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Friday, November 28, 2008

Blind Review Friday

Blind Review Friday.

The author shall remain anonymous (unless they chose to divulge themselves in the comments.)

Those commenting are also welcome to remain anonymous if they wish.

Incendiary comments will be removed.

If you would like your piece thrown to the wolves send it to salinger@ameritech.net with "Workshop the hell out of this poem" as the subject line.




untitled

The wind whips gentle circles taking the last vestiges of
The dying season and scattering them along the empty streets
The rustling along the garden gate now creaks with the sound
Of winter as it weaves its chill threads around me
The hardened frost crunches beneath my feet.
Time is the bandit now stealing minutes and hours
Precious grains of hour-glass moments
Swiftly slipping through the neck of oblivion
As I race to capture them, rescue them
I wonder how much time we really have, you and I
I wonder if you too will irreversibly
Slip away from me as all else has.
For I see the changes coming in our lives
How Fate races hard to separate us
How I cling tightly hoping to stem the tide
The stolen kisses and whispered promises
The furtive but passionate embraces
Our separate private yearnings always left unspoken
We try to keep them desperately from dying away.
So many words are left unspoken, so many
Unmet desires and dreams left like wads of paper on the floor
Written words just abandoned, not forgotten
Just displaced so sadly by life’s circumstances
Where is this going I ask myself? Where will this all end?
For it feels like time hastens for some conclusion.
So I wend my way through this chill change
Trying to keep step with time's quickening pace
Not know when or where the change will meet me
Bracing myself for winter but yearning hopefully for spring
And knowing all the while I am racing, racing
Winter’s silent beat as it brings the chill winds of change
Rattling at my hearts inner door.

17 comments:

Larry Smith/ Bottom Dog Press said...

Often we defeat our best intentions in our writing, and usually this happens when we distrust our own sincerity...as here where real sentiment is sold for cliche's thought and language.
It's the approach to language and the poem that need adjusting here.

Anonymous said...

I think some more specific criticism would be helpful... Thank you..

Larry Smith/ Bottom Dog Press said...

Well, I'm not in it to give specific instructions. Often what we can give each other as fellow writers is a sense of approach. I find a trite phrase or cliche in almost every other line...Ex. "passionate embraces...the chill winds of change...my heart's inner door." This is neither original nor since writing; it's falling back on what others have thought and said. I wish the poet well, but he or she has to come clean and be real here. Poetry is not a game.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to writing poetry and am learning, so specific comments are more useful to me than the general ones.
This is more specific and points to areas I need to work on.. so thank you.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

I'll agree with much of what Larry said. ("stem the tide" is another cliche-- does anybody really use the word "stem" in that usage anymore?) On the other hand, I don't think "rattling at my heart's inner door" is a cliche, or at least it's one I hadn't heard before. I kind of like it.

Despite all that, I found it moving-- maybe it just hit my mood today, or maybe I'm just a sucker for this sentiment, but I'm ashamed to admit that when I got to the end it worked for me.

Anonymous said...

I've tried to look at the poem objectively which sometimes is hard to do being the author.And this is the first time I've submitted my work to be critiqued. But I think after taking your comments into consideration I have some ideas for changing it.
I think you are right there are cliches there that aren't needed or could be stated differently. My own feeling is the "bones" of the poem are strong, it's layout and structure are good. So I will tinker with it.

Thank you...

Ann Igma said...

Perhaps I misunderstand the word, but doesn't "cliche" mean overused? I couldn't help but chuckle when I read the assertion that "stem the tide" is a cliche in the same sentence as a suggestion that "stem the tide" is never used "in that usage anymore." Either it's overused or it's not used. And the rhetorical question "does anybody really use the word 'stem' in that usage anymore?" could be answered in the affirmative by reading the poem under consideration.

Now that I've heartily amused myself (and perhaps no one else), I will return to my Crown Royal.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

I didn't say that the phrase "stem the tide" wasn't used in that sense anymore. I asked whether the word "stem" is still commonly used with the meaning "to hold back," in any place other than in one or two cliches, such as "stem the tide" or "stem the rebellion." Do you, in fact, hear people use that word in common speech, other than in the cliche? If I said "I'm going on vacation, so I think I'll stem my mail for a week," would it sound like I was speaking a little oddly?

Continued use of a word that has lost its currency is often the very signature of a cliche. Do you know what tenterhooks are? Yet people still say "waiting on tenterhooks." That's a cliche. How about using "bate" instead of "abate"? Saying "waiting with bated breath"-- that's a cliche. How about shinola-- have you ever heard that word used other than in the cliche beginning "he doesn't know the difference between..."?

Anonymous said...

I actually don't know why you cannot use a well placed phrase, quote, or cliche... if it makes your point? What better way to quickly paint a picture or convey an idea? There is no ambiguity in what you are trying to say... I can see not wanting to over use them... but using one or two with effect... what is wrong with that?

It seems you enjoy sparing with one another over semantics.... is that what this is about...?

pottygok said...

