I have been publishing poetry since 1978 when I put out my first anthology magazine called URTHKIN. And since then I have literally perused tens of thousands of “so-called” poems. The single most misunderstood issue in the poetry culture in America and probably around the world is just what does the word “poetry” means and how do you define the word “poem”? I have read reams of attempts to arrive at a usable definition of these two words and I can only come up with a meaning for “poetry”. The word “poem” is ultimately indefinable. In my best estimation “poetry” is the “craft of writing” that creates the “work of art” called ”poem”. Okay, now define “craft of writing” and “craft” and “”writing” and “work” and “art”.
As I see it, “writing” has three major components: work (diligence), craft (intelligence), and art (experience), which elements are best illustrated by the concepts of charlatan, dilettante, and connoisseur, and even more explicitly when considering “diligence”, “intelligence” and “experience”.
A “charlatan” can always produce “work” through “diligence” but has no clue how to exercise “craft” since a charlatan has none, and a charlatan has no clue how to create “art” because a charlatan has no “craft” to create “art”. In conclusion a charlatan produces craftless artless work through diligence, and if by chance a charlatan stumbles upon a semblance of craft creating a simulacrum of art, it is by pure coincidence and serendipity. By my best intuitive guesstimate charlatans comprise 80% of all writers.
A “dilettante” produces “work” through “diligence” just like a charlatan and a dilettante’s “work” shows a rudiment of his own “craft” or “craft” borrowed from other dilettantes and connoisseurs., but the dilettante has no clue how to exercise that rudimentary craft to create “art”. Consequently, a dilettante’s “crafted work” never creates “art” unless by ”accident” or “straightforward plagiarism”. Dilettantes make up about 19% of all writers.
And now meet the ”connoisseur”, the genuine creator of ”art”. A connoisseur through “work“ (diligence) and “craft” (intelligence) can create “art” (experience) whenever the connoisseur feels like exercising the connoisseur’s diligence and intelligence, but to do so the connoisseur either has to be inspired by outside influences (muses) or by just sitting connoisseur butt on seat and turning on ”imagination” with a flick of connoisseur’s “innate muse switch”. Connoisseurs fill up the remaining 1% of all writers, but more likely they are .01% of all wordsmiths which would put the “dile(taunt)s at 19.99%.
Now just what is a “poem”? Beats me, but I think know one when I see one. I can tell you some abstract characteristics of a “poem”. A genuine “poem” must have (explicitly or implicitly) a beginning, a middle and an end (whether rhymed and rhythmed or not). A poem must be a “work of art”. Okay, now what is a “work of art” and what is “art”. Beats me. I think I know “art” when I see it.
Is that a subjective or an objective judgment? Both actually. Subjective means I like it, it pleases me, I got a fun, interesting, intriguing encounter with an artist’s creation. Objective means, from a standard of judgment outside like and dislike, I consider the artist’s creation to be “art” whatever “art” means. But then you’re left with the catch 44 of just what is an “artist”? Maybe an “artist” is “anyone” who has (are)(taste), in other words someone who has a clearer grasp of the passing moment of consciousness which others only grasp after that moment has passed into the past. Since time is always on the move and moves faster than any mind, no one in the history of consciousness has ever or will be ever able to grip the total passing moment as it passes or even freeze it in place to contemplate its true form.
What is going on here in this LITTER(AIRY) peregrination is the epitome of anomaly when circular words are used to describe and define circles of intellig ants circling circular ant hills circularly. How about a little more word play to hopefully pinpoint just what “art” actually is: (are)t. Maybe that works and maybe it doesn’t lucifer your mind into a higher level of con(shush)(noise). How about he(art)?
But let’s consider those standards of artistic judgement outside like and dislike. I’m not talking about aesthetic (ass-th[awe]t-ache) values and standards. I’m talking about rational intelligible evaluations that would stand up in any language and in any literature for every mind anywhere in any literary universe in any galaxy to the end of timelessness (funny?). Call them “objective” paradigms of “literary t(root)h”. Do they really exist?
The circular problem once again encountered here blasts all ears: what do “paradigm” and “exist” mean? I’ll leave for now “objective standards of literary judgment” to the true moghuls of litterachore – the common denominators of litterairy t(root). – the ordinary everyday reader whose judgment (rue)ls in all things literary whether literary snobs like it or not.
Nevertheless in the end everything that exists or will ever exist outside of the true nature and essence of G(AWE)D will ultimately vanish including beloved literature.
Or how about this thought: Ten thousand years from now all of today’s literature will be unintelligible to whatever languages are spoken on earth in that future, and if our words today are not translated into their words tomorrow, our words will be lost forever, which thought illuminates the saying: Today’s tomorrow’s yesterday.