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Old 12-16-2001, 05:34 PM
Alan Sullivan Alan Sullivan is offline
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Hello, Greg, and welcome to the Sphere. While you're here, I hope you'll putter around the other boards some. There's a helluva Dickinson discussion underway in Musing on Mastery. And we're doing our usual winnows of the incompetent from the promising over on the metrical boards.

I have a couple of linked questions. There have to be two, because you are the guy obsessed with twos. From the title poem of your first book (The Silent Partner) through the poem that titles this thread, to the amazing Double Exposures, you have made twoness your singular subject. How did twos become so prominent in your work?

My second question, possibly related, is pedagogical. What do you tell your most promising students about poetic voice? You have a distinctive one, partly because of your personal themes (doubling in particular), partly because of formal choices and a taste for word-play. Voice is rarely discussed on our workshop boards, where we generally stick to nuts, bolts, and trochees.

A.S.
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Old 12-18-2001, 11:18 AM
Greg Williamson Greg Williamson is offline
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Hi Alan,

First, let me thank you again for your review. I really do appreciate your generous reading.

Didn't Robert Frost say something like, "Poetry is the one legitimate way of saying one thing and meaning another"? (Whatever he meant by that.) Puns, ambiguity, equivocation, irony, metaphor, conceit, allegory, "as if"s of all kinds, why, the whole linguistic code (because it *is* a code), they all stand around on their street corners, hats down, smoking cigarettes, and talking out of both sides of their mouths. I think they're following me.

Maybe some people are born with a mature, distinctive poetic voice, but most have to grow into it more gradually. But I see it every semester, and it's a thrill to hear writers becoming more skilled and confident and versatile with sounding like themselves.

I sometimes do a course in which we read a different poet each week and we try to identify the sound, style, technique, subjects, attitudes, etc. of each. Then everyone has to write an imitation. NOT parody or satire or response. But a genuine counterfeit. I think this is very useful. (How many people learn guitar never by playing anyone else's songs?) Two years ago this motorcycle-riding sophomore from Philadelphia wrote on his very impressive knockoff of Philip Larkin, "Philip Larkin is really cool. I'd like to sound like him more often."

Cheers,

Greg
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Old 12-18-2001, 12:18 PM
Alan Sullivan Alan Sullivan is offline
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Greg, that sounds like a rip-snorting course. Could you perhaps elaborate for us why specifically you press the students for imitation rather than parody or response. I think I understand where you're coming from, but your enumerated aspects of voice could be used to any of these purposes.

Alan
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Old 12-18-2001, 01:43 PM
Greg Williamson Greg Williamson is offline
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Sure, Alan. In this formulation of the course, where a sort of stylistic mimicry is the goal, responses don't fit because they tend to be more thematic, etc. Parody and satire could work, but in practice style tends not to be taken as seriously in these.

Greg
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Old 12-18-2001, 11:08 PM
jasonhuff jasonhuff is offline
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greg,

do you have any examples of imitation that you could show us. i've seen parodies of poems, but i don't know if i've seen imitations. or if i have i didn't know what they were. sounds like a fascinating exercise (maybe one that could help me in my own work on understanding meter). but i'm not exactly sure how you would go about it without making a parody. if you could post one, or point me to imitations done elsewhere, i'd like to see them. seems like an interesting type of poem.

jason
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Old 12-20-2001, 07:34 AM
Greg Williamson Greg Williamson is offline
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Jason,

Although I may have a few poems from classes of bygone years, I think I shouldn't post anything without its author's permission. But the imitation I hope to get is really just a "regular" poem, only that it's trying to sound like someone else.

Greg
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Old 12-20-2001, 06:04 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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Greg, I dimly recall your telling me that you had your students write imitations of one Tim Murphy. That would be a hoot to read! Or perhaps you could post your own.
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Old 12-21-2001, 11:34 AM
Greg Williamson Greg Williamson is offline
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Tim,

I thought I had an example or two here, but I've combed the house and can't find them. If I still have them they must be in Baltimore. Sorry. As I recall there were some good ones.

Greg
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