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  #1  
Unread 09-03-2022, 05:48 PM
Bill Marsh Bill Marsh is offline
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Default Stroke

Here is a personal sonnet, in contrast with Allen historical poem. Sonnets are useful - and addictive - because they provide a structure that can accomodate almost any topic.

Stroke

I was alone. My right leg and right arm
Did jazz riffs in the air. I almost fell.
“Call 911,” I thought, “but what’s the harm
In lying down?” Dumb. But I was not well;
Strokes make you stupid. Next morning in ER
The MRI found a 5 cm clot
In my neck. “The treatments for stroke are,”
The doc said, “effective. You will not
Have a repeat if you take the warfarin.”

He did not say that God had wounded me
And I was therefore blessed, released from sin
A while and could grow. I’d been set free
From myself, and what myself always does.
I needed to be free of self and now I was.
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  #2  
Unread 09-03-2022, 07:11 PM
Jayne Osborn's Avatar
Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Hi Bill,
I'm a big fan of the sonnet and, yes, they can be about almost anything. It's tempting and probably cathartic to write a poem about a traumatic personal experience such as having a stroke (my sympathies, btw) but this one is missing the mark, I'm afraid.

An octet then a sestet, with a slight shift in between, is more usual but here your last five lines just left me scratching my head! What?? Where did God come into this? And what’s the point you’re trying to make about what the doctor didn’t say to you? How does having a stroke set you free from yourself – whatever that means? I’d been set free from myself /I needed to be free of self and now I was is just saying the same thing twice.

The MRI found a 5 cm clot doesn’t work in that format as a line of poetry. No one says a 5 “c m” in normal speech. If “centimetre” doesn't fit into the line then another adjective needs to be used to describe the size of the clot.

The metre is choppy in places and the initial caps don’t help the poem to flow.
Sorry I can’t be more positive, but I do think you have something in the original premise that can be greatly improved upon.

Jayne
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  #3  
Unread 09-03-2022, 07:29 PM
Alexander Givental Alexander Givental is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Marsh View Post
Here is a personal sonnet, in contrast with Allen historical poem. Sonnets are useful - and addictive - because they provide a structure that can accomodate almost any topic.

Stroke

I was alone. My right leg and right arm
Did jazz riffs in the air. I almost fell.
“Call 911,” I thought, “but what’s the harm
In lying down?” Dumb. But I was not well;
Strokes make you stupid. Next morning in ER
The MRI found a 5 cm clot
In my neck. “The treatments for stroke are,”
The doc said, “effective. You will not
Have a repeat if you take the warfarin.”

He did not say that God had wounded me
And I was therefore blessed, released from sin
A while and could grow. I’d been set free
From myself, and what myself always does.
I needed to be free of self and now I was.
Bill,

Below I'm just copying your sonnet with some local edits made with only one purpose: to have the IP rhythm clean. (Sorry if this goes against your intention.)

I was alone when my right leg and arm
Did jazz riffs in the air. I almost fell.
“Call 9-1-1,” I thought, “but what's the harm
In lying down?” Not smart. I was not well;
Strokes make you dumb. Next morning in ER
The MRI found out a 2-inch clot
Was in my neck. “For stroke, the treatments are,”
The doc said, “quite effective. You will not
Have a repeat if you're on warfarin."

He did not say that God had wounded me
And I was therefore blessed, released from sin
For sometime and could grow. I'd been set free
From self, and what that self routinely does.
I needed to be free and now I was.
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  #4  
Unread 09-03-2022, 08:33 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Hi Bill. I'm a big sonnet fan, too. I have one on the other board just now. I'm afraid my response here is very much like Jayne's. The meter seems patchy. I'm not opposed to substitutions, as Alexander may be, but I do want to feel the underlying pulse and that the author controls the variations. Some lines here seem to count syllables more than beats. The spiritual turn at the end is interesting, but I don't entirely follow it. I'll look forward to seeing what you do in revision.
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  #5  
Unread 09-04-2022, 04:34 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Bill,

The metre doesn't trouble me. After all, who wouldn't be a bit shaky after a stroke. In this context, in terms of form matching content, what you have probably works better than a solid IP alternative. I also like the initial caps. If they do affect the flow, I'd wonder if a smooth flow would be the most appropriate thing here anyway.

I like the first stanza and the second stanza individually. S1 is maybe weaker. The first four lines work well, for me, "jazz riffs in the air" gives us a nice image. But from "Next morning ..." the stanza seems flatter. I like S2 making this about God and the N's spiritual needs, though it is perhaps a little abstract and would maybe benefit from some concrete imagery.

My main issue with the poem is that the two stanzas don't seem to work together. There's nothing in S1 to set up where we go in S2, no hint of God, no suggestion that the N needs release from anything etc. So S2 seemingly comes from nowhere.

I'd suggest that something needs to be done to connect this two parts of the poem. Something in the first part that at least hints at the N's need for rest, for release, his weariness or his sin -- what he "always does", which would help set up the second part. Possibly also some concrete imagery in the second part. Something that mixes in some mundane stroke-related details among the transcendent (some mention of thinner blood, say). It may also be that you need something longer than a sonnet to do this justice.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-04-2022 at 04:51 AM.
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  #6  
Unread 09-04-2022, 04:28 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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I liked it, all of it.
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  #7  
Unread 09-05-2022, 03:03 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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The jazz riffs grab me and the poem holds me firmly until L12. (Its hold weakens a bit with "the doc said," showing me the poet working, inserting the dialogue tag awkwardly between verb and object to support the rhyme.)

"Grow" is vague. And the remainder of the poem is, too.

Much as we love sonnets, maybe its not the right form for this. I'm not sure that you can squeeze into a sonnet what it is about the speaker's self or activities from which he needs freeing. Without that, the poem doesn't mean much to me--a damn shame given the skill of most of this, and the weight of the insight the poem's trying to share.
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  #8  
Unread 09-05-2022, 05:53 PM
Bill Marsh Bill Marsh is offline
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Hi Max,
Thanks for the comments and support. However, I don't understand this comment:

"inserting the dialogue tag awkwardly between verb and object to support the rhyme."
The lines in question read:
In my neck. “The treatments for stroke are,”
The doc said, “effective.

They might just as well have read:

In my neck. "The treatments for stroke are
Effective," the doc said.

This has no effect on the rhyme. The syntax is the way it is because separating the verb and object creates a slight suspense which mirrors the suspense we often feel when waiting for a doctor to deliver a prognosis.
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  #9  
Unread 09-06-2022, 02:59 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Hi, Bill,

You're right about the placement of the tag not affecting the rhyme.

It feels awkward to me because it creates a pause that feels false. If the doc pauses there, he's got a really awkward bedside manner (not recognizing that he's creating suspense instead of reassurance), or a bizarre sense of humor. For this reader, the pause itself isn't enough to create that doctor, isn't enough to show me that picture is intentional.

But that's a minor glitch for me in a strong stanza.
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  #10  
Unread 09-06-2022, 03:00 PM
Bill Marsh Bill Marsh is offline
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Max, Thanks for the clarification.
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