Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. The Striped Water Poets are the crituque group I am associated with. Stephen Burt: A clarification for Daisy Fried: I meant what plumbers do (fix pipes), not who they are or what they read. Other forms of art and literature need not exist. ... and to get across the larger message of the importance of establishing cross-cultural human connections. Some of the best topics to write social issue poetry about are: education, drugs, crime, racism, population control, government, neglect, abuse, war (political, religious, societal), sexism, violence, censorship, welfare, eating disorders, same-sex marriage and disease. Plato need not have stewed about poets, you seem to be saying. Culture is the distinctive practices and beliefs of a society. It isn't as limited as ever it once was. The stacks of poetry can be referenced by poet-engineers, not of the sacred or the social, but of the aesthetic. Finally, poetry and occasional poetry in particular never serve the intended purpose of enhancing the emotional gradient of any occasions. The kind of poetry written to make us feel better, for example, after 9/11, is pro-establishment falsification, for it lets us pull the comforter back over our heads and go on sleeping. Customs and traditions differ from one part of Nepal to another. are some things you could consider in placing a text in ‘context’: Although any or all of these features can be important when writing about a poem, the poem itself should be at the centre of your discussion. Daisy Fried: People who talk about poetry's social utility often concentrate on content. Ammons's poems about inlets, woods, and garbage.) Rather, they have effect of making a pefectly wonderful occasion awkward. Emily Warn: Here is a guess at Will Shortz's crossword clue for your collective answer to our question: "A six-letter word for an art form with no public use other than the one each artist defines. Emily Warn: After twenty-four hours of traveling, I get home to Seattle bleary-eyed. A headline swims into sight: "Shooting at Jewish Federation Offices Leaves 1 Dead, 5 Wounded." Thank Heavens I vote Democrat!" Students often go wrong by writing more about the historical background or the life of the poet than about the poem itself. Such antagonism directed at people through the use of condescening, flowery language make people feel the poet/literature is challenging them with complicated ideas and emotions, most of which are of no use to sensible hardworking people and should generally be avoided. In a highly thought-provoking piece, the Poetry Foundation interviewed a few poets to probe their thoughts concerning the societal role of poetry. Ceremonies are filled with ritual. Exposing oneself to good literary works, is equivalent to providing one with the finest of … Otherwise a poem could not bind—as many poems do bind—solitudes and make connections among readers who do not live in the same society, nor even in the same century. For this reason, poetry makes everything (and, yes, nothing) happen, especially in a consumer society prone to assessing and dispensing value to everything from lap dances to teachers' salaries. That realization is that poetry and literature in general serve no true social function and have no intrinsic value (and for that matter art as well). Over centuries, the poem also says, these workers have raised cathedrals, invented art. Late Merrill—the Merrill of "Self-Portrait in Tyvek Windbreaker"—wonders whether his poetry might resound beyond that social group. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. They may enact, for example, an obsessive rhythmic movement in the body onto the page, or explore the significance of a gripping image. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I've used it that way myself, after reading it. See if you can catch the punch line in Stephen Crane's "A Man Said to the Universe." So maybe it's good that poetry carries this extra burden, even if it means that the idea of poetry is more necessary to people than individual poems, and that people tend not to pay attention to what's happening on the page. It occurs in every culture and from every age. The ‘social, historical and cultural’ contexts can consist of a variety of factors. For her, the poem has value and purpose because it says something meaningful to her. Poets, he's saying, weld new relations and add new forms to the world. There are good 9/11 poems. It is a place to witness. It enacts a central human paradox: we exist as singular selves, yet can only know them through our relations. A long line of poets and thinkers have made great claims about poetry's social use. The gaiety of great poetry reinforces and deepens our humanity. Once a reader has fully internalized the poem's machinations, she collects a chorus within her and is transformed. The quikest way to lose the respect of friends, family and colleagues is to write poetry for them. Try talking emotion or philosophy with family or friends and one will be rejected because no one has the time or energy for such indulgences.Pain and joy are what all people feel, but why write about it--do anybody but derlicts actually believe that poetry, literature and art exsist? Ceremonies are held to celebrate a new life or in honour of a life well […] Writing is even more of an offence to the general public. Comparison of Poetry of a Different Culture We live in a society where culture and identity are very important. We shouldn't denigrate this capacity, no matter how much we are being paid. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. "I open each session with your poem." For this reason, poetry makes everything (and, yes, nothing) happen, especially in a consumer society prone to assessing and dispensing value to everything from lap dances to teachers' salaries. Our current—our late-Romantic—understanding of poetry (by which all poems are really or fundamentally lyric) posits this binding-together through language alone as poetry's chief goal: poetry becomes that way of using language in which that goal (rather than, say, exposition or persuasion) takes center stage. The poem also demonstrates the student's understanding of the meaning behind the mask. 2 Words matter. Emily Warn seems to argue that content supplies poems' utility. The encounter, which occurs in language, preserves and enlarges our solitude and points out our connections. Oral storytelling is telling a story through voice and gestures. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. "The Mill-Race" is good and usefulbecause it presents in extraordinary language an aspect of the human condition, not some false solution having to do with feel-good "relat(ing) to drained faces." Martín Espada, John Yau, and Nikki Finney are just a few of many poets who write poetry that "embraces experience in its full complexity," yet their books never receive a nod in Poetry. Because I am a woman, working class, Native, writing about my life is instantly political.So it is for anyone who isn't white, male, able-bodied, straight, middle-class... For those of us whose history is not represented, or is distorted, or downright lies, poetry is a place to say what is true. The quote perfectly describes the importance of poetry in a human being’s life. Most poets must admit that they would cherish being seen by their community of friends and relatives as "functional," the voice who sanctions and gives formal expression to their lives in verse, who serves as the repository of their thoughts and experiences, much like the West African djali or griot. The claim that the Romantics weren't interested in politics or society (Major Jackson) can be disproved by anyone who reads Shelley, Byron, or Blake. Today we discussed how people view culture, and what makes people ‘cultured’ or ‘culturally trained’. And when, on the carved lapis lazuli, a man "asks for mournful melodies;/Accomplished fingers begin to play;/...their eyes,/Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay." This ritual generates empathy and widens our humanity. If so, let me add another: one of poetry's chief aims is to illumine the walls of mystery, the inscrutable, the unsayable. One only wishes more poets took on with greater awareness the higher calling of their art, which has always had embedded within it a vision of the social. Use is not function. As stated in the quote by C.S. A type of communication and expressiveness in a written form, poetry liberates one from sufferings, oppression and suppression on one hand, while revealing love, happiness and pleasure on the other. Favorite Line/s: … However, this is not to say the sole purpose of poetry is to serve as social commentary. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? "Compared to the writing of poetry, few other human activities take place so widely, at least in America, absent even a tacit consensus as to why we do them, what good they do, what function they serve.". Is anyone else I know? They are a depiction of the different facets of common man’s life. She has published four collections of poems: Advice... Daisy Fried is the author of three books of poetry: Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice (2013); My Brother is Getting Arrested Again (2006), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and She Didn’t Mean to Do It (2000), which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. i'm senior in high school and we have senior projects to do mine is on poetry and how it affects a persons mood. Insert context header here: J. Alfred Prufrock and Modernism The function of poetry is that it does not have any function beyond its own construction and being-in-the-world. Whether as a form of witness, as a medium which dignifies individual speech and thought, as a repository of our cumulative experiences, or as a space where we "purify" language, poetry, like all imaginative creations, divines the human enterprise. What I also read in this exchange is a distasteful cynicism about poetry's ability—its responsibility—to affect lives. This in turn incites the animosity of normal people who feel they are being looked down upon by people who do not work for a living(work meaning physical labor and commerce). So the first question is, what does this mean? It is great to be in such a diversifed group.Needless to say, for those 2 hours, once a week meetings are mind opening to new thought patterns of how the individuals process their creativity.A full range of emotions it encompasses.Inspiration from the spoken word can come from everyday conversations. Plumbers (or interpreters or oncologists) do something which we can easily describe, and for which most of us understand the demand. Most people in this world do not read, do not enjoy reading and read only to fulfill concrete educational requirments. An epigram, is a poem that is meant to be funny or satirical. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? How can its content not matter? It is a vehicle for cultural survival. Poets do not know how their poems will be used in the future. Poems such as "The Mill-Race" make us aware of the social conditions that shape our relations; their language helps us dwell in, puzzle out, and feel the conditions and the relations, no matter how terrible, making a change in them more possible. I have no desire to insist on such protection, nor to deny that poems have social functions. Our social reality is thus enlarged to include relations and facts that have been obscured (not yet discovered) or repressed. Copyright © 2007 - 2021 Revision World Networks Ltd. Personally, I find the cynicism and disdain for such poets, even mildly detected here, overly familiar and somewhat nauseating. Milton's sonnet against the Long Parliament). "The Mill-Race" ends on the word "salt," ("but it's mostly the miller's curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt-/mill, that makes sea, salt"). Emerson thought poems could change reality because they uncover its hardwiring, then jimmy with it. Is my Talmud teacher among the wounded or dead? Thank you for such interesting resource! We are more likely to experience great visual art in the presence of others (in museums); we might say such experience connects us more evidently than can the silent reading of verse whose authors we have never met. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. True revolutionary poets are stripped of their laureateships or never reviewed in these pages, for some reason probably having to do with the worn-out argument of lack of aesthetic worth or little merit. High school seniors Sam and Catherine will tell you what they have gotten ou… Why should we make them of poetry in general? Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do "sniff the air." I hope this does not sound like an exercise in ambiguities. America's crimes may be forcing poets back into the world. I am an Abenaki poet, and never considered my work political until it was published and people started writing about me as a "political" poet. Absolutely. Cultural relationship. Poetry, as Barrett makes clear, does not exist outside of social and cultural realities; the goal of cultural poetics is to explore the two as always intertwined. Major Jackson: The function of poetry is that it does not have any function beyond its own construction and being-in-the-world. Daisy Fried: Why not a summation made up of parts? They have banished themselves from the republic, having abdicated their role as loud-mouth rousers of weeping and gnashing. I continue to maintain that poetry cannot be defined in terms of a social function at all, even if (and here Emily Warn and I agree) most of the great modern poets do project visions of self which imply paradoxical communities of solitude, social in one sense, antisocial in another. Powell's poems about living and loving with HIV, or A.R. Yes, of course, but poetry is especially adept at helping us experience, and so understand, celebrate, mourn, curse, or philosophize about our relations. It is truly another language exclusively for the writer and the reader. (I could have used ASL interpreters, or oncologists.) Of plumbing and carpentry? This is poetry's social value. The only literature that should be allowed to exist is that which aggrandizes whichever government regime is in power at any given time in order to induce patriotic rapture. The work, "the curse-gift" of the poet, is to tell the story of a person who has no story other than the story of relations. But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. Our species is deeply defined by its great surges of reason, but I think it high time we return to elemental awe and wonder. Though its subject matter and politics are both clear and attractive, content has very little to do with why the poem is extraordinary. But anyway, let's face it: were Daisy's nineteenth-century poet-revolutionaries alive today, they would be unemployed and writing in obscurity. Content matters—poetry is far more than a formal game—but does not supply utility. One good reason to read poems from distant times and places is that they take us out of our society, showing us how much emotion and thought isn't social (for, about, or addressed to one particular society) at all. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they're making pornography. Maybe no one asks mezzo-sopranos to justify their work in terms of purported political utility, but composers have long encountered such demands. Is there some function we should call "social," in some ordinary meaning of that term, which all good poems, and only poems (no non-poems: no sculptures, for example) attain? "Poems are born dark," Celan wrote, because language is "loaded with world." This volume brings together research papers on the poetry of modern Indian poets, particularly those whose poetry is less explored. Some people devote their lives to Art Song. It is my antidote to despair, tiredness and loneliness; a thread that runs through my life. Yet his claim that "poetry cannot be defined in terms of a social function at all" except that it "concerns communication among just two persons" seems cramped and unmoored. "I run a weekly group for abusive men," he said. The only kind of poetry that doesn't have social function is that which tells us how to think about X, Y, or Z, or tells us to buck up, or that the world is a wonderful place. Our society is declining (see How to diagnose if a community is declining ) so our use of language is declining, which makes it difficult to communicate simple ideas in prose. Here are a number of prompts to help you consider this issue: Gender A simple but useful question: Are the poems written by men or women? Poetry can leap across and charge the synapse between us and the world, altering both. Poetry's social function comes not from what it means but from what it is. Why is poetry called to duty during these crises (Major Jackson)? Major Jackson: Daisy Fried wonders why poetry is called to duty, why it "is asked to do more than be itself," especially during moments of political or national crisis. We might begin by intending to be merely useful (I never have). I liked how it compared culture to a flowing river, not stagnated water. And this is what Eliot means by the social function of poetry in its largest sense, “that it does, in proportion to its excellence and vigour, affect the speech and the sensibility of the whole nation” (p.22) “THE SOCIAL FUNCTION OF POETRY” BY T.S. Is it a useful poem? Burt seems to be stacking and storing different types of poetry in a container ship, removed and protected from the world as it journeys across the sea. 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