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Old 09-15-2018, 03:04 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,696

Revision posted.

Mary, I’ve gone (again) with your instincts -- though in my inimitable way I’ve added some twists to your suggestions (the new title, the elaboration in the second stanza -- it still reads in approximately 20 seconds, though). I toy with it because I’m responding to the inspiration of (all) the crits. That’s the main thing for me. To learn how to edit/revise in a more intelligent, less spontaneous way. Your suggestions continually help me enormously in that regard. More than I can say. In this case I think you've effectively suggested a way to turn this away from the dark and more towards the absurd, playful exercise of imagining one’s life coming to an end as the soup warms in the microwave.
It’s something of an exercise in imagination. The exercise being: can I imagine I am experiencing the last 20 seconds of my life synched with the warming up of soup in a microwave oven and then express that experience in a poem? Absurd. I think your suggested tweaks bend it towards that a bit better.

James: My rule of thumb is when I think a poem is ready to go and I want to share it, I still let it sit for at least a few more days. (With the poem I just posted, probably I should have waited a week. Or longer. Seriously.) It takes time to kinda digest what you've done. And to actually learn from the poem itself. What it wants.

James, It is ironic that you suggest I put this in the slow cooker. In my culinary experience it is also true that things always turn out better when slow-cooked vs. zapping in the microwave -- except popcorn and soup : )

I do try to hold the poem until it feels ready. But at this point in my development as a writer I can’t always see where it needs work until I’m shown -- Or at least I am too impatient, too undisciplined, too emotional to focus long enough to see it. The Sphere is good for that (thank you all). I recently had surgery and had to undergo physical therapy to strengthen muscles. It was a gradual, incremental process that required diligence and patience. The same dynamic is taking place here with my writing. But in this case it’s to strengthen acuity of thought and then tying it to poetic expression.

Curtis: I'm agreeing with others. It's half-baked.

Ok then, maybe 40 seconds would be better? Ha!
It did come out half-baked. I gave little thought to how it was coming out and instead perseverated on two things: The brevity of 20 seconds (as I say to Ann below, 20 seconds is much shorter than 30 seconds) and the odd exercise of consciously being aware that one’s last 20 seconds could be experienced in a kind of “countdown” to the bitter end of life.
But the poem has now moved in another direction thanks to the crits. Hopefully the revision is closer to being properly baked : )

David, The “dress rehearsal” was the poem’s inference to the hypothetical “what would it feel like to have just 20 seconds left to live?” You could simply set a timer for 20 seconds (in this case a microwave timer set to warm soup) and try to imagine them to be your last 20 seconds on earth. That's the dress rehearsal. It’s an exercise in imagination with a decidedly macabre bent. At Mary’s suggestion I’ve changed the title so as to further bend this away from being overly dark. I just want a shade of gray to it : ) I want it to be a bit more than a 20-second exercise in the art of microwave cooking.

I hope it is beginning to balance a bit better with the changes.

Ann: “I have read and re-read your first version and it still comes across as a message from Dignitas. How on earth was I supposed to get a whiff of soup?”

Ann, There was nary a whiff of soup in the original. But there was no intention to make this about the taking of one’s life and instead a poorly executed attempt at spotlighting the arbitrary, unattractive fact that everyone’s life will eventually come down to the last 20 seconds. I wanted the reader to try to imagine that. It may help to know that the poem itself takes approximately 20 seconds to read from start to finish. So if you wanted to you could say to yourself, “When I start to read this poem, there 20 seconds left of my life. When I read the last word my life will end.” It’s a very short period of time. Much shorter than, say, 30 seconds : )

I misfired big time with the original and gave the reader no chance of knowing this was an exercise in imagination with the goal being to imagine one’s life ending -- in the next 20 seconds. And there was no mention of soup.

The soup clip is wonderfully absurd. I would like this to be absurd, too. The clip feels familiar -- where is it from?
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Old 09-15-2018, 04:20 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,121

Jim, it seems that you're often critted on certain parts of your poems, or the whole poem, then you delete parts that seem not to "fit." But to me, that results in a workchopped poem. I like the dress rehearsal - it's part of what makes the poem expand.
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Old 09-15-2018, 04:56 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,696

Mary: "...But to me, that results in a workchopped poem. I like the dress rehearsal - it's part of what makes the poem expand."

Yup, yup and yup. That's the nose on my face I can't see. But will. Thanks.

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Old 09-20-2018, 10:12 PM
Eileen Cleary's Avatar
Eileen Cleary Eileen Cleary is offline
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 695
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Reading version 3.

The first stanza might benefit from concision.

This poem’s abstractions and lack of concrete imagery give me as a reader little to hold onto (excluding the soup and the twenty seconds on the timer.) The language and ideas in the poem feel well-trodden and clichéd.

I think trigger for the poem hasn't been fully explored.
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