Just for the author, going through the poem line by line, here's the list of cliches and abstractions (another poem killer) that I found:

"The wind whips"
"the last vestiges"
"The dying season"
"rustling" (in conjunction with leaves)
"The hardened frost crunches"
"crunches beneath my feet."
"Time is the bandit now stealing minutes and hours"
"Precious grains of hour-glass moments"
"Swiftly slipping through the neck of oblivion"
"I wonder how much time we really have, you and I"
"I wonder if you too will irreversibly"
"Slip away from me as all else has."
"For I see the changes coming in our lives" -- Let the audience see them. How do you see them? What do you see?

"How Fate races hard to separate us" -- HOW??? This sounds interesting, but if we as the reader don't know what you're referring to, there is only one other person who might understand this poem.

"How I cling tightly hoping to stem the tide"
"The stolen kisses and whispered promises"
"The furtive but passionate embraces"
"Our separate private yearnings always left unspoken"
"We try to keep them desperately from dying away."
"So many words are left unspoken, so many"
"Unmet desires and dreams"
"just abandoned, not forgotten
Just displaced so sadly by life’s circumstances"
"Where is this going I ask myself? Where will this all end?"--One general "rule" or "guideline" in poetry is don't ask vague questions. It works sometimes, but rarely.

"it feels like time hastens for some conclusion."--How does it feel that way? How do you know?


"Trying to keep step with time's quickening pace"
"Not know when or where"
"the change"
"Bracing myself for winter"
"yearning hopefully"
"the chill winds of change"
"my hearts inner door."


Here's what I'm getting from this poem--someone or something is leaving (dying, perhaps?), and you don't want them to, maybe because you love them?

Okay, with that in mind, I want to know the specifics. Right now, I feel like I'm watching this scene from very far away, and I'm getting vague hints and details about what's happening, but not the whole picture or the whole story. I'm being told how you feel, but I'm not feeling it for myself because of this distanced approach. I would suggest, instead of "tinkering," rewriting this from the top with every specific detail of the experience. Let me know who "you" is, where they're going, how you know they're going, what's happening, etc. Appeal to everyone of my senses with specific images. Let me feel what you're feeling.

pottygok said...

Anonymous wrote "I actually don't know why you cannot use a well placed phrase, quote, or cliche... if it makes your point? What better way to quickly paint a picture or convey an idea? There is no ambiguity in what you are trying to say... I can see not wanting to over use them... but using one or two with effect... what is wrong with that?"

The whole point of poetry is, as Pound once insisted, to "Make It New." The idea behind avoiding cliches is that they are tired language, images so overused that they have become common, and at this point in our language, don't mean anything. So it doesn't serve the author at all and doesn't make any point. In response to your question, "What better way to quickly paint a picture or convey an idea?"...well, that's the hard part, isn't it? The job of the poet is to paint those pictures and convey those ideas with fresh, imaginable, original images, capturing the reader's imagination and allowing the reader to feel and participate in the experience with the speaker in the poem.

Anonymous said...

Your comments are more helpful.. and specific...and discouraging of course.

But thank you ... obviously the trash bin is the best place for this piece.

C. Crette said...

What I see here is some honest criticism and dialogue concerning the poem, and then some hurt feelings on the part of the poet. I address this to the poet, and not the poem: this is a place where writers post poems for honest-- this is the key word-- honest review. Otherwise, there's no point to it. (And yes, I have participated in commenting, and had a poem posted for review, so I feel qualified to say this.) If you really want to grow as a writer, and you really want your poems to improve, listen to the advice and criticisms and see what you can do differently... and then try again. You have to work at the craft. We all do.

Larry Smith/ Bottom Dog Press said...

"Well, Anonymous, I hope you don't get discouraged or feel the need to defend your work. Just listen to the responses that have come and accept the ones that teach you something. My original comments was about how we are trying to say something real and sincere and can be tripped up by our own tenedency to take the 'first words' that come. We are poets and the right and fresh words do matter; they are our vehicle. So, keep singing, but make it from your heart.

Anonymous said...

Yes of course the criticism stings..

This is the first time I have ever submitted something for review.. it takes some getting used to.

As I said I am a fledgling poet... I have no illusions of where I am... I am learning. And would not have submitted this poem if I had not wanted feedback on it. It really is written in a style I normally don't use.. I usually do write much more personally than this but have been criticized for it being too personal. So though I would change things up... obviously it needs work... that is a given.
And I appreciate all the feedback even if I feel some of it is a bit harsh.

Anonymous said...

One small thing I learned while writing poems is to take out all the ING words and make them more action words. It seems to brighten the poem.

There are small juicy nuggets that can be built upon in this poem. I like this phrase, "Swiftly slipping through the neck of oblivion" because it takes something abstract (oblivion) and links it to something concrete (neck.)

The only cure for "bad" poetry is to KEEP writing, keep writing, keep writing! :)

-tg

Joy Leftow said...

hmm, it's an interesting dichotomy to have the wind whip gentle. The other thing interesting is that it is lovely prose, "taking the last vestiges of a dying season and scattering them along the empty streets." I also like some of the other turns of phrases, "creaks with the sound of winter as it weaves its chill threads around me.
rewrite as prose ... is my suggestion.

Cited...

The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau