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 09-03-2023, 07:45 AM
Jim Ramsey Jim Ramsey is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 433
Default Ars Poetica as Self Portrait

Newest edit 92023 0554am, S9 was:
Make me fall in love with what you say. Why beauty?
Why mention it? Is there a science to it?
Does it have a shape? I was just born today.
Tell me what’s important.

Version 2

The Teacher Said

write a poem for me about what you know.
Will you write of life, or death?

xxxxxYes, James. We can only truly know the one.

Close your eyes and see.
Plug your ears and smell!
You cannot smell, not flowers, not onions;
you have no nose. Touch!
Now you have no nerves of touch or tastebuds—
improvise! Tell me onions taste like nightmares
or walk me into the waking yawn of New York
before the commuter trains come in.

xxxxxSummer or winter; either one works for me.
xxxxxIt’s up to you, James. Yes, I have been to New York.
xxxxxNope, don’t know when the trains start coming in.
xxxxxYes, I think it is known as the city that never sleeps.


I come from a world of no oceans
or birds or flowers or dying cats.
Don’t give in to easy sentiments.

xxxxxSeas count same as oceans, James. What?
xxxxxNo, I don’t know what nightmares taste like.


Give me the one small detail that says everything—

xxxxxYes, James, saying “Breathe” is enough.
xxxxxNo need to add the rise and fall of the chest.
xxxxxI agree—if you’re alive, you’re breathing.
xxxxxYou were listening last week, weren’t you?


Give me love, give me beauty,
but do not speak their names.
I was just born today.
Show me what it is I feel.

xxxxxMy brain’s in a fog too, James.

There, that’s what I want from you!
What do I want? I want more
than life can ever be.

xxxxxYes, James. You may.
xxxxxBe sure to take the hall pass.
xxxxxI’m glad to be alive too, James.



Version 1

The Teacher Said

Dream me as your reader
and write a poem for me today.
Pretend I as reader lack reason;
can only react.
Maybe it’s the future; no one
dies; will you talk of death?

xxxxxYes, that’s right, James. We all still do die.

But close your eyes and see something; then lose
that image from the mind so you must listen!
Plug your ears. Keep your eyes shut and smell!
But now you cannot smell, not flowers, not onions;
you have no nose. Touch!
Now you have no hands or nerves of touch,
no taste buds. Improvise!
Tell me onions taste like nightmares
or walk me into the waking yawn
of New York before the commuter trains come in.

xxxxxSummer or winter; either one works for me.
xxxxxIt’s up to you, James. Yes, I have been to New York.
xxxxxI’m clueless who’ll be there that time of day.
xxxxxNope, don’t know when the trains start coming in.
xxxxxYes, I think it is known as the city that never sleeps.


I am a blank slate with unshaped empathies;
make me feel you.
I was born without the concepts
of who, what, why, where, when,
but give them to me somehow.
I come from a world of no oceans
or birds or flowers or dying cats.
Don’t give in to easy sentiments.

xxxxxSeas count same as oceans, James. What?
xxxxxNo, I don’t know what nightmares taste like.


Give me the one small detail that says everything—

xxxxxYes, James, too much detail can be bad.
xxxxxSaying “Breathe” is enough.
xxxxxNo need to add the rise and fall of the chest.
xxxxxYes, redundancy is a problem too, I agree—
xxxxxif you’re alive, you’re breathing.
xxxxxYou were listening last week, weren’t you?


I have never known love. Make me fall in love
with what you say. Why beauty? What’s beauty?
Why mention it? Is there a science to it? Does it have a shape?
I was just born today. Tell me what’s important.

xxxxxMy brain’s in a fog too, James.

There, that’s what I want from you!
What do I want? I want more
than life can ever be.

xxxxxYes, James. You may.
xxxxxBe sure to take the hall pass.
xxxxxI’m glad to be alive too, James.

Last edited by Jim Ramsey; 09-20-2023 at 06:01 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 09-05-2023, 11:26 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Posts: 1,392
Default

I didnít think I was going to like this, Jim, but I did and do and will let it work on me. What a shame I didnít have that teacher. What a shame you werenít a teacher.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 09-08-2023, 05:24 AM
Jim Ramsey Jim Ramsey is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 433
Default

Carl,

What can I say except thank you for giving this a read and some kindness through response. I wrote it quite some time ago as a way of acknowledging that the rational part of me takes too much control at times. It is pretty much an imagined experience in that it represents my thought processes more than my actual vocalizations. I was too shy when young to have ever brought so much attention on myself with so many questions, and also I was never quite as stubbornly the devil's advocate, even when only in thought. I only ever had one English teacher before college who gently pushed the class to see beyond what was in our textbooks, and although I cannot remember things she actually said, this piece does pay homage to the general tenor of her lesson delivery and content.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 09-08-2023, 05:59 AM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2022
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Posts: 1,392
Default

Jim, I regret having nothing useful to say. I limit myself to telling poets where I stumbled or winced or scratched my head and leave the heavy lifting—if any is needed—to the pros. This poem works for me, and I hope it’ll work on me. All I can say.

