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:: Tuesday, January 29, 2002 ::

Sean, take your time on posting poem. No rush. Pace is key to the survival of the electronic workshop, I think. Plus, we don't accept no half-baked shit.
:: Josh 1/29/2002 01:36:00 PM [+] ::
Has anyone heard from Paul? Maybe he's out fishing or something. We need your comments Paul. Um, yeah, I guess it's my turn, but I have to wait until tomorrow to write something if that's all right. I should have something up tomorrow morning. This is still fun for me, and I was worried about that, but this is staying fresh and helpful I think, so good job everyone. See you tomorrow.
:: Sean 1/29/2002 10:01:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, January 28, 2002 ::
Thanks guys for the comments and suggestions -- I started working on a revision this last weekend based on what you said, and I've got to say I feel pretty good about where it's going now. I especially liked the ideas about switching the 2nd and 3rd stanzas; there was something about the last one that felt kind of phonily optimistic to me too, and it was good to have someone articulate it for me.

So who's up now? Are be back to Sean?
:: Rob 1/28/2002 03:03:00 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, January 25, 2002 ::
Sean, I think I have the general idea, but what does roll a bank mean? I need to know to enhance my street credit. Oh, I get it. You mean rob a bank. I see; I'm not so silly as you thought. Sean I think you're the greatest. Then again and on the other hand, you trifling motherfucker you.
:: Josh 1/25/2002 01:17:00 PM [+] ::
nice to see josh showing his ass again. I just wanted to mention how nice it is here for me to have all your faces and voices and general styles of dress in my head (raven-haired josh and muscle-bound rob and wise-cracking paul and of course me with the diamond in my tooth) I hope that we could all meet in a real time somewhere and eat fried pies or something, maybe roll a bank.

So, I'll pull a Josh here, and say, "yeah, what he said." First, Paul. I agree with Rob and Josh now that you shouldn't get rid of the father but should perhaps incorporate him more. I was taking the easy way out, but I don't think it left you with as good a poem. I didn't notice the meter, so, duh on that one. You know my leaning away from form (when I can pick it out, that is). I'd like to see your revision when you get one up.

Rob. I love parts of this poem. I mean, fuck you for "he knows that soon he will forget / the names he shaped, like urns, to hold his fears"--that got four checks! I had done the same edit on the bedroom thing that Josh pointed out, mine reads, "Shuffling through the bedroom / piles of fig leaves on the floor / in the morning kitchen stacks of dirty plates and cups rising . . ."
I think you could leave out the words "at the bristles" a few lines down. That would give a bit more surprise when we get to "hairy teeth". I was at first struck by "stitched across the sky" and thought it too good to be new, and looked around. It's a perfect and popular description of birds these days--this year's "the knives sing in their drawer" maybe. I love it, but maybe it's used too much.
I like Josh's idea of moving the stanzas around. At least look at it. I hadn't considered it, but I like it. On the last stanza (as you have it) I changed the words "every spring", to "each spring" I suppose because I like the sound with "catch" but I don't know. Also, could you cut "as always"? I think it's implied enough--the always, and to me it sounds like a move I'd do. Something for the ladies to remember I'm a poet. I like the rhythm better with the cut.
An aside. I showed this to James Katowich (A FICTION WRITER) and he said he questions poems from poets about words. He was feeling poorly at the time, but it's a view that's out there, I suppose. I have never given it a thought, and if poets can't talk about language, then fuck. I just thought we could have a laugh at the poor old twisted fiction people and their funny quirks.

Good job and well done.
:: Sean 1/25/2002 09:21:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, January 24, 2002 ::
Paul: Much of what I’ll say here will be repetition of the other boys’ comments, but there you go, I'm the third man. Anyway, good strong narrative, many wonderful turns of phrase, tight descriptions throughout, a good strong poem all in all, and I think I pretty much follow everything. Stanza four is not particularly a problem for me, at least in spirit and in narrative. Sean has called for us to agree with him on cutting, or to tell him off, and though I’d like to tell Sean off, I think I have to wait for another opportunity because I think the help this poem needs is speed. I think cuts will give you a faster pace, though it doesn’t necessarily have to be shorter to be faster–I don’t know if you have to cut the father out, exactly--and with this then I too agree with Rob on, if not losing the iambic ghost, then just paying less attention to it, because yeah, I think in that first line the “she remembered” is written to fill the rhythm or syllable count, and also tense-wise is disconcerting for me, and the immediacy of Sean’s change of that helps things. Makes the poem
faster, more immediate, but I know, also changes the look entirely. And there are other places throughout where the pace could benefit from cuts and re-alignments, for example a line like “If they found it he’d bring it down to them,” though providing a bridge with the “found” to the next stanza, seems to be a line to get you a third line in the stanza, or either that or I just probably–and this is part of the trouble for me in this poem–am not too wise concerning ze backwoods. But anyway that last little motion, to me–dangerous men, the dogs and cats, suddenly the end of the poem--again seems hesitant, as if the iambic/syllabic is either not
adhered to enough or not ignored enough (also, maybe drop the “He” from the third line of the last stanza). So I think you throughout will benefit from similar cuts, or if you don’t want to get rid of entire characters, then just iron out the pace, lose as many full stops as you can, 86 a few of the mid strophe caesuras (bet you weren’t expecting to hear that today), etc. Diction and
syntax will still, I think, be halting and declarative, ie, truthful, honest, representative, like you want it to be.

I say all this and really, though, want to let you know that you juggle the separate characters very well, and you keep me on track without giving too much away, and I who have serious trouble writing narrative poems am thrilled to see it done well. I know it has taken a long time for me to finally put some comments down, and I planned, in the way of penance, to give you just a shit-
load of commentary, but looking at this poem just makes me think about the pace.

