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  #1  
Unread 09-15-2019, 11:59 AM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Default tetrameter couplets

wheat text

Crane Collapse

The poem is a unity
governed by inner necessity.


Nor simple, nor solemn, frivolity
gripping the heartland, life proceeds

as, far away, Dorian
heckles the coastline, expends herself,

her indifferent rage blundering
its way north, toward Nova Scotia.

In Halifax, the hurricane
humiliates the imposed pride

of an erect crane, folds it in two
and allows it to fall on a nearby building.

Somewhere in Indiana, a man
thinks to himself, That is the poem,

an inorganic concatenation
of wrenched metal, shattered glass,

soldered in ruin by external
contingency, a chance meeting

become the prelude to rebuilding,
but someone else’s, not my own.
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  #2  
Unread 09-15-2019, 07:58 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Aaron,

This piece is still fresh for me, still percolating, but these observations I can make off the bat toward a response. I appreciate how the poem combines the didactic or discursive mode and the lyric mode. I fancy the image of Dorian on the coastline along with the apt epithet of ‘her indifferent rage.’ The sonics of the following passage too:
In Halifax, the hurricane
humiliates the imposed pride
I understand how frivolity and solemn would go together as contrasting qualities, but not how simple would fit in the mix here:
Nor simple, nor solemn, frivolity
gripping the heartland, life proceeds
Actually, for that matter, I am not sure why frivolity is gripping the heartland. I suppose in contrast to the coast gripped by storm, but outside of a contrast set up, I am not sure why. Perhaps it does not matter.

‘Allows it to fall on a nearby building’ seems like a rather indirect way to put an action that I would imagine to be loud and violent if I saw it; yet I take it this is meant to be more reflective than descriptive, for which reason the remark is not necessarily a criticism. Suppose you could say something like lets it fall, crashing on a nearby building. I find a lot here that I appreciate, and, at first blush, nothing else immediately jumped out at me in the way of potential nits or suggestions. For what it is worth. So much for now.


Cheers,
Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 09-16-2019 at 02:54 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 09-16-2019, 08:55 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Hey Aaron,

The bones are here for this poem. You've got a strong conceit- how elegant and clever, useful and functional those cranes are. How fragile from the wrong direction. So it is with the understandings of poems. A nice and extensible metaphor. For example, extended to the question of what real power does it (poem or crane) have against nature?

As to the tactics of the poem itself, I'd like to see a few passes over it. For my taste, I'd want to strip it down to a version without any abstract noun at all, e.g. "unity" or "necessity" and have a look at that, then build it back with them bit by bit, mating them to concrete detail, typified examples.

I hope to circle back. Work backed up (harvest season) and travelled over 1,000 miles this weekend. waa waa waa

The poem is a unity
governed by inner necessity.

Nor simple, nor solemn, frivolity
gripping the heartland, life proceeds

as, far away, Dorian
heckles the coastline, expends herself,

her indifferent rage blundering
its way north, toward Nova Scotia.

In Halifax, the hurricane
humiliates the imposed pride

of an erect crane, folds it in two
and allows it to fall on a nearby building.

Somewhere in Indiana, a man
thinks to himself, That is the poem,

an inorganic concatenation
of wrenched metal, shattered glass,

soldered in ruin by external
contingency, a chance meeting

become the prelude to rebuilding,
but someone else’s, not my own.
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  #4  
Unread 09-17-2019, 04:24 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Erik, thank you for the kind comments, and for pressing on a few points of concern.

Daniel, thanks for your comments, both the praise and the criticism. So far as I can see, the only abstract nouns not tied quite directly to concrete imagery are those of the first stanza, and even those of the first stanza are indirectly to tied to concrete, material details, since it is just those details the N uses to "falsify" the idea that the poem is an organic unity. I am thus not yet convinced that the use of abstract nouns in this poem needs to be rethought—but I do mean that "yet" seriously.
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  #5  
Unread 09-17-2019, 06:47 PM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Hi Aaron,

On an initial reading, I’m quite taken by everything from “that is the poem” onward. Stanzas 2-6 I’ll need to spend some more time with. My impression right now is that they’re acting as a sort of bridge between the initial statement (S1) and the refutation later, but that the transition from S1 to S2 is a bit rough, and I’d like to see a more concrete picture of what S2 describes – maybe expanded into two stanzas? But I could have an entirely different opinion tomorrow.

