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:: Friday, November 22, 2002 ::

First of all, what a nice little idea--this spell angle is pretty sweet. You could do a whole section of a book with these. All right. Why have "Sub-urbs" like that? I can't figure it out, and the only whadyacall for it that I found was "universal request broker" which is all right I guess, but I doubt that's what you had in mind. Fine title otherwise. Hey, by the way, look at me--it's 6:19 on a Friday and I'm drinking a 16oz of Bud and eating a package of NipChee crackers. And talking about poetry. Whoo Hoo.

All right, now here it gets a bit strange. What if, just follow me here, what if you cut the word "takes" in line two? Is that too much verb play for you? Lines three to five don't do it for me. I might have an unusual bias against that style: A and B are ADJECTIVE thing, but I think you should too. I mean even my manly hair is thinner than a book. But I liked that "book based on the movie line" so work with that for me. Then it gets good again--I like the idea of the light, but isn't the light activated by the detector? Right now it sort of feels like the detector is giving off light, and that's just crazy talk, right? "light / after the motion detector" is more like it, but then, that's not sweet talk, so fix it up. That's a great sick light that you talk about though. Ah, "what oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed" but you could make it work better, I think.

Then you . . . you bastard. What nice enviable stuff--all those sweet, sweet "isses," I like that a lot, don't be embarrassed by that. Then all is cool pretty much till the end, though I'd cut the last line--you can't do that after "the earth speaks with its mouth full." Can you end it there? I'm not sure, but I like it so much it actually makes me not like the "heart is an open mechanism" as much. But I like this idea so much, and though this poem isn't about me, it could be, and that's what poetry is all about. Talk to you all later.
:: Sean 11/22/2002 05:34:00 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, November 20, 2002 ::
Boys, the poems I need most help with right now are a bit woolly, some wide sestinas and a three part wedding poem, and they won't fit so well into the program here--the weird line breaks will throw everything off. So I won't put one of those in here. In addition, my poem about what Sean said on the way to the movie ("the magnolia of meaning is the chicken of our days and ways") is languishing due to lack of subtlety, and so I submit to you boys the following poem: it is what it is, and you should dispatch with it haste poste haste, and soon thereafter, or even immediately, Sean, you go ahead and put your shirts on this here line.

Spell For Finding Lost Sunglasses in the Sub-urbs

When the rain (like a boy-band)
takes turns on the marigolds,

and your husband’s hair
and promises are thinner

than the book based on the movie,
then, by the unwholesome light

of the motion detector,
and with the kissable lipstick

of a missing cheerleader,
you must draw a pentagram

on the hood of your Lexus.
Drive around the block three times, in reverse.

The heart is an open mechanism
and the earth speaks with its mouth full.

Please have your credit card ready.

:: Josh 11/20/2002 05:03:00 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, November 19, 2002 ::
Yeah, I always think it's a good idea to go the way of Yeats and prosify your poem ideas before doing them as a poem. Unfortunately I don't do it that much. You're "no way," Sean, about the possibility of a Phd pretty much sums up my thoughts about it. I suppose it could give you more time to write, but I can't imagine writing papers and such again. By the way, what's the deal with your job? Will you have it next year, or is it a one year thing? I'm not sure about here just yet; I like it, but they can't really say for sure yet whether there will be anything available next year.

I'm going to look at your email again about maybe coming through. It'd be great to hook up.

Any clever things Sean said should be in a poem. We'll call them "Seanisms."
:: Paul 11/19/2002 02:22:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, November 18, 2002 ::
Paul, I don't think there'd be anything wrong with taking some time and spelling all your good ideas out, then putting them in there--the old over-write, then cut trick. I understood all that in there about the speech etc., just spend some time gettin' all political on our asses--most people, well, me at least, are too afraid to do that.

I'm applying to whatever as an exercise of sorts. I'm collecting letterhead basically. No Phd, no way. I do believe Josh is up with a clever little narrative about a funny thing I said once on the way to a movie. Josh, work your magic on that moment. If he balks, I've been writing a lot of stuff real fast. And whatever happened to Rob? That bastard.
:: Sean 11/18/2002 07:39:00 PM [+] ::
Sean and Josh,

Thanks for the comments. Damn you all and your insistence on clarity and logic. Pages are always thinner than glass. Indeed. I suppose I meant thinner in a sense that they can sometimes reveal more than a window, but again the phenomenological world slams up against my metaphorical one like a goddamned waxwing slain. Or would it be the other way around? See? In any case, I'm glad that both of you had trouble putting the dramatic situation together, glad in the way that at least there's agreement on what's wrong instead of one large WHAT THE FUCK? The wordplay, well, yes, it's fun and all, but as you say, I wonder how much it's doing besides calling attention to itself.

