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Unread 05-29-2021, 12:34 PM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Default What does 'fresh poetry' mean?

Sorry; it's me again, with yet another question.

What does 'fresh poetry' mean to you? I know what it means to me, but I'm probably wrong.

I once described a poem on the 'sphere as 'fresh'. I'm a bit hazy on the details, but it was written by Mark Mc and I think it described a stop in a layby on the way back from an outdoors music festival. I think there were strawberries and the N got a seed stuck in his one tooth. Mary M and I thought that was funny; Ann explained it didn't mean he had only one tooth. It was subtly erotic and based entirely on personal experience without feeling mega-confessional.

I think Ann and Mary write in a fresh way too, along with lots of other poets on the 'sphere.

All thoughts appreciated :-)

Best wishes,
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Unread 05-29-2021, 02:41 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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In the context of a poetry zine, I'd be thinking about "fresh' with a primary meaning of it being new work, with kind of overtones of 'interesting/alt' and 'trying it on' (M-to F)'. There's a sub-alt-reading of 'fresh' as 'free/unconstrained' which I love - either way, for me 'fresh' has undertones around presenting a different perspective.

Although I also like Ann's/Mary's/Mark's work I'm not sure my reading of their work as 'fresh' entirely aligns with your own.

I'm most familiar with Ann's work. I'd say her work was subtly (sometimes quite radically but more in the mediaeval kind of way than the post-modern) subversive rather than 'fresh' because it tends to (in the poems I've read) play with expectation.

Either way, onward!

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Unread 05-29-2021, 02:55 PM
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Maryann Corbett Maryann Corbett is offline
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And it's me again with a first reply I haven't been following the poetry boards, so I hope I'm not too far off the mark of your concern. [Oops. Make that second.]

A poem can be fresh in a variety of ways, but the core of freshness (as I understand it) is doing things we haven't seen done before.

It might use a surprising metaphor, comparing very unlike things (as when Donne calls his mistress "my America, my newfound land").

It might use a novel stanza form, with lots of different line lengths; it might also change its rhyme scheme from stanza to stanza.

"Fresh diction" is something we expect in good poetry: avoiding any wording that's stock, expected, or stale, making good use of double meanings and sonic devices.

Fresh subject matter is probably the toughest thing to achieve, but my favorite example of an unusual subject is Maxine Kumin's "The Excrement Poem."

I'm sure others will add meanings, but freshness for me means the zing of surprise.

Last edited by Maryann Corbett; 05-29-2021 at 02:58 PM.
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Unread 05-29-2021, 06:11 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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'Fresh,' I think, can mean anything that each one of the enjoyers of its company want it to mean. But maybe most generally it designates something of a thirst-slaking newness, standing apart from its predecessors. I prefer 'idiosyncratic' for that type of praise. Though, living poetry doesn't have to be "new" to justify its pulse. Eratosphere is certainly a place for old men ... as long as their poetry is alive.

Last edited by W T Clark; 05-29-2021 at 06:17 PM.
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Unread 05-30-2021, 02:58 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Freshness, to me, is relative to the stock of poetic patterns that a person knows and accepts; and relative to those patterns, freshness is the aftertaste of someone making a, new and accepted by the person, perception, whether it is a perception about grammer, the lexicon, theme, methods of mimesis, rhyme pairs, means of closure, a description of someting, an emotional colouring, presenting a situation, making a moral point, etc, etc, etc.
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Unread 05-30-2021, 07:48 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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"Fresh" is such a subjective word that it is almost like saying "insert prejudices here." Different people will tell you what they value, and those things will not be the same. Like Emily Dickinson, I can judge the greatness of poetry only by its effect on me, and that effect can be produced by different kinds of poetry, in free or formal verse. I recently read Julie Kane's latest book, Mothers of Ireland, and certain lines of it hit me like an arrow. I had to stop and judge the impact, and then see the rest of the poem in a new light. Her book includes a lot of villanelles, sestinas, and ghazals, ancient repeating forms that many people here dislike. Yet it is about cycles of hurt and addiction, so the repetitions are entirely justified by the material, and she often changes elements of the repeating lines to create surprises.

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Unread 05-30-2021, 09:17 AM
mignon ledgard mignon ledgard is offline
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Default F. F. Teague - What does 'fresh poetry' mean?

Dear Fliss,

I'll be reading this thread to see the different offerings in response to your question.

