Poetics and Poetry Discussion

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  • Rookie Herbert Nehrlich1 (5/10/2005 5:30:00 PM) Post reply
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    Shepherd, I left a message for you. You may share it with all your friends.

  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (5/10/2005 11:37:00 AM) Post reply | Read 1 reply

    Would anyone complain about 'could be improved technically' as a synonym for 'bad'? Then the onus is on the speaker to suggest how?

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    • Rookie Andy Konisberg (5/10/2005 1:01:00 PM) Post reply

      I think that is a great improvement when discussing art in general, because your phrase accounts for individual taste and avoids a rather limp-wristed, blanket term...and should engender a more const ... more

  • Rookie Michael Shepherd (5/10/2005 5:59:00 AM) Post reply

    JC, I find your question about posting poetry fascinating, requiring a very honest answer.
    I would suggest that the/a fundamental question is the value that each of us put on poetry itself irrespective of our creative position. I believe, I guess, that poetry should touch and melt the heart; that poet as Coleridge asserted 'are the unacknowledged legislators of mankind' - or could be or should be or might be; and that poetry is an activity best carried on in private by consenting adults... that, to me, deeply moving book of Pinsky's Favourite Poem Project, with its quoted tributes to the influence of a single poem in the heights and troughs of a whole lifetime, takes poetry right out of the normal scales of judgment.
    So, in brief ha ha, I would hope to post poems, of whatever degree of haste or competence, in the light of this conviction. Yes, I would bear a very approximate audience in view (you know that old statement that every writer has one person above all as their secret audience, often an old nurse or aunt...) , since I would quite like to have written a poem that brought hearts together; I would be glad if friends liked it, but even happier if strangers liked it; I would take it quite well, after an hour or two, if people made very specific comments about its form, or specific lines, or words, or the awkwardness of its diction (I've rewritten or heavily edited some as the result of such comments here, since I admit to writing straight onto screen): but if I feel that it's the best I can do on some truly worthy theme, I'm simply relieved that I've got it down at all, even if it receives the most scathing and justified response, or dead silence (as I've noticed any poem mentioning G*d tends to get...) .
    There's my first thoughts. Probably missed out the most important as usual...

  • Rookie Mary Nagy (5/10/2005 5:40:00 AM) Post reply

    I hope you all don't mind me commenting on your 'leaving comments' topic. I leave comments on many poems. I don't feel I'm qualified to give technical advice or critiques but I do feel like letting the poet know that I've enjoyed their work. I leave comments varying from how it made me feel to simply 'Great poem'. I hope you're not saying not to...I enjoy letting people know somebody is enjoying their writing and I think most people like to know it. (At least I hope so) I am curious to hear other people voice their opinion on this because if my comments are just...a waste of time...I'd rather know it and not waste mine or anyone else's time. I for one, post for fun...if I truly wanted help with my writing I would ask a professor. But, that's just me. Interesting to hear how 'comments' are viewed.

  • Rookie ***** ***** (5/9/2005 7:00:00 PM) Post reply

    I have contacted administration to have this poem included in the mix, and I will be following it with other gems from this lesser-known but surely-should-have-been-exalted collections. [funny, the establishment misses the best]

    Michael Hartnett, Rest-In-Peace.

  • Rookie ***** ***** (5/9/2005 6:14:00 PM) Post reply

    I typed this from his book so excuse minor errors...

  • Rookie ***** ***** (5/9/2005 6:13:00 PM) Post reply | Read 2 replies

    Here is a poem of utter genius.... one of my favourite poets and a personal mentor.... now deceased, eaten by a vicious affliction..

