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:: Friday, November 30, 2001 ::

Wait a second, I think I made another C'dale connect here. Rob Griffith, as in asst. professor at U. Evansville? Do you know, or know of, Matt Guenette? He's a lowly instructor over at University of Southern Indiana, or whatever, also in Evansville. Sean, you know him, good poet, friends with Ed, was there at SIU a little after you left, drove to the hoop well and had a jump shot that made me look really, really bad, though that isn't saying much. If that's not you Rob I apologize, but I think it is.
:: Josh 11/30/2001 11:54:00 PM [+] ::
...
Hey everybody, well met. Yeah last time I talked to Rodney on the phone--a year or so--he was busy writing country songs, and for most of the conversation he'd put down the phone, play me the chords, and then pick up the phone and talk the lyrics. In the only lyrics I remember, a young Rodney Jones figure is driving the highway out of his home-town for the first time, and a truck with a bunch of chicken coops in the back passes him going back into town. Says Rodney: "I knew every one of them chickens by name."

Let's see, next in the batting order: Rob declines. Paul mentioned something about it being my turn next, which suggests that he's not next, and so that must mean that Sean's up next Tuesday?

I haven't had much time to look at the Personals Ad but so far I like it, and so will get back to you on that one. As for the Comedy Circuit: It's one of my favorites in the Fall 2001 Chapman stable (Dog Chair still ranking number one, and you should slip that one in here for our viewing pleasure, or email it to me, since I don't think I have the final version anyway). I had some similar things to say that Paul and Rob have addressed, so I'll say something else instead: Stanza one: It's a good move to screw the simile for effect (a bright light is like a bright light), but I don't think that move should be the first move. It will work better, I mean to be saying, after you establish your facility with simile, and it seems that you've got your first move there already written, simile and all, with the line about how the poem opens like a turtle. Seems natural that it should also open the poem (maybe too natural). So, that makes the second stanza the first stanza. Next: After the "sun floats" stanza, I was hoping you would attempt to retell the "sun floats in your eyes like" simile, maybe comparing floating sun to something father. This proposed stanza could come anywhere--or nowhere, I hate to start dictating stanzas, but I think it would be a clever move, and provide even more refrain--but it should be early enough to echo the first "sun floats" tip. So I'm thinking specifically in between the "here's one about a boy who turned" and "But seriously" stanza. Which means this:

The Poet on the Comedy Circuit

You ever notice how this poem opens (though I did like "poem/opens")
in your hands like a turtle?
(It loves you so much.)

You ever notice how the sun floats in your eyes
like bright light from the heavens?
(wait, I told that wrong).

Here’s one about a boy who drove
all night down roads of smoke
looking for his father.

Here’s one about a boy who turned crying
to his sister and mother saying,
"I’ve become my father.”

You ever notice how the sun floats in your eyes
like the something father father something?
(yes yes blah blah blah)

But seriously, the boy cried, driving
his father’s car, by the grave
of his father’s dead father.

My mother and sister smiling
at me. My embarrased tears
wetting my face.

You can use "something father father something" if you want to. It's my gift to you. Last thing: I like what, who was it, Paul I think, said about the dreaming being too much ethereal, and on that same kind of level I was going to say that you should change "Roads of smoke," but now I'm seeing that you already did, to "roads of dust." So well done there, though still "blank of blank" is a construction you use a lot. In this same vein I too think "screws" the metaphor works better than "fails" the metaphor. The diction of this poem is a little different than much of your others, sketchy, the tone less assured (in a good way), and I think a change from "screws" to "fails" is a move in the other direction. Keep the diction ragged.

And I do like the pedestal line. And think I have little to say about personals ad, except that in the second line I keep reading it (and this is probably my fault) like this, so that it doesn't make sense to me: "Baudelaire walks by myself." I mean to say I'm not connecting it back so that it naturally reads "I enjoy long walks by myself." But the rest I don't like to think about touching and your ending (the soup will chill! the horror!) is really just great, perfect.
:: Josh 11/30/2001 10:40:00 PM [+] ::
...
Sean, I was (obviously, I hope) just kidding about line breaks when I first posted, but I tend to agree with Rob about your rev. of comedy circuit. Try "You ever notice how this poem / opens in your hands like a turtle?" as opposed to that whole phrase stretched out. Kind of like "I would break / into blossom," you know? I seem to want to make the lines shorter here as well, and I would go farther and say that "Here's one about a boy / who drove all night down dusty roads / looking for his father." Of course that fucks with your next stanza's repetition/refrain "a boy who" since you've got both of those falling on the same line.

More suggestions/confusions: But seriously folks, the boy did cry / as he drove his father's car / past the grave of his father's dead father.

