Does profanity have a place poetry?

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  1. Steele Fields profile image71
    Steele Fieldsposted 12 years ago

    Does profanity have a place in poetry? I'm sorry, but in reading many contemporary published poets, I am shocked by their employment of extremely profane words like c***t, etc.  Personally, I don't find this poetically acceptable.  Likewise,when exposed to most rap music, the preponderance of vulgarity negates whatever appreciation I might glean from it, and all the intricate word play, inventive rhyme and sophisticated meter become lost on me.  After all, English is an iambic, Germanic language-- one that lends itself to rhyme and to meter.  It's not rocket science. But doing it well takes a certain panache.  So why cheapen it? I understand it's a hard world and artists need to explore the ugliness.  The question is, in this "anything goes" society, are profane words and crude sentiments fair poetic game or do they serve only to cheapen and pollute the spirit and nature of poetry?

  2. paradigmsearch profile image62
    paradigmsearchposted 12 years ago

    I guess poetry is just moving right along with all our other cultural changes…  Who knows when the pendulum will start swinging back the other way.

  3. Jaggedfrost profile image60
    Jaggedfrostposted 12 years ago

    If swearing and cursing we could lay our wares here before the world without censure or disdain from our fellows who read us then there would be a place here for it if nowhere else but by majority rule, or mods overlordship (which ever gives you a better reason to gripe)  this is a moot subject and the answer is no.

    1. Steele Fields profile image71
      Steele Fieldsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I was not referring to poetry posted on Hub Pages.  I was referring to poetry in general.

  4. The Suburban Poet profile image83
    The Suburban Poetposted 12 years ago

    In general I would say no to this... but I'm have no education in poetic structure so who am I to say? Poetry brings to mind a certain level of genteelness but I've written a few that are very aggressive and accusatory; not in keeping with a tea and a Polo match. I've refrained from the use of profanity because I personally feel it's too easy to use. But I don't think the use of profanity should automatically disqualify one's work as poetry. It would have to be judged on it's whole message and delivery.

  5. ShazzMojo profile image68
    ShazzMojoposted 12 years ago

    Poetry is more than just what we're spoon fed in highschool, or (more commonly) what we read in Hallmark cards.

    Every word has a place in our world, even the naughty ones. If you want to elicit a visceral response, there's nothing better than a good curse word.

    In general, however, I think that crass swearing generally indicates a lack of creativity and originality, so make it count!

  6. Tirzah Laughs profile image61
    Tirzah Laughsposted 12 years ago

    Profanity has its place.  Like a surgeon's scalpel you use it carefully and cleanly to make a point.

    I don't believe in ever forbidding anything.

    That being said, if almost every word in your poem is profane then the words stop having any meaning.

    You dilute the shock of it and make it moot.

    So use your swear words carefully.


    1. Steele Fields profile image71
      Steele Fieldsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Maybe it does have its place-- but I think the shock method has worn a bit thin by now.  Hell, it was already old news back when Jim Morrison was doing it.  There's a saying:  "Profanity is the common crutch of the conversational cripple."

  7. Rafini profile image69
    Rafiniposted 12 years ago

    I'd say profanity could possibly have a place in poetry - it all depends on what the poet is trying to say, and, of course, if it's overused (as in your rap example) the meaning behind the poem would disappear and leave it meaningless.

  8. aware profile image66
    awareposted 12 years ago

    i was gona say sure it dose. but the you broke out the c word. lol

  9. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

    Sure.  Poetry is done for many reasons, using many venaculars.  It would be bizarre to say that no legit poetry could every use a swear word.

  10. b. Malin profile image69
    b. Malinposted 12 years ago

    My first reaction would be to say no.  But as a writer, sometimes the piece may require it to be a bit more colorful, and so if profanity helps.....I say go for it.  But if it is just used for sensationalism, to get a "rise" out of the reader....Don't do it....for then I think it's a cop out on what could be a really good piece of poetry.

  11. profile image0
    china manposted 12 years ago

    Everything is for use in poetry; profanity is part of the daily language of some people, even most people.  If you want your poem to 'talk' to f**king w**kers then you might need to include those kind of words in your poem - or a poem about a bankers meeting might want to include 'a wunch of bankers' or other explicit words, and lawyers just demand profanity - a poem about politicians could be just one pile of profanity - and it could still be art and a good poem.

  12. couturepopcafe profile image61
    couturepopcafeposted 12 years ago

    The FCC is currently debating changing the status of the F word.  As a sexual connotation they say it is profane, but when used as an expression of anger, they say it is acceptable.  We learn the story or history of a generation or era by looking at the art which it created.  What will they say in the future about who we are today?

  13. profile image0
    ssbrookhaven65posted 12 years ago

    Poetry is meant to be an expressive art and tool. Poetry is therapeutic. While it is not completely my style, I don't condemn those who express themselves in their unique way. Controversy is good because it makes you think. Poetry is destructive in its interpretation. I think it is important to look past what is on paper and to look ahead in to the abstraction of the lyrics. Does profanity make poetry good? No. Does a lack of it make poetry good? No. The abstraction and the ability to provoke thought does.

  14. Jaggedfrost profile image60
    Jaggedfrostposted 12 years ago

    In all seriousness, the only clever way I can think of to use profanity is if you comprehend the etymology and actual meaning of the word you are using and use it as a word instead as a place holder for feelings and emotions that have other forms of expression which communicate better and get a more reasoned response.   In the long run, a man who curses is a dime a dozen and if I want my dozen I have only to go to the nearest out house at a construction site and at least they are trying to be clever.  Their apparent lack of talent even makes it seem charming.

  15. Petra Vlah profile image60
    Petra Vlahposted 12 years ago

    Using profanities only proves the limited imagination of a writer; there are much better and creative ways to convey the message

    1. Steele Fields profile image71
      Steele Fieldsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I couldn't agree more, Petra.

  16. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

    I find the idea that every single use of profanity it due to stupidity to be profoundly condescending.

    A recent poetry reading I went included a performance poem about the way women can be degraded and abused.  She used the 'c' word and its use was central and vital to her message.  *Not* using it would have been ridiculous in that context.

    1. profile image0
      china manposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Absolutely right - the use of profanity is sometimes essential for some poetry ideas.  The condemnation of profanity in a poem is all about moralising and not about art.  It is about the 'not seeing' that poetry often attempts to address.

  17. Lisa HW profile image63
    Lisa HWposted 12 years ago

    I'm not particularly a fan of resorting to being vulgar in any form of writing; but having said that, I can see how profanity may have a "place" in poetry at times. 

    My personal thinking goes back to what a high-school English teacher of mine used to say, "Profanity is the crutch of the verbally crippled."  I think the best writers can say what needs to be said without resorting to that "crutch". Since not all writers are all that skilled, though, and I do think the use of profanity pretty much says that about the writer.  Still - does it have a place?  Sure.  Why not.  The world of writing, or writing poetry, is open to everyone - not just people who can paint an ugly picture without using profanity.   hmm

  18. Ginger Meow profile image68
    Ginger Meowposted 12 years ago

    I agree Lisa, sometimes when I am writing poems it is too easy to slip into profanity. If a poem is heading down south I find it a challenge to try and get a similar meaning across without the use of profanity. But sometimes if I think the poem is great with its vulgar descriptions I keep it and I don't publish it here on hubpages. Some poems are better kept to yourself.

    Profanity for me is the use of swear words and descriptions of adult content.


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