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Unread 02-12-2019, 08:32 AM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Posts: 1,554

Jim, I'll wait to see the revision to give detailed crit (most of what I'd say has been said already by Walter, Andrew, and others anyway), but I did want to drop another note of approval for what you're going for here. This is a strong start and I'm looking forward to seeing where you take it.
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Unread 02-12-2019, 08:47 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
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Revision posted.
I hope this begins to address the shortcomings of the first draft.

Andrew, Iíve abandoned my quest for seven syllables a line and instead pursued trimeter (the smaller the feet the better ) though it falters in places.
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Unread 02-13-2019, 07:06 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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And now another revision, with major changes to the last five lines and, I think, metrically more regular. Fyi, I'm treating this as an exercise in metrical writing (baby love aside )
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Unread 02-13-2019, 07:27 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
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Hi Jim,

I think it's lovely.
Not sure why you switch to preterite at the end - could the whole piece be present tense? keeps, sweeps?

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Unread 02-13-2019, 08:40 AM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,180

Hi Jim, I really like the original just as it is. "Parens" is like baby talk for "parents" - the title is perfect. All the lines and words are perfect. Though "heaving" and "swelling" are words you might find in a romance novel, they're tempered by "sweet baby breath." I love "so far / far away from everywhere." It all works for me, love the sounds of dreamscape/awake, quivering commas, singsong sleep, away/always/arriving/away, swelling/sweeps, etc!

It's good to see you working on meter in your revision, but it isn't a poem. I wrote this for beginning metricists (I was one myself not too long ago). I also learned a lot workshopping here with the very strict metrical critters. I found that once I really learned IP, it wasn't too hard to write in all the other meters.

Ten Steps to Writing Iambic Pentameter
1. Donít start off trying to write a poem in IP.
2. Focus on studying iambs alone first.
3. Make a list of iambic words and repeat them out loud, words such as complaint, afraid, attempt, enough, compare.
4. Listen to poems written in strict IP and recite them out loud.
5. Strengthen your heart muscle with aerobic exercise.
6. Listen to your heartbeat.
7. Try writing and reciting sentences made exclusively of iambs.
8. Write hundreds of lines of strict IP. No substitutions. Do not cheat.
9. Donít worry about trying to write poetry at first.
10. Write many sonnets. Be patient and persistent.
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Unread 02-13-2019, 12:17 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Beaumont, TX
Posts: 4,202

Here's a vote for "parens." It's a nice pun, both visually and sonically.

and swept him, as angels do,
like stardust into yesterday;
a chubby cherub stowaway

The ending seems a little soft, reminding me of an inscription on an old gravestone or the sentiment on a condolence card. This is not what you want, I'm sure. The chubby cherub is just too much, I think.
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Unread 02-13-2019, 02:22 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Location: Hunter Valley, NSW, Australia
Posts: 2,638

It does need to be regularised Jim it will not take much tweaking e.g.

(...and drowsing deep within
my parens, warmly sinks
into a precious sleep.
His lips are commas set
between a sigh and pout.
The thumping of his heart
keeps time to every breath
although the thumping keeping time with his breath would have you screaming for a doctor.

'pink, puffy' has unwanted connotations. A shift away from overt sentimentality will increase the power of the poem radically. This has promise that is not yet realised. It is well worth taking time on revision.



PS Mine is a vote for parens as well.

Last edited by Jan Iwaszkiewicz; 02-13-2019 at 02:54 PM.
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Unread 02-14-2019, 06:44 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,907


Responses here on E are never, ever, ever what I expect; are always more. This is all such a joy. Thank you.

It has spawned a gush of insight that has remained full throttle since yesterday afternoon when I posted a revision and asked for help with the metrics. Since then even the woodwork has been speaking to me, it seems. It just kept (keeps) coming from every direction, like pure 100 proof inspiration, that I have been drinking ever since. The velocity is something close to a torrent. As if on cue, this came across my screen as I surfed:

Jane Kenyonís advice for the poet: ďTell the whole truth. Donít be lazy, donít be afraid. Close the critic out when you are drafting something new. Take chances in the interest of clarity of emotion.Ē Mary could have said that.

