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  #11  
Unread 11-08-2019, 06:21 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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James, thanks for returning. I do have a long white beard but am probably crazier than wise. Iím a little confused about what you said about contractions. There are too many ďdonítĒs in the first two sentences. I didnít intentionally avoid contractions. The impression you come away with is interesting and I will consider it along with suggestion about the ending. Thanks again.
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  #12  
Unread 11-08-2019, 08:50 PM
Ron Greening Ron Greening is offline
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Hi John,
I approached this block of dense, visually un-structured poetry with the expectation of a slog to work at appreciating because, in the fashion of cod liver oil, I feel it may be good for me. This was no slog. It is a playful, comfortable series of delights, and about as useful a dissertation on personal religious inquiry as any Iíve read. The turns seem perfectly timed and the absurdity keeps its footing. Iíll mention my admiration for this admiration of a cat because no one previous has done so. Perhaps palooka is half a step too much but, maybe not.

Thanks for the treat.
Ron
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  #13  
Unread 11-08-2019, 09:49 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Fair enough, John. I should have been more precise. It's been said a salamander's... etc. In other words, the topic/situation seems occasional and meandering, in a very good way, but the approach, perhaps voice, seems all too aware of the poem's potential profundity. So, while I like how the poem progresses, I'm not sure I like how the speaker takes me through it. You really have a long beard? Never did that-- the upkeep seems too much of a pain.
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  #14  
Unread 11-09-2019, 01:44 AM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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I think this is on the right track. The left track leads to Birmingham, and we don't want to go there. The right track is the track of the cat, who is at the heart of the matter here and just doesn't care. I have not learned much about salamanders from this text or elsewhere, but that doesn't mean I won't look them up when I get around to it. My brother has six trunks of pancakes.
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  #15  
Unread 11-09-2019, 10:54 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Ron, thanks for being willing to take the time to read a prose poem. I'm aware that the form of a prose poem, or prose piece if you prefer, is its first challenge. You snagged the intended theme neatly and the palooka is my least favorite part. It may just be too cute.

James, profundity is what I wanted to avoid. It isn't about questions answered, after all, but questions asked. I will have to think about any mock profundity. Yes, I have a long beard. My family finally forced me to have my hair cut. I looked like the photo of Walt Whitman as an old man. I still have the beard but my hair is in a page boy. Thank god for ponytails.

Sam, thanks for reading. I'm not sure what you're saying but that's cool. I'm just glad you read.

Thanks again.
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  #16  
Unread 11-10-2019, 08:47 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
It is as much me wrestling with my own ambivalence about what is and is not a prose poem as it is any criticism of this being unable to focus. I run hot and cold with the form. The structural and characteristic ambiguity inherent in prose poetry most times leaves me wanting more poetic language and less prose -- some kind of formula that produces prosody; something with the trifecta of imagery,rhythm and sonics driving it.
I have read passages from novels, short stories, essays, even journalism pieces that are superb prose poetry. One solid block of imagery, rhythm, sonics without the scaffolding of line breaks. It is possible to see, in my eyes, that many novels are a collection of exquisite prose poetry strung together.

I have no doubt you labored over the phrasing to get it to say what you wanted it to say. I just donít hear the poetry as strongly as I might like. There is a raw vulnerability to what you are doing in this; meditating upon oneís thoughts, immersing oneself in images, and essentially taking dictation -- though I donít know that it would come through as such without your explanations here in a workshop forum (I love the image of a poet taking dictation from him/herself. The muse does not visit you as much as it resides in you).

Iíve also come to read this differently based on the othersí comments. The cat is where itís at, I think. And religion, too. The piano, though it contains one of the best lines in the piece, feels too far-flung from the rest to be connected. The salamander baffles me. I want to attach some high symbolism to it. Perhaps a different title, since the salamander is introduced in the first line, would help the piece?
Anyway, thanks.
x
x
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  #17  
Unread 11-10-2019, 09:58 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Jim, some people simply don't like prose poems. I understand that. I worked in educational publishing for years trying to develop books students would read. I know that people shy away from blocks of text generally. It seems to be instinctual. Then there is the argument that it's prose, not poetry. To be honest, I can't concern myself with those discussions. It felt as though it should be done in a block so I did it with the full understanding that some readers, especially readers here, would have trouble seeing beyond the form. That's cool.

I do have to push back a bit on the "essentially taking dictation" notion. That is not how I approach this or my other work. I'm writing it as self-consciously as anyone else who writes. I have started trying to relax and listen to what I want to write--to not choke myself with intensity. But that doesn't mean I'm waiting for dictation. It means I'm trying to stop letting my anxiety force me into writing how I think others may think I should write.

I do thank you for returning and engaging in my poem again. I appreciate the fullness of your explanation of what you find difficult to appreciate. It's generous of you to share it.

Best
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