Long-Winded

The wind howls outside my office window. The power went out two days ago across much of Vancouver Island, where Iย live. Mine did not.

The Wind

Wind Comes to Town.

Wind has a second definition, referring to a phrase that perhaps goes longer than it needs to in order to communicate its message. Have you guessed what I just described?

Long-winded.

Many poets have set structure to their poems. There are rhymes, set counts of syllables, and there is often flow. But-

Sometimes structure need not be there. Lines can be long-winded, have no rhyme or melody, and be wonderful. Read and re-read.

Last night I dreamed of fairies dancing on pincushions

Sewing lines of consequences like the thread wraps around the brass buttons of my red coat

Tight and connected, ever-reaching consequences.

ยฉ 2012 Christy Birmingham

One poet might comment on the length of the second line, while the second shrugs his or her shoulders.

“Isn’t the poet’s purpose to spread the message for which the poem was created?” asked the second person.

In this case, long-winded or not, the message is what is most important here. The structure of the poem comes second, or perhaps even fourth or fifth.

Do you agree with the second person? Do you ever dream of fairies?

This is christyb and I am curious. And hungry.

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28 thoughts on “Long-Winded

  1. Raymond alexander kukkee

    I agree with you, Christyb, and 100%, —the structure of poetry should not be stifling or limit the beauty, meaning and melodramatic potential. Where a given works morphs into “prose” instead of poetry is something that could be debated endlessly, for it is a matter of opinion isn’t it? We are listening to Christyb in in BC. — Is that incoming I hear? “:)

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    1. christyb Post author

      Hehe This is christyb in BC and I hear the incoming! When structure acts to limit the message of the poetry I am disappointed as that prevents the reader from truly understanding the poet’s intentions. Your insightful opinion is appreciated Raymond!

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  2. L.

    Being a student and long time writer myself, I am always using structure in undefined terms such as this. It is what makes my writing flow with the feelings that go into my pen.

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    1. christyb Post author

      Yes L., I don’t often have a set structure to my poetry when I begin writing. I read aloud as I write the poems and use the melody rather than a set form. Always nice to meet a fellow writer!

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  3. Julie Catherine

    Christy, I write in both styles, structured and free-verse, according to my whims of the day. I love both equally – and it doesn’t matter to me about the line length; or even if it does ‘morph’ into prose-poetry, I like that too. What matters to me is the message; the emotion it evokes in me, and does it flow on my tongue when I read it aloud. And yes, I dream of fairies; I love fairies – after all, I am a Pixy! LOL. ~ Julie ๐Ÿ™‚ xox

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    1. christyb Post author

      Hehe Julie, I just read your message and great minds DO think alike. I just wrote to L. that I read my poetry aloud as I am writing it. Like you I find that a helpful gage for where the lines should end. Keep dreaming my wonderful Pixy friend ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. simon7banks

    “Wind” has another meaning – bowel gas. But I didn’t assume that was what was howling outside your window.

    Structure in poetry need not be stereotyped. Your quote, Christy, contains alliteration and other internal links that give it music and coherence beyond what you’d find in prose, except a speech like one of Churchill’s or the Gettysburg address.

    The structure in a poem matters INSOFAR AS it helps to convey the message(s) more powerfully or more subtly.

    Take as an example my favourite quote illustrating the power of the sound of words, from Gerard Manley Hopkins:
    She drove in the dark to leeward
    She struck not a reef or a rock
    But the combs of a smother of sand. Night drew her
    Dead to the Kentish Knock (The Wreck of the Deutschland). Now eliminate Hopkins’ repeated alliteration, his unconventional metre and the rhyme:

    She turned in the night towards the land
    And didn’t hit a rock or an underwater cliff.
    Instead she hit masses of enveloping sand and in the dark
    She arrived dead at the Sussex Knock.

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    1. christyb Post author

      Simon, I love the way you debated this example with and without alliteration. How wonderful the similar sounds roll off the tongue; structure really has helped convey the message here. Melody is not just for songs but for poetry lines such as these too. My poet friend I am glad you stopped by.

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  5. Marc Phillippe Babineau

    Another great dissection of poetry! Good job, Christy!
    I would have to say that “long winded” posts can sometimes be overdone, but sometimes they need to be a little on the long side (Am i defending my own long-winded posts?)

