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Ask the Author #3: Dark Poetry.

Pat,

I’d like to ask about a subject close to my heart:

How do you feel about poetry? Have you ever written any? What is your favorite kind? and in particular how do you feel about Dark Poetry?

Oh and do you feel that getting poems published is maybe easier/harder then publishing a book?

N-
Generally speaking, I like poetry. Specifically, it’s more of a love/hate relationship. I love some types, but a great portion of does nothing but irritate me.

I’ve written poetry in the past and enjoyed it. I believe that if an author loves language and words, then poetry can teach a great deal about how to use those words effectively.

True, all authors use words, but not all authors focus on making them beautiful. Shakespeare loved words, so did Roger Zelazny and Angela Carter. Ray Bradbury also has what I consider a poetical turn of phrase, by which I mean that the language itself it beautiful, regardless of content, character, or cleverness.

Some authors just don’t play that word game. They care more about story, or plot, or character, or… I dunno, unicorns or making money. I’m not being critical here. Those things are important. Those authors can still write good stories, there’s no denying that.

But my favorite authors love words AND character AND story… and sometimes unicorns, I guess.

Even if you aren’t a word-centric writer, poetry can teach you a lot. You know how everyone talks about Hemmingway learning his tight style by writing for newspapers? I think people can learn the same economy of phrase from poetry. In an 80,000 word novel you have space to waste. But in a twelve line poem you need to make every word pay for itself twice. Ideally, poetry is all about the efficient, affective, well-crafted line. Any author will benefit from learning lessons in that vein.

Unfortunately, a lot of poets these days don’t give a damn about a well-crafted line. They think poetry is about getting drunk or wasted and then vomiting their emotions onto a page. These people idolize Ginsberg and Bukowski, but they don’t realize that those poets used an amazing amount of craft in their work.

Where were we….? Oh, Do I like Dark Poetry?

Honestly, I don’t really know what you mean by Dark Poetry. If Dark Poetry is a pages-long free-form rambling discursion on the angsty emoness of a person’s life…. then probably not. Generally speaking those folks have different poetic goals than I do. There’s not much attention to the beauty of the language, which is where my heart lies.

In terms of publishing, I never really tried to get my poetry published in any professional way. But I can make a general statement that I’m reasonably sure is true: the difficulty involved depends on where you’re looking to get published. If you’re trying to hit the big dozen poetry venues where they pay serious money and you get real fame for being there, then it’s going to be hard. Same with publishing, the A-list venues and big publishing houses are like unassailable mountains where you really need a friend on the inside or some really remarkable writing to get in. (Or both, ideally.)

But if all you’re looking for is to see your work in print and have it read by people, there are a lot of smaller venues that do a nice job publishing people’s writing. Not much money or fame, but it can be a good place to start.

Good lord, I thought this was going to be a short post. Sorry for my long windedness. I’ll get to a few other questions later, and, as brevity is the soul of wit, I’ll try to be brief.

pat

This entry was posted in Ask the Author, Fanmail Q + A, side projects, the craft of writingBy Pat3 Responses

3 Comments

  1. Tycho
    Posted April 18, 2007 at 12:18 PM | Permalink

    I think from now onYou should answer poem questionsIn poems of your own

  2. Jivan
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 5:18 AM | Permalink

    For the record, your Haiku is One syllable off on the third line. :P And that’s just ridiculous, then things would get done faster than normal talking. That we cannot have dear friend.

  3. Ryan Kanable
    Posted April 24, 2007 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    “angsty emoness”Now that’s poetry!

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