Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 01-23-2021, 07:04 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: England
Posts: 323
Default immured sonnet

'Such individuals were locked away deep in a monastery or bricked up inside of rooms with a tiny opening for food & water for months or even years.'


— You understand what this is like; the city, too, has bricked you in. Its claustrophobe of houses warns
of its intentions. The trees also — synapsed
in their bark — slowly infected by the bitumen. You
are just another spoke to hang
a house upon. Think
of architecture: the shallow grin
of walls that grows inward until it has ensuited you.
A crowd is only flesh's imitation.

Not that you get out much. Daylight is a fading
memory. Each window a cruel wattage, stains
of skyless glass. Who are the faces in the photographs
the room has not yet seen fit to displace? What are you
other than a stone that can barely heft
the masonry of its own name?

Last edited by W T Clark; 01-23-2021 at 07:08 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 01-23-2021, 07:56 AM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,164
Default

The first line made me laugh because it is so obviously three lines you combined so as to have the fourteen lines of a sonnet. I want to say the bizarre enjambments somehow mimic an immurement, but can't quite make that conceptual leap.

The epigraph seems unneeded. "Its claustrophobe of houses" does not mean what I think you mean it to mean. I think I understand the metaphor you are attempting in the octet, but it is not focused enough to have power: something about our selves becoming houses that entrap us.

The sestet is better.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 01-23-2021, 12:05 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 4,635
Default

I agree that the first line is too much. There are all sorts of sonnet variations. You are on non-met. Make use of it. If you come to non-met and still feel the restrictions of the received norms at met you may as well be at met. But for me, the bigger problem is that the central metaphor doesn't hold up, at least in my reading. The notion that being trapped in the city or in houses is the same as being walled into a monastery or cellar or worse honestly sort of irritates me. I'm sorry. I take responsibility for that. I think it's because of the times. When you have fat men with heavy guns screaming their freedoms are being taken away because of a paper face mask it sours the atmosphere for inadequate notions of being restrained. I apologize if my response seems wacky. Maybe it is but for me, unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, the metaphor you try to set-up here is silly. Nope, being in a house or in a city is not like being walled into the cellar of a monastery and nothing else makes sense to me from there.

This is of course only my reading.

Best
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 01-23-2021, 12:34 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: London
Posts: 251
Default

Hello Cameron,

For me ever since that first Joan of Arc poem, you have been writing variations on the same poem, and though I might guess the degree to which this is consciously done, doing variation on the same poetic problems is a perfectly fine way to practice poetic technique, but on the flipside I am likely to repeat my criticisms because the poetic problems to me have still not been solved.

One of basic themes in your poetic technique is tone, the tone being dramatic theatricality. The main pitfall is if a reader interprets the subject as not suited to such a tone or the tone is mishandled then the tone just comes out hammy, less Alfred Hitchcock and more a parady of Alfred Hitchcock done by a YouTuber for laughts. So the question vis-a-vis tone: is the act of staying indoors in comfortable Western soceities merit such dramatic theatricality?

Another basic theme is the emphasis on figuration at the phrase level, where, to me, the technique which is relied upon again and again is the seeking of novel associations within an image, an example being "the shallow grin of walls". The thing is such figuration struggles to succeed if the overall tone is mishandled, and just comes out as overegging that which is overegged.

Another basic theme is stretched/forced analogies, which parralles the stretched/forced images which come about through the constant novelty seeking I spoke of above. Here it might be: to be confined to one's home during lockdown in in some sort of analogical-logic or analogical-emotion relationship to being locked away deep in a monastery. I have previousy said that the stretched/forced analogy acting as the basis of a poem leaves a poem structurally unsound, and likely to be rejected intellectually/emotionally by a reader.

You might one day balance the technical elements above, but not in this poem methinks.

Yeah!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 01-25-2021, 06:20 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: England
Posts: 323
Default

Thank you one and all for your comments.
John, the poem was not intended to asociate itself in anyway with the alt-right, but I see how the connection may be too large a conceptual leap. I actually revised this out of a prose poem, so the longer line was meant to echoe that.

Yves, that is a very helpful perspective. As always, I am grateful for it.

Regards,
Cameron
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 01-29-2021, 09:48 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,973
Default

Hi Cameron,

This might or might not be a lockdown/pandemic poem. (I've written many poems about being stuck indoors and rarely going out that predate the pandemic). Personally, I like this poem more if I don't think of it as about the pandemic but instead as a minority and unusual experience -- we are all (at least in the UK) largely confined to our locale and our houses, which doesn't leave the poem much to tell us. I think the voice/tone here are off for describing a common-place shared experience, and are more appropriate for something gothic and strange -- a person being held and wrapped around by a city.

Not sure what you're going for with that first long line, but it's not working for me. There are many ways to redistribute the words to get this to 14 lines, so it seems unlikely to me that you've done this solely to make the poem sonnet length, as Walter suggests. But whatever you're aiming for, to me it just looks like a typo, whereby a line break is missing.

I'd say you overdo (both here and in general) the technique of finding novel uses for words outside their normal usage, such as e.g. "verbing" nouns. For me this mostly isn't coming off, though I do like "ensuited" (which I might hyphenate), perhaps because the idea it conveys is clear, which for me wasn't the case with the rest of them.

'you' is an ambiguous subject. Does 'you' mean 'one' or does it mean 'I', the narrator, or is 'you' the reader (i.e., me), or somebody specific known to the N? Having such an ambiguous addressee, the relationship between the N and 'you' is necessarily unclear, and this in turn makes it harder (for me) to figure out what's going on, for example, when the N instructs the 'you' to "think of architecture". I wonder what happens if you clarify the relationship, by either using the slightly more distant third person or the more intimate first person?