Iíve done my best to keep up with the torrent; drinking it, bottling it, savoring it, letting it wash over me hoping my very pores take it in. Time will tell. Things get smaller as they move away. And inspiration is not perspiration. Learning the craft takes sweat. But some things will stick. I hope I wake up covered in inspiring sticky notes over my entire body : )

John, Iím glad you see/hear/feel the joy in it. Heís a nugget of love, that boy. I have struggled with the tense all along. Your suggestion that it be present tense got me to thinking, too, about the third person singular ďheĒÖ And it occured to me that if I wrote it in first person from the perspective of the baby it might dovetail nicely with some of the things Mary found attractive about the original -- and allow the schmaltz to seep in as a kind of innocent ďout of the mouth of babesĒ. I like the idea that a baby would be able to tell the reader first hand about the whole luxurious dreamy experience. Maybe title it ďBaby TalkĒ. Iíll give it a try...

Sam, Thanks for your cogent thoughts and advice. Iíve been so taken by your poetry and persona since joining E (and many others here) and wish I could go back in time and be a student of yours. Yes, the ending is schmaltzy. It may be inescapably so for me at this point. I canít see further than that at the moment. The truth is I often feel schmaltzy. There. I admit it. : )
You made me laugh out loud (because itís true) with the thought of the final lines being borderline Hallmark and gravestone-worthy. But Iím looking for neither. I actually want it to be transcendent. I always want things to transcend.
I do love the stowaway image for a napping babyÖ. One remedy might be to revert largely back to the original as Mary urges (and instead work on my metrics as Mary so supremely outlines). Though I could still work on rearrangement of the original into IP as Jan indicates, which I will give a go at. While gravitating back to the original language.

Mary, your guidance is immeasurably helpful. I am by nature prone to being profuse, effusive, but I am at a loss to express my thanks for what you've given me. It gives me great joy. Iím a joyful boyful. Another thing before I forget: you always notice the aural aspects of my writing and I am always hoping someone hears it. A good poem needs that aural quality present throughout.
I like the original, too. I have hamstrung myself a bit by posting to the met board and now declaring it an exercise in writing metrical. Still, I can do that and also recapture some of the original (and then spend time sweating, doing what you have said in your clarion call of a list).

Jan, You are the doctor in the house : ) Could it be that the heart beats and the breath sings along? Not a metronome (something that instills fear in me to this day when I hear one. My piano teacher would sourly unhinge the sweeping hand, set it, then unleash it saying, ďplay in timeĒ while he tapped along). I was thinking of a more subtle synchronicity.

Eric, thank you for your insight. By ďsingsongĒI meant the gentle singing of lullabies. But youíre right about the connotations. Iím thinking.

Aaron, thank you. The revision may not have gone in the right direction but it remains a strong image that I will continue to unearth. Or bury. Ha!

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 02-14-2019 at 06:48 AM.
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Unread 02-14-2019, 11:42 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is online now
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,443

This is a pleasant poem. Among its pleasures are the parens/parents pun and the womb/crib/arms-like visual.

I'm not finding a way in which punctuation illuminates child-bearing/rearing (or vice-versa). (Often I'm obtuse and miss things.) Punctuation (and, in particular, parens) interests me (most Eratos are likely more interested in punctuation than the general public is), but, despite that interest, I feel that to speak of child rearing in terms of punctuation diminishes child rearing (unless there's a connection that helps me understand child rearing--or punctuation).
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Unread 02-15-2019, 03:08 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,601

Hi Jim!

I don't think you have hamstrung yourself by posting this in met. Your revision is perfectly good trimeter, except the last two lines which become tet.

Thing is, I much prefer the way the original begins as tetrameter

(Drowsing in my warm parens

to the revision, which chops that great phrase at the line break

(Drowsing deep within
my warm parens he sinks

I also think tetrameter has more of a lullaby feel to it, and that this poem would benefit from a constant heartbeat metre. The second line (of the original) could be made tet just by adding 'a':

(Drowsing in my warm parens
he sinks into a singsong sleep

So I wonder if working on that might be a way to go. A singsong tet rhythm.

I think 'heaving' and 'breast' so close together is a bit too 'torrid romance novel'. Could he have a 'chest' and could it do something less cliched than heave?

It's a shame to abandon these lines and Walter's idea of adding 'and' here

sweeps him like stardust, so far
far away from everywhere,

and if you added an 'oh' you'd have that rhythm going on

sweeps him like stardust, oh so far
and far away from everywhere,

They would sound like lost lines from 'Over the Rainbow'.

So, basically I like the poem and prefer the original, or at least where I could see the original going. And I like the parens and its echo of parents.

e e cummings said 'death is no parenthesis', but I like the notion that sleep is.
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