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Author Topic: Judging Poetry and Integrity  (Read 68625 times)
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poetastin
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Posts: 464



« Reply #30 on: December 19, 2006, 09:58:38 PM »

I can't "respond to the poem in the manner it deserves" (and I'm not just being facetious here), but I can share a few things that jump out. (And I'm not sure if the following is the standard MFA procedure or not--maybe one of you can tell me?) My take is that it's best to leave the poet, or the workshopee, or whoever, to tinker with the poem's theme, or meaning, in the big sense. I also think form and content are all but inseparable, so there you go.

Anyway...here's what I noticed. With my standard disclaimer: not a poet, just a reader. Not even a close reader. Take with a grain of salt--a huge, huge grain!




DO NOT ASSUME BECAUSE YOU CANNOT SEE
Do not assume because you cannot see
the emperor's new clothes
he's surely naked,
nor just because you're not waving
when you raise your hand
you cannot see the fine new lineaments at all
or touch the freshly woken garments
just for fun—
when you're but
an ordinary ageing man
or better yet a woman
born to tailor out the bitter truth
of being here alone by chance
and dimmed,
you find solace not
in being one with anyone
or silver dove or dawn
but in not giving in
to contradictions
either.

Then the royal consort's
gnarled and tufted mons displayed
beside the emperor's sagging torso's
mystery enough—
let them strut their stuff
and let the new age courtiers
define the cut and fashion
coming up with fantasy designs
just as Nature with her furtive flourishes
in welts and tucks and turned-up tails
excites sex here,
fills the textbooks, educates,
and in the end mythologizes yet again
our lust for wonder
working
miracles instead.

Yes, just as the pauper prophet says—
pray for what you've got
and really have it!

New and better worlds are
just paper patterns in
the homely seamstress' mind,
neither pinned nor cut
nor saddled—
believe
in what you've got
and you can walk her arm in arm
in heaven's fabulous parade
decked out in God's own
fabric!




WHAT I LIKED BEST:

“the freshly woken garments”
“tailor out the bitter truth”

...how the third section stands out and is punchy there in its short aloneness, how everything loops back in the end, with the parade and the fabric.

I liked everything, really. This one looks to me like a bunch of good ideas that can be whittled down.

Onward:


DOUBLE NEGATIVE DOOZY

The first stanza is maybe my favorite, but line four sends me teetering. It’s a great image (the not waving), but with the double negative, I had to go back to make sure I saw things right.


SLOW IT DOWN WITH PUNCTUATION?

I pretty much liked everything in this poem. It just seems to be a matter of heightening what’s there. The only thing I’m lobbying to add is more punctuation; it could slow things down and help us enjoy it. For instance, in the section below, which I found tasty because of how it feels like the narrator’s thinking through things as it’s written, because of the the ‘tailor out’ bit, and how this (maybe) brings up gender roles, too, and because of all the little binaries to puzzle over: man / woman, birth / ageing, etc., I think if things slowed down just a bit, it would be easier to absorb.

Like maybe this:

when you're but
an ordinary ageing man
or better yet a woman
born to tailor out the bitter truth
of being here alone by chance


Could be slowed down to this:

when you're but an ordinary, ageing man,
or better yet—a woman—
born to tailor out the bitter truth
of being here alone, by chance


…or some variation.

Throughout the poem I felt a little dizzy, as if the ideas were coming too fast for me to chew on.


THE LINE BREAKS:

I gotta agree with Krede and Monday on the line breaks. In fact, I’ve cut and pasted Krede’s questions into a Word doc…always good to think about those things, right? And this is what I’ve always found interesting, how much poetry has in common with stand-up comedy. It’s all about the end words. With this poem, I though a little rearranging could heighten its poety goodness.

For instance, I love this part:

you find solace not
in being one with anyone
or silver dove or dawn
but in not giving in
to contradictions
either.


…but some great stuff feels slightly buried. Like the (possible, or seeming) contradiction of “solace” and “not alone”. I imagined reading it another way, like:

“you find solace / not in being one”  or “you find solace not in being one”

Alright. Maybe that example’s just me. (Solace? Sole? Alone?). But look at these great opporutnities (I think) to trim some words, and heighten what’s in the lines (cut italicized words):

“but in not giving in to contradictions either.”
“you cannot see the fine new lineaments at all”  
“mons displayed”,   “sex here

With these words gone, or even moved to the next line, the emphasized words feel more...emphasized. To me.

One exception: “working miracles instead.”


A FEW ADJECTIVES COULD GO

As a rule, I’m very distrustful of modifiers (like this sentence’s own very. Damn!). There are a couple in this poem that could maybe go, if it wouldn’t change the meaning too much. For example, I read the “bitter truth” line with just “truth” (no bitter), and I think the context is still there.

And then:

New and better worlds are
just paper patterns in
the homely seamstress' mind,


might become:

New and better worlds are just paper
in the seamstress' mind,

 
Just something to think about.
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Expatriate Poet
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Posts: 150



« Reply #31 on: December 20, 2006, 01:38:50 AM »

I was a bit in my cups when I wrote my last post re. the poem! the poem! last night at midnight --Chiang Mai time,  GMT + 6!  

Now it's 6am here and it's still dark and it's "cold"—that means that although I'm still wearing just a T shirt I've got a black scarf around my neck, though that will be off by 9. Another villager has got his sound system cranked up in the darkness this morning and is sharing Jingle Bells with us until the monks take over with the chanting.
 
All that’s sobering, the darkness, the scarf, the jingle bells, and the time difference, and as far as you all are concerned, I’m  ashamed.

So let me back up a little and see if I can add something worthwhile. The stakes are very high here because so much of great value has been said to me in the last 24 hours, both in this thread and privately through my mail box. Dear Matt, dear Monday, dear Krede, dear Poetastin, dear Chinatown (who wrote about how "Do Not Assume"  "turns the fable about the Emperors new clothes on its side,’ not you, Krede_the Mighty—very sorry about that, and thanks for your charity)—dear all of you: I’m reading what you write over and over again, and then some.  I’m also trying out all your suggestions and learning a lot in the process—not only about how the poem sounds but about what it says. And the amazing thing is that you all are reading exactly the same poem that I thought I had written, which is a good sign both for me as a poet and as a person.

Because the poem got onto the site at a moment of high drama for me, and there were even a few tears on the keyboard at the time. Monday Love and I had been trading observations about the  "parts" of the person and the poem, and he said something that was such a "blessed relief" for me (I’m quoting myself above!) that I fired off the poem. As I’ve already said quite a lot about this in a number of posts I won’t try to say it again—if your interested you can go back and look. And do feel free to challenge me on any of it if you feel it’s worthwhile.

Before I tackle the integrity issue, I feel I really do owe you good people a response to your detailed structural comments. Needless to say, for me it’s thrilling to have such feedback, I just feel badly about taking up so much of the forum’s time. On the other hand, we are interested in what Jeffrey Levine might have said about this poem if he were to be sent it along with a personal check for $295.00 not made out to Tupelo—what’s more for the full Monty of $900!

I’ll get back to that sweet thought.


The reason why "Do Not Assume" has to be so simple is that the content is so deep. There cannot be any loose ends or frills or trickery when asking a reader to come on a trip like  this, and the language has to be perfectly exact and stripped to the bare essentials. Poetastin is very shrewd on this, and points out just where and how the important points are made—a very sharp reader for someone who claims not to know anything about poetry! On the other hand I cannot agree with her about the three words she wants me to leave out—the truth has to be "bitter" and the seamstress "homely" if the miracle is to happen at the end, it seems to me, and the word "patterns" refers both to formations in general and the methods a seamstress uses in sewing a garment; the paper with the design on it ("pattern") is either "pinned" or stitched ("saddled") to the cloth and then carefully "cut" along the dotted lines. Ditto "woken"—NOT woven (which will become the whole point!). Also what Poetastin calls the "Double-Doozy" of the "waving" is quite deliberate and just the feeling the poem wants to evoke here—like in the Stevie Smith poem  that the line echoes (now there’s a great poet!).

