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Friday, October 12, 2012

Thoughts on rejected poems...

The Indiana Review posted a list here of the Top 5 reasons they reject poems. Some of these seem obvious, and yet I know that they exist. Some, perhaps, I don't agree with, but thoughts on first lines, last lines and cliche are certainly spot on.

What do you guys think. Those of you who are editors, why do you choose the poems you do or why do you reject the poems you do? Those of you who are poets, how should editors rate or rank poems?

7 comments:

michael salinger said...

Boring first line! How about boring first four lines. I want to be impelled to read on.

Geoffrey A. Landis said...

Now I really want to write a poem that starts out:
I met Janine when I was twelve,
the moon overhead,
as May became June.
A hot air balloon filled with jackrabbits in my chest
every time she looks at me.
It’s Tuesday.

pottygok said...

So what MAKES for a boring first line (or four lines) that would compel the reader forward?

michael salinger said...

Do you mean what makes for a boring first line that WOULDN'T compel one to read forward.

I would say cliches - drawn out setting description before I have any reason to care about the setting - straight forward prose with no craft in the words - rhetorical diatribes - anything that wouldn't make me smile abit upon perusing it.

pottygok said...

I think what I meant was "So what MAKES for a boring first line and what makes a line (or four lines) that would compel the reader forward?" But you way works, too!

*I would say cliches

This was, indeed, addressed in the article. I'm going to throw, along side "cliches" the concept of "abstract" or "bland" language.

*drawn out setting description before I have any reason to care about the setting

OOOH! Can you give an example of this? Or invent one?

*straight forward prose with no craft in the words

How do you mean? Can you provide an example?

*rhetorical diatribes

I think anything ranting or pedantic becomes an immediate turn off, but I've noticed a fair number of poems beginning with a directive to the reader. How do you feel about the use of the imperative?

*anything that wouldn't make me smile abit upon perusing it.

So poetry must make you smile or be entertaining?

michael salinger said...

Sorry been on the road a bit:


OOOH! Can you give an example of this? Or invent one?

I awoke the sun glistening on my bedside table - dust motes dancing in the beams - the window cracked a bit - chirping coming from outside

etc. etc. Nothing is happening.

*straight forward prose with no craft in the words

I get so angry when I feel this dissed that I cannot hardly think - it just isn't fair that you treat me so bad. My face gets all angry looking, and my hands act all mad.

I.E. telling not showing

So poetry must make you smile or be entertaining?

Yep - not necessarily because of humor - but because of recognition of a connection with the work.

pottygok said...

>>OOOH! Can you give an example of
>>this? Or invent one?

>I awoke the sun glistening on my
>bedside table - dust motes dancing
>in the beams - the window cracked a
>bit - chirping coming from outside

>etc. etc. Nothing is happening.

And yet this reads very much like many of the poems currently praised and published. I'm thinking here of Collins (see the other post concerning this), Koozer, etc. The "big names," if you will, in poetry. Why is this? Why do many poems begin with this sort of nothing happening, and offer thoughts or musings on it?

Cited...

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