I’ve been trying really hard to get excited enough about other people’s poetry to give comments and stuff – on that Finnish site. The problem is that I don’t really like it all that much…
I mean, I’ve mentioned before that the way I write in Finnish and English differs slightly. One difference is that my English poems seem to make a lot more sense, and are grammatically ‘better’. This also happens in the rare Finnish ones I write, but when I read the ones I wrote when I was a teen, I sometimes want to slap myself because of the way they are. Some of them are really nice, but some are just impossible – even if I like them, because they mean something to me, and I remember why and when I wrote them, I might not understand how something like that ever came out of me!
This change might be partly due to the fact that I’ve only recently – after moving here – gotten into poetry in English, so I don’t have a ‘tradition’ of my own for that, but I use what I’ve learned in the University – the Romantics and the Victorians. And maybe some World War poetry, but I don’t think I was all that into writing poetry myself when we were studying that… I don’t know where I got the Finnish stuff, then, if not for poetry for children. And I doubt it was that messed up…
Anyways. One of the main reasons I can’t read other people’s poems on Aukea.net, is that they seem not to have ever learned how to use capital letters and proper punctuation. I mean, yes, in my poems I take some liberties with these issues, but if your poem is 30 lines long with NO capital letters whatsoever, no commas, no full stops, nothing. How are you supposed to enjoy that? And people go ahead and give awesome points for that. What’s so horrible in writing the same content with some proper grammar? Does the poem suffer from it?
I doubt it.
Another thing I’ve noticed there is that the highest ranked poems make absolutely no sense. I’m a big fan of the idea that everything in this world is a good enough subject for poetry, but I would never write a poem about feeding my babies and changing their diapers and then putting them to bed. In exactly this explicit words, no metaphors, nothing.
People seem to be more interested in the form of the poem. And no, I’m not talking about the metric or rhyme patterns of the works, but what form the poem takes ‘on paper’. Some make pretty little curvy poems, some write short lines-long lines-short lines to make a half circle. And way too many people use the ‘centering’ font format option choice issue thingy. (I searched, it’s called ‘align centre’.) It is so ugly. No one should ever use it for anything, but maybe in Wedding invitations if really necessary to shove it anywhere.
It’s true that even in my poems I sometimes tend to get a little loose with grammar, so that I make the poem rhyme nicely, but this is completely different from what it seems the whole of Finland is doing with their poetry right now. Most of the times the poems don’t rhyme, first of all – not saying they should, just saying they can’t use the same excuse I do.
What seems to be the motto for these ‘poets’ is the less sense it makes the better.
Eventually I got so annoyed that I tried to find some contemporary poets writing in English, to compare. Well they seem to follow grammatical rules, ok, but the few I looked into really didn’t make any more sense than the Finnish ones. The subject matter is so… hollow. It’s like no poem now has anything inside, anymore, just random words put together. Fancier the better. Because then it makes even less sense.
Is this really what poetry has come to? Is everything that is not prose – and even some of that – to be called poetry nowadays? Are we going back to modernism/postmodernism and throwing all rules to the ground because all poetry needs to be, really, is short and pretty?
I can truly say I prefer the Romantics and Victorians, with their meaningful poems that actually tried to convey a message, that lasted for a while so you could really get to the rhythm, that didn’t favor the figures of the lines over the words you chose.
Please, someone point me to a proper poet, writing proper poetry.