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  #1  
Unread 08-05-2019, 06:44 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Default What Cindy Said

What Cindy Said

for Cindy

First off, I don’t like poems. If you’re planning
to write a poem for me on my birthday,
don’t, because I won’t like it. Almost anything
would make a better present. I dislike

all types of poetry, and always have,
so don’t expect to catch me up on that.
Music I like, but I ignore the words,
and I like books – I read Tintin with pleasure,

which is full of words, but never poetry –
and art’s OK. It’s poetry that leaves
me cold. I’ve tried it, and I didn’t like it,
not one bit. I would rather lose a tooth.


Last edited by John Isbell; 08-09-2019 at 11:32 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 08-05-2019, 08:50 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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This is funny. I particularly like the ending, which is new and surprising.

There are parts that don't add much for me, usually because they repeat what's already been said: "First of all," "I dislike/any type of poetry, and always have,/so donít expect to find exceptions here." "when it's sung," "Iíve tried it and I didnít like it,/not one bit."

Did you consider trying this in formal verse?
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  #3  
Unread 08-05-2019, 09:11 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi John,

This is quite good fun. The references to Tintin and losing a tooth lead me to picture a fairly young child N. If this is true then I find a few expressions unconvincing for capturing that voice. They seem a little mannered, even for a fairly precocious child. I'm thinking of the inversion of 'Music I like', and also 'with pleasure' and 'leaves me cold'. They don't ring true to me.

Given your recent discussions here about 'poems vs poetry' and your preferring poems that 'make sense' (plus your love of art and music that often finds its way into your writing) I couldn't help wondering if Cindy is a petulant child projection of your good self!
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  #4  
Unread 08-05-2019, 10:25 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Max, hi Mark,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you've enjoyed this!
Max: that gives me lots to cut! This is pretty much what Cindy did say, over the course of a few years, burned down to a few lines. I'll look at cutting and am very glad you showed me some options there. The piece came out this way and I'd not thought of metrical verse, no. I might give it a go.
Mark: I like your idea that this might be a projection! In fact, Cindy is a career scientist who would say herself that she has no interest in poetry whatever. Not being a native speaker of English may account for some of the language. I'd like to be true to her without looking precious or false to readers, and that may be a bit of a tightrope act.
Cindy in fact read this piece as is, some time ago, and said it was OK, but it wasn't poetry. :-)

Thank you both for your nudges,
John
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  #5  
Unread 08-06-2019, 06:34 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
You've extracted a poem from her lips : )
She may not like to read poetry but she speaks it fluently.

Tell Cindy the news.
x
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  #6  
Unread 08-06-2019, 02:29 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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John,

I agree with Mark and Max here. I'd add that, given you have more freedom to play around with things, I think you can work to make your line-endings more meaningful. There are a few that I don't love, but "leaves me / cold" is the one I'm least sold on.
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  #7  
Unread 08-06-2019, 03:25 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi John,

This is light and fun. FWIW, I'd assumed Cindy was an adult. Losing a tooth is much more of a loss when you're an adult and they're irreplaceable -- hence preferring poetry to this seems quite strong -- and reading Tintin is a nice detail (assuming, as I did, that she's an adult) as that gives the reader a clue as to her engagement with the literature.

I had a couple of small thoughts:

I wondered if you might add a dedication below the title "For Cindy" for the irony.

You might lose "else" in S1L4, since it's implied, and the enjambment seems a little cleaner and stronger without it.

"when it's sung" is redundant, I think. It could be taken as saying: "I like music, but when it's sung I don't listen to the words". However "I like music, but I ignore the words" seems to cover the same ground. So maybe something else could go there? Maybe something like "Books are fine -- I read Tintin ...", maybe? Or "books are OK", or "books are good". That way it reads a bit like a present suggestion: don't write me a poem, but you could get me a Tintin similar book if you wanted.

To my ear, "I'd rather lose a tooth" would be a little punchier, more dismissive, at the close. That could just be me though.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-06-2019 at 03:28 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 08-06-2019, 06:43 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Jim, Andrew, Matt,

And thank you for stopping by.
Revision posted - Max and Mark, you'll find that a couple of your concerns have been addressed.
Jim: yes, the N did get to see this and said it was perfectly fine stuff, but was not a poem, which was strangely reassuring. I agree that her remarks over the years did end up crystallizing into something I find appealing, whatever we call that. :-)
Andrew: a bunch of line endings have now been edited, including that you mention. Thank you.
Matt: thank you! You pointed to some ways to edit which address Max's and Mark's concerns as well. Glad you saw Cindy is an adult. I don't know how many scientists people know, but not all like poetry, I've encountered that before. I've gratefully taken most of your suggestions, but have kept the last line as is for the scansion.

Thank you all. This was a little nugget I found difficulty getting into to edit, and you've shown a path to me. I think it's improved -
John
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  #9  
Unread 08-07-2019, 07:41 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Well, this piece might now be better suited to Metrical, I've done some work on the meter. Do folks like the revision? I think most of the concerns raised have been addressed in one way or another.

Cheers,
John
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  #10  
Unread 08-08-2019, 09:49 PM
Ashley Bowen Ashley Bowen is offline
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Hi, John,

A lot of wit here (and I've had similar conversations!). My only thought is that I wonder if the end has enough punch. Maybe something that really nails the humor here.

A quick idea to demonstrate what I'm thinking about:

which is full of words, but never poetry –
and art’s OK. It’s poems that leave
me cold. I’ve tried it and didn’t like it,
except Neruda. And you're no Neruda.

I enjoyed thinking about this one.
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