Poetics and Poetry Discussion
(6/15/2013 4:55:00 PM)
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For three years you lived in your house
just as it was before she died: your wedding
portrait on the mantel, her clothes hanging
in the closet, her hair still on the brush.
You have told me you gave it all away
then, sold the house, keeping only the confirmation
cross she wore, her name in cursive chased
on the gold underside, your ring in the same
box, those photographs you still avoid,
and the quilt you spread on your borrowed bed -
small things. Months after we met, you told me she had
made it, after we had slept already beneath its loft
and thinning, raveled pattern, as though beneath
her shadow, moving with us, that dark, that soft.
This is a fine contemporary poem, written with meter and freshness. One needn't throw the baby out with the bath water to have a modern sound. In my humblest opinion, if you want to write poems that will have a shot at lasting long after you're dead, lean toward the masters. -LPReplies for this message:
(6/15/2013 7:58:00 PM)
Monty, this is pretty good, nothing special about the catalogue of things but a clear movement line to line. I don't get a sense of meter. It's not very iambic-y.
Alice Vedral Rivera
(6/15/2013 6:21:00 PM)
Lamont, thanks for posting this poem by Claudia Emerson. I really enjoyed reading it.
- Jefferson Carter (6/15/2013 7:58:00 PM) Post reply
(6/15/2013 4:36:00 PM)
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I would differ with JC here a bit. While writing sonnets and villanelles is no longer necessary, (yes, rhyme will never come back, it just sounds too lilting and unnatural to the modern ear) learning to write a tighter, more cadenced form of free verse will give your work a certain polish and set it apart, in a good way, from what is the standard American poem today. The Bukowski/Brautigan/Giovanni type of poem has been exhausted (i.e. poems that seem like dashed-off emails) despite still being written. Poets are returning to rhythm and a SENSE of meter, as in the work of Campbell MacGrath and Claudia Emerson. Emerson does write sonnets often; doing something fresh with them is not 'anachronistic' but shows skill. There's nothing wrong with looking skillful. The one thing that JC and I do agree on completely is originality; you MUST learn to appreciate and write fresh poetry. Cliches, unless used in an ironic way, won't work, not if you're interested in actually publishing. The best poets to read and absorb to break up the cliche habit: Ashbery, O'Hara, Merrill, Jorie Graham, Charles Tomlinson, Keith Waldron, Mary Jo Bang: poets who put their focus chiefly on evocative language and imagery. But in the end, I suppose a poet has to write the poetry that pleases him the most, that fulfills him creatively, whether that poetry is competent, or utter doggerel. The advice that JC and I impart is really for serious poets, writers who want to publish and, perhaps, be noticed critically.
(6/15/2013 2:07:00 PM)
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Alice, I suppose those cliches —babes in the woods, waters of oblivion—would be all right if you somehow re-vitalized them, gave them a new context, played with their sound, until the cliches themselves are re-born as something original. Hard to do. I tried it once with the advertising cliche " a school for famous writers, " changing it to " a school for famous readers, " which I liked a lot. Here's the barrier to your improving as a living, breathing contemporary poet: Your addiction to rhyme and meter. There are a few masters of formal poetry still left (Richard Howard, Anthony Hecht) , but formal verse will never return as a predominant or even minor type of poetry. If you're really skilled formally (and you're not, you lose a line's meter too often) you might be read as a mildly entertaining formal poet, an anachronism who's ignored the last 60 years of American poetry and poetics. Rhyme is DEAD! Meter needs to be handled with careful subtlety. If you could focus on similes, figures of speech, diction, surprising content, (and FORGET rhyme and meter) , breaking lines where they sound best, you might just improve some. Oh, I do like the sound of " manic in panic...."