It’s interesting to me that none of you have observed that large tracts of the poem are in strict iambics, which keep you going and steady you through the dizzying flips and loops and diddles which are bringing the miracle to pass. Indeed, as Chinatown e-mailed to me in a most interesting commentary (which I wish he/she had shared with all of you—and still could…), it’s a formal poem in disguise. The rhythm starts falling only with the little stanza in the middle and keeps on falling until the miracle happens with the jolt of "believe." Then suddenly the iambs are back and weave along until we’re ready to drop off the edge in "fabric."

So that leaves me with the line breaks—most of you feel the poem could be improved here, and I have to listen to such a chorus. On the other hand, I have read this poem out loud 1000s of times over the past 3 years (yes, all of that has gone into the making of it!) and that is my rhythm. That’s how Christopher Woodman looks and sounds at his best and most comfortable. Because for me line breaks are reading devices too—visual aids as well as sound aids (I often trim or add words to get the right visual effect in a poem, and always work on the word processor to see the poem in its finished form all the time while I work).

I promise you to consider all your line break in put—and also to get back to you if the poem comes out differently at some point. At the moment it is standing up well to this acid test, and I still have no doubt that it’s quite finished, none whatsoever.

Enough for now—the bell’s ringing for breakfast. But while I'm enjoying my fresh papaya and mango I should leave you with something so you won't have to think about what I'm eating..

What does the pauper prophet actually say in the third stanza? Why does it take such a difficult poem to say something as simple as this? And why does it work too-- that is, why does it work what he says?

I'm worried about something in the third stanza and matters arising, and would greatly appreciate any feedback.

Christopher
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Christopher Woodman
Matt
Administrator
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Posts: 1063



WWW
« Reply #32 on: December 20, 2006, 09:30:35 AM »

I've posted this here before, but, as for poems about cosmic tailors, E.E. Cummings' below is one of my favorites.  And, bonus!  It fits in with the theme of integrity.

-Matt

Quote from: "E.E. Cummings"
i say no world

can hold a you
shall see the not
because
and why but
(who
stood within his steam be-
ginning and
began to sing all
here is hands machine no

good too quick i know this
suit you pay
a store too
much yes what
too much o much cheap
me i work i know i say i have
not any
never
no vacation here

is hands is work since i am
born is good
but there this cheap this suit too
quick no suit there every
-thing
nothing i
say the
world not fit
you)he is

not(i say the world
yes any world is much
too not quite big enough to
hold one tiny this with
time's
more than
most how
immeasurable
anguish

pregnant one fearless
one good yes
completely kind
mindheart one true one generous child-
man
-god one eager
souldoll one
unsellable not buyable alive
one i say human being)one

goldberger
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      --Sir Lollipop Man (Alias, the Long-Haired Sucker)
Monday Love
Administrator
*****
Posts: 1130



« Reply #33 on: December 20, 2006, 01:25:10 PM »

Quote from: "Matt"
I've posted this here before, but, as for poems about cosmic tailors, E.E. Cummings' below is one of my favorites.  And, bonus!  It fits in with the theme of integrity.

-Matt

Quote from: "E.E. Cummings"
i say no world

can hold a you
shall see the not
because
and why but
(who
stood within his steam be-
ginning and
began to sing all
here is hands machine no

good too quick i know this
suit you pay
a store too
much yes what
too much o much cheap
me i work i know i say i have
not any
never
no vacation here

is hands is work since i am
born is good
but there this cheap this suit too
quick no suit there every
-thing
nothing i
say the
world not fit
you)he is

not(i say the world
yes any world is much
too not quite big enough to
hold one tiny this with
time's
more than
most how
immeasurable
anguish