    Michael Hartnett

    The Retreat of Ita Cagney

    for Liam Brady


    Their barbarism did not assuage the grief:
    their polished boots, their Sunday clothes,
    the drone of hoarse melodeons.
    The smoke was like the edge of blue scythes.
    The downpour smell of overcoats
    made the kitchen cry for air;
    snuff lashed the nose like nettles
    and the toothless praising of the dead
    spun on like unoiled bellows.
    She could not understand her grief:
    the women who had washed his corpse
    were now more intimate with him
    than she had ever been.
    She put a square of silk upon her head
    and hidden in the collars of her coat
    she felt her way along the whitewashed walls.
    The road became a dim knkife.
    She had no plan
    but instinct neighed around her
    like a pulling horse.


    Moulded to a wedge of jet
    by the wet night, her black hair
    showed one grey rib, like a fine
    steel filing on a forge floor.
    One deep line cut be silent
    days of hate in the expanse
    of sallow skin above her brows,
    dipped down to a tragic slant.
    Her eyebrows wre thin penlines
    Finely drawn on parchment sheets,
    Hair after mimiscule hair
    A linear nasterpiece.
    Triangles of minute gold
    Broke her open blue of eyes
    That had looked on bespoke love
    Seeing only to despise.

    Her long nose was almost bone
    making her face too severe:
    the tight and rose-edged nostrils
    never belled into a flare.
    A fine gold down above the
    upper lip did not maintain
    its prettiness not lower’s swell
    make it less a graph on pain.
    Chin and jawline delicate,
    neither weak not skeletal:
    bone in definite stern mould,
    small and strong like a fox-skull.
    Her throat showed no signs of age.
    No sinews reinforced flesh
    or gathered in clenched fistfuls
    to pull skin to a lined mesh.

    The rest was shapeless, in black woollen dress.


    Door opened halving darkness bronze
    and half an outlines man
    filled half the bronze.
    Lamplight whipped upright into gold
    the hairs along his nose,
    flowed coils of honey
    around his head.
    In the centre of his throat
    clipped on his blue-striped shirt
    a stud briefly pierced a thorn of light.

    The male smell of the kitchen
    engulfed her face,
    odours of lost gristle
    and grease along the wall:
    her headscarf laughed a challenge,
    its crimson wrinkles crackling.
    He knuckled up the wooden latch
    and closed the door for many years.


    Great ceremony later causes pain:
    next year in hatred and in grief, the vain
    white dress, the bulging priest, the frantic dance,
    the vowing and the sickening wished, land
    like careful hammers on a broken hand.
    But in this house no scared text was read.
    He offered her some food: they went to bed,
    his arm and side a helmet for her head.
    This was no furtive country coupling: this
    was the ultimate hello, kiss and kiss
    exchanged and bodies introduced. Their skin –
    to choose so late a moment to begin,
    while shamefaced chalice, pyx, ciborium
    clanged their giltwrapped anger in the room.


    The swollen leather creaks
    like lost birds
    and the edges of her shawl
    fringe down into the dark
    while glaciers of oilskins drip around her
    and musical traces and chafing of harness
    and tedious drumming of hooves on the gravel
    make her labour pains become
    the direct rebuke and pummel of the town.

    Withdrawing from her pain
    to the nightmare warmth
    beneath her shawl
    the secret meeting in the dark
    becomes a public spectacle
    and baleful sextons turn their heads
    and sullen shadows mutter hate
    and snarl and debate
    and shout vague threats of hell.

    The crossroads blink their headlamp warning
    and break into a rainbow on the shining tar:
    the new skill turns in its warm pain,
    the new skull pushes towards its morning.


    O my small and warm creature
    with your gold hair and your skin
    that smells of milk and apples,
    I must always lock you in
    where nothing much can happen.
    But you will hate these few rooms,
    for a dove is bound to come
    with leaves and outdoor perfumes:
    already the talons drum
    a beckoning through the slates,
    bring form the people words
    and messages of hate.
    Soon the wingbeats of this bird
    will whisper down in their dive.
    I dread the coming of this dove
    for its beak will be a knife
    and if you leave armed with my love
    they will tell you what you lack.

    The will make you wear my life
    like a hump upon your back.


