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Old 03-19-2017, 11:37 PM
Katie Hoerth's Avatar
Katie Hoerth Katie Hoerth is offline
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Default Pippa Passes in Waco

Pippa Passes in Waco
At Baylor University, a copper statue of Pippa from the poem “Pippa Passes” welcomes visitors to the Browning Library.

Here in Waco, I stand still as stone
among the roses and the hummingbirds.
Spring reigns short. The droughts reign long and humus
settles in the creases of my hair.
Still, I wear a love-struck, sunny smile.
Perhaps these passerby’s think me naïve:
Today I praise the dawning of this season
at my naked feet in wisps of pink,
the live oak casting shade across my eyes.
I praise my copper sundress and the pearls
of morning dew that glace my clavicles.
I praise the purple martin keeping tune,
the tiny snails perched on thrones of thorns.

But most of all, I praise the greatest blessing
I’ve received: a pair of perky boobs
defying decades worth of gravity,
ethereal but made of earth. By night,
frat boys come, their love idolatry,
polish them with their palms until they shine
underneath a blushing April moon.
I fix my eyes on open Texas sky,
proud as a daisy of my loveliness.
Everything is right in Waco, too.



An Earlier Version (Incorporating some revisions from Aaron's crit)

Pippa Passes in Waco
At Baylor University, a copper statue of Pippa from the poem “Pippa Passes” welcomes visitors to the Browning Library.

In Waco, spring reigns short and fades to drought.
I stand among the roses and the hummers,
wearing a love-struck smile as bright as May –
the still expression chiseled in my face.
My mouth agape and ready for a song
to praise the dawning of another season
at my naked feet in wisps of pink,
the live oak casting shade across my eyes,
my copper sundress and the pearls of dew
that glace my clavicles, the martin’s tune,
the tiny snails perched on thrones of thorns,
but my metal tongue births only silence.

I stand up straight, show off these perky boobs
some zealous sculptor gave me on a whim
defying decades worth of gravity,
ethereal but made of earth. By night,
the frat boys come, their love idolatry,
polish them with the palms until they shine
underneath a sliver of a moon.

All I can do is smile and fix my eyes
on the infinity of Texas sky.
Everything is right in Waco, too.


Version 3 -- Trying Julie's idea on for size!

Pippa Passes in Waco
At Baylor University, a copper statue of Pippa from the poem “Pippa Passes” welcomes visitors to the Browning Library.


Perhaps these passersby think me naïve
standing barefoot in a grove of roses.
But I have weathered countless fleeting springs
that quickly fade to drought as humus settles
in the creases of my copper hair.
Still, I wear a love-struck, sunny smile
chiseled in my face, my mouth agape
in praise of everything that’s saccharine –
the balmy mornings ripe with spring’s perfume
spritzed on too thick and clinging to my skin,
the pearls of dew that snake around my neck,
the nauseating serenades of larks
perching on my shoulders, and the snails
creeping across my toes. My metal sundress
all but drowns my curves in innocence.

But only this is worthy of my song:
The miracle of sexiness I am,
this pair of perky boobs defying decades
worth of gravity, ethereal
but made of earth. By night, the frat boys come
their love idolatry, to polish them.
I fix my eyes on open Texas sky;
everything is right in Waco, too
underneath a blushing April moon.




Recent changes:
Removed stanza breaks to make it only 2 stanzas now, perhaps to aid with the jarring transition
S1L6 used to read: Still, I wear a love-struck, sunny smile
S1L8 used to read: mid-song in praise of everything that's sweet
S1L14: Swapped "heavy" for "metal"
S2L1 used to read: But really, all I want to praise is this:
Rearranged the last four lines to end on the moon line. Old last four lines used to read:
underneath a blushing April moon.
Proud as a daisy of my loveliness (removed)
I fix my eyes on open Texas sky;
everything is right in Waco, too.

Last edited by Katie Hoerth; 03-23-2017 at 09:51 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-20-2017, 08:42 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Hello, Katie, I enjoyed this ode to Pippa and the vernal equinox.

I don’t know about the simile in line 1 (“as stone”)—1.) we have just been told the statue is copper and 2.) it’s a cliché. Better to just drop it somehow. Something like:

Here in Waco, I stand still, stand still

The plural of “passerby” is “passersby”

In “I praise the purple martin keeping tune,” “keeping tune” does not sound idiomatic; also it’s not quite strong enough—is the martin doing more than merely not singing out of tune?

