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  #1  
Unread 10-30-2019, 01:55 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default At a Poetry Conference

Dream in Which I Am Issued a Gun at a Poetry Conference

What kind of fool, I think, would choose to arm
poets at a conference? Very few
have weapons expertise, and those who do
are no less likely, even so, to harm
anyone near them. Note the devastation
that William Logan wreaks with a review.
And have you seen a workshop? One or two
loaded remarks spark swift retaliation.

Carnage, of course, ensues. Going ballistic
is easier when firearms are at hand.
And when the disagreements are artistic,
the fight is to the death: ask any band.
We all fall down. As could have been predicted,
most of the injuries are self-inflicted.

Revisions:
L5 "anyone near them" was "themselves or others"
L11 was "And when the disagreements are artistic," then "And when disputed issues are artistic," then reverted to original line

Last edited by Susan McLean; 11-05-2019 at 02:06 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 10-30-2019, 05:59 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

Yup, this is well-executed. I like the sting in the tail.

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 10-30-2019, 08:37 AM
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Patrick Gillespie Patrick Gillespie is offline
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Hi Susan,

Your poem made me smile. My only advice would be to not give away the game.

This:

" Very few
have weapons expertise, and those who do
are no less likely, even so, to harm
themselves or others."

Too much anticipates your punchline:

"As could have been predicted,
most of the injuries are self-inflicted."
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  #4  
Unread 10-30-2019, 09:28 AM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I, who have had long gun and some pistol experience, totally agree. When teaching, I would tell urban students that you truly cannot hide behind a firearm. No way. That often provoked grumbles in some hot bloods and nods from some others. Even in argumentation with an annoying fellow poet, I’d not want to be armed, or appear to be. Better to go away entirely silent or write something to illustrate the better way. Ditto for digital flame wars. I like this so much that I won’t crit yet. Maybe later. Tempted to say “Bless you” though you’ve not yet sneezed. Please sneeze so I can.

Allen
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Unread 10-31-2019, 11:38 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Thanks for the responses.

John and Allen, I am glad you enjoyed it.

Patrick, I didn't think I was giving the ending away in L5, but I have tried a different version that puts the emphasis in that line on harm to others.

Susan
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Unread 10-31-2019, 12:44 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I like it, Susan. Its craft is a pleasure, and its humor wicked.

The one hiccup for me was "ask any band." I feel like a dummy, like I'm missing something obvious, but I don't get it. Yes, I've heard of bands feuding and breaking up, etc., but I found that detail a bit of a head-scratcher.

Nice work,

Andrew
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Unread 10-31-2019, 12:51 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Andrew, whenever a band breaks up (and I am thinking here mainly of rock bands) the alleged reason is almost always "artistic differences." I don't necessarily buy that explanation, but it is a bit of a cliché in the rock world. That is what I was counting on readers thinking of.

Susan
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Unread 11-02-2019, 03:53 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Susan McLean View Post
Andrew, whenever a band breaks up (and I am thinking here mainly of rock bands) the alleged reason is almost always "artistic differences." I don't necessarily buy that explanation, but it is a bit of a cliché in the rock world. That is what I was counting on readers thinking of.

Susan
The current wording makes that intended meaning blurrier than it has to be.

And when the disagreements are artistic,
the fight is to the death: ask any band.

In your explanation, you say “artistic differences,” and that is a familiar cliché, whereas “disagreements are artistic” is not. Also, “fight is to the death” doesn’t resonate for my memory of rock bands breaking up that way. Bitterness and never talking to each other again, sure, but not fighting to the death.

So, I like the idea there more than the execution. I think if you could nail the rock band cliché scenario better, the poem would be stronger.
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Unread 11-02-2019, 07:26 AM
Siham Karami Siham Karami is offline
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Hi Susan,

Like the others, I enjoyed this, especially the ending. Re the band issue, it may be just personal preference. I immediately got what you meant. I recall a number of rock band breakups that meant death to the group at least, if not the individual artists. And for fans, it is a death of sorts. When the Beatles broke up, or even it was rumored they would, I wanted a funeral. It felt like the death of something I’d counted on. The death would be figurative; perhaps apt for poets as well?

Just some thoughts.

Siham

Last edited by Siham Karami; 11-02-2019 at 07:27 AM. Reason: Typo
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  #10  
Unread 11-02-2019, 08:16 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Susan,

About the 'band' idea, I understood what you meant but like Andrew I think it could be stronger. As you say, the cliché is 'differences' not 'disagreements' and I think you need to call that cliche to mind strongly here. You could do something to suggest the idea that 'artistic differences' is often a euphemism for rampaging ego. Maybe an onomatopoeic 'cough'.


And when the differences are (cough) "artistic",
both eyes and egos bruise: ask any band.


Gives quite a nice internal rhyme with 'ensues' too.
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