The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. Kathmandu Valley has served as the country’s cultural metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th Century. Culture grows from roots more enduring than those of the political state. Poems are necessary because they honor the unknown, both in us and in the world. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I've used it that way myself, after reading it. Poetry's point is not to make safe middle-class readers say, "Poor things! Choosing to use langugage that is accessible is also a political choice, though there are those critics who insist that there are thoughts that can't be expressed without the use of language that is designed to exclude, an elitist position that makes poetry into a smaller and smaller circle of "experts" rather than a tradition that grows out of that of the bard, storyteller, griot... To find the musicality in common speech, the resonance in an image, to come into the presence of mystery, and to share this as an oral art form, not just one that lies dead on the page, insists on the social nature of poetry. The only literature that should be allowed to exist is that which aggrandizes whichever government regime is in power at any given time in order to induce patriotic rapture. "Compared to the writing of poetry, few other human activities take place so widely, at least in America, absent even a tacit consensus as to why we do them, what good they do, what function they serve.". Learn how to write a poem about Social media and share it! We shouldn't denigrate this capacity, no matter how much we are being paid. See if you can catch the punch line in Stephen Crane's "A Man Said to the Universe." How can its content not matter? One only wishes more poets took on with greater awareness the higher calling of their art, which has always had embedded within it a vision of the social. Poetry is one of the most powerful forms of writing because it takes the english language, a language we believe we know, and transforms it. In particular, the poem makes use of sensory images (i.e., sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound) to describe the mask and mimics the tone or mood of the mask's original purpose. If you're crawling to poems on your hands and knees, as I once heard a famous poet remark—in my view, you're not crawling to poetry. First, it is a historically specific understanding, one which describes many superb poems, but leaves out many—to say the least—wonderfully memorable uses of verse (e.g. The group members are well versed and do readings, some have been published. Is healing really the domain only of prescriptive drugs? Certainly at this historical moment, many of us are hungry for poems that look outward, not just into the self or into what seems like another kind of narcissism, a turning away via the knee-jerk (therefore empty) "avant garde" linguistic gesture. "The Mill-Race" is good and usefulbecause it presents in extraordinary language an aspect of the human condition, not some false solution having to do with feel-good "relat(ing) to drained faces." Though its subject matter and politics are both clear and attractive, content has very little to do with why the poem is extraordinary. I continue to maintain that poetry cannot be defined in terms of a social function at all, even if (and here Emily Warn and I agree) most of the great modern poets do project visions of self which imply paradoxical communities of solitude, social in one sense, antisocial in another. It is a vehicle for cultural survival. The kind of poetry written to make us feel better, for example, after 9/11, is pro-establishment falsification, for it lets us pull the comforter back over our heads and go on sleeping. If, before the Romantics, the poet's job was speaking for society, the Romantics moved towards speaking to and for the individual, including the poor and oppressed. My apprenticeship as a poet was in one of many workshops started in cities all over america by the extraordinary poet, Etheridge Knight, whose poetry was so connected to breath and the body that once you'd heard him speak his poems, you would forever after hear his voice when you read the poems from the page. The poem captured the imagination of writers and artists who were alienated from the dominant social forms of Dwight Eisenhower's America. Poetic insight, he wrote, "does not come by study, but by the intellect being where and what it sees, by sharing the path or circuit of things through forms, and so making them translucent to others." PS: Sorry for my bad english, I'v just started to learn this language ;)See you! Becoming aware of this background information can help you to understand and appreciate the poetry texts you read and help you form your responses more effectively. Because I am a woman, working class, Native, writing about my life is instantly political.So it is for anyone who isn't white, male, able-bodied, straight, middle-class... For those of us whose history is not represented, or is distorted, or downright lies, poetry is a place to say what is true. Some of the best topics to write social issue poetry about are: education, drugs, crime, racism, population control, government, neglect, abuse, war (political, religious, societal), sexism, violence, censorship, welfare, eating disorders, same-sex marriage and disease. Daisy Fried: How about a moratorium on using plumbers and other "common" people as mythical readers of poetry? Does the social function of poetry vary so wildly that we cannot generalize about it? Thank Heavens I vote Democrat!" If a poem has something to say and says it well, it will be remembered. The ‘social, historical and cultural’ contexts can consist of a variety of factors. Writing is even more of an offence to the general public. Emily Warn: Here is a guess at Will Shortz's crossword clue for your collective answer to our question: "A six-letter word for an art form with no public use other than the one each artist defines. As Celan wrote, "I am you / if I am." I solve problems with its lines—not just their lexicon, but the life breathed into form by rhythm, rhyme or meter: a riddle; a moment of joy. To speak usefully about the social function of poetry, we need to decide what—or whose—poetry we intend. I still love these quotes that inspired me as a young poet: Louis Turco says that poetry is "saying something superbly" -, Galway Kinnell says that poetry "cultivates a tenderness towards existence", Joy Harjo says that "if I believed poetry made nothing happen, I wouldn't write it.". "For it is not metres, but a metre-making argument that makes a poem—a thought so passionate and alive that like the spirit of a plant or an animal it has architecture of its own, and adorns nature with a new thing." Poetry can leap across and charge the synapse between us and the world, altering both. I would add that poetry takes you into the presence of mystery. "The Mill-Race" ends on the word "salt," ("but it's mostly the miller's curse-gift, forgotten of God yet still grinding, the salt-/mill, that makes sea, salt"). That's the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. I think poetry ought to be taught not as an engine of meaning but as an opportunity to learn to live in doubt and uncertainty, as a means of claiming indeterminancy. Insert context header here: J. Alfred Prufrock and Modernism This is a principle deduced from the nature of culture, not from the nature of the state. I'm only sorry more poets don't know how to fix toilets, myself included. Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. Major Jackson: The function of poetry is that it does not have any function beyond its own construction and being-in-the-world. Compared to the writing of poetry, few other human activities take place so widely, at least in America, absent even a tacit consensus as to why we do them, what good they do, what function they serve. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? And this is what Eliot means by the social function of poetry in its largest sense, “that it does, in proportion to its excellence and vigour, affect the speech and the sensibility of the whole nation” (p.22) “THE SOCIAL FUNCTION OF POETRY” BY T.S. I mean this seriously. A.It is used negatively in the poem, but it usually has a positive connotation. So the first question is, what does this mean? Yes. I like political poetry; it acknowledges that politics are part of life. I hope this does not sound like an exercise in ambiguities. Why do we, as poets, find this function of poetry so regrettable? Emily Warn seems to argue that content supplies poems' utility. Society prompts poetry (at least if you're me); poetry, in turn, can be a highly effective tool in portraying one's take on societal issues. Poetry, as Barrett makes clear, does not exist outside of social and cultural realities; the goal of cultural poetics is to explore the two as always intertwined. I read the phrase "social function" particularly in terms of politics. It is to facilitate communication and understanding on the deepest level, to resist tranny and oppression, to commune on the deepest levels, and to sing for all that is just and good in the world. Unlike previous works, this book takes a broad comparative view and considers oral poetry from Africa, Asia and Oceania as well as Europe and America. Most people in this world do not read, do not enjoy reading and read only to fulfill concrete educational requirments. It occurs in every culture and from every age. I would argue that unless you are writing and putting your poems into a drawer, or throwing them out onto a pond like Li Po, or burning them, then of course they are social, and of course they are political. Do other forms of art and work carry out this same task? I liked how it compared culture to a flowing river, not stagnated water. Content matters—poetry is far more than a formal game—but does not supply utility. Stephanie (also Steph; formerly Stephen) Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. All over the world people celebrate through ceremony, with many ceremonies having cultural or religious significance. Culture is the distinctive practices and beliefs of a society. This in turn incites the animosity of normal people who feel they are being looked down upon by people who do not work for a living(work meaning physical labor and commerce). I've never found an explanation for why poetry, apparently alone among the art forms, is asked to do more than be itself. For this reason, poetry makes everything (and, yes, nothing) happen, especially in a consumer society prone to assessing and dispensing value to everything from lap dances to teachers' salaries. Your, Raiul Baztepo. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they're making pornography. Favorite Line/s: … Absolutely. Once a reader has fully internalized the poem's machinations, she collects a chorus within her and is transformed. The question is not merely whether the commitment he exemplified is possible now, but whether technology, and the institutions we use to manage it, can allow the kind of … All, except Keats maybe, would be ignored and cast aside as personae non gratae by the critical, academic, and literary establishments: no Guggenheim for you, Mr. Shelley. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of [her] generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. Poetry and the sentiments involved in it do not serve the function of obtaining employment and food, housing and procreation, do not increase one's social standing and on many occasion cause discord among people due the intense opinions and sentements involved in it; this meaning one may read one's writing and be offended by the thought, image or opinion expressed in such writing. Daisy Fried: Why not a summation made up of parts? It's not as though it's optional. Emily Warn: After twenty-four hours of traveling, I get home to Seattle bleary-eyed. I used to love poetry so much that I majored in Chinese literature. There are good 9/11 poems. Would it be nonsensical to say that by building houses with Habitat for Humanity, through the hard work of hammer and nail, on the one hand, and the contemplation of poverty, on the other, I might encounter and come to know both my society and myself? Poetry binds solitudes. Does it disclose the pathos of other human beings and the source of their suffering? 3 Poetry matters. What I also read in this exchange is a distasteful cynicism about poetry's ability—its responsibility—to affect lives. Historicism argues that literature is a product of its age and the meaning of a text can only be discovered by fitting it around other discourses from the same period. From something you hear or read about that can spark a new poem, about everything to life's situations and the emotional responses it triggers. Hello!Very Interesting post! They come from an undiscovered country; they are shaped into form by the power of language, and set free to fly with wings of images and metaphor. Forget that, and we forget poetry's true function. The next morning Israel bombs a Lebanese village and more than fifty people, most of them children, die. In a word, cultural freedom on this plane starts with the acknowledgement of the right of a culture to be itself. Poets, he's saying, weld new relations and add new forms to the world. But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. Yes, of course, but poetry is especially adept at helping us experience, and so understand, celebrate, mourn, curse, or philosophize about our relations. (Think, for instance, of D.A. Ranked poetry on Social media, by famous & modern poets. “Feminism”, Ashia Ajani, Tolu Obiwole, Abby Friesen-Johnson, and Alexis Rain Vigil. Powell's poems about living and loving with HIV, or A.R. Meanwhile, the four of us write poems. Otherwise a poem could not bind—as many poems do bind—solitudes and make connections among readers who do not live in the same society, nor even in the same century. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? Customs and traditions differ from one part of Nepal to another. I agree with Stephen Burt that if we prescribe a single ethical purpose to poetry, if we write toward an ideal, then we stymie the possibility that each poem can address a question raised by particular conditions. Hers is the same annoyance expressed by disapproving poets who sniff the air upon hearing a 9/11 elegy or an inaugural poem, or upon learning of a famous poet penning her own line of greeting cards. The capital city Kathmandu enjoys a rich tapestry of cultures blending to form a national identity. "Them" seldom includes "us." Poetry is so important because it helps us understand and appreciate the world around us. She has published four collections of poems: Advice... Daisy Fried is the author of three books of poetry: Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice (2013); My Brother is Getting Arrested Again (2006), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and She Didn’t Mean to Do It (2000), which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. The poem is all about how culture is always changing and adapting. No question about it. But do all poems do this? "The Mill-Race" by Anne Winters serves as proof text. Since then, travelling at least a small portion of this world and living abraod, indulging myself in the languages and literatures of the wider part of East Asia, as well as talking with a great many people, I have come a realization. But poetry's the High Art which is also democratic: inexpensive, portable, reproducible, quickly consumed (except for epic and very difficult poetry), requiring only literacy to participate. (One reason we keep seeking a "social function" despite this lack of agreement: those of us who make a living through poetry—by teaching other people how to write more of it, or by writing about it—often feel a bit guilty for getting paid.) Theodor Adorno's social (and antisocial) theories demanded that composers, and writers, protect that "isolated, fragmented self of modern consciousness" against the false claims of a bad social whole. If we abandon this use, then poets become one more group of wage-laboring specialists, gathered into "ghettos," speaking our own language, and designing complicated objects which serve as prophylactics to protect us from people still naïvely seeking this life-making force. That's personal—and therefore social. I believe 9/11 solace poetry has given support, however indirectly and unintentionally, to the Bush administration. They would likely be committed to mental institutions for claims of having visions, of the socially relevant and supernatural variety; at least one would be labeled a terrorist or terrorist-sympathizer for speaking against the state and/or professing anti-Christian beliefs; another ostracized for brazenly exercising self-proclaimed, progressive forms of natural love. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. Emily should reread the very lines she quotes if she thinks this poem is about workers "preserv(ing) a shred of self." Lewis, literature not only describes reality but also adds to it. Ceremonies are filled with ritual. Poetry can make none of these happen. And students I've had, not writing students, but those non-English majors taking perhaps the only English class they'll ever take, have found themselves reflected in poems, much to their surprise. Yet his claim that "poetry cannot be defined in terms of a social function at all" except that it "concerns communication among just two persons" seems cramped and unmoored. It is a worthy expression of emotion, or deep feelings, and aesthetics, or a sense of what is beautiful about the world. Emerson named the current flowing through things divine—a fire our bodies and poems externalize. Yet if we reject tangled relations to insist on the isolated, fragmented self of modern consciousness, then we remain self-absorbed and self-limiting—and certainly incapable of responding to the woman standing with Ahkmatova in the prison line who asked, "Can you describe this?" Use is not function. In our society the use of poetry is now a sign of delusion. I wrote it in classical and modern Chinese and English. The student's poem reflects the cultural context of the mask. Such a position is necessary to our communal health. America's crimes may be forcing poets back into the world. The encounter, which occurs in language, preserves and enlarges our solitude and points out our connections. Prozac would probably work better. This ritual generates empathy and widens our humanity. Such ontological feelings of fragmentation and alienation, which often led to a more pessimistic and bleak outlook on life as manifested in representative modernist poems such as T.S. Whitman did not know his work would inform a gay liberation movement. Stephen Burt: I hope I share Emily Warn's passionate optimism about the scope of our art form, but I either fail to understand, or cannot believe, her argument. Cultural relationship. The stacks of poetry can be referenced by poet-engineers, not of the sacred or the social, but of the aesthetic. In "Lapis Lazuli," Yeats insists on the gaiety of human existence alongside its tragedy. Rather, my point is that different poems do different things, and good poems (such as "The Mill-Race") do many things at once. Quality does. You can separate its content from its uses, which are to shake people from their consumer stupor and usher them into indeterminate mystery." The only kind of poetry that doesn't have social function is that which tells us how to think about X, Y, or Z, or tells us to buck up, or that the world is a wonderful place. How can one not relate to the drained faces of the women office workers on an evening bus, to their scant hope that, despite their misspent, dwindling hours in the service of Labor, they have preserved a shred of self? 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