Re the "screens" issue: For a poem indebted to being inside, I don't know why I was tempted to bring in the idea of people watching television while the poem focuses on people discussing Swift, but somewhere I had the notion that one more speech by GWB wasn't going to be missed too much by other people otherwise engaged in "real" listening: literature, especially lit. that satirizes war apologia. It's just not worked out enough in a logistical or tangible kind of way. The whole thing strikes me as too anonymous, too unfaced. I guess I was thinking about the insularity of the classroom, missing out on "real world" events and such, but then that didn't seem so bad since lately one justification speech was as good as another, and what with Tivo and all you can watch one whenever you want.

Oh, Josh, I am thinking about jobs next year, but not a PHD. The gig here in Evansville is pretty good so far, and if nothing else turns up, I'll probably just stick around here or Illinois to see what happens. I might do some "writing."

Again, thanks guys. Who's next?
:: Paul 11/18/2002 01:33:00 PM [+] ::
:: Friday, November 08, 2002 ::
PB: I am applying for teaching jobs. I am applying for PHD programs. I just re-took the GRE. I am so insane I can't stand it. And so you must be doing the same type of thing? Where are you applying?

As you can tell from his first sentence in your critique, for Sean Chapman, it's all about size of the poem. This poem of yours seems to Sean to be of respectable length. Some people, instead of worrying about the vertical stretch (like Sean), seem to privilege the horizontal stretch, and would like to see more length in the individual line, and won't come near you unless you've got chops like Whitman. Myself, I like the length of individual words, and so in this poem I find myself most immediately interested in "literature," "reflected," and "accumulated." Good range, "accumulated," from start to finish nearly the half length of the pinky finger, but, as critics, we must put aside our idiosyncrasies, and engage the poem on its own level playground.

Therefore, and seriously, I say unto thee: good elegaic tone here, and the poem's scope, introduced in the title, is clearly established (it does what it sets out to do). My only problem with it is a problem of specificity in a couple of key motions. Second line, "they," depends too much on the title for clarity, and though another line giving a key aggregate description of the "they" (so that they are cemented in our minds) might spoil the poem's length, I think a quick anchor description of the students might work nicely here, though I do understand that their anonymity is their most distinguishing factor (but it could be a more cemented anonymity).

All pages, it seems to me, are thinner than glass's membrane, but I'm not sure: do you mean "membrane of glass" or are you suggesting that there is an exterior level of glass, known as the membrane? In the latter case, I think you're line's okay. In the former, the comparison doesn't seem to work.

The doubled preposition in "between in here" throws me a second, particularly since it's really a triple preposition, "between in here and between out there."

I don't mind the groan/grown clause/cause play so much for itself, but I do think that such a move, in an otherwise quiet poem about an overall quietness, does call a lot of attention to itself (so much so that I think maybe the theme lies somewhere in the highlighting that's been done, and also the fact that that kind of word play only exists in three latter lines, etc).

Lastly, "screens." This is the first intimation of any kind of setting in the classroom, and it takes me a second to realize they're looking into computer screens? But they're also reading out of textbooks. So I'm having trouble, imagining the faceless "they" and the setting they're set in. And also the teacher's face is included, in the "our," as being reflected, as if they're all sitting before screens of some kind. So I don't know, and some of this perhaps lost on me due to my lack of recent Swift.

:: Josh 11/08/2002 01:11:00 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, November 07, 2002 ::
Paul, I like the size of this poem. Perfect heft. I also like the long title with it, but would rework it for clarity:
"The adjunct lecturer lectures his Continuing Education students on Gulliver's Voyage . . . while the Pres . . ." Not a big difference really. I like the two lines: "Outside (always outside) it is dark now," and "It is fall/(always fall in the halls of literature)" both clear and true. Maybe cut the "now" on line one? I understand the idea of the students being unable to see out because it's dark, but I'm not sure about reflected in the pages and that whole first statement. I mean, it's dark outside, the window reflects them but with all the commas, I get lost a bit. It seems like you're talking towards an understanding of your own words. I could be wrong, but I'm not sure you couldn't say this clearer. That way, some of the good stuff: "where they can't see for the laughing faces" won't be buried.

Outside (always outside) it is dark.
Laughing faces reflect in the windows
In here they laugh (while??? I can't get that thin pages thing to fit, or I'm unclear on it.)
outside, they can't see for all the laughing
faces. It is fall (always fall in the halls
of literature), yet the leaves haven't left

After that, and I know I'm changing this poem too much already, I think the "grown/groan and clause/causes" is too strong. I like the idea in here, as I see it, that we have come so little a distance since Swift told us all this, but I can't see your ideas clearly yet. Could you maybe talk a little about what you want to do here? I don't know that I'm being that much of a help, but it seems to lose solidity near the bottom and then "our faces" could be the watchers of tv or the readers, but I think there needs to be more to explain that. Maybe you could respond to these ramblings, and I'd have a better plan of attack(poor choice of words, I know) and get back with more random talk.

:: Sean 11/07/2002 11:15:00 AM [+] ::

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