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  #1  
Unread 03-10-2021, 12:15 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default L'esthétique de la Ville

L'esthétique de la Ville

I love when nature recreates the urban.
Take this garden on a fire escape:
water in what had been a fifth of bourbon
steeps lilies; and a cooler, left agape,
holds, over dirt and worms, a swatch of lawn,
a pinwheel and a decorative rock.
Cherry tomato plants are growing on
props planted in a soil-stuffed cinderblock.
There are some slugs; there is clematis scaling
the brickwork and the air-conditioner.
Plump pigeons, always roosting on the railing,
come for her breadcrumbs. They are tame for her,
the Circe of Gramercy Park, the girl
for whom nibs open and all tendrils curl.

. . . . .

Line 2 was: "I love the garden on her fire escape:"
Line 4: changed comma to semicolon after "lilies."

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 03-12-2021 at 07:12 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 03-10-2021, 01:43 PM
conny conny is offline
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I like.


With some reservations, especially in lines 3-6. A period after lilies
May help. And nature recreating the urban I don’t really get.

And the syntax kinda breaks down in L.5 imo.
Also I like L.2 so much I think it should be L.1. And 5/6 are
A bit of a list, which, tho interesting, is still a list of stuff that
Seems slightly flat compared to what comes before.

Likewise 7/8 is a tell, where they need to be shown in order
To come to life. I have no alternates to offer yet, tho think
It’s a rather wonderful idea.

And the title isn’t right imo.




Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Poochigian View Post
L'esthétique de la Ville

I love when nature recreates the urban.
I love the garden on her fire escape:
water in what had been a fifth of bourbon
steeps lilies, and a cooler, left agape,
holds, over dirt and worms, a swatch of lawn,
a pinwheel and a decorative rock.
Cherry tomato plants are growing on
props planted in a soil-stuffed cinderblock.
There are some slugs; there is clematis scaling
the brickwork and the air-conditioner.
Plump pigeons, always roosting on the railing,
come for her breadcrumbs. They are tame for her,
the Circe of Gramercy Park, the girl
for whom nibs open and all tendrils curl.

Last edited by conny; 03-10-2021 at 01:48 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 03-10-2021, 03:59 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
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Hi Aaron,

I think the title means “esthetics in the town.” The concept is quite interesting — I like it — nature recreating the urban environment. Many animals have made their homes in our cities and have learned to adapt very well. Plants too.

Nature recreating the urban (habitat) happens everywhere, if we only let her. Most of the time we don’t or are reluctant to. Luckily more and more cities are becoming greener, with lawns and gardens on rooftops, and more green spaces, etc.

“I love the garden on her fire escape” is an interesting phrase, because the fire escape isn’t really hers (nature’s) but ours, right? Except that the poem in that line does not allude to Nature but to a girl, an enchantress (known mythically as “the Circe of Gramercy Park”) who has incorporated nature into her artificial man-made environment. I was at first a bit confused by the word “nature” followed by “her,” thinking that they are one and the same. But maybe you are using “nature” to mean the girl. That makes more sense.

I like the description of the swatch of lawn growing over the dirt and worms. I wonder if maybe Dave’s suggestion of a period (or semicolon) after “steeps lilies” would slow down the rush of images just enough for a breath. Also, “and a cooler, left agape, / holds, over dirt and worms, a swatch of lawn, / a pinwheel and a decorative rock” is a whole other phrase with multiple commas, so maybe a semicolon before that?

I love the internal rhyme “Circe of Gramercy” and also the end rhymes “air-conditioner/her.”

As Dave mentioned, there is a list of objects in the middle of the poem. They give an impression, a picture, of the scene that the N is viewing. That list is essentially devoid of metaphor, but I think the poem makes up for that with the anaphora of lines 1-2, the fun rhymes, and then the allusion to Greek mythology with Circe, but put into a modern urban situation. And she has a way with animals (especially pigeons) and her green thumb has a way with plants.

All those plants this girl is growing are tempting, especially the cherry tomatoes!
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  #4  
Unread 03-11-2021, 03:52 AM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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The title is lovely. I read this as a reference to Baudelaire/Debord, the flaneur - and so to Psychogeography/ urban aesthetics. Urban space. In this case, urban space and hidden rural spaces/potentially wild spaces - all of which makes my tiny heart beat faster because all of this is exciting and interesting to explore (and super-super important in the world of big data and automation and potentially part of a narrative around how we reclaim the rural in the urban etc). There are so many narratives around this in terms of architecture and pedagogies. Oh, it's exciting.

The poem features a slug. That’s important, too, in my reading. Bravo for a slug as a positive - as a marker of different balances that nod to complex ecosystems. Radical slug. There are less complex ecosystems, too (the crumbs and the pigeons are a straightforward exchange, and show that the human is centred in this, too - although the human here is also a witch, which is even more interesting).

