:: Wednesday, June 26, 2002 ::
And Sean, you are one handsome bastard.
:: Tuesday, June 25, 2002 ::
And doesn’t the phrase “edit your blog” strike anyone else as funny?
Rob, below, and taking advantage of quantity instead of quality, I have tried to mend the long draught with a big rush of information for you, some of which I'll no doubt take back if you ask me to.
I know this poem were an exercise, but I will go on the record (and make no mistake, this is a record) as saying that I very much like it, particularly the sleeping pills like baby teeth, and 101 other masterful turns of phrase (1000 red and perfect hearts cored, etc) with which Rob you are so ingenious, and for which I envy you, this voice and its third person objective distance so well handled in the formal constrictions, which you exploit so naturally. Who are you reading, exactly? I’m notoriously unable to lock in on more formal influences, and maybe I think “form” when I think “Rob” only because, well, you’re so fine, but also because what you’ve put up here seems consistently formal, ie, metered in some way. Scratch that earlier reading question, and answer this: to which three or four writers do you turn when you turn? Tate (alan not james of course)? Other Fugitives? Early and late Lowell perhaps? Yeats? Who’s your daddy, dammit, besides John Cash? I of course say Yeats because of the “cold men” riff in the next poem, as that’s as smart as I get, and I say Lowell perhaps because something throughout–speaking of the aggregate now--is positively (wonderfully) Miltonic in its progression.
Well, very very wise and so subtly conscious of the pace. You’re aware at all times–this speaking of all your poems, with this one as a perfect example--that your progression, which I earlier tried to id as Miltonic, requires speed and change of direction and sudden crossover to un-ballast the alliterations and metrics, and so you always steer clear of too too heavy endstopping (only one endstop here, not counting the final rest), and so do you make sure to up the pace by only using a comma or a quick enjambment in your motions in between stanzas, and most of the heavy stoppage is midline. All very cool and crafty and creates nice
surpise and tension.
Sean had a question about the Yeats riff on “cold men” for “old men,” and the problem for me (though oh so slight, because I love the riff and the payoff) is that I’m not sure what the “that” refers to. Here’s how I read it: Gluggathykkn, since I'm predisposed to read the title as what "that" refers to, is no country for cold men–ie, dense clouds with no openings is no place for cold, and simultaneously because of the echo old, men--but I’m thrown a bit by the actual country of the epigraph, which makes me think Iceland is the country.
They both work, and again this tricks me out for only half a tick before the music and cadence grabs me along, and then the poem, I think, teaches me that Iceland is the "that": this just amounts to heckling anyway in a poem so well conceived: but one thing: I don’t know that you need the Gluggathykkn and Icelandic apparatus at all. It no doubt is what generated the idea, but gone, then, he actually doesn't have a word for the breaks in the clouds. This probably creates more problems for you than it could hope to solve. Moving on.
I don’t have a problem with the “to drown” break, because the misdirection helps me with the only single other problem I have. All the phrasing seems right, just right. Something huge and incredibly resonant about the way you deliver lines that seemingly exist just to ground us, but take on this incredible vibration the way you’ve worded them (This memphis summer/so far removed from North Atlantic ice). None, never, no tone problems anywhere, you’re in perfect control throughout, no problems with breaks or metrics, everything is nice and sonorous and weighty but still so very fast and as it should be, and the Yeats riff pays off with the sailing and the ending of the poem, which I talk about below (last paragraph). At the end, though, second reading and third, I’m not sure what this guy is up to (Memphis helps me understand he’s imagining ships, but then the ships could be on the river, so Sean's concerns about imagination make sense to me), what he wants, what the deal is, and what might cure him. So as I say that “drown” cliffhanger helps me come closer to his mental state, but my reading is this: he’s warmer and more comfortable than he either 1) has recently been during actual experiences in the North Atlantic (I throw this one out almost immediately), or 2) warmer and more comfortable than he imagines he would be in such a place, or 3) he’s reading about this “no place for cold men” place, and therefore is imagining it, and partially the imagination, too, is the no place to be cold.