pregnant one fearless
one good yes
completely kind
mindheart one true one generous child-
man
-god one eager
souldoll one
unsellable not buyable alive
one i say human being)one

goldberger


Those were the good old days of foetry.  They did it right then.   Scofield Thayer (nephew to the "Casey at the Bat" author) was a rich kid at Harvard with Cummings; young Scofield went on to use the family wool fortune to fund "The Dial," publish Cummings, while Cummings was carrying on with Thayer's wife; after Harvard, Thayer was a classmate of TS Eliot's at Oxford, and later when Thayer went insane "The Dial" ended, but in the meantime it published a who's who of modernism, Pound, WC Williams & friends.  The first wave of modernism was basically whoever got published by Harvard kids in what was essentially a Harvard magazine.  Ah, modernism.  Ah, the good old days.   Merely associating is not foetry, of course, but I think it's safe to say that foets are driven by this idea that one has to belong to a clique in order to succeed; one has to know where the favors are coming from.  I never really cared for e.e. cummings.  They say his "Enormous Room" is good, though.
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Monday Love
Administrator
*****
Posts: 1130



« Reply #34 on: December 20, 2006, 01:33:56 PM »

Quote from: "Expatriate Poet"
I was a bit in my cups when I wrote my last post re. the poem! the poem! last night at midnight --Chiang Mai time,  GMT + 6!  

Now it's 6am here and it's still dark and it's "cold"—that means that although I'm still wearing just a T shirt I've got a black scarf around my neck, though that will be off by 9. Another villager has got his sound system cranked up in the darkness this morning and is sharing Jingle Bells with us until the monks take over with the chanting.
 
All that’s sobering, the darkness, the scarf, the jingle bells, and the time difference, and as far as you all are concerned, I’m  ashamed.

So let me back up a little and see if I can add something worthwhile. The stakes are very high here because so much of great value has been said to me in the last 24 hours, both in this thread and privately through my mail box. Dear Matt, dear Monday, dear Krede, dear Poetastin, dear Chinatown (who wrote about how "Do Not Assume"  "turns the fable about the Emperors new clothes on its side,’ not you, Krede_the Mighty—very sorry about that, and thanks for your charity)—dear all of you: I’m reading what you write over and over again, and then some.  I’m also trying out all your suggestions and learning a lot in the process—not only about how the poem sounds but about what it says. And the amazing thing is that you all are reading exactly the same poem that I thought I had written, which is a good sign both for me as a poet and as a person.

Because the poem got onto the site at a moment of high drama for me, and there were even a few tears on the keyboard at the time. Monday Love and I had been trading observations about the  "parts" of the person and the poem, and he said something that was such a "blessed relief" for me (I’m quoting myself above!) that I fired off the poem. As I’ve already said quite a lot about this in a number of posts I won’t try to say it again—if your interested you can go back and look. And do feel free to challenge me on any of it if you feel it’s worthwhile.

Before I tackle the integrity issue, I feel I really do owe you good people a response to your detailed structural comments. Needless to say, for me it’s thrilling to have such feedback, I just feel badly about taking up so much of the forum’s time. On the other hand, we are interested in what Jeffrey Levine might have said about this poem if he were to be sent it along with a personal check for $295.00 not made out to Tupelo—what’s more for the full Monty of $900!

I’ll get back to that sweet thought.


The reason why "Do Not Assume" has to be so simple is that the content is so deep. There cannot be any loose ends or frills or trickery when asking a reader to come on a trip like  this, and the language has to be perfectly exact and stripped to the bare essentials. Poetastin is very shrewd on this, and points out just where and how the important points are made—a very sharp reader for someone who claims not to know anything about poetry! On the other hand I cannot agree with her about the three words she wants me to leave out—the truth has to be "bitter" and the seamstress "homely" if the miracle is to happen at the end, it seems to me, and the word "patterns" refers both to formations in general and the methods a seamstress uses in sewing a garment; the paper with the design on it ("pattern") is either "pinned" or stitched ("saddled") to the cloth and then carefully "cut" along the dotted lines. Ditto "woken"—NOT woven (which will become the whole point!). Also what Poetastin calls the "Double-Doozy" of the "waving" is quite deliberate and just the feeling the poem wants to evoke here—like in the Stevie Smith poem  that the line echoes (now there’s a great poet!).

