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Unread 01-31-2021, 10:15 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: York
Posts: 113

Hi Matt

I do like the stagnant sea and the sewage outfall.

L1 I wonder whether “surf” is the right first word. It feels a little too fresh and active to fit in with the cesspool metaphor. Though it fits with the mind stream (surfing ideas) and it is alliterative. Would something like “paddle” give a more perfunctory flavour?

Similarly, “shabby” in the last line. It is a fine word, combining images of things past their best, and ignoble motives. But it doesn’t continue the sea metaphor. Could you find a word that is more oilslicky, greasy maybe?

I think the poem is about the narrator’s scary realisation that things are hopeless. So I think it would confuse things to show light at the end of the tunnel.
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Unread 01-31-2021, 02:44 PM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 336

Should I add hope to the poem? I'm resistant to the idea: I'm writing about despair -- the absence of hope. It's not obvious to me how to add in hope and still be writing about despair. I don't think the poem works if the N has some hope.

Maybe there's a way to add hope to the poem so that the reader sees it and still show the narrator not having any? That seems challenging though; he'd have to be narrating it without realising what it was. For example, if I add in something like phosphoresce, as Sarah suggests, the N will have to have a reason for mentioning it without realising what that it signifies a glimmering of light in the darkness.

Or maybe there's a way to show that it will pass, somehow? Perhaps showing that it's happened before would do that? A sort of "here I am again" vibe?
Hi Matt,

I think it's a question of how far you want the poem to reach its potential. It's a good poem as it stands. But it isn't a 'twist your heart into tiny pieces and transport you to another world' poem. In my reading, it's finished itself before it's ready, lost some possibility or depth (for those of you who possibly think I'm being really mean to Matt, I promise I'm not - this is a conversation we've had before & he knows to ignore me when necessary!)

I think despair might be more powerful if there is a counter-balance. Like negative space. How can we have despair if we have never glimpsed hope? If there is some magic that's been lost then the despair becomes more powerful, maybe?

The 'it will pass' could work too. It makes me wonder if there's something N does/enacts when floating to ensure they stay afloat, and if that could be brought in there somehow? Like stimming (or something more directly swimming related!)

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Unread 02-02-2021, 02:09 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 5,319

Along with the surface meaning of depression in this poem, I keep seeing it as also about the search for poetic inspiration and the doldrums when it’s no where to be found.

The N’s water at the beginning has no depth, so his fantasy goes looking for it, only to find the fantasy water full of disgusting detritus. It’s a perfectly fine topic for a poem, but for me this draft is not very satisfying because from line 4 on it is too easy to see where the poem is going. The images feel predictable, the imagination passive, so they don’t evoke the experience of depression or lack of inspiration anew. The frustrated search for soulfulness or signs of new life is well known to anyone, poet or not, but my feeling is that any poem needs to have some element of surprise to catch a reader’s fancy. Not “hope” in this one, so much as surprise or discovery.

Obviously I mean this reader’s fancy, but I thought I’d throw in my take fwiw.
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