Last edited by Carl Copeland; 09-08-2023 at 07:56 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 09-08-2023, 08:17 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 4,082
Default

.
Carl’s tender reaction to the poem was more than I was willing to give it — until he said what he said — and now I am flooded with my own thoughts of moments when I felt the epiphanies of sage teachers that left an indelible mark on my soul. There were only three: Ms. Cunningham, Mr. Goodhart, and W.A. Hughes (I mention them here to honor them).
Like Carl, too, I don’t have much to say beyond that. Except to cut and paste what I had begun to write but left unfinished prior to my coming back this morning to see what I could see…

This is what I wrote:

Jim, This is a poem I sometimes feel I write every day, every hour, every minute. It feels good to express it, but generally it defies translation and, on the occasion I share it with someone, they don’t have much to say in response to it. It’s too personal or something. It may be that, If it is to have a life of its own, you look for the nuggets of poetry embedded within it.

The inner dialog approach is for your eyes only. It’s hard to talk outloud to yourself and not have passersby think they are being asked to listen to the thought mechanisms. It asks too much of the reader to relate to it in a way that doesn’t see the poem as self-absorbed. Here in Erato you are presenting your poem to an exclusive audience of poets/writers… We are all self-absorbed.


…And then I stopped my critique for some reason or another. Distraction is my archenemy. (Half of what I write in response to poems posted here never sees the light of day. They just fade into the wake of words that trail behind me.)


Other thoughts:
  • I suppose its biggest limitation is that it feels a bit like a journal entry.
  • I’m glad I took this moment, at this moment, to respond to your poem. Your poem is telling the poet how to release themselves from the ruts we travel in.
  • The teacher in the poem is, of course, giving the N criticism on this poem as it is written. That’s pretty cool. Cleverly even :m )
  • Lines like these:

Tell me onions taste like nightmares
or walk me into the waking yawn
of New York before the commuter trains come in.


are little poems in and of themselves.
  • I suppose the ancient art of honing a poem down to its essence would suggest that you find a way to shorten it. I think it is an “artifact poem”. (You call it ars poetica and a self-portrait which I suppose it is, but more than that, it is an artifact.)
  • Everyman poeticized as being both a student and a teacher.

Consider starting the poem with a lowercase “dream” since it can be read as a continuation of the title.

I enjoyed this, can relate to it. It feels authentic.

.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-08-2023 at 08:09 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 09-08-2023, 03:31 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 6,086
Default

Jim, there is much to like here. I particularly like the opening. It is all felt and relays the feelings. In terms of suggestions, I wonder if it goes on too long and becomes a little repetitive. I will admit that longer poems aren't always my favorites, so factor that in, but when "James" begins to be addressed directly I wonder if some condensing can be done by combining aspects of each section. The way it is now creates a rhythm, I sense that, but at least for the fun of it maybe noodle with shortening it. Overall, I like it.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 09-19-2023, 03:57 PM
Jim Ramsey Jim Ramsey is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 433
Default

So sorry to be getting back late to respond to comments. I have been mulling this piece for months trying to think of how to make it more poetic. I have posted a version 2 that basically just shortened what I had by cutting the number of lines from fifty to thirty-seven. There also might have been a couple tweaks that smarten "James" slightly. My intent has been to represent the teacher's monologue as more poetic than the companioning dialogue going on aside with the interrupting "James."

Carl,

Thanks for coming back. I wasn't trying to prompt a more analytical response from you. I was just actually thankful for any response on a piece that I thought might be found boring and self-indulgent, and that wasn't getting any responses.

Jim and John,

I am very grateful for your comments. As I have done before here on the sphere, I mulled over how to effect meaningful changes (which I do think were needed and still are) and spent so long doing so I began to feel guilty about finally responding and pulling the piece back to the top of the board. Revision, at least for me, is a revelatory experience when it works. One night's sleep and new ideas can blossom from a withered vine. Or revision can be a drag, many night's sleep and the feeling coming on that even the roots have died. I did shorten this as you both suggested, which is all I've been able to accomplish so far. Regretfully, I don't feel I've been able though to make the piece more poetic. Everyone commenting has liked the little inner poem about the waking yawn of New York, and maybe that's the one part of the poem that will eventually grow into something better. Thanks again for the thoughtful and helpful responses.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 09-19-2023, 06:34 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: London
Posts: 716
Default

Hello Jim,

I am less convinced with the section that starts with "Make me fall in love with what you say. Why beauty?" since the lines themselves as lines of poetry become less compelling, so the poem loses its forward drive.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 09-20-2023, 06:00 AM
Jim Ramsey Jim Ramsey is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: Greensboro, NC
Posts: 433
Default

Hi Yves,

I've edited that stanza in reaction to your suggestion to try to make it fit in a little better with my intent. Improving this step by step is my current goal and I appreciate the help. Thanks
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 09-20-2023, 11:49 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: London
Posts: 716
Default

Hello Jim,

To clarify, I meant the section from that line to the end of the poem, there it felt that less care and attention was being spent on making the lines work as poetic lines.
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: 8,364
Total Threads: 21,837
Total Posts: 272,471
There are 1252 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