It’s interesting to me that none of you have observed that large tracts of the poem are in strict iambics, which keep you going and steady you through the dizzying flips and loops and diddles which are bringing the miracle to pass. Indeed, as Chinatown e-mailed to me in a most interesting commentary (which I wish he/she had shared with all of you—and still could…), it’s a formal poem in disguise. The rhythm starts falling only with the little stanza in the middle and keeps on falling until the miracle happens with the jolt of "believe." Then suddenly the iambs are back and weave along until we’re ready to drop off the edge in "fabric."

So that leaves me with the line breaks—most of you feel the poem could be improved here, and I have to listen to such a chorus. On the other hand, I have read this poem out loud 1000s of times over the past 3 years (yes, all of that has gone into the making of it!) and that is my rhythm. That’s how Christopher Woodman looks and sounds at his best and most comfortable. Because for me line breaks are reading devices too—visual aids as well as sound aids (I often trim or add words to get the right visual effect in a poem, and always work on the word processor to see the poem in its finished form all the time while I work).

I promise you to consider all your line break in put—and also to get back to you if the poem comes out differently at some point. At the moment it is standing up well to this acid test, and I still have no doubt that it’s quite finished, none whatsoever.

Enough for now—the bell’s ringing for breakfast. But while I'm enjoying my fresh papaya and mango I should leave you with something so you won't have to think about what I'm eating..

What does the pauper prophet actually say in the third stanza? Why does it take such a difficult poem to say something as simple as this? And why does it work too-- that is, why does it work what he says?

I'm worried about something in the third stanza and matters arising, and would greatly appreciate any feedback.

Christopher



I agree poetastin did a bang-up job with your poem.   I'm sure levine couldn't do better.

third stanza: who is the "pauper prophet?"   and what is the deceptively simple wisdom of what he says?  I admit I'm stumped.  I naturally think of Christ...  Is there some 'rubiyat of ohmar kayam' philosophy in here? 'enjoy it while it lasts' kind of thing?
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hisper and eye contact don't work here.
Matt
Administrator
*****
Posts: 1063



WWW
« Reply #35 on: December 20, 2006, 02:52:32 PM »

Quote from: "Monday Love"
Those were the good old days of foetry.  They did it right then.   Scofield Thayer (nephew to the "Casey at the Bat" author) was a rich kid at Harvard with Cummings; young Scofield went on to use the family wool fortune to fund "The Dial," publish Cummings, while Cummings was carrying on with Thayer's wife; after Harvard, Thayer was a classmate of TS Eliot's at Oxford, and later when Thayer went insane "The Dial" ended, but in the meantime it published a who's who of modernism, Pound, WC Williams & friends.  The first wave of modernism was basically whoever got published by Harvard kids in what was essentially a Harvard magazine.  Ah, modernism.  Ah, the good old days.   Merely associating is not foetry, of course, but I think it's safe to say that foets are driven by this idea that one has to belong to a clique in order to succeed; one has to know where the favors are coming from.  I never really cared for e.e. cummings.  They say his "Enormous Room" is good, though.


Monday,

Foetic and adulterous liaisons aside (and Harvard affiliations), Cummings gets points in my book for being pretty much entirely exiled from mainstream academia today.

Maybe my experience in this is unusual, but the poetry programs I did time in wouldn't touch Cummings with a 10 foot pole.  His poetry was for young, romantic students only.

But young, romantic students tend to have better taste than academia's elite.  They actually read poetry to be moved, to find meaning . . . not just to break down into abstract bits.

I wouldn't hold it against said elites, but for the fact that the postmodernist, "avant" crowd likes to employ numerous techniques that Cummings implemented decades earlier (and with much greater skill) . . . while never giving Cummings any credit for influence (because he's considered "low-rent" in academia).

