Poetry Group Forum

Poetry Group This is a place where we can discuss new topics for poetry projects or challenges, talk about well known poets that we like - even Shakespeare! Hopefully by sharing our reading experiences we can expand our knowledge of poets and poetry and inspire each other. We could also use these pages to post 'How to' articles for new poets, ie How to write a particular form of poem, for example a Haiku, or e... read more

Does Syntax Matter? (4)

Hi Poets,

We have all heard the old joke that that syntax is a charge levied on prostitutes.

There have been opinions expressed as to whether such things as grammar, spelling, punctuation and such like really matter when composing poetry, with spurious jibes of 'pedant' being chucked in the direction of those who see merit in decent grammar etc. etc.

Cutting to the chase I reckon there are two main types of poster to Poetry Corner, with a number of sub-types.

There are those who simply want to get off their chests whatever it is they have to say and who think grammar/syntax is a minor consideration, or not even a consideration at all. That's fine, it is their choice and I am not writing this in order to be judgemental.

There is a second group who's aim is to improve as a poet, and who strive to produce well written work. My own view is that a writer who pays attention to grammar, and who in addition also looks to improve in matters concerning rhyme, rhythm and structure will inevitably tend to produce more readable work.

I cannot emphasise too strongly that this is NOT an attack on people whose grip on spelling/grammar is tenuous - it is nothing of the sort. Quite the reverse, I can and do respond to requests advice from a number of poets on PC who write to me privately on these matters, and I am always prepared to help anyone who asks me.

That is not to say my own grammar/syntax is a model for others to follow, I know what my imperfections are and strive to improve, in particular I am grateful to stalwarts such as Robbie (Macduff) who has given me much advice over these last few months.

I would be willing to take part in a workshop if it becomes evident that there is a demand from poets seeking to improve, and to look at various poetic structures in order to produce better writing.

I will check out this thread from time-to-time to see if there are poets looking to develop as writers and poets.



When I wrote the above post, I had no idea what a load of garbage it sounded, it wasn't my intention for it to read like a lecture.

The answer to the question posed in the title is that it is up to the individual to decide whether the rules of grammar are relevant, in any event, those rules are constantly evolving and what was correct yesterday isn't necessarily correct today, and my opinions are firmly stuck in the 1950's.

These forums are a pain insofar as daft posts like mine cannot be modified or deleted.

Mea Culpa

I think it's a great idea mister fellsman, I still use a dictionary printed in the 20's it's the most brilliant dictionary in the world and I love it! Don't go telling me it's out of date now, that would be like saying that mr Shakespeare was out of date. I think if people want to learn about grammer etc.. this is a great place to do it. If you don't know it's wrong you can't fix it, and if you truly don't know the rules then you can't break them properly. laugh
Am I making myself clear here or what. Sometimes people think that because a well known poet can break the rules that anyone can, but this is not so. All well known poets learned the rules first the same as the best artists did. Both Picasso and Dali look like they broke the rules in their most famous paintings, but their first works were based on the tried and trusted rules of composition etc.. they even still applied these rules in their later works. My point is, that rules are there because they work and as you say - only people interested in learning need take part.

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For those who take poetry seriously this is a great idea: just think about it - having a workshop of our own to learn to write poetry in a proper way - what could be better?! I am all for learning, cause I have no idea about the rules I must abide by when writing a poem. Rhythm particularly eludes me - I can't grasp the gist of it. And all the other components are likewise elusive to tell the truth. If I can catch up with grammar, for which there are textbooks, poetry is in fact a virgin land for me: even if I had textbooks at my disposal it would still be an insurmountable problem. Hope others will join and we could start learning as soon as possible. Thank you, Bill, it was very nice of you to make such a suggestion. Wish all your plans came true!
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