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  #11  
Unread 01-26-2022, 12:25 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,

Well, I'm back again, and still enjoying the poem

Just picking up on Matt's observations in #4, it looks like you have a beat or two extra at S2 L1, unless it's

tall CHIMney STACKS, a RUSH of POINTed ROOFS, past

Perhaps, 'Let's end it' (upper-case L) at S5 L1? N is well shot of someone who 'never cared for birds', btw (^v^) (general bird smiley)

I don't think you need the en dash at the end of S4 L6, but it doesn't really matter ☕️🍪 (Tea Lady mode)

Is that a working title?

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #12  
Unread 01-26-2022, 01:23 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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This is great, Sarah-Jane. No nits from me.
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  #13  
Unread 01-27-2022, 07:02 AM
Mary McLean Mary McLean is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,
I like this a lot. I'm not a fan of sestinas, but this one seems a great fit to the subject. The only place where I tripped was that the line break in S5 L2/3 seemed awkward. L2 seems like a complete thought and I read L3 as starting a new one but it wasn't, if you see what I mean. But on a second read, 'that much' seems to add a bit to the humour, so maybe it is worth keeping. Another option would be to add something apart from twee that the ex accuses Chagall of.
Best,
Mary
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  #14  
Unread 01-27-2022, 02:30 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi all,

Thank you so much for commenting on this. I’ve spent time with this tonight and have made some further tweaks.

Mary - thank you. I agree with you about that line - I’d noticed something odd about it myself, but hadn’t been quite able to articulate it, so that’s really helpful. I’ve added another object - ‘tea’ - it could have been ‘dusk’ but, like you say, there has to be some humour somewhere. I know I risk things in repeating ‘tea’, but we’ll see how it goes down.

John
- thank you. You’re writing like a dream at the moment - your liking much appreciated.

Fliss, thank you, your thoughts on this are very helpful. I have acted on both - tweaking the chimney-pots line, and adding the capitalisation (and a comma). I’ve kept the en dash. I really like them. They look nice. I struggle with punctuation (I really do, it is something that I have no easy way into) and they just seem like such a lovely solution to everything. They are the antithesis of the bullet-point, perhaps. I condensed a 118 page policy document into a two-page of risk-based bullet points today, so there is a need to kick back. Thank you for the biscuit. It helps. Yes, a working title. I’ll think of something better for it when it’s done.

AT, thank you. Lol. You’re safe from images in this one as it’s using images in the first place and there’s no way I’m going to attempt a collaged homage to Chagall at all (I have a soft spot for Chagall, dammit).

David
, thank you. I am so, so pleased that you enjoyed reading it - that’s the biggest compliment I could have - I hope that this one to some extent perhaps storytells in a way that my things don’t usually do - and I agree with you about Galatea. Thank goodness for Fliss and Matt, that’s what I say.

Rick
, thank you - that means a lot because you are so, so good at writing and storytelling in metre and otherwise. I was hugely relieved when I read your comment. I’m glad you thank ‘vainly’ works. I’ve made some further tweaks, but they’re not major ones, they’re more polishing, a kind of further part of my personal journey in trying to use rhythm and metre a bit more, I think.

Matt
- thank you - I’ve revised the ‘vainly’ lines in two places, also. I’ve kept the ‘umbrella’ line as is for now, as I hope that it reinforces the gawky crows at the start - I want them, of course, to turn to dreamy birds at the end as our sentimental N dreams. I hope (I really hope) that the poem becomes smoother as it reads forward.

(Matt deserves value-added kudos amd vast quantities of chocolate cake as he was kind enough to explain in more detail what he meant about feminine endings over zoom. I think I get it now - thank you!)

Fliss - thank you - Gifford’s circus is amazing. I was so sorry when Nell Gifford died, too - and I'm so glad that the circus is here, alive, in 2022, keeping all those sparks of - oh, I dunno - joy, wonder and difference - alive.

Very glad about the goats. Very glad that the prosaic tea works, too - I’m hoping it runs through the poem, undercutting it with a note of prosaic object.

Onwards, and huge thanks to all (revision posted)

Sarah-Jane
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  #15  
Unread 01-27-2022, 07:03 PM
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F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,

You're welcome, especially for the biscuit; the tweaks are good, I think. I'm rushing off to bed now, but I'll be back if I can think of anything else for you

Best wishes,
Fliss
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  #16  
Unread 02-03-2022, 04:23 PM
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Jennifer Reeser Jennifer Reeser is offline
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Beautiful. And

And though youíre in the past
a misbelief of crows still wish to fly


That's sublime.


