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  #11  
Unread 05-22-2020, 06:59 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
For me, the poem doesn't go anywhere, or say much, beyond repeating these ideas
But there is an insidiousness to it. an unrelenting restlessness that accumulates and is finally materialized on the mat. I like that.

It may be that I am not yet fully understanding the purpose of the ghazal form.
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  #12  
Unread 05-22-2020, 08:05 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hey Jim,

I definitely don't claim to be an expert on the ghazal, though I've become briefly obsessed with them after digesting crits of my own attempt and constantly tinkering with it ha. And I'm not trying to muzzle Matt's ghazal (little clue on how it's pronounced there btw–something I only found out fairly recently). Neither am I saying, in some purist way, that the 'rules' of how a particular form traditionally marries to content is something that shouldn't be messed with. It's just, for me, the content doesn't work here for the form and it becomes repetitive in a negative, rather than hypnotic sense. The repetitions of a villanelle (though I'm not much of a fan) are constantly circling back on themselves to create a feeling of entrapment or obsession or similar. The repetitions here just feel like the poem making the same point over and over again in different, admittedly cleverly phrased, ways. It doesn't become hypnotic or mesmeric for me, it just feels a bit overbearing. I don't think my reaction is because of any concerns that this isn't how you 'do' ghazals. It's just my reaction to it as a poem. But it's just my reaction, of course. Yours is equally valid (he said magnanimously).


Matt, I hope there's no sense from my criticism of any aversion to the poem's content, like 'oh why is this guy boring me with how ill he is?' I can't think of a specific example, but you've written brilliantly surreal, narrative driven stuff on non-met covering similar concerns that I've loved. This just isn't quite working for me like this, despite the writing being skillful, for some reason. Well, for the reasons I've attempted to explain, probably badly.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 05-22-2020 at 08:21 AM.
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  #13  
Unread 05-22-2020, 04:17 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Andrew, Nemo, Jim, Mark,

Many thanks for your thoughts on this, they're very useful.

I've add two more shers since I last posted, the most recent one in response to your comments, and tweaked a couple of stanzas in response to Julie's and Aaron's critiques.

So, my intention here was that the repetition would call attention to itself (so at least that much worked!). Choosing a rhyme that rhymed with the repetend seemed to add to this effect. I was hoping the repetition reflected the repetitive grind of the illness. The ghazal form seemed a good candidate because it's highly repetitive (more so that a villanelle or sestina), plus I could present disparate, even contradictory aspects of the experience of chronic illness.

As Mark says, it's a lot more straightforward than other poems I've written about/around/out of this subject. With those poems, I've often felt that what I'm writing about is missed. People read them as being about depression, for example, or an existential malaise -- neither of which are entirely wrong, and are likely more relatable to the reader, and that's not really a problem. But I guess I just fancied something a little more obvious and in-your-face, so that's why I tried this.

Nemo, I enjoyed your description of what makes a ghazal work for you -- and found it useful too, so thanks for that.

Mark, I'd thought the poem had quite a few points to make, the social security aspect being directly addressed in only two of the shers, with each of those addressing a different aspect: the stigma in the first, the need to perform one's illness in the second. I'd seen this as a minority concern of the poem. So it's useful to know that this didn't come across, and I can see how you might read it that way.

Jim, I'm pleased that what I was trying to do here worked for you.

Thanks again, everyone.

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-22-2020 at 04:23 PM.
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  #14  
Unread 05-22-2020, 09:49 PM
Ron Greening Ron Greening is offline
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Hello Matt,

Unlike some previous responders, I find the insistent, nagging rhyme on an unpleasant word anchors an important message in what seems a sardonic and self-disparaging application of the ghazal form. I don’t think I’ve read another poem that encapsulated so effectively the natural but commonly disrespected and disregarded anger that often comes with long term disability or illness. Perhaps the parasitic tick is a clue that this describes an experience with Lyme disease, with its vague and changeable symptoms that wear out the sufferer in tandem with the patience of many people in the sufferer’s life.

