Tea at Tympani Lane Records

World Message of Peace

It is the high season of beautiful Summer, the flower of peace blossoms in Montreal. Down in the China Market, there is fresh fruit and wonderful fresh Dim Sum treats. We move out of our artist digs this week and into a larger place, big Yay! It was great carnivale meeting the people of Montreal, people renting their places, Superintendents and Landlords, a great time was had by all. God is the best operator. Poetry is on the backburner until we get settled in. Happy news from Tea at Tympani Lane Records!

"Poetry is what gets lost in translation."
- Robert Frost (Poet, Educator)

"Wine is bottled poetry."
- Robert Louis Stevenson (Poet)

"Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history."
- Plato (Philosopher)

"If you cannot be a poet, be the poem."
- David Carradine

"Poetry is an Event."
- Rebecca Anne Banks (Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Writer, Artist, Philosopher, Counselor, Activist)

"Poetry is love."
- Rebecca Anne Banks (Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Writer, Artist, Philosopher, Counselor, Activist)

“What makes good or bad poetry?”
a Reprint Article by Rebecca Anne Banks
from MCI Writer’s House Newsletter (www.mciwritershouse.com)

Poetry can be anything you want it to be. That being said I suspect after reading a poem anyone can say “that was a good poem” or “that was a bad poem”. Because “bad poetry” is usually quite individualistic and involves an analysis of each work, I will dwell on the positive and what goes into writing a good poem.

I think over time writing skill will ripen, as a practice it is important to cultivate it by writing when inspiration strikes and/or taking time to sit down and actually write. It is important to have some idea of other people’s work – studying the work of the major poets in coursework or over the Internet is a good idea. This will ground you with a sense of history, a study in style/form and motion, trends in literature and an idea of other times and places. You will get an idea of universal themes and the differences in language usage and the life and times of other people. It is also important to be familiar with the post-modern poetry scene and emerging Poets so subscribing to a publishing house (like above/ground press, obvious epiphanies press) and reading Chapbooks will give you a taste for the current trends, issues and personalities in the modern day diaspora.

Truly great poems, like all great art and great love affairs are divinely inspired; all the planets and stars are aligned in just the right position for the celebration to birth. There is a Muse, the Holy Spirit, the Angels, souls in the Spirit World and a love interest that inspires you as the conduit to write. Inspiration can also come from elements of landscape, the emotions, the weather, news, the natural world (forest, ocean, trees and sky), other artists work (poetry, movies, music, paintings, video) or anything that touches you in your day and inspires you, the Poet, sparks the writing. And for a really good poem, one spark as a catalyst will lead to 2 or 3 other sparks or more, as the poem writes on multiple levels. Often the poem is a postcard in time and place. When the Poet is Oracle there may be an element of prophesy to the work. (as if warning a Reader years after the poem was written of some catastrophe yet to occur or some message of import).

A really good poem is unique in some way, a certain originality in style or word constructions, in theme, sometimes the Poet will invent new words. With the Internet collaborations between other forms of art are emerging, including video, music and photograph/posters using poetry, aided by the accessibility and low cost of the Internet.

Every word is accounted for and carefully considered, it is like carving rock from silence, or painting a picture with words on a white page. Sometimes a truly great poem will champion a cause, it will illuminate a truth, drawing attention to an injustice. And the poem may create mythologies, creating a dreamspace or an ideal place that would make the Poets world better or help to imagine a better situation.

Also a great poem tells a story, sometimes you get the entire story, sometimes you only get glimpses of a brief space in time or you may be inundated with metaphors, sometimes truncated, sometimes grand all creating a mood, a situation, a feeling, an event. It is an attempt by the Poet to communicate to the Reader and the world. And the poem is a reflection of the Poet’s soul. If the Poet has had a conflicted love life with too many lovers, a truly great poem can appeal to the Spirit for karmic redemption (as can any arts calling or calling for work). The act of writing a truly great poem is also very healing, it’s something you enjoy doing, it’s something that when the work is rendered brings a certain peace and satisfaction, is a celebration for the Poet and may have a positive affect and be a celebration for the Reader.

There is an element of white magic to poetry (and any arts calling) that may manifest a happy love life. Magic spells in old Wiccan lore, if they rhymed in a certain rhyming couplet way would aid, in theory, in manifesting a happy lover forever. And, there is Holy Spirit magic that a special visualization will give a Spirit World intervention and improve the quality of what you are writing (ask telepathically).

