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:: Thursday, October 31, 2002 ::

Don't worry about it. Are you applying for teaching jobs? If so, are you fucking insane? Are you applying for PhD programs? If so, are you fucking insane?
:: Paul 10/31/2002 04:42:00 PM [+] ::
Paul, I'm sorry to keep you waiting. I'll try to put up some comments today. Applying for schools and what not.

:: Sean 10/31/2002 10:30:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, October 21, 2002 ::
Obviously I don't have a real life to write about, so here's some pornographic proxy. Glad you found some good in what I said about your poem. I wrote this before I saw yours, I think, and it was odd: I was actually preparing for a night class surprisingly similar to the one in the title, and I realized that none of us would be watching Bush--on CNN or MSNBC, that is, damn the networks--that night remind us of the pressing need to level the Middle East. It didn't seem unfortunate that we would be missing it, though, except it might have been funnier than Gulliver explaining to talking horses why people go to war. Speaking of horses, seen any go crazy on ferries lately?

The adjunct lecturer lectures and discusses “Gulliver’s Voyage to the Land of the Houyhnmns” with his Continuing Education students while the President teaches the country about the need to go to war

Outside (always outside) it is dark now,
and they are reflected in the windows
and in pages thinner than glass’s membrane
between in here, where they laugh,
and out there, where they can’t see
for the laughing faces. It is fall
(always fall in the halls of literature),
and yet the leaves haven’t left,
barely brown, rarely red even. Odd
that it should be so cold right now,
still green out there and so grown
up in here while the causes groan
under the weight of each clause’s
accumulated ink, and reason
would tell them that the reasons are
always shifting, now green, now red,
sometimes falling and read to us
while our faces are reflected in screens.
:: Paul 10/21/2002 01:23:00 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, October 20, 2002 ::
I'd give a good poem for a fried pie right now. Thanks brother Paul--very good and helpful writing. Yeah, I was just reading Dolor the other day. Someone here reminded me of it. He's pretty good that Roethke guy. Thanks to you both Josh and Paul (screw a bunch a Rob). Now Paul, I think you should write a little ditty for the board. And let's let Rob come crawling back to us, when he's ready. Thanks again for you smart guys. At least I think it's Paul's turn. Go, Josh if it isn't and I'll try to be good to you both.
:: Sean 10/20/2002 10:12:00 PM [+] ::
Since it’s a poem about school and, more specifically, the sometimes boredom of it/the weather and, added to that, about the rhetorical function of punctuation and the search for the right verb, you’ve done yourself a favor by having the speaker work through the dramatic situation like a sentence, or maybe like the thought of a sentence.

The sleight-of-hand, spin, struggle, chalked/chartered, divided/ruled (nice double meanings, by the way), charge/swerve are all good ways to maintain the lack of coalescence when trying to teach such messy and intangible qualities (which of course really isn’t the ultimate subject here) and trying to “say what doesn’t need to be said.” But of course it does. We run into that problem that Billy Collins rubs like a rabbit’s foot (to the point of chafing by now): how do we make ostensibly dull dramatic situations the interesting problems that they are? One way, which you’ve worked on already, is to make the poem’s rhetoric mirror the conflict.

One of the best poems of this kind (not only generally but specifically related to yours) is Roethke’s “Dolor,” with that dead-on first line. That poem is gray (and why does he spell “gray” “grey” there?), to say the least—see last line—but somehow the music of it rises above the situation, or sinks so far into the particulars that you can’t help but make a hymn of it, dirge to sift the dust and dirt.

So put in as many nineteen-year-old cleavages as you can, crossing and uncrossing of legs under desks, midriff, belly ring exposures.

The problems that Josh saw in the first version are gone now, so I don’t see any superficial murkiness/contradictions. The last four lines interest me the most: the speaker is forcing into language what is understood or obvious. It IS Prufrockian; our man in the ashram of his office here is gray, and he can’t quite catch the tadpoling (very nice) words which, caught in that intermediary stage—like the youthful students so hard to capture (in more ways than three)—are always moving and changing, and there’s a stasis in most of the rest of the poem that lags and logs its progress in the speaker’s attempts to make drama. And there is drama, or at least conflict: motion/stasis, youth/age, inside/outside action/intellect. These lines strike me as nearly apologetic, mostly the doesn’t need to be said/no drama grouping, because they follow an established scene and then downplay its importance. I was just now reading the ending if you omit some or all of “finding ways…no drama,” but that’s a little too appropriative.

By the way, “heavy, gray beautician” is very, very good. Well, I hope some of this does you some good.

:: Paul 10/20/2002 12:34:00 PM [+] ::

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