There may be many reasons for this.  Certainly, Cummings wrote a lot of mediocre poems (and I mean a lot) . . . but I think he also wrote more first rate poems than the other American poets of his generation.  My guess is that it was his individualistic ethic that prohibited his work from being deemed acceptable in the MFA-era university programs.  Cummings' style does not suffer imitation well (it was this reason that I heard a few professors give for why they don't teach his poetry in class . . . they couldn’t bear to encourage young Cummings-impersonators, that plague of plagues).

But think about that.  I think that says a lot about writing programs today.  "We don't teach poets that are hard to imitate".  Poets must be of the Tribe, must conform . . . must be copiable.  This is precisely the same thing as the mass production "aesthetic".  The PoBiz is an industry that values products that can be mass produced . . . and of course, every industry loves a captive consumership (and this one tells poets they must but lots of PoBiz consumables in order to be seen as poets).

The university is like a fully automated bowling alley.  Set up the pins, knock them down.  The ball rolls back and pops out of the shoot . . . even the scoring is automated.

Some of the academic critiques I’ve seen of Cummings dismiss him as an "overly-simplistic, sentimentally romantic individualist".  Perhaps true to some degree . . . but it disturbs me that individualism is so gratuitously derided by the priests and disciples of the PoBiz.

Cummings may not have been a beacon of integrity in the morality realm, but I can't help but feel some sympathy for his heresies and dissidence.

Oh, and one generalization to close with.  I like the idea of trying to find some sort of ethicality in artistic greatness, some correlation.  We do like to think well of the people whose creations mean something to us.  But it may be worth considering that poets are and have always been a bit slack in the ethics department.

I don't mean to apologize for them . . . but it may be something worth investigating.  Why do poets tend to be such bastards?  After all, look at the "colony" built by poets, for poets: the PoBiz.  It's an ugly, petty sort of hell (in my opinion).  And think of all the foets who have come to this site whining and barking at us as if they slept through Ethics 101.

I often read what they write and think, "These people have no idea whatsoever of ethics.  It's a completely foreign language to them."

And I can't help being a nasty little atheist and saying: look, even, at God and the gods of religious literature.  Those Creators of creators.  The archetypes of making.  Floods, brimstone, vengeance, jealousy, subterfuge, fury, wrath.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have your original foets  :wink: !

Yours,
Matt
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Funk not only moves, it can RE-move, dig?"
      --Sir Lollipop Man (Alias, the Long-Haired Sucker)
Monday Love
Administrator
*****
Posts: 1130



« Reply #36 on: December 20, 2006, 04:44:30 PM »

Quote from: "Matt"
Quote from: "Monday Love"
Those were the good old days of foetry.  They did it right then.   Scofield Thayer (nephew to the "Casey at the Bat" author) was a rich kid at Harvard with Cummings; young Scofield went on to use the family wool fortune to fund "The Dial," publish Cummings, while Cummings was carrying on with Thayer's wife; after Harvard, Thayer was a classmate of TS Eliot's at Oxford, and later when Thayer went insane "The Dial" ended, but in the meantime it published a who's who of modernism, Pound, WC Williams & friends.  The first wave of modernism was basically whoever got published by Harvard kids in what was essentially a Harvard magazine.  Ah, modernism.  Ah, the good old days.   Merely associating is not foetry, of course, but I think it's safe to say that foets are driven by this idea that one has to belong to a clique in order to succeed; one has to know where the favors are coming from.  I never really cared for e.e. cummings.  They say his "Enormous Room" is good, though.


Monday,

Foetic and adulterous liaisons aside (and Harvard affiliations), Cummings gets points in my book for being pretty much entirely exiled from mainstream academia today.

Maybe my experience in this is unusual, but the poetry programs I did time in wouldn't touch Cummings with a 10 foot pole.  His poetry was for young, romantic students only.

