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  #21  
Unread 11-02-2019, 07:26 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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There seems to be a little sub-genre of literate, southern gothic type 'mysterious character' songs by middle aged to old singer-songwriters that are all weirdly similar ha. I suppose this is like a more urbane dinner-party version of those. Here's Bob, Tom and Nick all groaning away:

https://youtu.be/8JuLKtz_EH8

https://youtu.be/I8FtFgsl4IY

https://youtu.be/H5dt_8xXgqo
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  #22  
Unread 11-02-2019, 08:58 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Hi all,

Thanks for your thoughts.

Jim: thanks for coming back. I could make that change if I made "His conversation pleases everyone" to be it's own sentence. I've thought of it. But I like it coming as a consequence, so I think for now I'll keep it one stanza, though I will consider your point more thoroughly.

James: what do you mean "set off"? Do you think the whole piece should be left justified? Or is it specifically about that final line being indented more?

I didn't like "fitting" but though it a mild improvement over the repetition I had there of "pleasing." "Polished" is much better. Thank you.

Mark: Thanks for your comments.

I think there are two ways you can read this poem, both work, but one is more interesting than the other.

The first, less interesting way, is that the narrator is omniscient and s/he warns the reader of this man--and really all people--who everyone likes. I think there's something true: when everyone likes someone, that person is usually someone worth being wary of.

The second is that this is the unreliable narrator Susan and James spoke about. Susan does well in thinking about the dangers of beautiful, charming people.

I started writing this piece years ago with the first of these, and then came to finally finish it with the second, in mind. In neither is the character "sinister," but we don't only fear the evil.

As for "prehistory"-->while cavemen are part of it, it means anything pre-writing, so I merely mean someone who would be naturally toned in two possible different ways: tanned or almost preternaturally physically fit (though not muscle-y).

I've moved from "fitting" to "polished." Does that mitigate your concern. I've met people with unpassably "cool" real names. Ron Storms. Jake Bullet. Etc.

High cheeks (or cheekbones, if you will), are a sign of classical beauty, so I think it works without being a mere metrical fix, particularly paired with the "tone" next.

On the list, as it is, I'm committed to it. I think it gives a broad, not overlapping list of things people talk about, and most cannot usually comfortably talk about all of them.

Funny that I've never heard any of the songs. Thanks for them, and the feedback.

Susan: Thank you for coming back. I think I may have read the same article.
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  #23  
Unread 11-02-2019, 10:17 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

I'm still a bit confused by some of your explanations, but it seems to be only me so I'll share my thoughts then get out of your hair, so to speak.

Quote:
I think there are two ways you can read this poem, both work, but one is more interesting than the other.

The first, less interesting way, is that the narrator is omniscient and s/he warns the reader of this man--and really all people--who everyone likes. I think there's something true: when everyone likes someone, that person is usually someone worth being wary of.

The second is that this is the unreliable narrator Susan and James spoke about. Susan does well in thinking about the dangers of beautiful, charming people.
I think I read it in the less interesting way. Sorry. With this first way of reading it, I suppose I don't have the same instinct that 'when everyone likes someone, that person is usually someone worth being wary of'. Certainly when lots of people fervently like someone there are often a corresponding number of people who really don't (a certain POTUS springs to mind) but when I try to think of people I know who everyone, including me, seems to like, it's usually because they are just genuinely nice people. Or with the rare famous person who everyone seems to have a good opinion about (maybe Stephen Fry in England? Tom Hanks in the States?) it's also usually that they are just genuinely nice.

So, if your preferred reading is the second, in what way is the N unreliable? Is it your intention as Susan suggested, that the N is in danger of falling in love with the man and is somehow in denial and projecting this as fear? I didn't get this from the poem, though maybe others did.


Quote:
As for "prehistory"-->while cavemen are part of it, it means anything pre-writing, so I merely mean someone who would be naturally toned in two possible different ways: tanned or almost preternaturally physically fit (though not muscle-y)
I still don't really see the connection between prehistory/pre-writing and a certain body type. The initial description (cheekbones/toned) made me think of the cliche of Classical male beauty, but that isn't pre-writing or history. I didn't get a sense of tanned and 'natural', because he's 'blinding' and like 'crystal' and seems too urbane. I imagine him in the gym.

Quote:
I've moved from "fitting" to "polished." Does that mitigate your concern. I've met people with unpassably "cool" real names. Ron Storms. Jake Bullet. Etc.
Yes, that makes more sense. I wasn't getting that you meant to equate the idea of a pseudonym with choosing a 'cooler' name. Maybe because I've just been reading about George Eliot and the Brontes, who obviously used pseudonyms for other reasons. Would the word 'any' make things clearer here? ('More polished than any pseudonym')

'High cheeks' still seems a bit of a metrical fix for 'high cheekbones' to me. If I google "high cheeks classical beauty" every hit substitutes the word 'cheekbones'.

Anyway, I'm no doubt being picky. I did quite enjoy it. Hope you like the songs!
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  #24  
Unread 11-02-2019, 10:38 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Mark: thanks for coming back. I'll respond more fully later (probably tomorrow). But I took "any," which I think is a good way to further clarify that line's meaning. Thank you.

I'd also say that James is probably reading it a third way: a jealous bystander. Also fair game for the poem. I don't endorse any of the three.
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  #25  
Unread 11-02-2019, 11:16 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Quote:
I'd also say that James is probably reading it a third way: a jealous bystander. Also fair game for the poem. I don't endorse any of the three.
Yeah. Of course I understand that a poem can be richer when it's open to varying interpretations. I just get the sense here that rather than being multi-layered, the poem just hasn't quite made up its mind about whether the character being described is genuinely not to be trusted or if all of this is a projection on the part of the N. The unity of the poem feels a little half-formed rather than richly ambiguous.
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  #26  
Unread 11-02-2019, 03:33 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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For me, Andrew, the start of the poem is pretty hard and heavy. As if prehistory put them to work? Christ, it's good, but I don't think we're seeing the same path. And Fear him, the close also led me to the unreliable speaker thought. It gets hot where I live in Asia, and some, not all, use an umbrella for just that reason
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  #27  
Unread 11-07-2019, 07:49 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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I simply wanted to register my approbation for this poem. The irony of fear him proves the more poignant and effective for being reserved for the last line; this rhetorical strategy is deft. The character sketch put me in mind of some by Edwin Arlington Robinson. In the whole poem, I only was less than sure about prehistory in the first line.

Cheers,
Erik
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  #28  
Unread 11-07-2019, 11:45 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Why would a dinner guest be carrying out a platter?
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  #29  
Unread 11-08-2019, 05:22 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Hey Andrew, this was bumped up again, so thought I'd drop back in. Although I think I was wrong about some of what you were intending to do here, I still really enjoy the read. Sharp writing. Like Sam, I also wondered about why he was carrying a platter. Did he end up being a kind of unintended guest? If so, I like that, but wonder if that could be just a touch clearer (and I do mean just a little because subtlety there is very cool).
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  #30  
Unread 11-11-2019, 08:36 AM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Really good poem, Andrew.

I want a title that references Hopkins more directly. "(one syllable modifier) Beauty". "Dinner Guest" isn't it, and the confusion it has created is only one reason.

I want you to regularize the meter by dropping "But" from L4, "it" from L8, "And" from L9, and change "any" to "a" (also L9). The hard stop in L10 makes the anapest there work.
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