The Game Changers: Thursday Thoughts

27 Sep

8:24 a.m. — Atlanta

Not listening to a darn thing because my server is being uncooperative.

Hi, all. A couple of weeks ago, during the Great Punctuation Discussion, Mary Kling raised an interesting possibility for a discussion. She said:

I think that e.e. cummings and Don Marquis were a kind of ‘game changer’ when it came to poetry. They changed the rules.

I’d like a discussion of (1) other poets who were ‘game changers’ in one way or another. Who, for example, were the first poets who stopped capitalizing the first word of every line?

(2) the most current trends in writing poetry today. Are there any new things happening? New styles? (Any poets who are examples?) Or does anything and everything go?

Mary suggested, maybe, two different topics here, but not having any idea how many of you will hotfoot it to the research gods, I am going to put them together, and, as with a past discussion, pull the comments together in a collation for Thursday Thoughts, probably two weeks down the road, to give people time to think and comment. At that point, I may separate things into two Thursdays, yes? So, what are we doing?

Ah! the music is back — listening to Rose Garden by Lynn Anderson

1] Time to pull the memory cells out from where they were in college, or where you started reading and thinking about poetry. In poetry’s history [I want to give you scope], what poets do you consider game-changers and why, or how? Who were the rebels? Who provided bridges between one era and the next? Who started something so completely new and different, that the world still says: ‘This poet’?

2] What are some of the current trends you have noticed in poetry [current being the last twenty, or thirty, years]? New styles? What works for you? What doesn’t? Why? New poets to check out? Because?

For both questions, give us not just names; include the what, the why, the how. In comments, if you want to ask someone something, because they haven’t said enough and you want elucidation, do.

Whoo! She wants homework, people! She is asking for serious thinking. Well, I am, but have fun with it. This is what you think. You may answer the questions separately, at different times. You may have an immediate response to one, but want to think about the other. Come back as often as you want, to add thinking. How many of us can we get into this conversation? Don’t worry about getting lost. Remember that I will collate the final deal. 

Let’s say, a two-week time period for comments and discussion of comments. I’ll keep an eye on things and let you know when the collation will come out. It will be interesting to see how this works. I’m looking forward to learning what everyone thinks.

See you tomorrow for the roundup; Tuesday for a prompt on your inner child; and next Thursday for a serendipity of links.

Happy discovery, everyone.



Posted by on 27/09/2012 in poetry, writing


Tags: , , ,

10 responses to “The Game Changers: Thursday Thoughts

  1. JulesPaige

    27/09/2012 at 9:43 am

    I’m going to learn from your discussion. I started writing young. Though not reading much. I’ve read more poetry by ‘unknown’ poets since I started ‘blogging’ and have no clue as to when the rules changed, well because I may or may not have chosen to follow the rules from 30-40 odd years ago or just created my own. Looking forward to learning something new.

    • margo roby

      27/09/2012 at 9:49 am

      Jules, if you see familiar territory, jump in; or, unfamiliar where enough is not said. Ask. I’ll rely on you to be the spotter of not enough answer!

      • JulesPaige

        27/09/2012 at 11:54 am

        Cheese Whiz…it’s pretty much all unfamiliar as grammar is to a rocket scientist. And I’m pretty much stumped by both. My knack – for lack of a better word is more intuition. Which may or may not be recognizable. As Joesph points out with regards to ‘Slam’ poetry (of which I have no clue either – is that like graffiti, performance art???) Some poetic form performers – tend to think that their way is the best way and all others can take the highway. I have found that to be true especially with Japanese/American style haiku forms. I will most likely never belong to any haiku society – a frankly Scarlett – I can live with that.

        • julespaige

          27/09/2012 at 3:19 pm

          Dang sorry, I always get the e and s mixed up in Joseph.

  2. Mary

    27/09/2012 at 9:53 am

    Thank you for launching a discussion off my questions, Margo. I will add a few thoughts, as I myself do a bit of research AND thinking.

  3. Joseph Harker

    27/09/2012 at 10:52 am

    I’ll throw in my historical two cents:
    1. Anne Bradstreet, first woman to publish a book of poetry in North America. And while we’re at it, the oft-forgotten Phillis Wheatley, first African-American woman (and according to Wiki, first African-American, period) to publish a book of any kind.
    2. Walt Whitman, for his contributions to free verse that still had rhythm and lyric to it.
    3. William Carlos Williams, for being a doctor first, and a poet second, and still managing to excel at both.
    4. Allen Ginsberg, for Howl. ‘Nuff said.

    When I think about the people who have influenced my idea of what it means to be a poet, and what it means to write poetry, they tend to be the ones whose identity was an important component of their poetic self (but not their ENTIRE poetic self), and who mix deeply personal symbolism with the universal, and manage to straddle the line between formalism and free verse.

    Current-trend-wise, slam poetry is the hottest thing since coalwalking, at least in my experience. And it bothers me because there are so many slam poets who think that their style is the only one worth a damn; there are some awful slam poems, and some great ones, and they’re almost universally frustrated, and not everyone can pull it off. But that doesn’t mean the rest of Poetry with a capital P is unworthy of exploration too. (This is different from performance poetry, which is a whole separate beast.) Along with that, poems have gotten much more conversational, and tied up with micro-identities, as though we are meeting new friends who are introducing us to the particularities of their individual lives, made explicit rather than masked with generalities.

    I don’t have time to worry about new styles; I’m still working with developing mine. 😉 But I think that of the current well-known poets I’ve discovered over the past couple years, I’m deeply into Peter Pereira, Aimee Nezhukumatatil, Dorianne Laux, Mark Doty, Billy Collins, Mahmoud Darwish, and Naomi Shihab Nye.

    • Sabio Lantz

      27/10/2012 at 6:35 am

      Joseph, I always enjoy your comments. I liked your idea about a “component of their poetic self (but not their ENTIRE poetic self). It would be fun to see that fleshed out in prose or spirited-out in a poem–though I may not understand your poem — so prose may be fun on that one! 😉

      I am brand new to exploring poetry. And like the vast majority of the population, I don’t like poetry at all (for lots of reasons). Yet, some types of poetry have always attracted me. So I am exploring that phenomena. For I find that approaching the foreign and immersion always alter me in interesting ways. Besides, being psychologically interesting, it is certainly anthropologically fascinating.

  4. Sabio Lantz

    27/10/2012 at 6:38 am

    Oooops, Margo, I see you don’t have your “follow-by-email” option activated — it would help dialogue as I doubt I will remember to come back to this particular post to check to see if anyone is engaging in dialogue. I wrote a little post explaining how to do it here if you wish.

    I really enjoy your blog.

    • margo roby

      27/10/2012 at 6:45 am

      Welcome, Sabio. Thank you for the link. I am on my way for a weekend in North Carolina [no, my timing is not good] and will read when we return. If you have been dipping in and out of the blog, up until now, check the following, from Thursday. The writer posts other links to posts on hating poetry. It’s a discussion I would love to have.

      I enjoy writing my blog and I enjoy the readers I meet.


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