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  #11  
Unread 05-26-2019, 03:42 PM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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I have to admit that Susan explained it to me before I got it. But she says she worked on it a bit herself. Once one gets it, it's very good. And gettable, so I would suggest making it a more parsable first read.

A couple of things.

But now, behind the army jeep,
her sense of safety slipped away


I feel it should slip into present tense after "now." Her sense of safety "slips" away. That would energize a shift in perspective in the poem. Also I don't quite get "the river farms" and "the steep ones." Farms on the river and farms up hill from the river?

The end of the poem is quite strong because it suggests an end to come, if not this time, ultimately.

Rick


"Homefront", by the way, might be a better title. The one you have tries too hard to explain the poem, and if you read it before the poem, which you would, it's just kind of clumsy and confusing, with too much information that doesn't fully register.

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 05-26-2019 at 03:53 PM.
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  #12  
Unread 05-26-2019, 06:46 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, Friends. I'll reply again soon to address each individual critique. For now, let's call title 2.0 a mistake. I've tried another title up-top, which is perhaps richer than the first but not as manipulative as the second.
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  #13  
Unread 05-27-2019, 01:18 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, Ralph. That title is gone.

Thanks, Mark. It's really good to have your counterpoint here, since you read this the way I was hoping folks would. Overtelly title gone. I'll think about your suggestion of "behind" as a rhyme, which would get rid of a "knew" as Ashley wanted as well... I do think a jeep is a car. Does that not work in the UK? Interesting that you mention country song. I was going for that feeling of a refrain with Townes Van Zandt's "Tecumseh Valley" in there somewhere...

Thanks for coming back, Ashley. That title's gone now. It's interesting that you've mentioned the speaker in both your responses here. He is just a dispassionate third-person narrator. I could explore the main character's combination of relief and sadness (almost entirely the former, which leads to a third element: guilt) in an additional stanza, I suppose--but for now keeping it stark and plain makes better sense to me.

Thanks, Rick. I'm trying another new title. I'll work on making the narrative a little easier to get without giving too much. Also, I'll consider your suggestion of a shift to present tense. You're getting the farms right.

Last edited by Simon Hunt; 05-28-2019 at 07:05 PM.
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  #14  
Unread 05-27-2019, 03:40 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I generally like this, Simon, though I too was confused, am confused about this method of notification, and don't much like "hard end." Why not end the poem with something more personal about the truck, in line with the smell of him, the luck? Something dangling from the rearview? Is that too typical? I agree with others about previous titles, and this is better. I'd be tempted to just go with "In the Valley."

JB
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  #15  
Unread 05-27-2019, 05:13 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Simon,

I like this. I did have to read it a couple of times to get, but when I did, it worked well for me overall.

I agree with others about the long last lines, though. I don't think they're quite working. Maybe a foot shorter? Or even a foot longer and then broken in two: a line of tet and a line of tet, a ballad-like feel?

When I first read S1 I thought maybe she was in the car with him: "each time they passed a driveway". It became clear when I got to S3, but maybe, "each time he passed" would be better? After all it's when he passes the driveway, not when she (following) passes the driveway that adds to her fear.

S1L4, I reckon there might be something better than "officially". Less abstract maybe? Is there something he'd carry or wear -- a concrete detail you could use instead? I think rhythmically it bugs me a little -- being four syllables, it speeds things up. Also, 'officially' can read as "that's the cover the story", rather than "on official business".

I agree Rick with that changing "slipped" to "slips" would add a sense of immediacy and agree tense-wise with the "now".

Here:

with river farms and then the steep
ones and the slowly dying day.

I get that the river farms are at the bottom of the valley and hence on flat land, and the "steep ones" are on the sides of the valley, but I find that enjambment pretty awkward. Or maybe you want to strongly emphasise "steep" and I'm not seeing why?

The scansion of the last line seemed a little metrically ambiguous, as to whether it's headless heptameter: "JUST past WHERE the JEEP ..." or hexameter: "(JUST) PAST where the JEEP

To answer the question you asked Mark, yes, I think we'd generally distinguish a military jeep from a car.

best,

Matt
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  #16  
Unread 05-27-2019, 05:59 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Matt found a surprisingly pivotal moment-- I was also a little confused about the steep after the river. Something like houses steep/ with the slowly dying day (not considering meter, of course). I essentially see this as a love poem, and everything else will come with it. As is, too full of purpose, not enough of the moment.
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  #17  
Unread 05-28-2019, 12:51 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, James and Matt. I am suddenly swamped at work, so no time for revising... But I'll return to this in about two days, with your suggestions in my mind.
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  #18  
Unread 05-28-2019, 04:52 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Actually, revision posted...
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  #19  
Unread 05-28-2019, 07:15 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Simon

I could have sworn I posted a reply to this a couple of hours back, I typed one anyway. Maybe the site was glitching when I hit 'submit'.

So: while it may help to make it clearer where the N is in relation to the man's car, I think the the new S1 gives away too much too soon by making it very clear what this man does. The original S1 was tantalising and that drew me in.

Also, "official word of who was dead for families" strikes me as rather convoluted/oddly ordered.

Given a choice between the two, I strongly prefer the original S1 (albiet keeping the change from "they" to "he").

best,

Matt
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  #20  
Unread 05-29-2019, 11:19 AM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Thanks, Matt. I'll think about what you're saying. I've tried to move in the direction of narrative clarity, as per several readers who found this too puzzling. Perhaps I can find a middle-ground...
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