An idea of theme and how it relates to form is also a consideration. Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is a poem that works, full of images of lost and found paradise, written in 1797 comes after the Renaissance (with Michaelangelo and Shakespeare) in a time of growing prosperity in England.

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.”

It has meter and rhyme and although perhaps on the edge of lost love with some negative nature imagery, it is from a more copacetic time than poetry that was to come in the 20th Century.

For example I find some of the modernist male writers too cerebral, in W. B. Yeat’s Sailing to Byzantium written in the 1920’s the first paragraph is riveting

“That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
---Those dying generations---at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unaging intellect.”

and then goes on to talk about the office of the Oracle but it does not for me have the same bang at the end as it did at the beginning. And you can begin to see the crack in the machine (the Industrial Economy) with the stress of the times (after World War I) in the truncated thoughts projected in the poetry. That being said it is still classic literature.

The Wasteland by T. S. Eliot published in 1922 is a quintessential tome of broken thoughts and the juxtaposition of varying places, speakers and time, bordering on DaDa and perhaps a percursor of Existentialism. As if Eliot had inculcated the war (W.W. I) Indian and Buddhist philosophies and having fallen into a trance spilled out this fantastical prophetic timepiece.

“ If there were water
And no rock
If there were rock
And also water
And water
A spring
A pool among the rock
If there were the sound of water only
Not the cicada
And dry grass singing
But sound of water over a rock
Where the hermit-thrush sings in the pine trees
Drip drop drip drop drop drop drop
But there is no water

Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
—But who is that on the other side of you?”

It is a long poem, as if fed by the disease of war and brokenness with the idea of journey, a departure from other literature, so much so that Reviewers lamented they could not understand what he was saying, yet they understood that it was brilliant.

Juxtaposed with post-modern writers as presented in above/ground press the broken thoughts and mysterious word juxtapositions in truncated metaphors has been reduced from long paragraphs (T.S. Eliot) to a couple of lines or even one line, and often the capitalization and punctuation is irregular, perhaps representing the accelerated violence and broken relationships characteristic of this era.

Vertigoheel for the Dilly by Pearl Pirie:

“she’s a Cape Breton seashore, a scent trail
in salt-air, edges touched by red thorn brambles

the cast off skins of who we used to be are piled,
layers of dropped polka dots.

those aren’t mine, are they, pinching the cheeks
of her anklebones, a pinch more rough than affection.

thick ankles that hobble our steps yet we will walk
our awkwards, insist on it, hike our miles of dunes.”

from Hark, a journal by rob mclennan:

“Mexico City, 1521
Cortes, the kilter. An elegy, worthy of figuring. Appointment to rifle.
Imagine a passion-flower. Trapezoids, drawn. Recording, I am in pain.
Some grey lines, gold. Introduction of letters, lined chocolate. To a certain
Degree, feminine. I am having an atom bomb. The contours of poetry.
North, sentence mountains. Knows only, inferiority. Finger-,marking the
Causeway. I heart you, premeditate.”

There are also other postmodern poetry forms including Haiku and its derivatives, Hip-hop/Rap style/Beat poetry, poetic prose, narrative poetry.

For This Writer’s own particular taste I like the last line to bang somehow. I like pared in and considered words, that grab the attention, entertain, inform and capture the imagination, that could possibly change your life. For favourite genres I like love poetry and Haiku.

If I had to make a list of the best poetry reads it would include:

T.S. Eliot (The Wasteland)

Truman Capote (best Poet of short story writing)

Haiku (Ancient Women Poets of China, Anna Yin, Pd Lietz)

Frederico Garcia Lorca

Kahlil Gibran

Robert Frost

Leonard Cohen

Anna Akhmatova

Bella Akhmadulina

Rainier Maria Rilke

Pablo Neruda

Rod McKuen

Virginia Woolf (just because)

Sylvia Plath

Anne Sexton

Melinda Cochrane (Behind the Pen)

rob mclennan

Lee Young-Le

Bruce Kauffman

Kay Kinghammer

Pearl Pirie

Ginna Wilkerson

Carmelo Militano

Hugh Thomas

Evelyn Lau

But this list is in no way exhaustive, there are many others who deserve their names to be written here.

When a Poet writes, even the greats, not all works will ring with brilliance but it is the ones that do ring with brilliance that make all the difference. A really good poem read by the window in a big velvet chair as you drink your morning coffee is pure sunlight despite the weather.

The Way of Peace.



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