Anyway, the title contextualises the poem in walking practice/psychogeog practice in my reading. And I read it as a snapshot description of the city as glimpsed by the narrator-as-flaneur - moments/ visual moments captured. Again, this reminds me of narratives around critical spatial geography- space as stories-so-far. A small alt-discourse of urban spaces/dwelling spaces.

In terms of visual & sound, the poem works beautifully for me, but I like your writing style so find it tricky to be appropriately critical. I love how each precise choice of container and object hints at the character of the girl and describes a hotchpotch of surroundings - a human rather than a planned aesthetic. I love that this is on the fire escape. I wish there were more tactile or scented images.

I read ‘nature recreates the urban’ as nature and urban working together to produce a new kind of hybrid space - possibly a kind of rewilded space but that word is already politicised and this is a human picture. And I like this difference, this small-scale human-ness because that’s one of the points of poetry, maybe, to be able to evoke/make a space which is both real-and-imagined at the same time. Graspable.

What else? I read ‘Gramercy’ as French/Old English. A rural word, a magic word. Thank-you and grace rolled into one. I googled Gramercy park to see if it was a real place, and it is, and rather disappointingly a gated park. So, again, in my reading, I think the focus on the fire-escape garden as a place detached from gated-ness, from hierarchy, a deliberate choice away from money and status into the less-formal spaces of the utterly possible.

I don’t know enough about Circe to fit her in so well. The children’s books my knowledge of Greek Myth come from paint her as unequivocally evil. But I suspect she is more ambiguous than this, or at least can be critically appropriated as more ambiguous. Here, she appears to be a figure of possibility, an alt-narrative of hopefulness, with her appropriated, open garden space.


Sarah-Jane

Last edited by Jane Crowson; 03-11-2021 at 04:16 AM. Reason: messy & spellchecker not coping with rewilding
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  #5  
Unread 03-11-2021, 06:56 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Aaron, you could make a phonebook rhyme in a way that if read out loud would make the muses less secure.

To be forthright, I used to often skim with my eyes at first and then think, "Not so good this time; let me dig in." Then I'd read it out loud and sometimes say out loud, "F* that's good!".

This one's no exception. I wonder about three places to add even more. The title, in French to accentuate the loftiness of course, doesn't seem to me to work as well as the rest of the poem. It's too neon. "Village Esthetic" wouldn't quite get it there, either, but you get the drift. If no qualified contenders emerge, nothing wrong with leaving it IMO.

Also, in two places the speaker declares his love for the scene, but I think that drains the life of the scene a little-- I don't know anything about the speaker so it feels like an intrusion on the scene that is otherwise designed to imply that love and by implying make me the reader feel it.

Does that make sense? It's also important to keep in mind that these are in the scheme of the poem pretty minor observations.

Daniel
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  #6  
Unread 03-11-2021, 10:54 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, conny, Martin, Sarah-Jane and Daniel.

I have added a semicolon after "lilies" in order to deal with the grammatical ambiguity.

Thank you all for your comments and interpretations. Yes, Sarah-Jane, Gramercy is a beautiful gated park--only some residents get keys.

Daniel, I agree that the title is not quite right. I'm thinking of alternatives. Any suggestions, anyone?

I am also looking at the repetition of "I love" in the first few lines.

Also, is it bad that there is ambiguity in line 2 with "her"? The Circe of Gramercy Park becomes associated with nature.
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  #7  
Unread 03-11-2021, 11:43 AM
conny conny is offline
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i think also the double... i love.. isn't needed. just one would
be fine.
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  #8  
Unread 03-11-2021, 02:37 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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two quick thoughts, peeking in from work...

I love when nature recreates the urban,
the garden gracing Circe's fire escape:

Forgot to say how pleasing the phrase "Circe of Grammercy" is. Maybe a Title?

hopefully catalytic at least
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  #9  
Unread 03-12-2021, 07:10 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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conny and Daniel,

Would prefer:

I love when nature recreates the urban.
Take this garden on a fire escape:


or the original

I love when nature recreates the urban.
I love the garden on her fire escape:

I think I prefer the repetition of "love". Hmn. Maybe not. The first one takes care of the "her" problem.
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  #10  
Unread 03-12-2021, 08:31 AM
Bill Marsh Bill Marsh is offline
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"By their works ye shall know them."
This is a love poem, I think. Good thing the slight negative jar of "slugs" is there before the big negative jar of Circe, the enchantress who turns men into animals (but who also becomes Odysseus's lover after he foils her.) The girl in the poem is fruitful but not necessarily safe.
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