Two Kinds of Poets

Don’t you hate statements that divide the world into two types of anything? I do, almost as much as a I hate rhyming poetry and those poems that spell Mother or Success, or the letters of the alphabet, or the poem about footsteps in the sand or a Thomas Kincaid painting. Having said that, and having been a poet since age 5, (which means I have been writing for over 50 years), I think it is safe to say most poets are either primarily visual or spoken word. Some of us do both, but for the most part, when we compose a poem it is more to be read or heard.

I am not the most educated poet, but I have had the great good fortune to speak to, listen to, and read after some very bright lights. Somewhere I have heard more than once that poetry is a spoken art. Yet so many poets and poems are about the way the poem lies on a page. I understand punctuation, and even to some degree capitalization can be inferred or inflected when spoken, but what of the Acrostic poem, or the Mesostic, and other poems which speak to the eye at least as much as the ear, in fact, the “joke” of the above types would be completely lost to the ear.

As would Lewis Carrol’s great piece:

cutting the tale

My apologies to the purists. I had to clip the tail and lose the great follow up exchange due to the limits of my understanding of the Print Screen button.

In truth I compose almost all my poems to a more or less tuneless version all the old gospel songs I ever heard in the Sanctified Church of Christ as a little boy (they objected to musical instruments, so all the songs were sang by country folks in the rural Arkansas community where my father preached.)

An off-the-cuff example might be:

Leave Me in the Late Summer Evening

When you must leave me,

Lay me down by the river,

Where the breeze blows

Gentle over the ground,

And spiders jump in the tall grass

While Crickets play vi-o-lin.

For when you leave me

I shall die in the soft grass

Growing on that shore

As the heat takes my breath

And my sacred mosquitoes

Drain my broken hearted blood.

Of course, I would probably never publish such a piece of tripe, but it lies so near the surface as to pop right up. My point is, it is composed orally, but maybe never heard as a spoken word, and I would be a bit horrified if it was written as Gertrude might have penned, though godknows she never would have written this:

Leave me in the late summer evening. When you must leave me, lay me down by the river, where the breeze blows gentle over the ground, and spiders jump in the tall grass while Crickets play vi-o-lin. For when you leave me I shall die in the soft grass growing on that shore as the heat takes my breath and my sacred mosquitoes drain my broken hearted blood.

So the question remains, is poetry truly for the spoken word? For the written word, or what gives?

                           no maTter

                        the questIon


                                  will tEll me

                            that time Answers

                       any maN’s


                   though I knoW time

                            only makEs us old

                              and wRinkled

                in spirit and Skin

               and nobody waNts that

                  truth tells Only

  truth and who wants That?


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