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  #1  
Unread 07-21-2020, 08:40 AM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Default Erasure

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Erasure


I used to mark up books with felt-tipped pens,
sometimes in different colors—the emphasis
designed to capture words, lines, specimens
with which to reconstruct the edifice
I’d entered once, on turning that first page.
But my naively over-zealous memory,
matured to natural sieve from conscious cage,
repents now of a crime so rudimentary.

My prayer? —the whoosh of a determined whisper,
the silenced thunder of a thought erased.
At times it leaves a wound, the paper blistered.
At times it overwhelms with emptied space.
I know now how poems vanish, verse by verse.
I’m free to write. My pencil’s been reversed.
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  #2  
Unread 07-21-2020, 08:50 AM
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Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
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Wonderful. But the title, perhaps, is too on-the-nub.

I never write in books and have never owned a notebook: well, a notebook with anything written in it. I own many blank ones.

Cally once called a notebook a forgetory.
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  #3  
Unread 07-21-2020, 09:38 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Hello again,
I like this overall, and it has a nice (if not that original) message to it. If you want, you might consider these points:

1) "naively over-zealous memory", this phrase seems too much like it was written to fit the metrical constraints. You may well be able to argue that each word serves its purpose, but put together the line is too much, too close. I reckon "over-zealous memory" or "naive memory", but an adverb followed by an adjective and a verb to describe a noun, that's over kill.
2), I have similar problems with the following line. The dropping of a's and the sudden burst of metaphor, jars against the much simpler opening. Consider the difference between "marked up" and "natural sieve from conscious cave".

3) "I no how poems vanish, verse by verse. / I'm free to write. My pencil's been reversed.", These lines run counter to much of the rhythm set up earlier in s2. The blunt full-stops create a jerky rhythm. Commas in the final line might be a solution.

Hope this helps.
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  #4  
Unread 07-22-2020, 10:18 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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Mr. Hill;


There are other sonnets here I could have remarked upon but I'm choosing yours.
You can take that for what it's worth since I must say I have never been successful in my attempts at the form.

One of the few things that, in my opinion, save a sonnet from the risk of sameness to all others is the playfulness between full stops or enjambments of each line. I don't like the rhythm to be consistent throughout the poem or even within a line. Just enough consistency in rhythm to showoff variability or syncopation. Yours shows little strain and never becomes list-like. A sonnet maybe should not be something that someone in a line ahead of you would turn around and speak to you but even with rhyme and meter it should be close. Your octave and sestet each show a customized variable movement.

As an aside;

One of the most heartbreaking books I have on my shelves is a text called "Early Black American Poets" edited by William H. Robinson (1969). It has page after page of indistinguishable sonnets, iambic pentameter, and couplets chained together in an endless masquerade in European white-face. A sameness, no matter what is being spoken of from lack of freedom to love or spring. Thank God, at the very end, enter the dialect poets.

Thanks,
Bill

Last edited by Bill Dyes; 07-23-2020 at 06:00 PM.
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  #5  
Unread 07-23-2020, 07:42 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Hi, Nemo. Wanted to stop and say I like this. My memory has "matured to a natural sieve" also. I find the image of the younger you frantically marking up poems in many colors endearing. It evidently helped because what I like most about this one are the end rhymes, particularly the L2/L4 rhymes in both strophes. My main point is I enjoyed reading this sonnet. It doesn't creak and so many of them do.

Best
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  #6  
Unread 07-23-2020, 05:09 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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This really is an extraordinary accomplishment, Nemo.

I've read it many times now, and had to come on, despite having little time right now due to a cluster of birthday celebrations, to say how flawless it is, how moved I am by the turn from the octave to the sestet, the feeling of freedom that is enacted in the very language of the sestet in contrast to the carefully focussed diction and syntax of the octave.

What you've done with such dexterity is show the reader something complex and profound. The poem is an enactment of a truth at once metaphysical and deeply psychological.

I will come back when time allows at the end of this weekend, once things settle here. It's become party central this last week! For now, I want to impress on you the impact the sestet has on me. The images of emptying, of un-grasping, of not trying to net every thought, and finally, the implication of the fecundity of silence and emptiness - the actual flawless poem we are reading - well, all of it makes my lungs feel fuller, like I'm expanding.

It's a great experience, reading this, Nemo!