Me bitching about lack of setting must seem hilarious. And so I shall quit it: The main revelation is so subtly and deeply there, that most of this talk is just hair pulling and jumping around: this guy in balmy and placid beer-drinking conditions wishing to articulate the world through a stormy and clarifying brand new third eyeball, thereby submits to his imagination to get it, and still finds himself wishing for the words to get him to that “artifice of eternity” of the Yeats poem. I’m there.
:: Josh 6/26/2002 04:00:00 AM [+] ::
Josh, you kid.
:: Sean 6/25/2002 04:08:00 PM [+] ::
Thanks for the comments, Sean, and there's no worry about your "getting schooled" on what you missed. You missed nothing. As usual, you put your finger right on the problems. I now return to the poem with a sense of renewed hope that it doesn't have to be incinerated in order to improve it. Thanks for the help--
:: Monday, June 24, 2002 ::
And Josh, don't sweat it. I think we've all been kind of buried under this, that, or the other (I prefer the "other" personally), but I do hope we keep this clambake going.
:: Rob 6/25/2002 12:45:00 PM [+] ::
Good to hear from you both. I have a copy on the "cold men" poem in my little notebook which is a good sign. I've been marking on it lately. So far my thoughts are that that "cold men" line is for me a bit cute. (This coming from the guy who wrote that "personals" poem). I don't mean throw the book into the fire cute, but I wonder if that doesn't detract for some readers from the fantastic next few lines about the oak. I loved that. Really solid line break. I got my copy out, so I'll go ahead and go. I usually rely on Josh or Paul or You to help me see things that I should have, but I wonder if putting the infinitive "to drown" doesn't make the reader work too hard. Or the problem is for me with the semi-colon. But then I got confused with the "their" in the last stanza. I love it from the second line of the last stanza on--"lamping black . . . sea-shimmer . . . a lens of glass" "sails of shroud" all that is good shit. I think I also got confused with the second line of the second stanza--is the narrator waiting? I think the ships are waiting, and I assume they're imagined, and maybe "imagines" not "sees" would help the simple folk. I think I'll go ahead and put this up and be prepared to be schooled about what I missed. I'm feeling dim.
:: Thursday, June 20, 2002 ::
:: Sean 6/24/2002 07:26:00 AM [+] ::
Rob: Many apologies. First came finals, then came my total loss of wherewithal. Hateful how I took in your good comments and gave back nothing in return, which is a paraphrase of something my last three g-friends said about me. But: the last time that I said I loved these poems, and then said expect my comments soon, those two months passed by. Therefore, since mine was the last post, please blame me since I never followed through, or blame Sean at least, and I do love these poems, and expect my comments soon, and Sean if you're hip, I'd love to get this band back together on Rob's poems, and then go on, and by the way, one day, sir, you will send me a copy of that CD? I tell you, give me your address, and I will send you MONEY for it. I am waiting by the phone with my credit card ready. The new disc, the old disc lost in transit those many months ago, whichever. I've worn a hole in the disc with F150 and California Burns.
:: Wednesday, June 19, 2002 ::
:: Josh 6/20/2002 04:48:00 PM [+] ::
I'd be up for more workshopping; it's been helpful and entertaining. However, it would be nice to get some feedback on these poems before we moved on to something else.
:: Monday, June 17, 2002 ::
:: Rob 6/19/2002 12:33:00 PM [+] ::
Yeah, Rob. Way to go. It was fun before you came in and ruined it. But really. I wanted to say I'm sorry I haven't been talking at all lately. I just got out of the habit of looking I guess. We could get the band back together and try again, or say, job well done. What do you guys think. I'm at Conway for the summer, very bored, so I'm up for more workshop. Peace. Oh, yes, a new and sparling Nancy cd is out, "Who's Your Boyfriend Now?" is the title, and I even like it.
:: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 ::
:: Sean 6/17/2002 09:12:00 PM [+] ::
Wow, two months, and no talky talky. My stellar versification brought this workshop to its knees like a bad, bad girl.
:: Rob 6/11/2002 02:55:00 PM [+] ::