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  #11  
Old 08-12-2017, 06:00 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Aaron, for what it’s worth the “Sumerian Bau, the Timeless Feminine" line for me is the only off-key point in the poem. That last phrase sounds a bit hifalutin in context, even though the rhyme with “grin” is nice. Do you need that verse at all? I think the final couplet might even have more impact without the Bau line—a surprise like Rilke’s “You must change your life.” And it wouldn’t bother me not having a rhyme for “grin”—the rhyme scheme is irregular anyway.

Re. the title, “Mater Dolorosa” evokes melancholic Pietà imagery more than ravaged maternal bodies. I think something about Kali with the Skulls would be more apropos.

The poem is good, I like it overall.
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  #12  
Old 08-12-2017, 07:57 AM
Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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The gods are down here and they can be hard
to look at, hard to take—hard, hard, hard.

Last to first, I think: "hard hard hard". An honest, out-loud pronunciation of the line seems to work well to me, but the theory of why it works seems to be the thing that is lacking. I'm with Ann: the hyphen actually takes a beat.

I could envision a critter saying that line 19 was all padding save the word 'gods' and 'hard' and also envision them school-marmy going on about 'be' verbs lacking...

"Sumerian Bau" I can go with, but "The Timeless Feminine— to me is actually placeholder: the 'for-the-moment' appositive-as-explanation for an ancient obscurity, profound though it may be, and the key to the poem. Perhaps it's just my personal distaste for the breathless new-age-ish, pseudo-junginan stuff. That's on me. Nonetheless, I think there's a way to convey 'Bau' without an actual explaining. But to do that and keep the rhyme... getting challenging...

speaking of rhyme. This felt in one aspect like an EE Cummings poem. You read along feeling the beat pretty much and at length with his stuff you say, "Wait. That was a sonnet. Huh?" For me, the rhymes- placed so many lines apart sometimes and also across stanzas, carried something of that quality.

The messy nature of the poem (but not actually messy) seemed to sort well with the messy topic matter.

I wonder if 'bitch' might be a bit gratuitous. As a precise term, no one uses it that way outside AKC events. ?Maybe hound? --I don't get the womb strapped to the spine bit. Combined with the limping leg, it made me feel like she'd been hit by a car and guts were hanging out, "Chronical of a Dog Foretold." That doesn't seem to sort with the rest of the poem in that the focus would appear to be the impending death, if the whole animal is mangled.

Perhaps there's some indecision about 'epiphany' - the word always conveys the 'Ah-ha!' today and only after sifting and sorting, the theophany sense. It's not clear that there's really an 'ah-ha' by the end of the poem. Just a savvy observation, like I knew it all along, but today I saw it up close. Perhaps use something like, 'the deity' or 'the deity herself' somesuch like that. It would set up the mention of Sumerian Bau better too. Meh. Take or toss.

I'm not sure the mix of sumerian dog feminine and catholic mater works in the end, though the connection is clever enough. Perhaps re-titling to Sumerian Bau? thinkingoutloud Also, randomly, I'm glad the PoliticalCorrectnessCrowd hasn't assaulted you yet. "Mister, if this is a picture of the feminine, it's unflattering and fem-o-phobic. mwah mwah mwah mwah..." Back to the main, I do think there's substantial padding- but I wouldn't drop it. It serves two functions: It shows the reader how to connect the concepts, and most importanly for a poem that skirts from mastodons to frogs to dogs to gods, it gives the brain the necessary moments to process the concepts while progressing through the poem ( beat or two is a lot of time when you consider with think words about 10x faster than we speak them).

Perhaps the central difficulty with the poem is that "Sumerian Bau", though a coining, unifying concept for you, is something too obscure to be able to educate the reader about, then give the reader a particular slant, and then some applications of that slant and then selected comparisons to other deities, and then convey the 'ah-ha' of seeing all that in a dog all in a few lines. One more thought: You have considered the reader who doesn't know Bau exensively, but consider for a moment someone who does know the deity. For them, the poem's perfect, but that's convicting. So maybe then the path forward is to build this unembarrassingly for those who would know it. Eliot/Pound style. Let the power and precision of that poem compel the reader to check it out for fear of missing out on something great. As always take or toss, hope these thoughts are at least catalyzing.
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  #13  
Old 08-12-2017, 11:51 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Thank you, all, for your suggestions. I have taken the major one—the “Sumerian Bau” line is gone.

Next for the title, I like these three:
1.) Multimammia (“She of the Many Breasts”)
2.) Sumerian Bau (Daniel’s suggestion)
3.) Mater Dolorosa (the original—Andrew argues, quite reasonably, that
its Christian association doesn’t work with the poem.)

Which one is best? Any further suggestions?

Also, the last line: I’m trying to push my pentameters to make them more expressive. The dropped beat (Ann explains how it works in post #10) is supposed to impart a clashing “hardness” to the line.

. . . . .

Thank you, Ann, for gracing my poem with your presence. Yes, ol’ Bau is onomatopoeic—Bau-wau. I have dropped her all the same, at your encouragement and that of others.

Andrew, thank you. I have dropped the “Bau” line and I am reconsidering the title at your suggestion.

Daniel, thank you for your thorough comments. I have been persuaded to drop “Bau” and I am thinking about getting rid of any exclusively Christian terms at your and Andrew’s encouragement.

I do like “the epiphany” (not exclusively Christian) but I am willing to consider

when the divinity came limping in:

instead.

Hmn.

I’m glad the “messy” nature of the poem works for you. Yes, I use familiar structures at the beginning and end and in the middle let the poem expand where it will. I’m glad the “free rhyme” in the middle doesn’t seem to have caused any problems.