Rob: We meet again, senior. Re: earlier comment about how did I know you were at E’ville. Aside from the private detective, I also read I think a poem, the one in Poetry I believe, and from that asked Matt, a while ago, and because I keep forgetting that E’ville boasts two universities, if he knew you. Anyway, this current poem of course is very fine and I have terrible things I plan
to do to it, and there are many lines and moments I covet, and the “word” degeneration makes me want to write this poem too, and the idea is quite intriguing and you have made the most out of it. But I say unto you, there are two problems for me (and so count everything else as something I wouldn’t fuck with).

In the following lines:

Shuffling in the morning kitchen,
piles of fig leaves on the bedroom floor
and stacks of dirty plates and cups rising
from the sink like a miniature Babel,
he picks up a dish brush dripping with soapy water
and stares at the bristles.

He’s shuffling in the kitchen, and the fig leaves are on the bedroom floor. I guess Adam can see his bedroom floor from the kitchen, yes, that or he is shuffling out of his bedroom and into the kitchen? Minor bit of a halt while I consider there–for just a tiny second I am thinking the dirty plates and cups are rising in the bedroom, because we go kitchen, bedroom, kitchen--but not a
big deal. I do think that “piles of fig leaves” should just be “fig leaves on the bedroom floor.” Why? Well, good question. Calls less attention to itself, I guess. I think the leaves/laundry image is still intact with that cut, it’s just quieter.

My other problem is I don’t trust the intention to end happy in the third stanza. I don’t know if you or Adam both are sold on that. It seems to me–though the language is beautiful in the third–that the better end for the poem in the second stanza, which is a darker kind of thing altogether.

And maybe “world uncreating” instead of “uncreated”? I don’t know. If you do use that second stanza as the end (maybe recover and flesh out the third as the second, and so the second the third) then that last line doesn’t seem to work, and for me I think it is the past tense of uncreated, because he’s washing the dishes and kind of watching the thing happen there, or begin to happen anyway.

Good work fellows both. I promise to be better on attendance from here on in.
:: Josh 1/24/2002 01:30:00 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, January 19, 2002 ::

Fellows, I am not forsaking you I promise. These are both fine poems and I want to make fine comments on them, I've just been busy for the last few, what's it been, months? Anyway, I have a four day weekend now and will post my comments on both in the next couple of days. Just want you to know that I have not forgotten, and said recent negligence of course is all due to me (and Sean, who got me drunk).

:: Josh 1/19/2002 10:49:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, January 14, 2002 ::
OK, a rough one, but here goes --


After grief, alone again with the world,
he finds those little pleasures, so long misplaced,
turning up like unlooked-for coins
in pockets or the bottoms of drawers.
Shuffling in the morning kitchen,
piles of fig leaves on the bedroom floor
and stacks of dirty plates and cups rising
from the sink like a miniature Babel,
he picks up a dish brush dripping with soapy water
and stares at the bristles. The only words
that come are “hairy teeth,” and he turns
to ask Eve for the word he’s lost.
But all that is left of her is emptiness,
a dull ache in his side on rainy days.

He knows that other words are escaping too,
flying south like the blackbirds
stitched across his autumn sky,
and he knows that soon he will forget
the names he shaped, like urns, to hold his fears.
And when their clay cracks and crumbles,
he knows that "wolf" will become "hunger,"
"water" will become the "cold beast,"
and the clematis outside his kitchen window
will become the "slow destroyer" –
word by word, the world uncreated.

But this too, he thinks, is wrong,
for he suspects that, nameless or not,
the waxwings will still settle
in the tall grass, the dogwood
will catch fire every spring,
and the wren outside his window
will sing as always.

:: Rob 1/14/2002 10:47:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, January 10, 2002 ::
Okay, I put these comments up a while back, and evidently they either didn't take or I didn't post them correctly or the Universe is against me (the latter is probably most true).

Anyway, here goes: Like Sean, I also like this poem, and I like the way it tells a fairly long and potentially involved story with such economy and without getting too confusing. I'll begin, however, by partially arguing with Sean: I think the father is necessary in the poem since, for the first half of it, the father-to-be is absent. In fact, I kind of wanted to see just a little more of the father and his reaction to this whole situation.

That said and having looked at Sean's revision, I think that he and I agree on a couple of points (if I misrepresent you Sean, kick me in the teeth and tell me to fuck myself). I think the phrase "she remembered" is completely unncessary. It sets up a frame story that doesn't add much to the poem or its resolution, and it DOES set up a potentially confusing verb tense problem wherein you would have to follow that phrase with lines such as "she had heard her father's Blueticks," "she had woken," "So that was it," etc. I like the immediacy of the poem better without the "she remembered."

Meter: I would abandon the loose iambic pentameter. It's too irregular to really be heard (too much syncopation), and it's forcing you into some verbose passages that I suspect you would have avoided in your ususal free verse. For example, in the first line, the phrase "one night" is kind of superfluous, and later in that stanza, the phrase "of a tree" dissapates the great energy you create with "Blueticks pulled up short."

Stanza 4: I was a little confused about the narrative in these lines. I assume that he re-enlisted and then came home just long enough to get married. Am I right, or am I a wanker on this one? Maybe simply add the word "briefly" to describe his return home.

By stanza 7, the poem really seems more certain of itself and where it's going. In fact, you've got so many good lines that I don't want to take the time to re-type them all. I think my favorites, though, are the ones around "catty glasses" -- great descriptions and really distiguished and controlled language throughout. Me jealous because of my own cave-man use of words. Ugh. Go home now and beat wife with club. Scrawl pictures on cave wall. Shit in corner. Fuck dog.

But I digress.

Sorry that it took so long to get this stuff re-posted (or posted, who the fuck knows).

:: Rob 1/10/2002 05:06:00 PM [+] ::

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