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Old 09-26-2018, 07:41 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Posts: 1,316

I'm of two minds about this, Daniel. On the one hand, it's very well-crafted, and it does simmer with tension that, as you hoped, goes unresolved for the poem's participants, even as a larger view is available to the reader. You treat both participants sympathetically.

But the poem also rests on, and takes for granted, the old, dumb "women are feeling, men are thinking" cliché. Especially because, as another noted, the poem largely lacks precise details, it has the feel of describing not a specific case but a type: it asks to be generalized. And so, even as it's doing all these good things, it feels tired and unimaginative in conception.

There's a simple fix: swap the genders (or make it a homosexual relationship—the pronouns might get confusing but it should work). Nothing in what's good about this poem requires that it be describing a heterosexual relationship where the man is thinking and the woman is feeling. Note that I'm not saying there's anything in the reversal that is itself especially interesting. But it lets you do what you're trying to do without the needless baggage.
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Old 10-01-2018, 07:36 AM
Daniel Kemper's Avatar
Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: California
Posts: 590

Hi Aaron,

I'm happy to have you stop by. You're one of my touchstones.

I'm really happy for it to have come across that I tried to "treat both participants sympathetically." That's really key and why I would argue it a touch unfair to link it to cliché. The cliché carries implicit denigration of feeling though it pays lip service to declaring both modes of process equal, IMO. And this poem explicitly does not and tries to map that out a little.

Also, for the record, I do not find the cliché dumb. As I grow older, the more I pay respect to the place from which clichés come to be. Clichés don't appear without reason. As time goes on, my own eyes become a larger influence than others: The more I see what I see, not what I'm supposed to see.

[the poem largely lacks precise details] True. This still bugs me. I still need to find SOME way of smuggling in some detail. For this one, the case studies (plural) as it were, is the reason the conception seemed worth the page. But clearly I didn't quite get there because I didn't quite escape the gravitational pull of nearby clichés.

There's a simple fix: swapping the genders is counter-cliché. That's what everyone does these days and the more experience you get with any of these stories, or the more time away from the immersive media culture, the less realistic (to be kind) they seem.

[make it a homosexual relationship] - I don't think these tendencies follow sexual orientation at all but follow biological sex. (That follows long, deep and wide life experiences, which I can detail at length if you are interested.) Having said that, writing "think and think" versus "think and feel" with the implied contrast might provide some fresh insight. I'll likely not do it, or not do it for a long time because I don't like to be presumptive and this can be a very sensitive matter. Rarely I stray and write outside my knowledge, mostly I regret it.

[the pronouns might get confusing] - heh. heh. heh. That could provide a great humorous aside to the texture of the poem. A great chance to get a quick laugh to splash up the gravitas.

[baggage.] --I think what I'm coming round to, in general theme of these days, is that the so-called baggage needs to be carried and not discarded. Carried, placed and unpacked. Why have these things come to be? The metaphorical clothing that people wear, where did it come from? How was it selected? What was available? Is there not a value to what we carry round? Is there not a cost (heavy)? Is there not a cost to abandoning it? Are there not *values* in what we've chosen to carry round... etc Perhaps a poem or a poem series is lurking there...

All schools of poetry seem to discard the frequent before it's understood well enough to use as a background, and misprision the frequent as too cliché to be correct. It's my hunch that across the next generation, we'll see some greater influence from these sources.
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