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:: Monday, January 13, 2003 ::

Dearest All:

Thank you for the lovely notices concerning my poem.

Rob, some of my students have found this workshop, and read it from time to time, and are now no doubt glad to have your comprehensive onanism corroborated by something other than my introductory lecture on the subject, entitled "Rob Griffith: You've got to Train to Play."

Re: the warm glowing, and glowing warm of the workshop: I must bow out of circulation for a while. A nasty thing to do, considering I went last. But I mean to say I shall be bowing out as far as contributing goes. I am in the midst, always, of preparations for my future address, wheresoever that may be. Application, application. So I will check in from time to time, throw my two cents in, but until such a time as I come back out of retirement officially, if you don't hear a word from me, then proceed with the critiques.

Let's see. I think Sean is up next. And then Sean goes. And then Sean.


:: Josh 1/13/2003 12:36:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Saturday, January 11, 2003 ::
Hi! I’m Rob Griffith.
You may remember me from such on-line workshops as “Cry Uma!” and “Johnny Doesn’t Live Anymore.” I’ve recently returned from a 3-month masturbation training session, and though my hands are chapped, I’m ready to painfully type responses to the poems and comments you more responsible chaps have been putting up faithfully week after week.

I am using humor to deflect anger about my lengthy absence.

Please forgive me and allow me back into the warm glowing, glowing warm of your writing circle.

First, Sean’s poem of 9/21/2002: Four score and twenty years ago Sean brought forth this poem into the workshop, and since it’s probably since been published in Poetry, anthologized in The Best American Poetry of 2002, and lauded worldwide, there’s probably little reason for making any suggestions for improvement. However, in the interests of helping you assemble your notes for your Selected Works book, here goes: like Josh, I’ll refrain from a litany of all the good lines I find in the poem. There are many, especially in the revision. Enough said. In fact, I really have only two suggestions for improvement since this seems to be a fairly finished and polished piece. First, because I love the specifics in the poem, the “with understanding” in line five falls a little flat for me (even in a poem essentially about boredom). Something more concrete here could help ground the scene and, especially concerning all this conversation about ‘ol Prufrock, dare I say (or eat a peach) that it might be a good place for an objective correlative? I dare. Second, the jaunt into the open breathes life not only into the speaker but into the poem as well. However, the clamoring air and heavy, gray mist is all too brief. I’m sure that’s part of the poem’s “message,” but I want just a line more of freedom to help contrast the return to the office and subsequent key-tapping.

Next, Paul’s poem of 10/21/2002: This, too, I like. Ironically, what I like best is also what I think needs a bit more work; specifically, like Sean, I’m always too much of a poof to get seriously political in a poem, so I’m always thrilled to see a political poem that seems fully realized on the page (i.e., not simply an open-mic night rant about the political problem de jour). However, I think you can go further and get even more political. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that the “President” is never mentioned by name, nor is the specific war that is being sold to the American people. That kind of vagueness works for the poem, for the dramatic situation, and for the elegiac tone. But you could indict with a bit more venom, or at least clarify a bit. I like Sean’s idea of overwriting then employing the paring knife. Moving on, I love the academic dramatic situation, and it is perfectly embodied in lines like, “always fall in the halls of literature….” How apt and true. But what about a more explicit return to the academic involvement in the final lines of the poem. Specifically, a little overt nudge to the reader about the particular appropriateness of Swift’s Houyhnms couldn’t hurt even the most alert and well-read reader, and it would probably help deepen the poem’s context for the “average reader” like myself.

Josh’s poem of 11/20/2002: You bastard. It’s not fair that you should have this kind of imagination. If my life were more like the action/adventure/romance novel that it should be, I would be a super-villain and create a giant, laser-based machine to suck the imagination out of you and pour it into my over-ripe, bald head. But since my life isn’t really like that, you’re safe and all I can do is make some lame comments on your poem. I love this poem up until the last two strophes. To be more particular, I like the narrative that gets built up about the woman, and I really like the strange, almost hallucinatory incantation involving lipstick and a Lexus. However, it all kind of seems to fall apart in those last 3 lines – at the very least, I could say that those lines don’t deliver the kind of narrative payoff that the rest of the poem promises. I think you can still find some way of working in “and the earth speaks with its mouth full,” but otherwise I might suggest coming at the poem’s resolution from a completely different angle and seeing what happens. Smaller comments: I agree with Sean about omitting the word “takes” on line two. I love the cleverness and humor of “thinner / than the book based on the movie.” Really nice stuff.

Response to Sean’s suggestion of 12/1/02: I like the idea of a chapbook. Fuck the stigma of self-publishing. All we have to do is come up with a publishing company name that sounds respectable. How about Sarabande or Knopf?

I will post a poem soon, but after a respectful waiting period considering the fact that it has taken me so long to get these meager comments out.

Rob

:: Rob 1/11/2003 08:17:00 PM [+] ::
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