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Old 06-03-2018, 02:05 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,091

Hi Jim, again, the revisions in rev. 3 are not good. What else can I say? I think I've said several times that the original is the best version. I never meant to suggest that you should just be careful with revising this poem. I've actually seriously been saying that you got it right the first time. Why is L1 suddenly past tense? The jump from present to past tense was so interesting. This line "Sometimes, too, we'd hide, then sprint and jump" is busy, and stops the flow in its tracks, as it were. How can you think this is an improvement to the poem? The point is to look at the poem and let it teach you what it wants, not what you decide it should have. This is all you need to make it live:

wed walk the rust-red tracks along the canal
and put pennies to flatten on the rails
when we heard the Raritan freight train coming.
Sometimes wed run alongside and jump
and ride the cars like cowboys
holding on with one hand
fearing what would happen
if word ever got home.

This is fun and lively:

like a pack of goofy boy soldiers

This isn't fresh:

We were a pack of ragtag soldiers

This is an interesting line:

laughing and splashing, thinking

This is dull:

laughing and splashing and thinking

This flows:

Heading home we would make a solid plan

This is wordy:

On the way home we would make a solid plan

You say: "My final revision is the original version."

I say: Not if you're talking about revision 3. Have I misunderstood?

There's more to "voice" than just tone. The voice is perhaps what makes a poem cohere, what makes every single word, line, punctuation mark work as a whole. You seem to have taken a knife and slashed at words and lines as if the poem isn't a living, breathing body on the operating table of this workshop. I apologize if I've misunderstood which version you consider finished.
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Old 06-03-2018, 02:26 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 2,703

Hi Jim,

So, in terms of the grand debate here, I don't really know where I stand. I guess there's an extent to which it's an "endless childhood days" kind of poem, where the expected childhood things happen. On the other hand, I enjoyed reading it. And either way, I'd agree with Mary that you seem to have found your voice here. The tone of it seems just right for the subject matter.

Onto specifics.

It was a boyhood thing.
We would waste time

These two lines take a bit of a run up and state what becomes clear very quickly. I wonder if you need them. You could go straight in with:

On hot summer days,
we'd sit on logs and launch

and start directly with an image.

Now the linebreak on "launching" has been bugging me a little. Is it so that "greenies" comes as a surprise when we hit the next line? Given the title, I'd consider breaking on greenies, to emphasise it rather than hide it:

sitting on logs and launching greenies
from the backs of our throats

When shadows disintigrated and the heat

I wonder about "disintigrated", not least for the spelling(!) but also, for me 'disintegrated' doesn't quite sound right for a child (or the reminiscing of childhood), kind of slightly out of voice: I don't know, too long and latinate, or something.

And then again. And again. And again.

Personally, I'd be inclined to lose this line. I think the repetition is implied. You don't go swing a rope into a river once and then go home. You do it again and again. Anyway, that's what I'm already imagining before I get to this line. So I feel like it spells out the obvious.

I wonder about the final stanza. It seems a bit like an attempt to wrap things up. We get to see the boys on the way home, talking about doing it again. And though I like the imagery of the magnifying glass and the tiny villages of sticks and leaves and "just like they did at the dawn of time" plays well with it's double meaning prehistoric and childhood, I dunno, it's maybe a bit too clever? Trying to hard?

You could almost close with the penultimate stanza. We leave the boys mid-play: laughing and splashing. And the "never had it so easy" line works plays two ways, since this kind of boyhood play is them never having it so easy. That ease is (usually) lost in adulthood, work, responsibility. It's a thought anyway.


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Old 06-03-2018, 03:33 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,668

Mary, I had intended to make version #3 return to the original in every instance except the "we'd hide" line (though I've now reverted back to the original language of that line, too). It should have been a simple cut and paste but I got tangled up in the whole process and did a lousy job of proof reading before posting.
Just to be clear, I am entirely sold on your reasons for sticking with the original. I see exactly your points, am rejuvenated when I read your clear explanation for making them, and think the poem is without a doubt strongest in it's original version. I keep flubbing the revisions as I struggle to get back to the original. I'm there now, back in my safe harbor. Posted. Thank you so much.
And to be morer clearer - I don't care to make it anything more than it is -- a voice I know to be my own. Thanks for recognizing that it was exactly that and for defending it. It will grow. It will get stronger. Moving on.

To anyone following this circuitous excursion of mine (and Mary's patient guidance therein) into the minefield of revision, I know the poem is a relatively universal conceit about childhood and we all have been there, done that... But I'm less interested at this point in the technicalities of crafting this into what some might think a better poem than it is and more interested in preserving it as is.It is something of an artifact (tiny) for me to examine from time to time. The lesson learned is that the expression/voice is my own and I'm mighty happy to have found it. All comments have been appreciated.Over the past few days I've taken them and experimented with them; but none of them feel as good as the original artifact.

Matt, your comments are, as always, solid advice. However, given that I've come full circle with it and it is now back to it's original for the reasons I've mentioned, I don't see the value in meddling with it because it would (for me alone) do it a disservice. It is what it is. My boy. Except, of course for the misspelling. : )

Finally, to be mostest clearest, by voice I only mean the joining of my thoughts and imagination and the words that express them both in a way that's my own.

This is why I love the Sphere.

Sink down.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 06-04-2018 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 06-03-2018, 08:51 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,496

I( am so glad that you reverted to the original Jim.
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