“Boob” is one of my favorite words in the English language.

I like “their love idolatry”.

Best,
Aaron
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Old 03-20-2017, 11:28 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Hi Katie,

This made me smile, and even more so when I googled the statue and saw Pippa in all her wide eyed innocence. I like how you incorporate some of Browning's imagery in the poem and the play on 'God's in his heaven / all's right with the world' at the end. I hope 'smiling' was the response you were going for! I found the juxtaposition of the idiot frat-boys with the statue's delighted reaction to their attentions delightfully...camp I suppose? Though more serious readings I'm sure are possible.

Maybe cut the first line altogether and begin:

Among the roses and the hummingbirds,
spring reigns short. The droughts reign long and humus

I enjoyed this.
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:47 PM
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Richard Meyer Richard Meyer is offline
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Katie:

I agree with a few of the suggestions already offered. You may consider Mark’s advice to cut the first line, or go with Aaron’s to replace the still as stone cliché. Also, I agree with Aaron about the purple martin keeping tune. Another direction to go here would be to substitute another specific bird name for keeping tune, for example:
I praise the purple martin and the wren
My major concern is what I see as a rather jarring disconnect between the two stanzas regarding tone, attitude, and point of view. I do get that you’re going for a light touch and humor in the poem; however, the things Pippa praises in S1 do not seem to be presented tongue-in-cheek or in a wryly mocking way. I’m not getting a sense of anything anti-Romantic or comically subversive in the nature imagery.

Apparently, S2 is meant to provide the sudden shift when the bronze Pippa says her greatest blessing is eternally perky boobs. While this unexpected turn may work for other readers, it doesn’t click for me. I get her joy in the fixed and lasting loveliness of her form, including her breasts. Just to be clear, I’m not objecting to the boobs being emphasized. And I also get the frat boys coming by at night to cup and rub her boobs. That’s a striking detail and adds the best anti-Romantic view in the poem; however, when the details as you’ve presented them in S2 are taken as a whole, it seems that Pippa’s greatest joy is being groped by rude college boys. For this reason, the poem falls flat for me, even though the boobs remain perky.

Richard
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:35 PM
Tom Quigley Tom Quigley is offline
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Hi Katie--

I enjoyed S1, but would do away with the repetitions of "reign" in L3, which doesn't add much and seems distracting. I haven't read Browning's original poem--it's open in a new tab right now--but I wonder if Pippa's expressed attitudes towards her boobs and their power over frat boys is representative of the original. If so, well, great. But if no, I'd do away with it, as I find it inherently distasteful.Her attitude, that is. Not boobs.

If there is intended sarcasm, I'm missing it.

Last edited by Tom Quigley; 03-20-2017 at 07:55 PM. Reason: Thoughts re sarcasm
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Old 03-20-2017, 07:55 PM
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Katie Hoerth Katie Hoerth is offline
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Hi All!
Thanks for taking a look at this quirky poem. I've been trying to get it to work for some time now, and my main concern with it was just as Richard had suggested -- the disconnect in tone.
The original poem I'd written was too dark/cynical, so I tried lightening it up with this version. I'm not sure it works in its current state, so this helps me immensely in that it pushes me to keep working, to keep trying to figure out what a contemporary Pippa wants to/needs to say. The frat boys actually do polish her boobs as a rite of initiation (they look really shiny compared to the rest of the statue), which is silly and ridiculous, but also if I'm giving her a voice, then it takes a darker turn. I need to deal with that, somehow.
I'll tinker with it a bit based off of some of the excellent suggestions, but my inkling is that this probably needs a more major overhaul.
k.

Last edited by Katie Hoerth; 03-20-2017 at 08:06 PM.
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Old 03-20-2017, 08:18 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Hi Katie, the poem does seem to be trying hard to put on a sunny smile. The original darker version sounds good. As I'm sure you know, sometimes we have to revise our reading of the poem instead of the poem itself. When I'm stuck, I always go back to the original. In any case, it's good to read some Hoerth lines again.
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Old 03-20-2017, 10:35 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Katie, I think this poem has the same problem that one by Tom Quigley did a few months ago, in a poem from the perspective of a (possessed?) statue of Jesus in a religious festival. It is almost impossible to separate the personality of the statue relishing the public attention it receives from the personality of the person depicted by the statue.

