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Unread 09-29-2023, 04:27 PM
Jayne Osborn's Avatar
Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Middle England
Posts: 6,927

Hi All,

I've been away for a few days, in circumstances that didn't allow me to check in here, and now that I'm back at home, this is the first thread I've had a chance to look at.

I can see that feelings are running a bit high, and different points of view are coming across, so I'm just stepping in to add my thoughts: Firstly, I declined posting privileges to "N", on the grounds that he hadn't made enough substantive critiques of others' poems to qualify (and still may not have done, but I've yet to check).

To N: I know your first name, and it would perhaps be more conducive to making friends here if we could all call you by your given name. (It's not compulsory... but you might like to think about that.)

I haven't had time to study all the comments to determine where this thread went a bit awry, but let's get it back on track, for starters. It's Julie's thread and at the very least we owe it to her to continue the discussion in the way she expected.

I don't believe N is a troll, and I'll PM him and try to resolve certain problems. Meanwhile, any posts that are personal or not pertaining directly to sapphics will be deleted as they will not add anything worthwhile at this stage.

I hope you're all happy with that. Please address further comments, if you have any, to me by PM. Thanks.

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Unread 09-30-2023, 03:36 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 8,220

Originally Posted by Jayne Osborn View Post
It's Julie's thread and at the very least we owe it to her to continue the discussion in the way she expected.
Thanks, Jayne. I've added a note to the original post that might be helpful.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 09-30-2023 at 03:53 AM.
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Unread 09-30-2023, 10:30 AM
Michael Cantor Michael Cantor is offline
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Plum Island, MA; Santa Fe, NM
Posts: 11,128

Thank you, Julie. Very well said.
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Unread 09-30-2023, 10:40 AM
Michael Tyldesley's Avatar
Michael Tyldesley Michael Tyldesley is offline
Join Date: Jun 2023
Location: Lancashire, England
Posts: 336

Julie, you truly are at your scintillating best when you're setting the boards to rights.

I didn't get very far with my sapphics research so I'm think I'm going to stick to other simpler forms of entertainment.

When search engine searching for sapphic
thereís some interesting girl on girl traffic
but my Mrs went mad
when she found that I had
switched from writing to things pornographic.
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Unread 10-02-2023, 09:56 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 4,389

Thank you for this thread, Julie, it’s really great. Mary Meriam introduced me to Sapphics. I remember her very patiently talking me through the mechanics of them after I’d read and loved a few of hers, knowing they were doing something rhythmically fascinating but not being able to quite figure out what.

Here’s one of mine that she was kind enough to publish in Lavender Review, followed by two wonderful examples of her own.


Even in the schoolyard, I think I knew, yet
gripped the heavy promise of pails of sunlight,
bright corona spilling down rusted metal,
splashing on pavements.

Turning slow in trampoline light and laughter,
paper monsters dance on their clipper fasteners,
all is breathless joy and you said you'd meet me
by the tombola.

Ferris wheel, come turn for me, time's a-flying.
Waltzers, waltz me faster and blur the houses –
terraced rows dissolving in whirling dark like
promises fading.

Reach and hook for fishes in bulging plastic,
flicking, orange flash – but the sun is sinking.
Coloured lights are laid under thick tarpaulin,
loaded on lorries.

Rolling out of town, they left flattened patches,
empty cans and wondering in the twilight
where you got to, carnival queen. I waited,
laden with pennies.

Who leaves me rootless

You! all rich now? man at your cozy table,
tÍte-ŗ-tÍre, now gets every murmur, whisper,
laugh and sigh that dreamily leaves your lips? How
sweetly your echo

slays my heart, my hard-ridden heart, that beating
harder, horse-whipped, stifles my voice. Now wordless,
bee-stung, broke, deserted, I look at you and
totally lose it.

