Organic Poetry

Last updated on 13 years ago
Mythbhavd Posted 13 years ago
Ok, I'd not heard of organic poetry so I did a quick search on the web. I'll look deeper into it this coming week and see what I can find. But, here's what I was able to determine in a quick search. At it's simplest, it is a game that allows multiple poets to build a poem that is form driven. This form is set up in a word-chain. Here's the wikipedia entry on it:

Organic poetry is a social game designed to produce collaborative poetry, using a program to generate forking chains of words. It is an exercise in creating a rhizome-like network of words, which can be read meaningfully in multiple, non-linear ways. Conceptually, it has roots in Hermanne Hesse's Glass Bead Game, and The Garden Of Forking Paths by Jorge Luis Borges. It was designed by Indian writer Rohit Gupta as part of a festival of algorithms.

On a linguistic level, it takes the word as the basic unit of language, upon which phrases and sentences can be built. Unlike Scrabble which uses letter of the English alphabet upon a cartesian grid, the Organic poetry model can be extended to Indic and other languages with very interesting results due to its use of chaining events in free space. Another area would be to explore the networking of pure phonetic syllables into a rhythmic structure.

However, some people seem to be trying to make a pseudo philosophy/religion out of it through which you "deepen your consciousness." Here's what says.

"is a spontaneous composition process in which the writer engages speech “at its least careless and least logical” in the words of Charles Olson from his 1950 essay Projective Verse. The term Organic is taken from correspondence between Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov from 1963 in which Robert Duncan described the difference between Conventional, Free Verse and Organic poets:

For the conventional poet, universe and life are chaotic; the natural is formless (chaotic); the poet (the civilized or moral man) is given an order to keep against chaos. Every freedom is a breakdown of form. Freedom = (a) disorder or (b) sin.

For the poet writing free verse (and we are reminded of WCW’s notion that no verse is actually free, that each takes on its own patterns & tendencies,) the universe and man are free only in nature which has been lost in civilized forms. The poet must express his feelings without the trammel of forms. The poem does not find or make but expresses…Free verse just doesn’t believe in the struggle of rendering in which not only the soul but the world must enter into the conception of the poem. (Ginsberg’s Howl is one of Duncan’s examples of free verse.)

For the organic poet, the universe and man are members of a form. Freedom lies in the apprehension of this underlying form, towards which invention and free thought in sciences alike work. All experience is formal – We feel things in so far as we awake to the form. The form of the poem is the feeling (and where form fails, feeling fails.)

The Organic Poetry process of composition was best described by Charles Olson in Projective Verse and is sympathetic to the process philosophy outlined by Alfred North Whitehead in which the fundamental elements of the universe are not concrete objects, but occasions of experience. All experiences are influenced by prior experiences, and influence all future experiences. An occasion of experience consists of a process of prehending other experiences, and then reacting to it.

“The real business of poetry is cosmology” is what Robin Blaser said and Organic Poetry is based on an organismic cosmology in which all things in the universe are equal and interconnected. Whitehead’s Process Philosophy, the cosmology of Hua Yen Buddhism (the interdependent origination of the universe) and Tibetan Bon cosmology are largely sympathetic to the cosmology which underlies the Organic Poetry process of composition. This is the “stance toward reality” Charles Olson references in Projective Verse.
While most poetry composition processes involve extensive revision, Organic Poetry is written largely without any revision except for a fine-tuning, as poet Gary Snyder described it. Think of poetry as a continuum, in which the Organic is one pole in which revision is minimal or rendered unnecessary due to the attention and discipline of the poet, and the other pole, the Closed is where the original impulse is lost in a complete overhaul of the first draft of the poem.

The two being even, my personal preference would probably be for the first one. I'll look and see what else I can learn about it. :o)
Matt Coiner
Administrator and general goober

"The secret to writing is to write the first draft from your heart and the second from your head." - William Forrester in Finding Forrester
last edited by Mythbhavd on 10-09-2007 07:29
Markdaps Posted 13 years ago
Thanks for the info!
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