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  #11  
Unread 09-21-2023, 06:57 AM
Jim Ramsey Jim Ramsey is offline
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Hi Yves,

I'll have to think hard about that suggestion, not about its merits exactly, as I see your point. I have a weakness for making my pieces narratives with beginnings, middles and ends. That weakness lets tangents and digressions easily in and my poems lose focus and centeredness and get sloppy, or, the opposite happens and they trod so carefully on a laid out path they can never get free. That part of me wants to keep the currently diversional ending where the imagination of the young James is still stymied (for years to come) and needs a bathroom break before the lesson resumes. That ending does interrupt the flow, or drive, as you say. I do that intentionally, which does not mean I wouldn't be willing to change it. Your idea may inspire me to make this more poetic, which I said is my intent, and which would also help me move away from my typical prosy rut. In a way, you are carrying on the role of that former teacher in getting me toward a loftier plane. We'll see if I am a better listener now. That said, I am going to let this one sit for now until I am more inspired. Thanks.
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  #12  
Unread 09-21-2023, 10:15 AM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hi Jim,

I don't think of myself as trying to get you to a loftier plane, more that line writing is one of the most basic fundamentals of all poetry writing (like being able to dribble in basketball, throw a pitch in baseball, being able to do an accurate side foot pass in what you Americans call soccer), and insufficient attention on the craft of line writing would mean not even getting really started in the game of poetry.

When folk are asking you to make the poem shorter, or talk about earlier passages being little poems in themselves, I reckon what they are partially sensing is how lax your line writing becomes as the poem goes on.
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  #13  
Unread 09-21-2023, 01:32 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Jim, do you ever write short, tighter poems, for practice if nothing else? Itís something I do because I can focus more on each line and this sounds and beats in the line. This isnít offered as a slur on this poem. I commented on it previously. Itís a mere suggestion based on something Iíve done.

The Sphere isnít as it once was. Now you have to plead with people to take your critiques in the spirit theyíre offered and not respond by calling you a liar and such.
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  #14  
Unread 09-21-2023, 01:59 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Well, it was tougher, John. And this wouldn't have survived. On the other hand, it's way more free verse friendly, and there's much, much more cross over than there was before. So there's that. I'll come back, Jim, and give you a more detailed crit. For now, I just think this is trying too hard, straining. It feels like drama for drama's sake. For lack of a better word, it feels young. There are really nice moments- the breathe part, imo, is the poem. But there are other moments... I'll come back.
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  #15  
Unread 09-23-2023, 11:45 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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It really could be just me, but I'm having trouble sorting out who's speaking, right from the start. From the Yes, James, we can only know the one... Are you talking to yourself in the italicized parts? Up until the close it seems so, then obviously with the hall pass, it suddenly is the teacher who is in italics ?? So, that's a barrier for me. Again, maybe this is crystal clear to others.

As far as the content, there's certainly a sense of unity, closing with glad to be alive. And like I mentioned before, my favorite part was with what the speaker is instructed (?) he doesn't need, the description of the chest rising and falling. That's a great moment/idea, imo. I'd be tempted to put that even closer to the end of poem, but as I'm still grasping at what you may be going for, I can't really say for sure. The no nose, no senses stuff, etc, for now, I could mostly do without. Perhaps a small gesture in that direction, but it goes on too long, in my view. And that's the part that seems "young" to me and it threw me out of the poem early. Overall, this is better than I first thought, but it still needs work. A bit more focus, and pressure on precisely where/how you want to impact the reader.
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  #16  
Unread 09-23-2023, 01:32 PM
Jim Ramsey Jim Ramsey is offline
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Hi again Yves,