The stanza following is fucking great.

"Screws" is better than "fails" because it takes care of the fucking/not fucking the girl AND fucking UP the metaphor/and or relationship with the girl. Rob already said this, I noticed again, but maybe that's the oompa (another technical term) he's getting at.

Since you've got a theater thing going in the last stanza with "dreaming in the wings," I thought something that pushed this a bit further but not too much might be a good idea. Something like:

You ever notice how your father is always
here? He's in the wings giving you lines
when you forget them. Make me
young and clever, he thinks.

Well, you get the idea there. It's just seems that dreaming, especially when attached to an already ethereal (but certainly real and "directing") presence, washes out some of that force. Of course here I am in the wings dreaming the end of your poem. Anyway, there's a thought or two about that one. I like it a lot because it doesn't make fun of the subject too much. The subject deserves it, no doubt, but to my sensibility you've chosen a good line to snowboard across.

I'll get to your other one soon though I will say my initial thought is that it's just as pumped. You might do yourself some good by pursuing a bunch of these.

So, is Josh still putting one up Tuesday? And by the way, Josh, it's good to meet another Coal Valley fugitive. Jones was pretty much at the apogee of his studness at that time. I get the sense he's on the way to the pasture now.
:: Paul 11/30/2001 05:51:00 PM [+] ::
...
Okay Sean,
I don't have much in the way of constructive criticism for "The Poet Writes a Personal Ad ." It is really fucking good. I especially like:
"long evenings of torment / and Baudelaire"
"half-deserted streets"
"flee from me"
"lovely in her clothes"
Your intertwining and twisting of other poetry works very well to underscore your subject, and I like the way you circle back to the dog.
Small suggestions: line 6, substitute "for" for "of"; "tears the night with its mournful rending" might be too much, even as exaggeration in the context of the poem. Might want to settle for either rending or tearing but not both.
:: Rob 11/30/2001 05:15:00 PM [+] ::
...
Okay, I'm here -- finally. I saw some stuff about posting to a webpage, I guess I'll find that soon (or you will all simply laugh at me as I rightly deserve; self-deprecation in under two sentences! New record for me.)

As for next week being "My week," I'm afraid me buckos that I'll have to bow out, at least until the end of the week. Stacks of excruciatingly bad papers are taunting me from my desk, and I've got to get rid of them soon. End of the week, however, I'm your man.

"The Poet on the Comedy Circuit": I like the idea, and I like the voice / tone that comes across in the poem. I, like Paul, had some questions about line breaks in the original, but I've got to say that I'm even less certain about the line breaks in the beginning of the revision. The rhythm seems to naturally break into shorter patterns, and the long lines in stanzas one and two want, in my ear, to be broken up. Also, I think some of the lines were weakened in the revision; for instance, taming stanza 8 by changing "screws" to "fails" takes some of the oomph (a technical term, I assure you) out of the line. This final couple of lines, also, might work better with a little rewording. I wondered about this:

You ever notice how your father is always
here? He’s in the wings dreaming
the end of this poem—make me,
he says, young and clever like you.

Of course, now that I see these reworked lines on the screen instead of on a Post-It note, I'm not so happy with my rewording.

Maybe I should just shut the fuck up.


:: Rob 11/30/2001 05:06:00 PM [+] ::
...
I figure, what can you do but refuse to read this poem? I decided to send it on anyway and let you ignore it, or talk about this as opposed to the last one or what have you. Give me some suggestions on how to make this forum better fit your picky needs. I figure you all will cringe with the line "Pedestal a must" but wouldn't the public like that? And isn't that to whom we're writing? And yes, Rob, it looks like this is a series of poems now. I'm leaning towards one week per person, so how about next week is Rob's to use as he sees fit. This might make him write more, or simply give us some old stuff to fix. Also, did you all know that you can edit each other's posts, so you could go in and edit my poem and say, how do you like it now. You'd need to tell us to take another look, but then come to think of it, it would be hard to see the changes, so maybe we could just cut the poem out, make changes and repost the whole thing. That's better, I guess. Hey, does it seem like I have too much time on my hands to talk about this stuff?
Sean

The Poet Writes a Personal Ad

I enjoy long evenings of torment
and Baudelaire, walks by myself
down half-deserted streets
with my convenient dog
whom I trot out as a mirror
of my primal, silent longing
and playful outward appearance.

Seeking a woman with sorrow
in her bones and a tendency to flee
from me. She should be lovely
in her clothes and happy
in the company of others. Pedestal
a must. Should be a storehouse
of anguish and potentiality.

If you are content, happy and looking
for a change, please write. We will listen,
listen to the passing train as it tears
the night with its mournful rending.
The silver will shine on the table
and the soup will chill as we regard
the dog howling to be let out.

