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No Writer is an Island

Started by light pilgrim, January 05, 2016, 05:06:02 PM

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light pilgrim

No Writer is an Island

IN HIS SELECTED ESSAYS, T. S. ELIOT – THE POET WHO IS EQUALLY WELL-KNOWN AS A LITERARY CRITIC – argues that 'no writer is completely self-sufficient' and that the creative powers of a writer are enhanced by their participation in critical activity. Eliot, like Mathew Arnold, another literary critic of an earlier era (1822-88), links creation with criticism.

According to Eliot 'the literature of the world . . . the literature of Europe . . . the literature of a single country is not the collection of the writings of individuals but organic wholes.' He calls this the 'systems in relations'. It is only in relation to this that 'individual works of literary art have their significance.' Furthermore, Eliot points out that it is a fallacy to believe that, in subjecting one's work to criticism, one loses one's individual voice. It is, he contends, 'a second-rate' artist/writer who 'cannot afford to surrender himself for common action, for his chief task is the assertion of all the trifling differences that are his distinction.'

The writer-critic must 'practise and practise the art of which they write'. He identifies some vital qualities of the writer-critic, one of which is 'a highly developed sense of fact'. This involves expanding one's spheres of facts and knowledge in order to be able to articulate views beyond the individual's simple likes, dislikes and prejudices. Eliot is mindful that the task of the writer-critic is not without pitfalls. However, he holds that 'the objective of the writer-critic is merely to put the reader in possession of facts he might have otherwise missed.' In doing so, Eliot concludes, both the writer and the critic are able to arrive at something outside themselves.

Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing?

Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style?

Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing?

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?


AlanSummers

.

I hope some of you might respond... :-)

Quote from: light pilgrim on January 05, 2016, 05:06:02 PM
No Writer is an Island

IN HIS SELECTED ESSAYS, T. S. ELIOT – THE POET WHO IS EQUALLY WELL-KNOWN AS A LITERARY CRITIC – argues that 'no writer is completely self-sufficient' and that the creative powers of a writer are enhanced by their participation in critical activity. Eliot, like Mathew Arnold, another literary critic of an earlier era (1822-88), links creation with criticism.

According to Eliot 'the literature of the world . . . the literature of Europe . . . the literature of a single country is not the collection of the writings of individuals but organic wholes.' He calls this the 'systems in relations'. It is only in relation to this that 'individual works of literary art have their significance.' Furthermore, Eliot points out that it is a fallacy to believe that, in subjecting one's work to criticism, one loses one's individual voice. It is, he contends, 'a second-rate' artist/writer who 'cannot afford to surrender himself for common action, for his chief task is the assertion of all the trifling differences that are his distinction.'

The writer-critic must 'practise and practise the art of which they write'. He identifies some vital qualities of the writer-critic, one of which is 'a highly developed sense of fact'. This involves expanding one's spheres of facts and knowledge in order to be able to articulate views beyond the individual's simple likes, dislikes and prejudices. Eliot is mindful that the task of the writer-critic is not without pitfalls. However, he holds that 'the objective of the writer-critic is merely to put the reader in possession of facts he might have otherwise missed.' In doing so, Eliot concludes, both the writer and the critic are able to arrive at something outside themselves.

Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing?

Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style?

Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing?

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?




Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing?

Definitely. I constantly critique across various platforms of social media and in private correspondence.  It keeps my own work in the area of edginess that I hope comes across.

Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style?

An interesting question.  I'm not keen on someone getting too close to re-writing my drafts, but suggesting in a commentary whether something might be tightened.   Different voices are fascinating when responding to a posted poem.

Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?

Very much so, and without that some fascinating individual poems, and a resulting anthology might not otherwise materialise.  At the moment a group of writers elsewhere are close to bringing out a multi-genre anthology that is also a memorial to someone lost to us in very tragic and upsetting circumstances.

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing?
I listen to everyone although to an extent I have to go my own way, but without responses, there might be a catalyst that is missed that somehow informs me to go in a direction I might otherwise not go.

There is also the worry that we can descend into formula over form otherwise.

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?

Being rejected is tough, and part of the process.  Years later I want to thank almost everyone who has rejected a too early draft version of the final piece.

During my Masters Degree we had astonishingly tough and vigorous critiquing that shocked all of us at first until we grew to trust each other.  Our small group of poets met both at university, private homes, and even bars and cafes, and we'd go through a cold draft in a minute or two, because we critiqued every single day.

That discipline informed my whole approach at self-critique, and mentoring both new and established writers in haikai, tanka, and other creative writing.

Just my quick two cents. :-)

warm regards,

Alan
Alan Summers,
founder, Call of the Page
https://www.callofthepage.org

Anna

Hello, 

I am a creature created by the forums and workshopping. However, a few who have known me from my earlier lives before I conjured up one here, will agree that I have an original voice, sometimes eccentric even until one begins to understand the underlying meaning. I hope that helps as an intro.

Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing? yes, because it is not enough to write, we have to read and understand the work of others, we have to know the inherent craft of composing a poem or an essay or what have you/me/we...

Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style? No, actually it depends on the writer and the level of experience. Over a period of time, one keeps one's voice and develops many voices, yes


Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?
if we read literature, comparative literature, then one finds similar themes and different approaches during the same period, like say - the great depression. But there were others who developed a style that pretty much led to the next stage... both are essential for the leap forwards, the base and the launch pad

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing? Several times, yes. Sometimes, because of the very fact that I am human, no. Then I do not comment. I choose silence.

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?


Nope. :-] 
Editors are editors.  Writers are writers. The hook needs to match the fish and viceversa.
Why this question. Do you realise that it is almost comical to ask that?

[/quote]
If anyone comes, / Turn into frogs, / O cooling melons!

¬Issa

Jan Benson

#3
I just learned how to use quote option.
Trainable ...

Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing?


---Enhanced by my own critiquing?
--Self-critique is somewhat dangerous, but writing with groups of poets is my best critique.
--In the 1990s Fort Worth and Dallas had so many poets of all genres if you stood on any corner and swung a cat you'ld hit 5 people, 4 would be poets.
We had places to meet up for open mic almost any night of the week.
--The vibe was so strong among us, you could instantly tell if you were connecting, or not. . . Well, if one is open to listening to one's audience.
---Examples of well published "page poets" read right along with emotive, spoken word poets. One could gain an ear for style, delivery, and form.
--The very best critique was writing weekly, with the five-minute-workshop. The group had been active for at least a decade when I fell in. Everyone put a topic on a slip of paper, the leader drew one out, announce the word, set a 5 min timer and we wrote in silence for five minutes. There MFAs, Spokenword, and page poets in the group, whose faces changed each week as time permitted them attendance.
--After a year with these floating bards, we developed trust in each other, our several strengths, and we were strong, together and separately.
-- if I learned to critique my own work, it was with my comrades, poets all.

----------
Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style?

---Heavens no. I know me; my voice.
I also know as an artist, I can't grow alone. If only for the synchronicity artists share when gathered, we grow.
If you wanna get biblical about synchronicity --- the passage "iron sharpens iron" comes to mind.
---Poets don't grow without the depth of stronger poets.
While I do embrace the idea of being flexible in trying new exercises, one or another trial-practice can never hide my voice, but the tonality may be effected. And that is not a bad thing.
----------

Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?

---See answer number two.
-----------

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing?

---I'm not sure what this really means.
But, perhaps this is where being part of the 'organic whole' comes into play.
Self-critiquing, maybe not so much.
---But by submitting to other poets, one begins to understand the energy and influence and impact of one's own thoughts and poems in the greater world; the diverse cosmos in which we abide.
----------

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?


---Not so far. I've been much rejected. Or as my closer poet friends would put it, regrets, I've had a few. Perhaps in the same way Alan Summers now understands the early rejections of poems are not yet "ready for prime time" get shot down.
---Does it drive one mad? Cause anxiety?
When we first begin.
But one learns that poetry, like paper music, requires practice, discipline, and good poet-friends who are willing to work hard for the best one can become.

Like Alan, and Light Pilgrim, I hope other poets share this exercise in this protected place.
Jan In Texas
---1st Prize_The Italian Matsuo Basho Award 2016 (Int'l Foreign Language)
---A Pushcart Nominated Poet, (haiku "adobe walls").
---"The poet is accessible, the poet is for everyone." Maya Angelou

Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

These are very thought-provoking questions. Ok, here are my answers based on what I make of the questions.

Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing?

Yes- In my experience, critiquing work, (especially of others as we can look at it more dispassionately than our own) helps clarify my own thinking on the generals and specifics- question my own views of what is right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable. sacrosanct/modifiable and so forth. To be able to say to someone why their work is not or is working (the latter is more difficult), I must know why I say so and what it is that makes something work or not work. This process, helps me develop my own thinking too which I can then apply to my writing. If something "works" in spite of going against what I have held as the "norm" at the time of reading/critiquing, then I will see what makes it work rather than rejecting it based on my views/rules. This will help modify my thinking and possibly writing too. Our understanding, and general trends are a fluid dynamic entity and that is what makes it work. Stagnation is death. It thus helps develop both consensus (by sharing) and inner voice (by my own reflection)

Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style?

I don't think so. I agree that one's work being critiqued may provoke anxiety or annoyance in the individual at times, particularly if the critique is (or comes across as being) radically different from what one believed in when writing a piece. At such times, one may have a fear of losing one's voice. But what helps at such a time is to remember that there is no obligation to accept a critique- in full or in part.

Also, there is a lot of subjectivity in art and literature, and this is even more so in Haiku, tanka, haibun etc IMO. What works for some may not work for others. This applies to editors too- I have had some works rejected by some editors whilst others have loved the same. That is part of the fun.
I think, who the critique comes from may make a difference to an individual- as we are all too human  :) Also, established and respected writers, when critiquing, are more likely to be accepted at face value, especially by other listeners. Does that drown out the individual's voice? In the immediate context, there could be some occasions when this happens. In the long run, unlikely. If it does, then the individual makes the new voice his or her own "inner voice"- again, this is a dynamic entity. "Cognitive Dissonance" theories will apply here too as in any other situation

Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?