I can't say that line breaks are my expertise. Now, having said that I'll give my defense. Much of the modern published poetry I read has arbitrary line breaks merely to effect the appearance of poetry and that makes it difficult to learn from them. My opinion is that really good poets are good with line breaks but that many published poets well past the beginner stage still are not.
I've read essays and books on writing poetry and nearly all of them talk of the importance of line breaks, of how the reader should only feel the slightest pause at the end of a line, sense some shift in emphasis, thought, or rhythm, a staccato effect in short lines, a languid lull in long ones, or quickly follow an enjambed line as it goes hurtling on. But none of them provides a formula beyond a few dos-and-don'ts. For the most part, my own line breaks admittedly can be weakly arbitrary, but they also reflect the rhythms of my own speech and style of expression, the lilts and inflections I as the author hear in my head and attempt to represent on the page. And therein may be part of the problem. I am somewhat of a monotonic speaker. Poetry "experts" do not like predictable line breaks based on grammar, each line a sentence or clause. I on the other hand tend to like those, because I like to talk logically. In my two years on the sphere, I have yet to see where any comment has suggested breaking a particular line in a different spot other than to perhaps suggest an enjambment. Yes, I have seen great suggestions on adding white space or reformatting stanzas, or making lines shorter or longer or truer to meter or form. However, in a free verse poem I've never read a single comment that gives a specific suggestion on line breaks. When I've heard praise of line breaks, it's never been spelled out why the praise occurred. I think that speaks to the lack of a standard for what makes a good line break. I am trying to learn by ear, and as I've said, mine is not the best. Also, in this piece I am intentionally going for a different tone and pacing in the ending to reflect that the student James at that time was incapable of finding the mysteries of poetry as intoxicating as the teacher did. So I'll have to think on making major changes to the narrative it is giving.

Hi again John,

I agree that I should try writing shorter poems, even if just for practice as you say. I've said it before on the sphere that my purpose in being here to is to become more publishable. I know editors prefer, even often mandate, short poems. I've heard many commenters here on the sphere say they get bored with long poems. I've seen the shorter poems get many more comments and views. In that respect I'm sure the sphere is simply reflective of general preferences. I have written several sonnets and posted them, and they got the best responses here. I don't know why I can't always take what is obvious to me and use it to my advantage...

Hi James,

First, I'll try to clarify who is speaking in the poem to whom (assuming I actually know that myself). My intended image is that the teacher is giving a class lesson and that one student, James, a bit obtuse, a bit too logical, keeps interrupting in trying to puzzle though what the teacher is saying. We never actually hear James speaking, though. All of the poem is the teacher speaking, either to the class in a monologue lesson, or aside in italics to James in response to his implied questions or comments. I have worried that my formatting is bad, that the italics could be read as unspoken thoughts, that the whole could be read as a one-on-one conversation, or some other way. Second, is that I will think about what you are saying about some of the piece sounding young and about the little internal lecture on the senses going on too long and will think about how to fix those things. I can see your point about both. I do face the problem though that the teacher is addressing students at some level of secondary schooling and I do want to maintain a sense of authenticity. Thanks for coming back and setting my brain into action.
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  #17  
Unread 09-23-2023, 02:53 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I think the authentic follows good writing. Don't mistake true for authentic. I have certain intentions when I write anything. Let the poem talk back to you. And listen to it.
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  #18  
Unread 09-23-2023, 03:43 PM
Christine P'legion Christine P'legion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Ramsey View Post
My intended image is that the teacher is giving a class lesson and that one student, James, a bit obtuse, a bit too logical, keeps interrupting in trying to puzzle though what the teacher is saying. We never actually hear James speaking, though. All of the poem is the teacher speaking, either to the class in a monologue lesson, or aside in italics to James in response to his implied questions or comments.
For what it's worth, I found that structure clear and was able to follow it easily.

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Brancheau View Post
Don't mistake true for authentic.
James, I'd love for you to unpack that statement a little, if you're willing.
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  #19  
Unread 09-23-2023, 04:20 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Unpack? That's an in thing to say. Ok. I wrote a poem about a Vietnam vet (that's how it unfolded) suffering from PTSD. Pressuring his very young son to go on a really tough rollercoaster. The son was terrified, as he was on it but scared more, in the end, about how his father was out of his seat, not himself or caring about his own well-being. No facts there. Except that my father did always make me go on the toughest ride first, and died at 50 partly from, I believe, being a union leader, a firefighter, at a bad time. Unpacked?

Last edited by James Brancheau; 09-23-2023 at 05:11 PM.
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  #20  
Unread 09-23-2023, 06:08 PM
Christine P'legion Christine P'legion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Brancheau View Post
Unpack? That's an in thing to say.
No worries, I'll add "unpack" to the long list of how Millennnials ruin everything. But it's a little pithier than "please restate this with more detail for the slow kids at the back," no?

But that does clarify things, yes; thank you. If I understand you correctly, when you said not to mistake true foer authentic, you were using "true" in the sense of "factual," and "authentic" to mean what I would probably call "emotionally true." I don't think you can be authentic without also being truthful (hence my initial confusion) -- but what you're being truthful about makes the difference. It's not always the bare facts -- just as a novel, say, can read as authentic/true in the emotional, psychological, relational (etc.) sense even if the events it relates are completely imaginary.
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