:: Sean 11/30/2001 12:40:00 PM [+] ::
...
Here's a bit of work on this. See if you like it better, and I may include my other poem as well. Perhaps we could just devote one week to each of us? Put as much out there as we could? I really don't know. What do you think. Oh, Josh and Paul, you both know Rodney. Paul was an undergrad creative writer up there, and Josh and I met as grad students in Cinderville.


The Poet on the Comedy Circuit

You ever notice how the sun floats in your eyes
like bright light from the heavens?
(wait, I told that wrong).

You ever notice how this poem opens in your hands
like a turtle?
(It loves you so much.)

Here’s one about a boy who drove all night
down roads of dust
looking for his father.

Here’s one about a boy who turned crying
to his sister and mother saying,
“I’ve become my father.”

My mother and sister smiling
at me. My embarrased tears
wetting my face.

But seriously folks, the boy cried,
driving his father’s car, by the grave
of his father’s dead father.

You ever notice how poems work themselves
to death, worried they have become
their father?

You ever notice how the poet wants to talk to a girl,
fails the metaphor and ends up talking
about his father?

Here’s one about you. You’re reading this
and thinking, "tell me something
about me, asshole."

Here’s one about you. You’re laughing
thinking about how thankful you are
that your father isn’t here.

You ever notice how your father is always
here? He’s in the wings dreaming
the end of this poem—make me
young and clever like you, he says.

:: Sean 11/30/2001 11:54:00 AM [+] ::
...
Paul, I think that you need to hit "post and publish" or your stuff will just be posted to the "blogger" page, not the "blogspot" page. (I just found your stuff on blogger and not on the main page, so I posted them) And or course, no one is in charge, so make your own suggestions on how to proceed. My idea was to talk about my stuff till Tuesday, daily or hourly, whenever the desire hits you to make me cry. AND WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN ABOUT LINE BREAKS!!!! Just kidding. I'll try it again. I wrote another one today called, "Poet Writes a Personal Ad" which I like better. Can I give you all it instead?? I don't know. I'll try to redo the lines on this one and see if it helps. I'm glad we're going to try this.
:: Sean 11/30/2001 11:42:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Thursday, November 29, 2001 ::
Hey, gents. I'm in for this thing. Have you appointed yourself taskmaster, Sean, or do we churls get a say in any of it? If not, your idea for Rob submitting next Tuesday sounds good. I just took a look at your verses down there, and I'll probably have to take some breaths before I get back with anything approaching cogent or helpful other than this: you might want to rethink the line breaks, or maybe this is one poem trying to be two, but I have until next Tuesday, right?

Anyway, hi Josh, hi again Sean, and hi yet again there, Rob. I hope this post makes it safe and sound. What's the difference between "post" and "post and publish", anyway? Can we create an experimental workshop 'zine or something? See ya.
:: Paul 11/29/2001 02:32:00 PM [+] ::
...
Jesus, Josh, you're amazingly interested and gung ho. I'd say let me have it first. Then we can run the course on this poem and it'll be Rob's chance or yours. Hell, let's do this: Rob, your poem is due next Tuesday. We have from now till then to fix mine, and you have from now till then to write your own. How's this sound?

:: Sean 11/29/2001 09:51:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Wednesday, November 28, 2001 ::
Josh here: Alright boys, I’m in. Do we each submit a poem first, or do we all three make Sean cry and then never come back?
:: Josh 11/28/2001 11:41:00 PM [+] ::
...
Here's a first poem for the offering. Not too happy with this one yet. Let me have it.
--Sean



The Poet on the Comedy Circuit

You ever notice how the sun floats in your eyes
like bright light from the heavens?
(wait, I told that wrong).

You ever notice how this poem opens
in your hands like a turtle?
(It loves you so much.)

Here’s one about a boy who drove
all night down roads of smoke
looking for his father.

Here’s one about a boy who turned crying
to his sister and mother saying,
“I’ve become my father.”

But seriously, the boy cried, driving
his father’s car, by the grave
of his father’s dead father.

My mother and sister smiling
at me. My embarrased tears
wetting my face.

You ever notice how poems work themselves
to death, worried they have become
their father?

You ever notice how the poet wants to talk
to a girl, screws the metaphor and ends up
talking about his father?

Here’s one about you. You’re reading this
and thinking, “tell me something
about me, asshole.”

Here’s one about you. You’re laughing
thinking about how thankful you are
that your father isn’t here.

You ever notice how your father is always
here? He’s in the wings dreaming
the end of this poem—make me
young and clever like you, he says.

:: Sean 11/28/2001 10:24:00 AM [+] ::
...

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