Piper (or a Brad Williams).

Fred Butler said...

What sort of name is "Karstan" any ways? Just wondering aloud.

Brad Williams said...

I figure that this meta might be dead. But I always feel sad when people poo-poo poetry. Really, there is nothing like it. Some poems are heady and some aren't. Some require patient study and background study of the style of poem to really appreciate. Like Dylan Thomas' "Do Not Go Gentle."

Sometimes, poems express things that prose simply can't. If you learn to use poetry to express yourself, and allow yourself the freedom to valiantly try and make bad poems, you may be surprised at the depth of emotion you can actually capture by disciplinig yourself to a few words.

For fun, if Dan doesn't mind, I'll post a poem I wrote a couple years ago to express a particularly sorrowful event I walked through. Understand that this is not "good" poetry at all, but you can see how it can be a useful tool for expression.

So Still and So Restful

So still and so restful she lays,
Cold against mother’s breast
The warmth that was hers fading
Even as hot tears come to mother’s cheek.

Her life was brilliant and short
Like a shooting star streaking and burning~
Mother saw and wished and hoped
But could not keep her here

So mother holds her and remembers
The kicks and rolls and sickness
And joy and wonders why she went
So quickly and could not stay

So still and so restful she lays,
Mother’s shooting star that
Seared the joy of life into her heart
And has left her mark there forever

SandMan said...


Someone should say something after you shared that... I am sorry it will be from someone as inadequate as me. Best I can think of is:

You made your point.


Pooka said...

Ditto Sandman.


Brad: That wasn't bad by any means.