Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Sunday, May 17, 2020

"Why don't people read or 'Like' my poetry?"

Terminal Diaeresis

     Newcomers often ask:  "Why don't people read or 'Like' my poetry?"

     It's not like others are every bit as fascinated by the autobiographies, diary entries, and yearnings of strangers as you are.  Or aren't interested in chatting and being sociable.  Or that poems and poets could focus on something more distant than our navels.  Heresy!

     It's not like you are asking for a significant investment on the part of a reader.  They skim a few lines, say something appreciative and encouraging, then they move on.  What's the problem?

    "So why are people ignoring my posts?  It's not like there is a competition going on here, right?"

     There may be any number of reasons unrelated to the work itself.  Everyone has their favorites, preferring them to unknowns.  Power politics may be in play, with others flattering those they feel may be able to help them.  There may be a quid pro quo playing out, with pairs trading favorable evaluations.  Styles may form alliances, with contributors of like mind supporting a group philosophy or aesthetic.

     Aside from these human foibles, there is a good chance that some of the contributors are using tricks.  Dirty, underhanded tricks!  And not even new ones!  Some of these go back centuries or millennia--even to the beginnings of language!

     These sneaky subterfuges come in two categories:  brevity (no wasted words!) and repetition.  The latter can involve anything from whole choruses and lines ("repetends") to sounds (e.g. rhyme, assonance, consonance, alliteration) and rhythms (e.g. iambs:  de DUM de DUM; the beats of a song, etc.).  It's as if these people are trying to get people to not only notice  their words but to remember  them as well.  Weird.

     To show what extent these bastards will go to, let us look at an extreme, admittedly obscure example.  Hand this stanza from DPK's "Beans" to someone and ask them to read it aloud to you:

September came like winter's
ailing child but
left us
viewing Valparaiso's pride. Your face was
always saddest when you smiled. You smiled as every
doctored moment lied. You lie with
orphans' parents, long

      Listen to the rhythm of those stressed syllables.  Ask them to read it to you a second time.

      Do you hear how final that last word seems?  How it sounds like a triumphant "Ta Da!" at the end of a performance?

      Diaeresis is an ancient stunt usually relating to a break in the middle of a line.  Here we have terminal diaeresis, which is more esoteric still.  The magic effect comes from ending an iambic (de DUM) passage with an iambic word ("reVILED");  all previous two-syllable words were trochaic (DUM-de, i.e. "WINters", "AILing", "VIEWing", "ALways", "SADdest", "EV'ry", "DOCtor'd", "MOMent", "ORPHans", "PARents").

     Over 99.9% of poets wouldn't know diaeresis from diarrhea.  It's that rare.

     How long has this stuff been going on?  Terminal diaeresis wasn't new when Shakespeare developed it in his sonnets, circa 1600.  Thus, today's poets are so desperate for attention that they are pulling 400 year old rabbits out of their butts!  Worse yet, there are sites and articles dedicated to proliferating these dark arts, this being one of them.

What You Need To Know About Poetry

     This is but one of the thousands of options in the hypermodern poet's bag of tricksThousands!

     How are you going to compete with that?

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