    …. each footprint being green in the wet grass
    in search of mushrooms like white moons of lime,
    each hazel ooze of cowdung through the toes,
    being warm, and slipping like a floor of silk …
    but all the windows are in mourning here:
    the giant eye gleams like a mucous hill.
    She pictured cowslips, then his farmer’s face,
    and waited in a patient discontent.
    A heel of mud fell from his garden boots
    embossed with nails and whit-hilt shoots of grass,
    a hive of hayseeds in the woollen grooves
    of meadow coats fell golden on the floor,
    and apples with medallions of rust
    englobed a thickening cider on the shelf:
    and holly on the varnished frames bent in
    and curved its cat-sharp fingernails of green.
    The rooms became resplendent with these signs.


    I will put purple crêpe and crimson crêpe
    and white crêpe on the shelf
    and watch the candles cry
    O salutaris hostia.
    I will light the oil-lamp till it burns
    like a scarlet apple
    and was the candlegrease
    upon the ledges interweave
    to ropes of ivory.
    I have not insulted God:
    I have insulted
    crombie coats and lace mantillas,
    Sunday best and church collections,
    and they declare my life a sinful act:
    not because it hurts
    the God they say they love –
    not because their sins are less –
    but because my happiness
    is not a public fact.


    In rhythmic dance the neighbours move
    outside my door, become dumb dolls
    as venom breaks in strident fragments
    on the glass; broken insults clatter
    on the slates. The pack retreats,
    the instruments of siege withdraw
    and skulk into the foothills to regroup.
    The houses nudge and mutter through the night
    and wait intently for the keep to fall.
    She guards her sleeping citizen
    and paces the exhausting floor:
    on speaking avenues of stone
    she hears the infantry of eyes advance.

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    • Rookie ***** ***** (5/9/2005 8:22:00 PM) Post reply

      I have to admit he is an influence and gave me such insight into a world I can only dream of at times....

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  • Rookie ***** ***** (5/9/2005 3:54:00 PM) Post reply

    JC I fear this error is another of the relaxations of grammatical rule.. something which bothers me also.

    Moreover, pretty soon 'ask' will become 'axe' and the whole 'ight ending will have disappeared altogether in preference of the 'ite ending.. night=nite etc.. It is a laziness that is fearfully creeping in all too quickly. Don't get me wrong - I am not a language snob and I do believe in stretching rules. Also I do believe that evolution will apply to language as well as anything else. I just lament the changes... as they are more dictated to us by business, media and such than the more knowledgeable schools of english.

  • Rookie Andy Konisberg (5/9/2005 3:14:00 PM) Post reply | Read 3 replies

    a perfectly valid word 'academician'...it's made me consider something which might make for a bit of fun. personally, I would have preferred the word 'academian' to 'academician'. However, my preferred word does not exist, Jefferson's does. It made me consider the word 'think'...it always seemed logical to me that the past participle should be 'thunk' (however inelegant) ...anybody else have words that don't exist that they believe should be words? I know I'm inviting in the 'rogue element' to abuse this enquiry, but for others, I considered it may be an interesting gambit.

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    • Rookie ***** ***** (5/9/2005 3:21:00 PM) Post reply

      Wow.. I'd love to engage with this challenge, but I am 'blessed' with a rather unfortunate memory... I know and am itching to remember ones that have come up.. will have to rattle this old cage to see ... more

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  • Rookie ***** ***** (5/9/2005 2:59:00 PM) Post reply

    I would suggest that that statistic is less about a particular nation and more about the global collection of poets.. with only 10 percent overall reading and commenting. I admit that I don't read enough, but am improving and it is informing my work. Irish people are given an english education which would make anyone stop speaking the language.. it's force-fed and regurgitated at will.. no wonder Irish people don't go back to literature.. for the most part. It gathers a lump of fear in the throat. If people are to read poetry then education systems need alteration to encourage people to interpret openly, not solely reiterate the PhD theses of past pupils.

    With respect to Ms. Boland, being part of the educational establishment can blind many academics to that little nugget of truth.


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