Fire snakes and slithers, now blisters blazing
skin, now eyes lose eyesight, now eardrums beat drums,
sweating rain, now race in a thunder tremble
whirlwind tornado

green as grass I'm taken, a prisoner chained in
ravaged daisies. Where is my mind, my flower—
petal-plucked and rootless. Be brave now Mary,
dirt poor but healthy.

Dear Heart

All the times I misunderstood, forgive me.
I could go downhill in a sled with sorrow.
Snow, my hero, build me a fort this winter
made of your hollow

hub of pulsing chambers, your crimson centre.
Greenless branches stick me like Venus arrows.
Why, my valentine, did she leave me stricken,
frozen, and slighted?

Once, she slid her fingers inside my velvet
cushion, knit my cap, and embroidered borders,
dressed me all the way to the silver heavens.
Oh, she was lovely

who could heal a storm through the tangled briars,
who could soothe a flood through the scalding trials,
who could kiss an oath through the fallen oak trees,
terrace the traumas.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 10-04-2023 at 11:03 AM.
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Unread 10-02-2023, 10:53 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 5,782

Hey, Mark. I remember that one of yours, and I'd been thinking how I associate Mary (and Rick) with sapphics.

This poem in sapphics by Thomas Hardy is the first piece in his first collection, Wessex Poems.

The Temporary the All

Change and chancefulness in my flowering youthtime,
Set me sun by sun near to one unchosen;
Wrought us fellowlike, and despite divergence,
xxxxxFused us in friendship.

“Cherish him can I while the true one forthcome—
Come the rich fulfiller of my prevision;
Life is roomy yet, and the odds unbounded.”
xxxxxSo self-communed I.

’Thwart my wistful way did a damsel saunter,
Fair, albeit unformed to be all-eclipsing;
“Maiden meet,” held I, “till arise my forefelt
xxxxxWonder of women.”

Long a visioned hermitage deep desiring,
Tenements uncouth I was fain to house in;
“Let such lodging be for a breath-while,” thought I,
xxxxx“Soon a more seemly.

“Then high handiwork will I make my life-deed,
Truth and Light outshow; but the ripe time pending,
Intermissive aim at the thing sufficeth."
xxxxxThus I . . . But lo, me!

Mistress, friend, place, aims to be bettered straightway,
Bettered not has Fate or my hand’s achieving;
Sole the showance those of my onward earth-track—
xxxxxNever transcended!

—Thomas Hardy

I first tried out sapphics in a workshop I took with Alicia Stallings. Her phrase "strawberry pancakes" for remembering the rhythm of the adonic has stuck with me.

I've published a couple of poems in the meter, the one online at Alabama Literary Review ("The Distance") is also in my latest collection The Moon on Elba (Wiseblood Books, 2023).

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 10-02-2023 at 11:16 PM.
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Unread 10-04-2023, 10:26 PM
N. Matheson N. Matheson is offline
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Join Date: May 2023
Location: United States
Posts: 44

I tried to write a Sapphic stanza and it was agonizing. I could not make it work no matter what I wrote.
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Unread 10-05-2023, 06:22 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 4,938

Originally Posted by N. Matheson View Post
I tried to write a Sapphic stanza and it was agonizing. I could not make it work no matter what I wrote.
What did you conclude from this?
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Unread 10-05-2023, 09:59 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 2,235

Originally Posted by N. Matheson View Post
I tried to write a Sapphic stanza and it was agonizing. I could not make it work no matter what I wrote.
N., let me repeat what was made clear the first time you posted here like this (a time during which I defended you).
  • This thread is for sharing strong Sapphics.
  • It's completely unhelpful to post vaguely, without referring to specific poems or, in this case, saying, for instance, what about the form was a struggle.

You seem determined to show that those who've been rude to you are right about you being a troll.
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Unread 10-05-2023, 10:08 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 16,415

No one was rude to him, Max, and I feel it's rude of you to say so. Why is it that when you call out N for the same behavior I called him out for, it's not rude, but it is when I do it?
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