But young, romantic students tend to have better taste than academia's elite.  They actually read poetry to be moved, to find meaning . . . not just to break down into abstract bits.

I wouldn't hold it against said elites, but for the fact that the postmodernist, "avant" crowd likes to employ numerous techniques that Cummings implemented decades earlier (and with much greater skill) . . . while never giving Cummings any credit for influence (because he's considered "low-rent" in academia).

There may be many reasons for this.  Certainly, Cummings wrote a lot of mediocre poems (and I mean a lot) . . . but I think he also wrote more first rate poems than the other American poets of his generation.  My guess is that it was his individualistic ethic that prohibited his work from being deemed acceptable in the MFA-era university programs.  Cummings' style does not suffer imitation well (it was this reason that I heard a few professors give for why they don't teach his poetry in class . . . they couldn’t bear to encourage young Cummings-impersonators, that plague of plagues).

But think about that.  I think that says a lot about writing programs today.  "We don't teach poets that are hard to imitate".  Poets must be of the Tribe, must conform . . . must be copiable.  This is precisely the same thing as the mass production "aesthetic".  The PoBiz is an industry that values products that can be mass produced . . . and of course, every industry loves a captive consumership (and this one tells poets they must but lots of PoBiz consumables in order to be seen as poets).

The university is like a fully automated bowling alley.  Set up the pins, knock them down.  The ball rolls back and pops out of the shoot . . . even the scoring is automated.

Some of the academic critiques I’ve seen of Cummings dismiss him as an "overly-simplistic, sentimentally romantic individualist".  Perhaps true to some degree . . . but it disturbs me that individualism is so gratuitously derided by the priests and disciples of the PoBiz.

Cummings may not have been a beacon of integrity in the morality realm, but I can't help but feel some sympathy for his heresies and dissidence.

Oh, and one generalization to close with.  I like the idea of trying to find some sort of ethicality in artistic greatness, some correlation.  We do like to think well of the people whose creations mean something to us.  But it may be worth considering that poets are and have always been a bit slack in the ethics department.

I don't mean to apologize for them . . . but it may be something worth investigating.  Why do poets tend to be such bastards?  After all, look at the "colony" built by poets, for poets: the PoBiz.  It's an ugly, petty sort of hell (in my opinion).  And think of all the foets who have come to this site whining and barking at us as if they slept through Ethics 101.

I often read what they write and think, "These people have no idea whatsoever of ethics.  It's a completely foreign language to them."

And I can't help being a nasty little atheist and saying: look, even, at God and the gods of religious literature.  Those Creators of creators.  The archetypes of making.  Floods, brimstone, vengeance, jealousy, subterfuge, fury, wrath.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have your original foets  :wink: !

Yours,
Matt


Matt,

Cummings is modern poetry to the man-on-the-street, even to this day.  Not Frost, not Eliot. E.E. Cummings.  And this makes it all the more amusing that MFA programs run in terror from e.e. cummings.  I agree with you that Cummings has this 'Romantic' identity, and this may be the thrust of it.  MFA programs don't produce Byrons or Edna St Vincent Millays.  Cummings gushed in a romantic manner.  One can see why a literature class would not mind teaching love poetry, and why writing seminars would.  Committees are always embarrassed by love.  Lovers don't belong in committees, in seminars.  The Byron, the Don Juan, the e.e. cummings naturally rebel against the whole 'teaching of writing' process.  The beloved inspires one to write, the world inspires one to write, not some clucking writing seminar in academia.  A student will learn of Byron in a classroom.  But a student will never learn to be Byron in a classroom.  

Another issue is that Cummings' typography is both a tremendous influence and at the same time a parody of any attempt which might proceed from that influence, and that's why I also think he scares modern writing teachers and poets.

If you put Cummings' work next to poems of Merwin or Scalapino or Jorie Graham, the result would embarrass the latter poets, for they yearn to speak with a 'new voice' and put beside Cummings, much of their strategies would take on the look of the emperor's 'make it new' clothes.
What is there, after all, but fake rebellion and stylistic tics?  There is a thin line between poetry and fashion and Cummings draws too much attention to this for the comfort of some.

