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  #1  
Unread 02-16-2020, 10:24 PM
Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
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Default What If My Ilk Doesn't Like Me?

[Revision 1]

What If My Ilk Doesn’t Like Me?

I brimmed with utter confidence.
It would be as smooth as silk.
I’d sparkle at the open mic,
and mingle with my ilk.

But then a creepy thought crept near.
It slunk into my head.
An ominous, foreboding fear
that filled my mind with dread.

“What if my ilk doesn’t like me?
What if no poet responds?
What if the mob tries to strike me
with eggs and tomatoes and yawns?

“What if the crowd is indifferent
or if they inflict icy stares?
What if they hint I go elsewhere
to peddle my lyrical wares?”


I shared my angst and inner strife
with my devoted bride.
It heartens me to have a wife
in whom I can confide.

She said, “So what if poems bomb
or if your shtick affronts?
A coward dies a thousand deaths.
A poet dies but once.

“Fend off your doubts! Ignore your fears!
Go be a troubadour!
Your tendency to bore your peers
has not stopped you before.”


["poetic" was replaced by "lyrical"]

[S1, S2 & S3 were deleted. S4 was revised and became S1. The new S2L1 and the new S5L3 are slightly changed.]

*************************

What If My Ilk Doesn’t Like Me?

To stand up at an open mike
can make your stomach churn.
Such forays deep into the fray
can make you crash and burn.

I toil each day to hone my skills,
to gain proficiency.
A fresh, emerging poet is
the thing I wish to be.

To reach this goal and to achieve
a style as smooth as silk,
I must go out and read my poems
and mingle with my ilk.

I heard about an open mike –
a venue that was new.
I’d have a chance to sparkle there,
to make a grand debut.

But then I had a creepy thought.
It slank into my head.
An ominous, foreboding fear
that filled my mind with dread.

“What if my ilk doesn’t like me?
What if no poet responds?
What if the mob tries to strike me
with eggs and tomatoes and yawns?

“What if the crowd is indifferent
or if they inflict icy stares?
What if they hint I go elsewhere
to peddle my poetic wares?”

I shared my angst and inner strife
with my devoted bride.
It warms my heart to have a wife
in whom I can confide.

She said, “So what if poems bomb
or if your shtick affronts?
A coward dies a thousand deaths.
A poet dies but once.

“Fend off your doubts! Ignore your fears!
Go be a troubadour!
Your tendency to bore your peers
has not stopped you before.”

Last edited by Mark Stone; 02-20-2020 at 10:12 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-17-2020, 12:08 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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I dunno, Mark. It's dangerous to take 40 lines to set up a punchline about the narrator boring people.

The best advice I can give on how to become "a fresh, emerging poet" is to avoid hackneyed subjects, such as poems on the poet's own poetic aspirations. The narrator's "ilk" have all written their share of these, and are likely to judge this genre harshly.

The conventional spelling is "open mic," but the narrator is a beginner, so it's probably appropriate to spell it the newbie way.

I hope some of these thoughts are useful, Mark.
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  #3  
Unread 02-17-2020, 01:42 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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I can still recall the days when "mike" was the standard short form of the equipment and "mic" was the upstart innovation. I usually use the former because, for many older folk, it carries a whiff of formal correctness.

I do think, though, that "slank" should be "slunk".

Stanzas 5 and 6 are in a different metre. I rather like the way they change from the relentlessly iambic thud to a quivery, hurried, worried diction. The change is most effective when read aloud. You have them in inverted commas, but italics would draw the silent reader's attention to the difference.

That difference is best emphasised if the rest of the poem is precise. Try replacing "poems" with "work" at the end of line 11.

It is, as Julie says, a somewhat well-trodden subject, but with a bit of rehearsal it could work as the opener for a stand-up set. Good luck.
.

Last edited by Ann Drysdale; 02-17-2020 at 02:04 AM. Reason: typo.
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  #4  
Unread 02-17-2020, 04:54 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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As Julie says, it's a big set up for a little punchline. I would cut the first three stanzas, which say nothing that isn't implicit in the rest, and add a couple more that take place at the actual performance. Then the wife's joke doesn't have to carry the entire weight of the poem. And just call it 'Open Mike' and get rid of the awkward 'ilk' business.

Agree with Annie about the italics and ‘slank’

Open Mike

I heard about an open mike –
a venue that was new.
I’d have a chance to sparkle there,
to make a grand debut.

But then I had a creepy thought.
It slunk into my head.
An ominous, foreboding fear
that filled my mind with dread.

What if nobody likes me?
What if no poet responds?
What if the mob tries to strike me
with eggs and tomatoes and yawns?

What if the crowd is indifferent
or if they inflict icy stares?
What if they hint I go elsewhere
to peddle my poetic wares?


I shared my angst and inner strife
with my devoted bride.
It warms my heart to have a wife
in whom I can confide.

She said, “So what if poems bomb
or if your shtick affronts?
A coward dies a thousand deaths.
A poet dies but once.

“Fend off your doubts! Ignore your fears!
Go be a troubadour!
Your tendency to bore your peers
has not stopped you before.”

And so I stepped onto the stage...

etc

etc


And if this is designed to kick off a performance, you can break the fourth wall at the end: “So here I am for your delight”.

Corny, but functional.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 02-17-2020 at 05:18 AM.
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  #5  
Unread 02-17-2020, 06:16 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi

I had similar thoughts to Mark about cutting unnecessary stanzas. You might also cut your current S5 (Mark's S2) because the creepy thoughts and doubts named there are then set out in detail in the two stanzas that immediately follow, and then "angst and inner strife" are mentioned afterward that, which overall makes that stanza seem a bit redundant. A "but" at the start of your S6 (Mark's S3) might be needed though, so that the poem would open:

I heard about an open mike –
a venue that was new.
I’d have a chance to sparkle there,
to make a grand debut.

But what if nobody likes me?
What if no poet responds?
What if the mob tries to strike me
with eggs and tomatoes and yawns?

[...]

In fact you might possibly make it more overwrought/anxious sounding and more clearly anapaestic with something like this:

But what if nobody likes me?
Or what if no poet responds?
And what if the mob tries to strike me
with eggs and tomatoes and yawns?

Oh, what if the crowd is indifferent
or if they inflict icy stares?
And what if they hint I go elsewhere
to peddle my poetic wares?

Finally, L2 of the second of these stanza breaks the "what if" pattern of the two stanzas. So maybe:

Oh, what if the crowd is indifferent?
What if they inflict icy stares?


best,

Matt
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  #6  
Unread 02-17-2020, 08:19 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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Mark,

You're good at rhythm and rhyme. You've learned those skills. Consider directing your toil toward precision: be specific, avoid cliche.

"A poet dies but once" is a good line. It makes the familiar new.

S1 fails for me because it's full of familiar phrases that aren't made new and don't bring open mics sharply into focus: "stomach churn" (the best of the lot, because it at least shows something), "the fray," "crash and burn."

S2 fails for me because I don't know what the "toil" or sought "proficiency" look like. The speaker's work would more interest me if it were shown: what sorts of choices does he agonize over? (Showing him hammering out a line from the very poem we're reading is an opportunity not only to be more specific, but also to add humor.)

If I'd found this anywhere but a workshop, I wouldn't have read past those stanzas.

I also endorse the advice others have given in this thread.
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  #7  
Unread 02-17-2020, 08:43 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Pep Talk

“What if my ilk doesn’t like me?
What if no poet responds?
What if the mob tries to strike me
with eggs and tomatoes and yawns?”

“Fend off your doubts! Ignore your fears!
Go be a troubadour!
Your tendency to bore your peers
has not stopped you before.”
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  #8  
Unread 02-17-2020, 10:03 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Yes, Julie probably reduces it to all it needs there. The thing as it stands, even cut down as I did, is just an exercise in proficient meter and rhyme. There isn't anything surprising or amusing enough in the content or language to justify the length.
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  #9  
Unread 02-17-2020, 10:16 AM
Phil Bulman Phil Bulman is offline
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Location: Maryland, USA
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Hi Mark,

I found this amusing, but like others, thought a shorter version would be more effective.

S1 L4 - definitely find an alternative to "crash and burn" to avoid the cliche.

S5 L2 "slank" strikes me as archaic, and so does not fit well with the rest of the language

S7 L3 - Here you refer to the crowd, but there is only one crowd, so "they" doesn't work. Changing it would throw off the rhythm however...

Thanks for sharing this.

Phil
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  #10  
Unread 02-17-2020, 10:18 AM
Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
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Many excellent suggestions. Will implement several and will respond to all. But the sun is shining so it's off to the ski slopes. P.S. Julie, thank you for the pep talk!
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