In a nutshell, to me, 'fresh' is when content is presented from a different or somehow unusual angle.

Right now, I'm thinking of a tree. Since I cannot see a tree from all it's sides when I am not moving, removing what I know about it, I could write about how it grows up from the ground and out from the hill behind it. The latter may be an example of 'freshness' in the content of a poem, although it doesn't have to be something 'off-the-wall' or too clearly an invention.

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Unread 05-30-2021, 02:16 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Sarah-Jane, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I'm intrigued by 'interesting/alt' and I've certainly seen some M-to-F lately. As I mentioned on the New Formalism thread, elsewhere I have experimented with F-to-M. I think 'free/unconstrained' sounds good too.

Yes, we differ in how we view those talented poets, but I understand your perspective. It's possible I mean something more than I've been able to express; something about being of the moment, without reference to the Bible, myths, etc.

Word-Bird and I shall try to move onward :-) :>)

- - -
Yes, second this time, Maryann. Mark's poem was written a few years ago, I think, and he has kindly provided it via PM. It's actually even fresher (in my first definition) than I remember!

Thanks very much for outlining a few attributes of fresh poetry. I've just read 'The Excrement Poem'. There was an interesting moment where I paused after 'shovel / and rake', puzzled until I reached 'horse', lol. I have a certain amount of experience of cleaning up, but this is on a grand scale.

And I love the word 'zing'. I want to write: ZING! Thanks, Maryann :-)

- - -
Cameron, thanks for your comment. I like your description 'thirst-slaking newness'. Some poetry gives me a dusty feeling; what I want most from it is a sense of juicy fruit (not the dodgy chewing gum flavour though, lol).

- - -
Yves, thanks to you too. Your comment is interesting and provides a lot of insight.

- - -
Hi Susan. I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly don't dislike villanelles, sestinas, ghazals; I've tried all three, with varying success. 'The poems are formal [...] but their language is fresh and rich with the sound of contemporary spoken English', according to LSU Press, re. Mothers of Ireland. I think the same could be said of your poetry. For example, there was the one about a couple unable to get out of a relationship room and another about a woman disregarding conventional cancer treatment, if memory serves. Thanks for your comment.

- - -
Hello mignon; yes, let's see what happens here. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the tree; I like experimenting with angles, especially adopting voices other than my own (e.g. my 'Lament of the Leaning Trees'). Does that appeal to you too?

Smiling back :-) :>) (with Word-Bird, mascot)

Thanks again, everyone,

Edited to add: I might start a fresh thread on D&A soon, once I've got the current project under control.

Last edited by F.F. Teague; 05-30-2021 at 02:18 PM. Reason: As shown :-]
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Unread 06-03-2021, 06:49 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Just thinking out loud... trying to think this question of "freshness" through... I'm not sure I agree with what I'm thinking, but I'll let it out and see...

Fresh poetry has a rare capacity to take root and re-generate more of its own, though by definition it might not be as fresh...

Poetry that is not "fresh" is like cut flowers. It can be arranged and re-arranged in a thousand different bouquets and possess a thousand different heady aromas; It can be kept intubated for an indeterminate amount of time, but it cannot find root on its own.

Of course one could accuse me of alluding to formal classical poetry as being "cut flowers" but I'm not. I've read plenty of "fresh" formal poetry here (Mary Miriam, Ann Drysdale, R. Nemo, Hill etc.) that has roots. Formal/classical poetry done well utilizes the alchemic properties of words and sounds and rhythms as scaffolding that, once the poem is constructed, is of no use and falls away to reveal a fresh poem.

Fresh poetry is a garden. Poetry that fails to be fresh are cut flowers. I haven't read closely what others have said above me. I just wanted to give you my impression of "fresh".

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Unread 06-03-2021, 03:21 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Good to see you here, Jim :-)

Thanks for your thoughts out loud. I've changed my thinking quite a lot since beginning this thread,* so I understand your uncertainty.

I like your musings. When I receive cut flowers I always feel sad, knowing that they're going to wither. I very much prefer to receive a potted plant. Of course there are ways of prolonging the life of cut flowers, but those are just delaying tactics really.

Thanks for your impression of 'fresh', Jim :-)

Best wishes,

*For example, I think that what I considered 'fresh' was a sort of Poetry of the Real, half-remembered from a book I copyedited for Ashgate many years ago. The TS might be on my external hard drive; we'll search soon.
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