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  #11  
Old 06-25-2018, 01:35 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Jim,

Don't be hard on yourself. There's stuff here to like. I'm with Edward: kick away the scaffolding. This isn't necessarily what you want, but it might spur you:

They wash over me,
lap me like tongues

from a voice
sometimes soft

sometimes thunderous,
but I do not drown

or burn in the surface light.
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  #12  
Old 06-25-2018, 01:44 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Jim,

Yes, as pure poem, I also like what Edward proposes.

Cheers,
John
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  #13  
Old 06-25-2018, 02:06 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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What Edward and Andrew have said. Edward is pointing the way out of writing a poem about something to simply writing a poem. We learn more from our crashes than from our successes.
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  #14  
Old 06-26-2018, 11:25 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Ok, I see. (Small apology for the self-flagellation )

Thank you Edward, for that clear-headed look.
Andrew, John I, John R, thanks for the confirmation, too.

With all that in mind, I've got to write it myself, though. And so I did, still unable to see for sure if I've cleared away enough to make it more tangible, more real.

It's an unreal subject, as I'm finding out. Yes, it's (was) written in abstractions, but at it's core it's about unreality. So I've taken it in that direction. I hope it has more cohesion/heft to it than before.

Revision posted.
x

(Back to "The Well" for a title)
x
------------

Editing back in to say I posted a revision to the revision...

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 06-26-2018 at 01:45 PM.
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  #15  
Old 06-26-2018, 10:38 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Hi Jim, looking at your original, I prefer "reverberate" rather than "resonate." For me, the original has a fine flow, no stumbles. I hope you don't really believe the original is a "mess." It seems very well structured to me.

I like this from the re-write:

When I find myself
in a well of words
washing over me
and thoughts lap
like tongues


I find v3 too brief.

I think you've got a unique style. It's true there are a lot of abstractions, but there's also a lot of good play with sounds and line breaks. You have a good ear.

a voice rejoicing
sometimes softly
sometimes thunderous,

sometimes blinding
sometimes blazing

a vortex through the deep
dark pool of belonging
where I swim clear
and do not drown
or burn in the surface light.



There's actually a lot going on in this poem. Reminds me a little of Donne:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
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  #16  
Old 06-27-2018, 03:27 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Coming back. In my first rush to appraise the poem, I started from "When" and couldn't understand at what point the poem turned to go somewhere. I was struggling. "When what?" "Why is there not a 'then'?"...

As soon as I posted my wittering, I spotted the comma, which showed me the thing I was looking for, so I deleted the post to work at the poem from the new angle.

Your current revision has lost a lot of words but gained the one I was searching for when I began. And now I don't like it. "Glow so bright" feels awkward and rhyme-driven. Now I want to take the comma off the end of that line/stanza and replace "then" with "that". Do you see what that does to the thought-line? Do you like it?

And since the thing is now so spare and pared-down, I find "swim clear towards" is a bit of a waste of the sensation of being bug-eyed and breathless. I want the desperation to be clearer. Is there an upward equivalent of "strike out towards", or perhaps an image of passive, involuntary rising to carry the weight of the fear of drowning and burning?
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  #17  
Old 06-27-2018, 04:41 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Surge up?

Cheers,
John
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  #18  
Old 06-27-2018, 10:14 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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Jim, I echo everything Mary said.

I read this poem when you first posted it, began to write a response, but got called to things of the day.... Your original poem felt/feels like authentic utterance to me, and it got to me.

To echo my echo, everything Mary said.

Cally
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  #19  
Old 06-28-2018, 08:07 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Jim, I promise to not comment on your poems again. The words do flow in your poems but they don't add up to more than abstractions is my view. Well, perhaps that view is incorrect if two poets as fine as Mary and Cally think differently. I guess I'm not a good reader for your poems because I keep missing whatever is Donne-like about it. I mean no damage and it appears I'm missing the point in your work so should remain silent.
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  #20  
Old 06-28-2018, 10:00 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hey Jim,

With your shortened revision I have to resist the urge to start singing it to the tune of 'Let it Be' which is distracting. I'm not being flippant, I'm serious. I'm focussing more on the original if that's ok?

I'm afraid I'm more with John R on this one. And the coward in me wanted to resist commenting at all since I too feel I must be missing something, and something that reflects badly on my poetic sensitivities if I'm disagreeing with Mary and Cally. But, like John, I want to be honest with you. And brave (like a soldier).

For me, the poem is all abstraction, but what makes the poem float away into nothing is that many of the abstractions are poetic cliche. And the way you use them here doesn't go beyond that.

thoughts resonate

a voice rejoicing

time condenses to flashes

the deep / dark pool of belonging


I think you have a mellifluous voice and a nice way with echoing inner rhyme (though sometimes they clunk), but here you haven't quite worked out what you want to say. Or rather, you know what you want to say I think (that the writing process is hard) but you've said it by reaching for stock phrases and the result, for me, sounds naive rather than inspired. I suggest you write five more poems like your recent boyhood one, but smaller in scope, zooming in ever more to precision rather than reaching for grand abstractions.

Sorry this one isn't doing it for me.

Mark

Edit: Complaints about 'abstractions' do get bandied about a lot in these spherical parts, don't they, often on the met board as criticism of a poem that sounds too '19th century' or otherwise archaically hi-falutin'. If it's any use, I don't think that here. I think your voice is an honest one and entirely your own. I just think you're still reaching for it.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 06-28-2018 at 10:16 AM.
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