Thanks again, all,

Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-12-2017 at 12:12 PM.
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  #14  
Old 08-12-2017, 05:19 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like this. I really love the idea of it. 'The gods are down here and they can be hard / to look at, hard to take' is a stunning line. Do you think L6 is missing a beat?
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  #15  
Old 08-12-2017, 07:22 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Thank you very much, Mark. I admit the beginning of line 6 is light and the end heavier.

I scan it: WHEN the e-PI-pha-NY comes LIM-ping IN.

Best,

aron
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  #16  
Old 08-12-2017, 07:48 PM
VictoriaGaile VictoriaGaile is offline
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Hi Aaron,

This eventually grabbed me, but I ran into a couple of stumbling blocks:

- I'm glad you dropped Mater Dolorosa, because you're talking about the mother as a god, and the Christian association with Mary got in the way

- Sumerian Bau meant nothing to me

- "A mood as lively as a mastodon/preponderated" is delightful, but "lively" broke the mood for me -- or rather, sent me off on a "hey this will be a jolly sarcastic poem" and then it wasn't.

- "Epiphany" is usually used to mean the realization, not the appearance. "Theophany" would be the appearance. May I suggest using "Theophany" as the title, and reworking line 6 as "when the mongrel Mother came limping in", and then finding another iambic adjective for line 7.

- "Her face looked like a grin" didn't really work for me; I think it's too abbreviated to evoke the "deathshead grin" that I think you meant.

- I read "sublime embarrassment" to mean that she was sublimely embarrassed, when the context seems strongly to indicate the opposite. I do love the use of sublime here.

- I also love "disbelief. Amazement like a scent/was hanging everywhere", especially in such close proximity to scrub and rubbish and sublime. It evokes both incense offered to God, and the cloud out of which theophany typically appears in the Jewish and Christian texts.

- Powerful ending. I agree, definitely keep that.
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  #17  
Old 08-12-2017, 09:15 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Thank you, Victoria, for your close-reading of the poem.

I may need to find a new title—I like “Sumerian Bau” because, though its referent will be unfamiliar to most readers, it is intriguing. I just want the title to pull the reader in. I think “Sumerian Bau” or “Multimammia” would be more likely to that than something descriptive like “Epiphany” or “Theophany.”

I will do some more thinking about the “mastodon” line, though, I confess, I’m pretty fond of it. Is there other adjective than “lively” I could use?

You have a degree in Judaeo-Christian theology and I in heathen polytheism. I fear “theophany” would be unfamiliar to most readers. In Classics we use “epiphany” to refer to any manifestation of a deity on earth, whether it be lightning for Zeus or Zeus in his divine form itself.
With “her face looked like a grin” I was not going for the skeletal smile—I really was just describing what I saw.

“embarrassment” can mean, in addition to a feeling of self-conscious shame, “pregnancy” as in “during the period of her embarrassment.” In fact, in Spanish “estoy embarazada” always means “I am pregnant” and never means “I am embarrassed.”

Yes! I am glad you got “incense” out of the “scent.” In Greco-Roman lit, the gods usually leave behind the scent of ambrosia when they have gone.

Thank you, thank you, I am thinking about the “mastodon” line and what to do about the title.

Best, best,
Aaron
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  #18  
Old 08-12-2017, 10:18 PM
VictoriaGaile VictoriaGaile is offline
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Embarrassment can mean pregnancy?!? I've never come across that (though I'm familiar with some similar dated euphemisms like "confinement"), and I couldn't find a trace of it in the dictionaries or thesaurus I consulted.

Which is not to doubt you, of course; only to observe that this reader, at least, missed your intended point entirely.

On further thought, I realized "Theophany" as a title is rather flat, even for those who know the word. Of your choices, I very much like "Multimammia". It sounds exotic, and like it might be the name of a god, and it grows in sense after one has read the poem.

I don't understand how a face can look like a grin. I might say her face wore a grin, or her face was mostly grin.

I would keep the mastodon line and use it in another poem, definitely! but in this poem, the "lively" throws me right off. If it were me, I'd give up the mastodon and go instead for something like fog or fogginess or humidity, some sensory quality that often makes one's mind dull. I can understand wanting to keep "mastodon" for the Dinosaur-Age connection, though; in which case maybe "sluggish"?
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  #19  
Old 08-12-2017, 11:28 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Thank you, Victoria. I will go for "Multimammia" as the title.

I'm afraid I am wedded to the ironic "lively as mastodon".

Thanks for returning and pushing me on the title.

Best,

Aaron

Hardy, bless his heart, refers to "Diana Multimammia" in his "By the Barrows":

By the Barrows

Not far from Mellstock--so tradition saith -
Where barrows, bulging as they bosoms were
Of Multimammia stretched supinely there,
Catch night and noon the tempest's wanton breath,

A battle, desperate doubtless unto death,
Was one time fought. The outlook, lone and bare,
The towering hawk and passing raven share,
And all the upland round is called "The He'th."

Here once a woman, in our modern age,
Fought singlehandedly to shield a child -
One not her own--from a man's senseless rage.
And to my mind no patriots' bones there piled
So consecrate the silence as her deed
Of stoic and devoted self-unheed.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-12-2017 at 11:32 PM.
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  #20  
Old 08-13-2017, 10:32 AM
Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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divinity - not deity - a much better candidate --I was fumbling for that added syllable. I like it.

For the title, I hoping to be catalyst even if unable to find the right suggestion.

What about considering the translations of these names as potential titles-- or slight variations of them. Ex: Consider as title, "She of the Many Breasts" or "Mother of Sorrows" or "All Mothers of Sorrow"
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