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:: Saturday, September 21, 2002 ::

Quite a few changes really, so Josh you might comment again. Very strange things here for me.


Johnstown, After Class

In the afternoons, after talking commas
and the power of pause—the dash—its feint
and sleight of hand, I leave my dull classroom
and wander through the hallways looking in
as others struggle with understanding. Chalked
and chartered, divided and ruled, the words
litter the boards: scene, drama, image, verb.
These dull days after class, the air thick, stupid
with boredom, I go outside. The air clamors
for attention, licks and rubs at my feet.
The Johnstown mist—heavy, gray beautician—
spins my hair to curls every time it rains.
I go left, then right, then back through the door
until I’m again in the office, curly, damp
and tapping keys—finding ways to say
what doesn’t need to be said: I’m gray,
there is no drama. Verbs charge and swerve
through my hands—tadpole away until
all that’s left is to rain, hush, tire, and sleep.

:: Sean 9/21/2002 11:33:00 AM [+] ::
...
Shit, are you kidding me? Chris Carpenter's my man from way back. Earned my Weeblo badge with him.

Rob, thank you so much (and late) for the invitation to Eville. I would have loved to have come there during the recent (not so recent) trip up, but I was on the Greyhound with three or four convicts, and let me never speak of the toilet on the bus between Birmingham and Nashville.

Sean daddy Sean, I'll be first up to bat, and I say this:

This here's got a real grayed out Phil Larkin feel to it (get stewed: books are a load of crap), and so after hearkening up the master of despair in reference to your poem, might I spare you the introductory I loved this line and that line? Because there are many great lines and graceful breaks and pickups to be loved (alright, alright: "tadpole" is great as a verb here, and "charge" with that line break pretty nifty) in here.

New title? Gives the sense that the Teachers are in fact instructing the Afternoon to do something--which maybe was your point, but the point of the poem seems to be vice versa--or, if not that, then this title seems like a label, particularly with the "of the afternoons" leading into the "in the afternoons" of the first line (maybe, if you don't want to change it, you could just let the title tell us it's afternoon?) and since it is a difficult thing to write a poem about boredom and not lose us (the mimetic fallacy, begad!), with the afternoons afternoons repetition you're running the risk of screwing up some of the lively verb constructions later on in the poem. Which is to say, the title should be punched up to admit more of the imaginative, funny lines in the poem, and to maybe help push the tone in that more silly direction in a revision.

Okay then, suggestions for new titles, you say?

Comma-tose. Narcolepsy, 101. Academia, Shmacademia. The Fury of Composition. Revenge of the Dash. J Alfred Prufrock Ain't Got Nothing On Dr. Sean Chapman.

"Sleight" of hand? I think so, but check. And also "of hand of" staggers a little bit, right when you're talking about syntactical sleight of hand.

There is a little trouble for me, around the line that begins "Outside, the air," because I have this idea that what's outside IS the air, not the speaker, since also, before that, I have this idea that the speaker is inside, looking at the chalkboards, so for a half a tick, when he mentions the air licking and rubbing his feet, it seems to me he must be sticking his feet out the window, though I know better. Then, a second later, he is for sure outside, but walks right back in. Maybe you could iron out the where and the when? Because it also gets confusing around the later lines "I go left, then right, then back/through the door I just/ clicked closed until/finally I’m back in the office, tapping keys..."

Also the air, licking and rubbing feet, is dog or catlike, and then it goes ahead and spins a wheel which curls hair. And I do love this bit of description (it's weird and dreamy--exhausted, sleepwalking speaker--and one of my favorite moments) and I'm always ready to go along with shifty mixed images: it's just that the rest of the poem (except for "tadpole" and the initial fun with punctuation) isn't ready to be to playful, because of the subject matter. I wish in it for more of the sleepy dreamwalking stuff.

"The wheel" also is a big, symbolic seeming thing (as in THE wheel) but what it does here is curl your hair. When I read Spins the wheel in a poem, I'm thinking, Here comes Fate. Is that the point, thematically? Because if that's the point (ie: The Wheel spins, and all I get around here is kinky hair) then I'm with this image, but it just needs to be directed a little bit toward that conclusion. And if not, then the curled hair seems unaccountably portentous.

That said, your image of teachers attempting to charter and divide words, and then the corresponding and later image of the words busting loose and wild like tadpoles, is perfectly rendered, and provides a beautiful thematic counterpoint, and that's where the poem really deepens out, though it IS drama.
:: Josh 9/21/2002 02:23:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Thursday, September 19, 2002 ::
Yo, Seany Love, I'm up for this again, know what I'm sayin? I haven't looked at the Carpenter stuff yet, but I can tell you that I'm in a punctuating mood after looking at yours.

Rob tells me that you are also drilling holes in your floor to spy on the married couple below.

Talk more soon.
:: Paul 9/19/2002 04:16:00 PM [+] ::
...
Johnstown, Afternoon

In the afternoons, after talking about commas
and the power of pause—the feint and sleight
of hand of the dash, I leave my dull classroom
and wander through the hallways looking in
as others struggle with understanding. Chalked
and chartered, divided and ruled, the words
litter the boards: scene, drama, image, verb.
Now outside, the air clamors for attention, licks
and rubs at my feet, spins the wheel which
kinks my hair into curls everytime it rains.
On dull days after class, the air thick, stupid
with boredom, I go left, then right, then back
through the door I just clicked closed until
finally I’m back in the office, tapping keys
and finding ways to say what doesn’t need
to be said: I’m gray, there is no drama, verbs
charge and swerve through my hands—tadpole
away until all that’s left is rain, hush, tire, sleep.
:: Sean 9/19/2002 02:41:00 PM [+] ::
...
Hey, I wanted you all to enjoy some of Chris Carpenter's crazyness if you haven't seen it. Read some of the reviews on divingbirds.com
It's some very funny, well-written stuff. Josh, Chris is a friend of all of ours but you, you loser.

man

anyway, poems?
:: Sean 9/19/2002 11:13:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Monday, September 16, 2002 ::
Boys, it's a new semester, leaves are turning already up here, and the sounds of cheerleaders can be heard from the high school across the road. This means time to crank up the Poetry Machine that is THIS. Exercises? Sonnets? Poems with dwarves in them?

Let me know if you're in. Yours, sbchapm@uark.edu

:: Sean 9/16/2002 11:43:00 AM [+] ::
...

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