I'd lose the epigraph. I don't think it's needed given "bricked you in" and other description or immuration in the poem. Plus it seems to me to spell out in advance too much of what's going to follow in the poem. If you keep it, a citiation would be good.

— You understand what this is like; the city, too, has bricked you in. Its claustrophobe of houses warns

The person is immured in the city, just as the anchorite/prisoner is walled up in their cell, the "you" is walled up within (the bounds of) the city.

"the city, too, has bricked you in" implies that something else, as well as the city, has also bricked the 'you' in. But I don't what that would be. I wondered if you meant, "the city has bricked you in too"?

For me, "claustrobe" is an odd modifier here. It means a person with claustrophobia. So how it works in this sentence, I don't really know. But I take it the sentence means: the houses warn of the city's intentions. Do you even need "claustrophobe"?

of its intentions. The trees also — synapsed
in their bark — slowly infected by the bitumen. You


I like the idea of the trees being slowly infected by bitumen. It gives a sense of how living things are affected by the city, which I presume is analogous to what happens to the "you".

"synapsed in their bark" I'm a less clear on. "in their bark" suggests to me that the trees are immured too, but "synapsed"? Is the idea to suggest they're thinking, but not moving?

are just another spoke to hang
a house upon. Think

I like the sound of this: "you/are just another spoke to hang a house on". I'm less clear on the meaning. A person could be a thing to hang a house on (place a house on/over). But the relevance of "spoke" -- and the implied "wheel" -- isn't clear to me.

of architecture: the shallow grin
of walls that grows inward until it has ensuited you.


I like "ensuited" as verb here. And it fits well with the house/architecture theme and its sense is clear to me.

I don't see what being told to think of architecture achieves. Is architecture "the shallow grin of walls"?

A crowd is only flesh's imitation.

So: a crowd isn't real? Presumably this relates to not seeing crowds when immured.

Not that you get out much. Daylight is a fading

This line throws me a bit, since it implies that we might have been thinking that the "you" does gets out a lot; the 'you' whom we we've just been told is ensuited by walls. I guess arguably the 'you' is only confined to the city, not the indoors, and so could be out and about in the city, though it seems the N has just been wrapped in the inward-growing walls. Maybe it's something like sarcasm, and the 'you' doesn't get out at all?

memory. Each window a cruel wattage, stains

I take it the energy (light) coming in the window is cruel because the 'you' is immured. I could also read 'cruel wattage' to mean, "very low light levels", the cruelty being the darkness.Especially in amongst all this fresh language, "fading memory" seems a lot like a stock phrase/cliche.

of skyless glass. Who are the faces in the photographs
the room has not yet seen fit to displace? What are you

I think the idea here is that the 'you' has been alone so long they they've forgotten the people whose photos they have on their walls.

other than a stone that can barely heft
the masonry of its own name?


I reading this that the 'you' is forgetting who they are as a result of being immured.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-29-2021 at 09:52 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 01-29-2021, 04:33 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: England
Posts: 323
Default

Hello Matt,


That is extremely helpful to understanding the successfulness of my intentions. And yes, to take this as a strangeness on its own terms and not as some socio-political commentary on the act of lockdowns is where I'd like to take this. As to the logic of l9, I was hopeful that the idea of crowds (groupings of people that typically take place in surburban streets instead of houses) would allow for the move to the N's interiority. That may not be successful, and it is helpful to understand that fact.

Thanks very much for this!
Regards,
Cameron
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 02-01-2021, 02:05 PM
Jane Crowson's Avatar
Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 360
Default

Hi WT,

This is a bit of a short critique (apologies). I think a great deal that I broadly agree with has been said before, but for what it is worth, here are my thoughts.

In terms of structure it vaguely reads like a sonnet, but not quite enough, for me. I reads as if the use of a partial/nod to sonnet-like things is another SFX, which the poem doesnít need.

In terms of word-choice, I think youíve overwritten this - because you use a great deal of unusual word-choices you lessen the effect of these. If you maybe only used one or two then they have more chance of standing out as exciting and interesting. Itís like youíre going all monochrome, then adding a magenta filter and then a bit of blur and then maybe some glitterÖless can be more.

In S1, in my reading, the city/urban morphs into the person. You use some biological/biology word-level choice; synapes/flesh - and the idea of infection. But you also use spoke (out of nowhere) and crowd, and ask the reader to think of architecture. Iíd tidy this up if you can.

S2 is better. The person-as-dwelling who has been taken over completely by the building/are the building. Itís a bit magical realism, a little sci-fi. It reminds me a bit of Doctor Who, to be honest.

I would consider tidying it all up. What is your central point in S1? If itís that the urban environment is invading the biological self, then maybe you need more expansion of the synapse/flesh ideas so they cohere.

Iíd skim through S2 so it doesnít sound like a list of vague pronouncements, but the writing works better for me here.

Like (I think) everyone else, i donít think you need the epigraph. But you might want to consider not having such a didactic narrative voice. Iíd play around to see what happens if the poem is written in first person, maybe?

I think the central idea is worth pursuing - the person becoming the dwelling, the dwelling taking over the person. Itís interesting.
Good Luck!

Sarah-Jane
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 02-01-2021, 04:33 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Location: England
Posts: 323
Default

Hello Sarah,


I always much loved the Cybermen.


Thank you very much for your critique!
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 02-02-2021, 12:46 PM
Jane Crowson's Avatar
Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 360
Default

The Cybermen are indeed very cool.

There was also that old, old episode where a whole group of people were eaten by a big rubber monster, all except one woman, who was transformed into a paving slab.

(that was the one I was thinking about. I think because of the bitumen).

Anyway, I hope you keep with this one - throw it at the wall and see how it falls.

Sarah-Jane
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,166
Total Threads: 20,559
Total Posts: 260,950
There are 150 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online