For me to be able to buy into the poem's premise, I'm going to have to see less overlap between the Pippa the statue and Pippa the beloved, innocent character. She's going to have to despise the shitty birds, loathe the frumpy dress she's forced to wear, and feel prouder that the frat boys are able to appreciate her physical attractions in spite of her inability to show cleavage. She needs to be more of an anti-Pippa right from L1, to avoid any suggestion that she's the naïve Pippa that she's supposed to represent.

In short, I have a feeling I'd prefer the darker, more cynical first draft you mentioned.

(The poem probably won't be my sort of thing even then, but hey, not every poem needs to be my sort of thing to work well.)
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Old 03-21-2017, 06:10 AM
conny conny is offline
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some lovely lines and images.

tho..

i actually wonder if the POV would benefit from a change of
tense. L.6 is the hottest line, no question. and i reckon L.6 would
be the best L.1; it has energy, and a great balance, and a knowing
wistfulness that i assume the statue has, one that i'm sure Browning
would recognise.
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:49 AM
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Katie Hoerth Katie Hoerth is offline
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Oh this has been so helpful. Now I remember why I love The Sphere so much.

Thank you everyone who's taken the time to look at my poem. This has given me some new perspectives and ideas to consider. I was really stuck with this poem before posting, sick of it even, but now I feel like I can see it with fresh eyes and new ideas.

As you can see, I've rewritten the poem, incorporating Julie's suggestion of divorcing my Pippa from Browning's Pippa. I figure a few centuries of springs and sweetness are enough to callous anyone, even innocent Pippa. Plus, now she's a Texan. And us Texas women? Well.

I think the poem makes more sense now and maybe her voice is more believable. I had to kill a few darlings (clavicles is one of my favorite words and I liked the silly idea of snails on thrones of thorns). I'm still on the fence as to whether or not the tone works, but I think version 3 is a step in the right direction, and I am very grateful.

Now, to respond properly to everyone:

Aaron: Thank you so much for your advice. As you can see, I've taken much of it, including nixing the cliche in the first line (what was I thinking opening a poem with a cliche???). Your suggestions were all spot on. And boobs is one of my favorite words, too!

Mark Yes, indeed, smiling. I didn't WANT this poem to get too dark, though the tone's been difficult to juggle. And isn't that statue something? She's really quite striking. The frat boys actually do polish her boobs. One of my mentors retired from teaching at Baylor and shared the silly story with me, and I knew eventually I'd have to work it into a poem somehow. This one's been a tangly one to write, and rightfully so perhaps. As you'd suggested, I've revised the first lines (and much more, too). Thank you!

Richard: I'm very grateful for your tough crit. You hit my insecurity on the head with the original version. The tone has been difficult to manage in this poem but hopefully I'm getting closer to something that works. I'm not entirely convinced yet, but I think it's worth continuing to try. Maybe Pippa is now more Anti-Romantic, as you had suggested. She's tired of being sweet, but she's still stuck with that expression of sweetness. That's the juxtaposition I'm working with now. Anyway, thank you so much! I really appreciate your comments.

Tom: Thanks for stopping in! No, the boobs bit is all me, with a little help from a friend who used to teach at Baylor and shared the story of the frat boys. Browning probably would cringe with this new Pippa. His was saccharine and beloved. Still mulling everything over.

Mary: Yeah, I can't just paint a sunny smile on Pippa's face and call it a day. Although, that "sunniness" seems imposed on the statue, too. So this is an idea I'm playing with. Lots to think about! Your suggestion to return to my earlier draft was golden. I've been playing with it this morning, hoping to maybe come to some sort of a tone, a balance of light and dark that works. So tough to do! Thanks, Mary! As always, your instincts are spot on.

Julie: Thank you so much, truly! I hope the new version 3 works better. I tried incorporating the idea of making Pippa sound sick of her sweetness and everything she's made to represent. Maybe that makes the shift more subtle, more believable. I'm still tinkering.

conny: What a marvelous idea! I've used my original line 6 as the opening line, and you're right, it makes quite a difference. I think it prepares the reader better for what's to come in the poem. Thank you so much for this invaluable suggestion.

You all are the best! Thanks so much for everything.
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