Thread: In Vino Veritas
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Unread 07-21-2019, 06:11 PM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
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Location: Portland, OR
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Jim,

To me this feels well-crafted but unadventurous.

The ballad stanzas seem done well. I guess because its power depends so strongly on the characters, it falters by their lack of development.

We have a lot of the common foibles and folly here -- infidelities, peccadilloes of the criminal sort, too much wine. But nothing to make any of these stock characters special and brand new. This actually sounds like a poem from another era, a tad.

I'm afraid the cliches are not refreshed at the ending either. I could be completely wrong -- I don't want to speak with too much certainty. But the skeletons in the closet (or cupboard) and the walls with ears... Those are great fun -- Kay Ryan says something somewhere (Paris Review interview?) about rejuvenating cliches as part of her job. I'm not sure these are made new, although they didn't fall flat when I read this the first and second time. So I don't know.

Overall, I'd say you clearly are adept at the ballad form and have read deeply enough to know how we can poke fun at ourselves. Maybe what this requires -- to me, and I might be wrong -- is deeper family members or some irony (where N is clearly wrong in his perceptions). They're a bit underdeveloped/two-dimensional. I admit it's hard to develop characters in a brief ballad like this, and imagine to do so would require more stanzas; rooms for the family to be dysfunctional in

I do hope this helps! And I'm sorry if I miss the mark in any suggestions or my understanding of your poem.

Cheers,
Jake
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