Also, I want to add that it just hit me that I know where your avatar picture is from. I’ve been around the ‘Sphere enough by now to have seen it a fair number of times, but somehow, it took until today to make the connection.
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  #6  
Unread 09-18-2019, 11:32 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like the idea here, though I've some reservations about its execution.

I wonder if it might be better if the poem were to end on "That is the poem". Maybe with 'That' in italics. Leave the reader with more to do, rather than spell out and unpack the metaphor for them. So, you might consider losing the last three stanzas and, if necessary, doing a little more to set up the metaphor in what precedes, stressing the features you want the reader to note.

The triple rhyme the opens the poem -- unity/necessity/frivolity -- jars for me, and more so when no further rhyme follows. I wonder if, to avoid this, the first couplet could become a single line epigraph? (Is it a quote? It sounds familiar).

I don't understand the "nor" without a preceding "not" or "neither". Why isn't it "not simple, nor solemn"? Maybe I'm being slow, but I don't really understand this line and I'm not wholly sure how to parse it. Even assuming the first 'nor' were a 'not', I'm wondering if it's saying that there's frivolity grabbing the heartland, but that the frivolity isn't simple or solemn. Or is it saying that no frivolity grips the heartland? Do "nor simple" and "nor solemn" modify 'frivolity', or are these independent list items modifying 'life'?

(Nor simple, nor solemn, frivolity) [is] gripping the heartland, life proceeds
Nor simple [and] nor solemn [and] with frivolity gripping the heartland, life proceeds

The enjambment tends to suggest the first of these, I guess.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-18-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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  #7  
Unread 09-19-2019, 12:17 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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I should not have narrowed to 'nouns', I think. I'm trying to convey the abstractness. Here are words that I felt could be improved upon.

poem, unity, necessity, frivolity, life,
humiliates, pride
inorganic concatenation
ruin, external contingency, prelude, rebuilding

take/toss

Daniel
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  #8  
Unread 09-19-2019, 03:42 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Rereading this, I wonder if it would be worth considering simply moving the seventh stanza to the end? My thought is that "That is the is poem" would make for a strong ending. (Plus, you also get an almost rhyme on 'own' / 'poem'). This because, when I then read the current S8-10 I wouldn't yet know where it's was going, it would feel less like the metaphor was being explained (which was the issue I raised above). The closing stanza would then invite a rereading, so that when we got to the end, I'd go back and reread and appreciate what preceded as metaphor. (I guess "my" in S10 might need tweaking. Could it be "one's"?). Anyway, that ordering appeals to me, but that could just be my prejudice. I can see the appeal of ending on "and not my own", one of my favourite lines here, but maybe it's even possible, with a bit of tweaking, to make S7 the penultimate stanza? Though that would single out the "not my own" part and make it more of a focus (which you may or may not want).

I do like the way hurricane gives us (me anyway) an echo of Wordsworth's “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"; and then the N's location far from this is almost an echo "it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” I like the idea of the poem the N sees as the result of destruction and even hubris (the humiliation of pride), a clearing away and "a prelude to a rebuilding". I like too, as I said, the "not my own" part, the idea that it works as a poem because it the destruction, devastation and need for rebuilding is not happening to him or anyone he knows, which has, or I can read in, a slight archness to it (an undercutting, self-mocking maybe). In some ways, I could see this applied to the appeal of confessional poetry in particular (or the art of those who experience mental illness): the appeal of someone else's suffering as poetry -- or what their suffering adds to their poetry -- when viewed from a safe distance. More literally, obviously, it's a lot easier to see the poetry of a hurricane from a safe distance, rather that from the ruins of your own home.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-19-2019 at 03:46 AM.
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  #9  
Unread 09-19-2019, 10:23 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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My thought, for what it's worth, is that you could/should begin with "In Halifax" and omit the preceding lines.
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  #10  
Unread 09-19-2019, 11:06 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I agree with Roger.

I couldn't get started on this. But if I start where he suggests, I can get started. The lines that come before are scaffolding.

RM
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