green eye coeur presse

where the eye meets the heart

This is the poetry two too page.

Courtney does offer courses in poetry, and we can sell you the power point slides (how "un" poetic is that!!!) but this page is more infomatinal than gecp promotional, primarily because we have a primary interest in poetry and believe of all art forms it should be inclusive. Although it's harder to pay the bills with it. Soul's purer, though.

Much of what we use to talk about or describe poetry comes from the Greek poetic schools. They were a bit more anal itical than a modern audience tends to be. We still use the greek terms to describe metrical terms (althugh for most a foot is 12 inches at the end of a leg). Many - most? - modern poetry has backlashed against the rhyming sonnets of Keats or the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare's sonnets, but you can still pick up the rhythmic rhymes that the old masteras woud recognise in rap, beat box (ish) and much performance poetry. So, what's the difference?

To simplify, and why not? Poetry tends to be:

  • Performance
  • Spoken Word
  • Verse
  • Poetry for the Page

Performance Poetry

Our friend Kev is a very striking man. I know. It's not fair. Tall, heavily bearded, liberally tatooed and with a 'presence' to match. Kev's poems are fine to read but they lose a dimension on the page, and that dimension comes through a microphone with Kev's intonation, a close cousin of a musical song and phrasing. Kev's poems have smethng extra when they are delivered live, by Kev. You can hear the rhythms and beat that would be familiar to afficionados of rap - who would probably pee on the word 'afficionado'.

Spoken Word

Simplistically, the spoken word is poetry for the page read out loud. Probably genteel, maybe middle class (don't take me seriously it isn't middle class.) The spoken word fits nicely with the word 'receital'.


The word verse has almost become perjorative, but it isn't for us. Kipling's ballards are verse, lyrical sonnets, limmericks. Spoken or off the page, verse is likely to have a recognosed structure within which rhythms and meter will sit like flesh on a skeleton.

Poetry for the Page (Form)

There is a poem by Tom Gunn called 'Autobiography' that I would both like to praise and quote to illustrate a point. A point about poetry that will help aspiringpoets, spread the word of poetic significance, help give you insight. But I can't - I haven't bothered to find out if I can or I can't, owing to the laws that govern copyright, digital rights, plagarism etc, I assume I can't. Newton can stand on the shoulders of giants but now we live by laws that stop our own visions seeing furthr than other men. So I shall have to use Gunn's device in a poem of Court's.

It is called 43, about a woman approaching her 43rd birthday, a birthday that will not be celebrated by her brother who was left behind twenty years previously. It goes like this:

was left behind
when you
were 23
left a hole

in our family
you died
when your breath
lungs for the air
but you live on
in your dad and me
at 23

The eighth line is not a line break, it is not white space between two stanza, it is part of the poem. From the people I have spoken to who have read the poem the significance went unnnoticed, which is not possible in Gunn's Autobiography, but that is ok too. It is a line of absence. It is a hole. It represents the hole left by the fella. It is part of the poem. This is intrinsic to the form, the form that is poetry on the page. See whaddi mean?

So, is there a difference - yes - and what is the difference?

In both performance poetry and the spoken word the mechanism of delivery is the voice and the mechanism of reception is the ear. Thus, the rhythms, emphasis and intonation of the poem are the poet's. In performance poetry the poet is likely to have learned and rehearsed the delivery, like an actor, and have a level of skill in delivery. In the spoken word the likelihood is the poet has not, but the rhythms are still the poet's.

In poetry of the page the mechanism of reception is the eye, thus the rhythms, stresses and intonations, both the beat and the phrasing, are the readers'. The poet can hope to influence and guide, but how a word is 'said' in the reader's brain will be a function of how the reader speaks, not how the poet speaks.

Additionally, the context is controlled by the poet in the former, by the reader in the latter. For example. Picture the scene:
Big, sombre, important meeting. Soldiers, say. There is bad news to be delivered, or a suicidal meeting to be undertaken. The chair of the meeting has laid it all out. In the heavy silence the boss says, "I need a volunteer." In the ensuing silence (that great expression, a pregnant pause), a voice says "Shall I?"

Here the emphasis, the weight, the meaning is held by the I. It be me to volunteer. But in sonnet 16, 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' the emphasis is held by the shall, it overpowers the I that is coupled to it, shall I or shall I not? But wait, if the emphasis is in the first syllable of the foot, that means it's not iambic. Which is it? Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter, right? In the volunteer's question the shall and the I are still two syllables of a metrical foot, but they are not iambic. If the script is being read and the emphasis in the reader's brain is on the shall, the meaning of the question is lost, but it is still controlled by the reader. In the actual film (with the suicide mission) the emphasis is controlled by the actor (the performance poet, stepping out of the analogy.) Who dictates the rhythm and the emphasis? That is the difference and the key.

The key, the key, who holds the key? That is the question.

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