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    1. christyb Post author

      MB, your posts are not long-winded, you need not worry about that. I am thinking instead that you convey good points with a little wit along the way (some days more sarcasm than other days?). Thanks for the compliment and it is great to see you here encouraging me once again.

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  6. Sue Dreamwalker

    Hi Christyb, Yes the message of the poem is what counts, and while some like to blow gales others would prefer to use short gusts.. Each has their own personal style.. While some ‘long winded’ can not grab your attention, others can carry you way up in the sky to dance along with the fairies.. And I fly ๐Ÿ˜‰ quite often in my Dreams! ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. christyb Post author

      I wish you wonderful Dreams Sue. You deserve that for all the inspiration you spread through your own blog and your insightful comments. I want to dance with you and the fairies, spreading peace and joy as we dance!

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  7. HINES

    I think I subscribe to both views moderately (I Walk the Line). The one that makes me slightly frustrated is when the rhythm is thrown off by too few or too many syllables in a rhyming poem. I’m sure I could gloss over it if I weren’t a percussionist, drummer, and rapper. Besides, for me reading is like walking; I don’t like to be tripped up. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. simon7banks

      Too true, Hines. So many people who attempt to write poetry think if it rhymes it’s poetry, ignoring both the need for intensity and depth, and the importance of rhythm.

      That said, slight variations in rhythm can do a lot to stop a poem sounding facile and routine. Chimpanzees, someone worked out by research, are fascinated by slight variations in a pattern and spend far longer looking at abstract art with such slight variations than at either completely regular patterns or complete chaos. We’re so genetically close to Chimpanzees we’re almost the same species, and we have the same characteristic.

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      1. christyb Post author

        Simon, outside of poetry we are also intrigued by what is different and out of the ordinary in our daily routine. It stands out like red in a black-and-white world. How wonderful to see discussion between the readers here! Now as for the comparison to Chimpanzees, I hope we are slightly better looking….

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    2. christyb Post author

      Welcome Hines. Pull up a chair and relax, feel free to look around here. Yes frustration you feel when the structure is thrown off makes you less inclined to finish the poem. I think many people would agree with you!

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  8. Miro

    “It is what it is” is one of my life mottos. True, it seems most people prefer things short when it comes to writing, and when it comes to poetry, they prefer it to rhyme in a simplistic way, but sometimes that’s just not what the piece is supposed to be. Just as we must all be true to ourselves, and we are at unrest and lack peace when we’re not, the same goes for any creative work that’s reshaped into something it’s not meant to be. It’s why so many movies that have too many people pulling the creative strings behind the scenes end up lacking a coherent and powerful message.

    I’ve experienced this with my writing as well. I’ve experimented with different styles, but my way of writing is just a good old fashioned and simple Dr. Seuss style of rhyme. I also realize I’d get many more readers if I shortened my poems, sometimes by more than half, but the message is what it is. Sometimes it’s short, but usually it’s longer. So it is with deeper thinking. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Peace & grace,
    ~Miro

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    1. christyb Post author

      Miro, Sometimes length is necessary to express the full message of the poem. When the subject matter is of interest the reader becomes intent on heading to the next line, becoming immersed in the topic. Don’t shorten your work for the reader; write how you like to write and the reader will show up to see the light that shines from the poet that is you.

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    1. christyb Post author

      Job, how nice to see you again here. I am glad you enjoy the poetry. As for the DVD, do you suggest I be recorded reading my work aloud? I hope you would be there to cheer me on!

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  9. Pingback: When Jagged Meets Parfait | Poetic Parfait

  10. Tony

    Just stumbled in here by accident, but so glad that I did. I am a quite recent returnee to poetry writing, after a hiatus of almost 3 decades, so I don’t feel qualified to comment on the pro’s and cons of structure, except to say that sometimes I enjoy the challenge that structure brings to my writing. Sometimes I don’t, and then I ignore it.

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    1. christyb Post author

      Hi Tony, yes it can be as simple as whether or not you feel in the mood to pay attention to structure or not. I am glad you have returned to the world of poetry, there is so much to read and write within its sphere! Thank-you for stopping by and I do hope you take a look around here.

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