Cally
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  #7  
Unread 07-25-2020, 05:57 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Hey Nemo. The move North seems to have only made your work sharper and more lovely. Or maybe it is this sieve at work. The sonics are excellent, even for the bar you have always set. And I love this natural sieve vs. the cage. I do struggle content-wise from the turn on, but only I think because I am missing some wisdom experience here or maybe the trapper still lives in my woods. I think of natural sieve-ing as more alchemical or symbiotic. The passing through is about absorption, synthesis, as well as the letting past. Erasure by thunder or this revelry is the hole left behind is foreign to me. Which is about me (my favorite subject) not the work, I suppose. But I just wanted to confess that read. I will keep thinking about it, or rather try to forget it in the right way.

Felt-tipped pens and specimens is brilliant.
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  #8  
Unread 07-25-2020, 07:05 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I just saw Andrew’s post before I was about to post myself that I especially like the sestet in this, Nemo, including the nice switch to pencil by the end of the poem. The octave’s first 5 lines read well, and contrast aptly in tone to the sestet’s rapid shifts. I also like (a lot) “natural sieve from conscious cage.”

Lines 6 and 8 on the other hand strike me as improvable. “naively over-zealous memory,” as Cameron points out, eats up a lot of syllables, possibly redundantly or wastefully (isn’t the former, youthful attitude already implicitly naive?), and I’m not sure “rudimentary” is the best word. More than “basic,” which I think is the sense you mean there, rudimentary implies that the “crime” is imperfectly developed. Actuallly, “crime” is another word choice I’m not crazy about here, since it sounds judgmental toward the former self and the erasure had to be set up by making marks: no marks no erasure. Your poem is less about developing or maturing memory than of leaving it behind altogether, to be erased.

So imo revision might improve the octave by playing with those lines.

Andrew
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  #9  
Unread 07-26-2020, 01:57 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Nemo,

I'm reading that N the learns that there's more in what's unsaid than what's said, and this has helped him learn how to write. There's lots to like here.

In the octet, the young N, on rereading a book, looked to "capture" what he previously found there, but looked at what was written: lines, words, specimens. (It's implied that when the N first reads the book, he leaves it unmarked). Capturing "specimens" suggests a scientific method (I imagine a 19th century botanist) to trying to puzzle out the power of what he's read. In the sestet the older N now looks to what's left out, or taken out: to the absences and erasures. And this has helped him learn how to write.

I don't have any nits in the sestet. It works very well. I like the word-play on "determined" (as well-chosen, as displaying resolution). I find the "wound" and the particularly the "blistering" very effective: the visual image of blistered paper. I love, "I know now how poems vanish, verse by verse", which is my favourite line in the poem.

It did occur to me that with "I'm free to write" you might consider something along the lines of "I've space to write", to pick up on the clearing away/erasure motif. I'm not saying that's better though.

I'd agree with others on the second half of the octet, "naively over-zealous memory" in particular. "over-zealous" tells what is shown in the rest of the poem, we know he's young; we see his mistake without this. I'd say you could find some imagery to replace "naively over-zealous".

More generally, though, I wonder at "memory". Is it his memory that gets it wrong when he's reading? Maybe I'm misreading, but it doesn't seem to be what's happening. I can make sense of this if I see it as referring to his writing: In writing about events he learned to leaves things out. He sieves rather than attempting to capture and cage the past. However, taken as referring to reading -- which is what seems to be suggested by its placement in the poem -- it seems to say: instead of trying to recapture what I first read, I learned to forget parts of it (which would still leave him with a subset of words, lines, specimens). But then, I'm don't see how that fits, and it seems to contradict the rest of the poem. Or maybe I am misreading, and it's the process of forgetting (parts of) other people's poems/books that helps him learn to write?

So it seems to me that the S7-8 say that when writing he now he sieves the details of the past, leaves out details. It seems then the poem switches from reading (L1-5) to writing (L6-8 and the sestet). Which leaves "crime" now referring to how he wrote as a result of how he read, and not how he read -- as it seems like it should be, since its reading that's been described in the first five lines. I suppose L1-4 of the sestet could refer to both: he prays for books/poems that leave things out and/or he prays to write poems in this way.

A final point on the octet, and one that struck me on first reading: "on turning that first page" seems like it could be doing a little more. It seems to redescribe "I'd entered once" without really adding much. A bit like, "the building I entered once, on walking through the door".

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 07-26-2020 at 05:47 AM.
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  #10  
Unread 07-26-2020, 04:48 AM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Hi Nemo

I have come back to this four times trying to work out what it is that turns me out of this one I think it lies in the octet The language is too wordy and to my ear does not sound like the you I know from your work. There seems a disjunction between it and the sestet.

Regards,

Jan
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