It is bound to be. The emphasis is on "organic" here, which again implies dynamism and changeablity with time and context. It is like a collage or a jigsaw puzzle perhaps, wherein, individual pieces having their own shapes and qualities but fitting into the whole. There is no perfect fit and there doesn't need to be either, I would say. And some of us may be happy enough (or not but still be there) to be fitting on the fringes. There are enough people and views in the world for any outlying idea or person to have at least some people who will appreciate, endorse and/accept it/them. So no one is alone in this organic whole.

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing?

I would say, Eliot's "something outside" in this context is what we would call the haikai tradition. The fact that we are discussing and posting our writings, and submitting it for publication, is an appeal to this something outside" for acceptance, appreciation and endorsement. We may be happy in some cases, in spite of non-acceptance or criticism, to just keep our writing as it is as it works for us or that it serves some other purpose (catharsis perhaps) But I doubt that anyone will completely stay oblivious to any critiquing at all times. That simply does not work in any art/social institution/ system. I am not rejecting the possibility of some rare individual being totally rejected during their lifetime but being acknowledged or praised in future. But this is very unusual. And in haikai, which is still very much a "borrowed" tradition that defers to the place of origin and what is "supposed" to be the "core values", this is even less likely in ELH. Some may disagree with me about this last point.

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?

Rejection is not easy to accept. It is less to do with being a haijin and all to do with being human. Everyone wishes to be accepted and "liked"- themselves or their works. I don't think it makes one think less of an editor as an editor when one gets rejection from them. However, it may not personally be endearing. Also, one may choose to submit more often to an editor that accepts and less to someone that doesn't. This is being human and "cutting our losses". It is not exactly a morale-booster to keep getting rejections, particularly when the reasons are unclear and the results inconsistent with other editors or readers  :)

Counter-intuitively, if my works are accepted "too easily", then I wonder if the standards are not that high  ;) ( No I don't need therapy to build my self-esteem  Again, one has to be able to question one's own work and critique it in order to improve and not to stagnate.

Shrikaanth

Lamart

I like the perspectives of the poets who have already taken part in this discussion.

Very Enlightening!

Do you agree that your writing is enhanced by your critiquing?


Yes, like the others who have responded, I think taking part in critiquing has enhanced the quality of my own work.  Mainly because by taking part, I actually subject my critiquing to the critiques of others.  This type of back and forth feedback is essential to continuous improvement.

Do you think that, by subjecting your writing to criticism, you lose your individual voice or style?

It is more so that criticism has improved my own individual voice or style.  Yes, criticism does shift one's view of their own work - and that is a good thing, but one never really can lose their individual voice if they stay true to what brought them to writing in the first place.  Haiku, senryu, tanka, and other short forms of poetry (insert any other name you prefer) in my opinion lends itself to more criticism because of the briefness.  What I have learned from criticism, is that every word counts!!  This has vastly improved my writing.

Besides, we should all strive to develop our own individual style, to avoid what Basho referred to "as boring - as the two halves of a melon" :)

Do you feel that your writing is part of the 'organic whole' of relationships/exchanges with other writers?

Yes, I do feel that way because by subjecting your work to the public, in essence it creates a relationship and or exchange.  As a poet, I want others to read and discuss my work.  Once you arrive at that point in your writing career, then it is inherent that you have to be prepared for criticism.  That is part of the "organic whole".  By taking part in this practice of critiquing and feedback then relationships can develop with other writers and in essence enhance your creative spirit.

Are you able to arrive at what Eliot calls 'something outside' yourself by critiquing?

To me, the catch to what Eliot is referring to is that this is a constant process of reevaluating your thoughts and beliefs in order to arrive at what he calls "something outside" yourself.  We all critique based on our personal preferences.  In order to enhance your skills as a critic, to me calls on the individual to enhance their skills at analyzing and reevaluating their own personal preferences in order to achieve this sense of "something outside" yourself.  Sometimes personal preferences can act as barriers in trying to understand the artistry of others.

Do you find that editors who accept your work are better than those who reject?


No, not at all.  What I have come to know in my journey with writing this form of poetry is that there is a global network of talented poets.  The advances in communication and technology has given the means for our planet to be dwindled down to a small village.  This means that editors are receiving poetry from every hemisphere of this planet.  That is a lot to choose from.  So a poets work is now judged by worldwide standards and this is a good thing.  Personally, it has made me critique my writing to make sure it can universally relate to readers.  This can be hard to achieve but it is well worth trying.

Also, many poets have gone the route of using social media in order to display their artistry to the public.  So with this and the many different types of journals, magazines, zines, and etc. then to say "that editors who accept my work are better than those who reject it" would just be a pure cop-out on my part.

This has been a fun exercise!

Lamart Cooper

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