16 September 2011

UPDATE: 09.16.11

In addition to re-writing the poems we worked on during our last class session, you are to write a 250 to 300 word prose meditation that will function as the first-draft of another poem. As I mentioned, after writing your prose, you are to read the Kinzie chapter titled "Syntax and Whole Meaning" before turning that prose into verse. To wit, you should focus on the manner in which line and syntax produce a tension between one another within a poem when employed effectively; or stated differently:
the line of verse cannot be discussed, let alone produced, without attention to the form of speech it contains. In fact, syntax—or the way the sentence is organized—is one necessary defining principle of the poetic line. All lines of verse either coincide with the phrase, clause, or sentence, or diverge from the phrase clause, or sentence, thus splitting the phrasal units and causing tension between line and syntax. (75)
Obviously, to understand how to produce tension (via coincidence or divergence), you'll need to comprehend what Kinzie means when she refers to the terms clause, phrase, and sentence (and each subsequent permutation or type of a sentence she writes about in the chapter).

Of course, a few cautionary words about the relation between line and syntax need to be re-stated. First, the "thresholds of invention in poetry are closely bound up with thematic suggestion"; in this sense, "form should follow theme" (87), at least while you're initially exploring the art of poetry. Second, remember that none of the techniques that Kinzie mentions in "Syntax and Whole Meaning" function or operate in one specific manner within all contexts. As she states late in the chapter: "None of these effects is univocal or unchanging" (107). Finally, when considering the use of syntax within a poem, using a variety of structures "can provide interest" for the reader by adding an element of "complexity" (108). Too rigidly adhering to a singular technique "can be...tiring" (93). It is important, as I mentioned before, to understand, at least conceptually, all the syntactical variants Kinzie outlines and have some sense of how they can intensify the thematic concerns of your work.

Please email me the second-draft of your newest poem no later than 10PM on Sunday, September 18th in addition to bringing a hard-copy to class. Also, be prepared to discuss in an in-depth and rigorous manner the Kinzie chapter we read. If you did not understand particular concepts, be prepared to ask highly-specific questions (i.e. No general questions or statements like: "I didn't understand what Kinzie was talking about.") during our Monday session.

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