Monday, January 28, 2013

Poetry and time


In a sense, this is a continuation of a previous post where I discussed poetry and its relationship to prose, story, art, abstraction and philosophy. There's a few more things I've noticed lately, particularly related to 'time'.

Poetry and DeviantArt

I am a member of DeviantArt (a large Internet artist community). Although I don't consider myself a frequent poster there, I do post some things. Up till now I used to post images (photography/drawings), but lately I decided to post some poems as well. That's when I started to notice something.

Let me expand a little on technicalities first. On DeviantArt you can join a group (and put your work in the group, after following each group rules). Now, when you join, usually automatically you also start 'watching' the group. 'Watching' means that if you were not logged-in you can see the works posted in the group at a later time (those that you have 'missed' by not being logged-in). Since I was mainly in image groups (and 'watching' them), and watching individuals who usually posted images, I did not experience what 'watching' poetry was like. Well, now I know, and hence this post.

Poetry and time

Let's continue with DeviantArt. Now, when I look at others' work I have the option of 'faving' (i.e. 'liking') that particular artwork. Often there's a lot of artwork (considering the frequency of posting, in a few days the number of images may be in the range of more than 100, and there's not only one group I'm 'watching'). However, with images it's easy to filter, what to like, and what to let go. It takes just a moment (maybe one second, or even less?). With poetry?... Much, much more (comparingly).

Maybe I'm not a fast reader, maybe this is rather new for me in the context of looking at a lot of writing, but I guess it's more generic than that. I think that reading (in general, not only for poetry) takes a much longer time to process. Therefore I'm guessing that images are much, much easier comparingly.

But there is a contradiction. As I said in the previous post, it looks to me that longer literary works (mostly in prose) have more 'fame'. And longer also means longer time (to read). Specifically poetry seems to be in a double time-problem, on one hand the 'accessibility' time (compared to images) and on the other hand the 'entertaining' time (compared to longer prose works).

The solution

Well, I don't really know. It may be that poetry should 'grab' the attention of the reader almost immediately (in the first few lines), it may be that it's just me being rather slow in this aspect (since it's not like there's no readership at all - but I should also say that I've done no research as to statistics of faves of poetry or writing in general compared to images), it may be that a poet should start doing 'haiga', or even something else I'm not aware right now.

In general, I think that imagery helps (that was also a possible conclusion of the previous post). It could be an image (painting), theatrical work, film or animation. By this, I don't mean that one should do only 'haiga', drama works, film scenarios and animation storyboards and just because the work is 'poetic' in style call that poetry. No, I simply mean that poetry could be adapted to all the above so that is in a way more easily accessible to the reader.


I think this is general, reading takes more time compared to images. One can look at several images (drawings, paintings, illustrations, doesn't matter much) and have an idea almost immediately of liking or not. With reading it takes much more time. Considering the volume of work available, reading in general is in a more disadvantageous position, only because of the time spent analyzing.

Imagery based on poetry could help, but I still wonder if that will be enough to an unknown writer, especially for poetry, when one has to consider all the other problems I mentioned in my previous post here. By this I mean that imagery in a commercial setting will be done only for famous works, and it is in fact done already, and we call them 'movies' and 'animation', but mainly for prose. So, it's up to the poet to do this extra marketing for himself (or herself), whether by also wearing the hat of an illustrator/designer, or seek the help of one, and post that to a image/video-sharing site.

And let's not forget, even though imagery could help, one will then have to compete with all the other visual works...

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