Jennifer
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  #17  
Unread 02-04-2022, 01:07 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I can only agree with everyone that this reads beautifully. It really sweeps us up and into the spinning sestina form, and the repeating words become just one aspect of the onrush of lush and yet grounded (with the tea, as you point out, and some other quotidian details) imagery. I also love how the Chagall-specific imagery fits seamlessly into the total texture of the piece. It's a fabulous sestina, one of my faves I've seen on the Sphere.
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  #18  
Unread 02-04-2022, 05:18 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Sarah, I've never appreciated sestinas very much. Lyric ones seem destined to boredom for me, that they can just dissolve to 39 lines of description -- which is vastly too much, in my own Dickinsonian, unwhitmanic cramped way of looking at things. The sonnet has always seemed the perfect length, imo. Sestinas seem best suited to narratives, especially circular ones, where the reader's attention is wholly taken up by the ringing, repeating story of events. It's interesting then that for me this poem took on much greater interest, held my attention more firmly, when we reached the "you" narrative. The previous description was typically fine, luscious images, nothing particularly not-lovely, but neither particularly startling, I was scared until I encountered the "you" that the poem would have nothing else to offer. But that's the problem with sestinas, isn't it? You have to colour in the rather large sections, and sometimes the reader can feel the strain. My ultimate comment would be that this would work much more brilliantly as a poem of six quatrains or five-line stanzas. Cut a repetition.
My only real complaint with your wording is that your alliteration in l3 feels clumsy. Placing the three heavy stressed s-syllables in a row, separated by the very weakest stress syllables: "through squalls that steal each squawk", sounds over-the-top and monotonous to me. I would rather the line was less so heavily iambic, it feels too much like a dissonantly loud drum-beat.

Hope this helps.
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  #19  
Unread 02-04-2022, 11:47 AM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi Sarah-Jane,

I enjoyed reading this poem very much. I love the slightly surreal imagery in various places, the alliteration, and the variations in the narrative. Also the allusions to Chagall.

In S5, L6, I think “wish” should be “wishes” to correspond with the singular “misbelief” (of crows).

a misbelief of crows still wishes to fly

In S6, L1, what is the meter? I assume it’s still pentameter:

as FLOCKS / [ ] OF / un-FURLED / um-BREL / -las FLY

On first reading it was a bit ambiguous.

S1, L3 is interesting in terms of the alliteration, though perhaps slightly excessive. But I like the slant rhyme of squalls/squawk.

I really like the switch in S4 from the birds now being flowers and the chimneys birds preening like large roosters.

The poem is quite picturesque and evocative.

Best,
Martin
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  #20  
Unread 02-04-2022, 02:15 PM
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Sarah-Jane Crowson Sarah-Jane Crowson is offline
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Thank you all,

Fliss - thank you, and I hope you feel better than you did yesterday.

Jennifer - thank you - itís very kind of you to take the time to comment - I am thrilled you like the poem (I like the misbelief of crows, too. Iím lucky with my name, I think, as it lets me weave myself in to each poem as both a character and a deeper idea)

Andrew, likewise. I am, when I can, working hard on my metre at the moment, and this is the first time that I feel Iíve made a real breakthrough. I am thrilled that you like my sestina.

Cam - I am not sure I always like sestinaís either. And I know that Iím not Bishop, or Ashbery, and never will be, but itís a form that Iíve wanted and have been (in this poem) taking on for a long time. I read you on the cutting a repetition, but if I canít make all the repetitions work, then I canít write a sestina (and that is my challenge). Once I have proved to my own satisfaction that I can write a sestina then Iíll feel able to muck with the form.

I read you on the alliteration. I know itís really irritating when poets go ĎOh, Iíd thought about thatí, but I promise you I have. So, I agree - but my pay-off is that otherwise the first bit doesnít have any kind of squeaky bits, and is very bland. But, I do agree, and Iíll see if I can find another way to bring in some change of pace/tone. (Of course it helps)

Martin - thank you. Iím glad you like the surreal imagery. I hadnít thought about the misbelief of crows being plural (although I recognise that they are and used it as a collective noun for crows) and thatís a very, very good point to mention - thank you. Iím not at the stage with this where Iím making quick revisions, but Iíll think hard about your suggestion and how it works with the balance of the complex thing.

S6 L1 is meant to read as:

as FLOCKS / of UN/ furled UM/ bur EL/ las FLY

This is the first time Iíve used this notation, btw, although I have seen it before so please forgive me if it doesnít make sense or if Iíve made a mistake. It has been an excellent learning curve for me to have to justify my line-choice in it to you, too.

Itís very good to know that you and Cameron are reading that S1, L3 is OTT. Iíll think about that more during the final stages of editing.

Yes, I liked that bit too (the switch) - itís one of the few things from the original version thatís completely stayed put.

Thanks again all.

I need to let this one sit again for a while, please, so if itís okay letís let it slide. Iím working through my previous attempts at metre. I might even try rhyme at some point. Bear with me, please. You might see something quite painful to read in the next few days.

Sarah-Jane
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