by Derek Morrison
Over many years I have curated and authored several blogs for different purposes, e.g. www.auricle.org, www.veloscience.org, but I would like this one to be different from all of them. Here I would like to use verse as the primary vehicle for carrying a message or putting a point of view about the increasingly connected but, ironically, also more disconnected world we now live in. A particular, but not exclusive, interest is the accelerating impact of technologies and systems on our lives and environment.
Why poetry? At a macro level all poetry, in whatever form it takes, should at least nudge – or sometimes shove – us towards looking at things differently than we are inclined to. From an author’s perspective I’ve found it to be a pretty useful device for compressing and concentrating my thinking. Put more grandly, it encourages cogent reflection and communication whether it’s telling a story, conveying fears and other emotions, or addressing issues.
But moving into poetic expression presents its own unique challenges, mainly from the formal conventions which have grown around it.
While the message in a blog, Facebook, or Twitter posting may certainly cause a stir, extreme passions aren’t usually generated by the way the narrative is structured, or by the use of colloquialism. Put something into verse, however, and for some readers, the message can become less important than the literary purity of the presentation. Such pedants and enthusiasts of close-reading techniques will zoom in on meter (metre), feet, iambic pentameter, figurative language, rhetorical devices, anadiplosis, zeugma, dactyls, spondees etc etc. There are many examples of beautifully structured poems (some by much published authors) that follow all the poetic rules, and which may well be applauded by a self-appointed cognoscenti; but which can also be viewed as turgid, inaccessible, exclusive verse by the non-cognoscenti (such as me). After all, the Scottish bard Robert Burns or even Bob Dylan (in his lyrical poetry phase) were not exactly exercised by concerns about iambic pentameter.
There is a significant section of the poetry community, however, that challenges the poetry orthodoxy and have suggested that concepts such as meter are not part of the fundamental nature of poetry at all, but are simply imposed constructs. The American author, poet, and critic Dan Schneider has suggested in his essay Robinson Jeffers, & The Metric Fallacy that if the same principles were applied to music then everything would use just two notes and that would make for a very limited range of musical form and expression (Editor’s note: some early punk artists helped to carve out a performance art form just by using just three chords on a guitar).
In summary, CyberStanza will reflect my preference for the oral/folk tradition of poetry, i.e. what it sounds like when read out to an audience rather than how well it conforms to some formal literary rule.
Even if all the verses don’t turn out to be literary exemplars the verses in Cyberstanza will always try to:
- demonstrate they have researched the topic of the poem
- produce something that amazes, amuses, and informs
- aim to stimulate the reader to pursue the topic further.
Some of the above will be achieved by complementing the verse with prose when appropriate, e..g via a background, comments or notes addendum. I aim to incorporate the genesis of the poem, its influences and any associated references for follow-up about the theme addressed.
Intellectual Property and Attribution
All poems in CyberStanza are original work created by the author. All work remains the intellectual property of the author but permission for republication at no cost will invariably be granted on request – but must be attributed. I can be contacted via this website’s email (firstname.lastname@example.org).