I wrote the above last night before I read your most recent post. I have resolved not to post late in the evening. Coming back, it seems that I was somewhat on track with your intent.
Ron
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  #15  
Unread 05-23-2020, 01:42 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hey Matt,

I don't think the 'poem fails' sher works or is necessary. I don't think the poem does fail, for a start. I reckon that it will connect really well for lots of people, all talk about ghazals aside. It clearly does for Ralph and Ron and Cally and Aaron all of whose opinions are well worth listening to. The writing is good. The skill and particular voice you bring to your poems is there and if this was the first time I'd read you I'd probably be cheering this much more. I suppose I hold you to high standards and I've seen you do stuff in this area that has just worked for me better. All subjective opinion though innit?
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  #16  
Unread 05-23-2020, 09:18 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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But isn’t there an argument to be made that the form is secondary? Isn’t it simply scaffolding for this poem’s pain and dread? This ghazal takes the form and gives it a different purpose. --Jim

I was not arguing against this in my critique back at #7, which Nemo and Mark apparently agreed with. Received forms can be infinitely varied and revised and re-formed, and the ghazal is no exception. But the particular kind of repetition-pattern of the ghazal, in my experience (more as a reader than an author; I’ve written just one ghazal that has gone over well, for me and for readers here and elsewhere), works better with material that is ecstatic or impassioned or even (as Mary has put it) schmaltzy. This poem’s deadpan ironic and even slapstick tone pushes against that expectation, which as Jim said, could just give it a different purpose. It seems that several readers here feel that way about it. For me, though, the ghazal form in this case forces the interesting subject matter into monotonous repetition that I lose interest in less than halfway through.

No arguing with people liking this, of course, but I wanted to explain that I didn’t mean, heaven forbid, that there’s only a predetermined set way to write in a received form.

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 05-23-2020 at 09:37 AM.
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  #17  
Unread 05-23-2020, 06:09 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Andrew, I agree with all you’ve said. I was just pushing back a bit because I felt that, at the very least, Matt had taken a risk with the form that was ingenious. It amounts to something of an outlier; a retrofit of the form to express a pervasive, persistent state of suffering that has the capacity to stalk, to lurk. He then goes further, injecting some levity.

But the form is bent to fit and the question, I think, is: Does it fit? I think, with all due respect to the form and to those who employ it as a unique instrument, it does.
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  #18  
Unread 05-24-2020, 09:03 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Ron, Mark, Andrew, Jim,

Many thanks for your comments,

Ron,

I'm glad this worked for you. I really like that you heard and recognised, "the natural but commonly disrespected and disregarded anger that often comes with long term disability or illness" and I'm pleased the repetition worked for you as I'd hoped. I hadn't thought of Lyme disease, but that would work too. The symptoms I've listed aren't specific to one chronic illness. I did wonder about using 'bug' alongside sickness (which then seems to suggest a virus, though there's also 'bug' as an error). I'm not sure why you have reservations about what you wrote.

Mark.

Thanks for coming back. Yes, that stanza probably doesn't work. For one thing it's likely a bit too meta, and out of keeping with the rest of the poem for that reason. It's also a bit like explaining the poem. That said I did quite like the idea of the poem's failure being its success (irrespective of whether or not it really fails).

In case it's seemed otherwise, I did find it useful to know that this wasn't working as well for you, Nemo and Andrew as it did for others, and to hear why, and I appreciated your comments. These are things I want to know. I do also see what you're saying. I'm a little on the fence about the poem myself, for the reasons you've collectively raised. Keep holding me to those high standards, please.

Andrew and Jim,

Thanks both for coming back and clarifying.

best,

Matt
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  #19  
Unread 05-24-2020, 01:00 PM
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Ed Shacklee Ed Shacklee is offline
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Matt,

I think I might throw away my few reservations just because of the beginning and the end of this, and there's not one part I don't like standing on its own. I think, however, that if you shed a few of the funnier couplets (Shers, is it? What do I know about ghazals?), it would still have a lot of humor, and the tragedy of this tragicomic verse would come through more powerfully. It feels unbalanced at the moment. "Murder your darlings" is, I think, the phrase I'm looking for.

Best,

Ed

P.S. I am still scratching my head over "Sewn to my chest, the walking stick of sickness," but I'm probably just being dense.
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  #20  
Unread 05-24-2020, 01:08 PM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Shacklee View Post
P.S. I am still scratching my head over "Sewn to my chest, the walking stick of sickness," but I'm probably just being dense.
Oh, good, it wasn't just me!

Matt explicated it for me above, but I think the idea of the walking stick as not just a figurative badge of weakness, but a literal one as well, sewn upon someone's chest, is just too much of a stretch.
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