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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Zing

Poetic language ought to have zing, oomph, or pizzaz.  The exact word you want would depend on your preference. Dynamism, energy, a charge.

The only exception is a deliberately understated or neutral language.  This language would have to be absolutely blank, and its charge could consist in the deliberate repression  or withholding of any kind of color or spice.  It would have to be exaggeratedly neutral, if such a thing is possible. An extreme asceticism.   This might be a limitation on my part, but I cannot view William Stafford & the like as poets. The language has to do something.

6 comments:

Vance Maverick said...

What do you make of Laura Riding?

Jonathan said...

Not much.

I'm not in the Riding camp. Marjorie P. thinks the same thing, I think. Of course I could change my mind and read her again and flip around. I'm not even saying her proponents are wrong, just that I don't see it.

It being the interest of her work. But as I said in a previous post, boredom is not a feature of texts, but of our response to them.

Vance Maverick said...

Yeah, when I started looking into her recently I quickly found Perloff's piece, and I'm not ready to rebut it. But the best of the poetry does seem to me to have the very quality of zing through exaggerated neutrality. (Perhaps part of what Auden got from her.)

Jonathan said...

I agree there is an interesting quality to the language of her poetry at its best. It is poetic language (not poetry without any charge) because by trying to eliminate polysemia you get something weird in its extreme denotation. Since her theory of language is not a plausible one, it leads to unexpected results. In the end, I find those results a bit dull because they are the unintended consequence of a theory of language so limited that it ends up being crazy.

Jonathan said...

I think I will use Riding as an example in my anti-textbook. An example of a poet that I do not care for but about whom everyone should make up their own mind. Duncan, Rilke, Olson... They are not my poets, sorry to say. They could have been, but I just haven't seen it yet.

Vance Maverick said...

Ashbery's Other Traditions is a bit like that book, though he makes a bit more of a positive case for his poets (including Riding).