Monday, January 15, 2007

Two Kinds of Poetry: Deductive vs. Inductive

I recently opined that there were only two divisions in post-modern poetry, Beatniks vs. Academics. There is another division that has occurred to me, which I think much more important, since it stretches across ages.

Deductive Poetry originates from within, based on internal projections on the page, imagined scenarios, monologues of imagination, twisting facts and experience to accord with its production. Shakespeare subjugates poetry to character, for instance; Coleridge makes up "The Rime" internally and uses his experience only to fill it out; Eliot, for the most part, tries to establish a stand from which all else is gradually deduced; Strand, as well, creates an internal world of imagination for which the outer world is only employed to propel the poem; and I, for the most part, also confess to being an deductive poet. This means that the poet does not merely respond to reality, but establishes his own reality about which he arranges images and scenes of the world as ornaments, but not for definition.

Inductive Poetry rules the present age, and is based on real experiences recited in poetic form, whether pigeons resting on a statue or the experience of nearly being run over by a taxi. Inductive poetry builds from experience towards an emotional conclusion. It does not establish an imaginative subject to be enlarged, rather submits itself to an experience to be described. Hence it inducts a poem from experience instead of using experience to support a subject determined by the poet's internal projection.

I do not claim one form is better than the other; clearly, the inductive poem rules the art today, and the deductive poem is in decline, often dismissed as rhetoric, as not having "the juice of the apple in your teeth."

Are you a deductive or inductive poet? Certainly I have written both types; my first book of poems is more inductive than deductive; yet I feel this is a dichotomy I have never read about and now seems obvious.

In this sketch my generalities are insufficient for the subject, why I naturally welcome comments on the idea.




  1. Anonymous10:55 AM PST

    I think you're onto an interesting delineation, CE, sort of a evolution from, or corrolary to, your PEMLODS notion.

    I'll have to chew on it a bit though.

    take care
    norm (father of an 11-year-old boy, just for the record)

  2. How's your boy? Forgive me for forgetting!

    My next post develops the idea more clearly. Rhyme and deductive poetry have been in decline for some time. Perhaps form influences us in one direction or the other.

  3. guess mine are the fiction type.


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