I'm not defending Cummings, finally.  I don't like his poetry very much,  and I wouldn't encourage imitation of him, either, and so I don't speak for those in academia who feel just as I do and push cummings aside.  :wink:

Monday
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poetastin
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« Reply #37 on: December 20, 2006, 08:25:04 PM »

The Enormous Room doesn't just have the best title ever, it's also a pretty swell book. Some critic said it had 'cubist prose'. If you've already read Catch-22, you could do worse.





Quote from: "ee cummings"
 

she being Brand
-new;and you
know consequently a
little stiff i was

careful of her and(having

thoroughly oiled the universal
joint tested my gas felt of
her radiator made sure her springs were O.

K.)i went right to it flooded-the-carburetor cranked her

 up,slipped the
clutch(and then somehow got into reverse she
kicked what
the hell)next
minute i was back in neutral tried and

again slo-wly;bare,ly nudg.    ing(my

lev-er Right-
oh and her gears being in
A 1 shape passed
from low through
second-in-to-high like
greasedlightning)just as we turned the corner of Divinity

avenue i touched the accelerator and give

her the juice,good

                                  (it

was the first ride and believe i we was
happy to see how nice she acted right up to
the last minute coming back down by the Public
Gardens i slammed on

the                                                                                                      internalexpanding
&
externalcontracting
brakes Bothatonce and

brought allofher tremB
-ling
to a:dead.

stand-
;Still)

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« Reply #38 on: December 20, 2006, 10:24:21 PM »

The Tupelo July Open Reading results just came up on my screen, as if there were no problem with the process. How many sincere poets like myself feel their gorge rise—still no explanation, still no apology, still no resignation, not even the unavoidable step of removing the offending judge from the Dorset Prize panel.

The mind boggles at it, the brazeness, the  affrontery.

The 5 poets who will be published look fine to me, but then I don’t know anything about them. I do know about the process, though, and all I can say is that if I were among them at this point I would refuse the honor, even if it were the Nobel Prize of all Opens!

So to put my mouth where my money is, let me state loudly and clearly--should my Dorset Prize manuscript (NOT a July Open dregs either) win the honor, I will refuse it. Keep my $25.00 dollars, you louts--I'm ashamed of it now anyway!

Dirty money, I call it.

Who's going to join me in this on-line protest? Hands up those of you who still have hope that such a process could be and should be and WILL BE transparent!
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« Reply #39 on: December 21, 2006, 12:44:10 AM »

Right now, I would say Jeffrey Levine is "naked," but he seems to be very aware of it--unlike the emperor.

This isn't a commentary on your poem, Christopher. Over the past few days, I have been reading and rereading your poem, but I can't quite grasp it. That's not a negative aspect--I love "Prufrock," but after many years, I still can't grasp it totally. Everytime I think I have it, I see something else. Eliot was a trickster poet, durn him.

So I haven't been ignoring your poem, just contemplating it.

Monday's explanation has helped a bit--but that may or may not been your own intention, but that certainly was Monday's take.

I'm going back to contemplating mode--the second part of the poem has stymied me.

Best, Bugz
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One must always question wrongheaded conventional wisdom.
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« Reply #40 on: December 21, 2006, 01:30:36 AM »

Matt,

Speaking of cummings: back in the late 1970's, before I figured out that I wasn't a poet, I would imitate cummings (to the dismay of my profs, EXCEPT the Jungian fellow I told you about in another post--he loved it).

I'm going to post a 1979 poem (with a 1982 revision), ONLY because it was another and younger Jennifer who wrote this imitation poem, and anything anyone could say about it now would feel like a critique leveled at another writer. The editor in me is twitching to make changes, but I think I shall refrain--just let the 28-year-old present her poem.

I love the poem "in-Just," but my students think it's about a pedophile, and they may have a point...anyway, "Terreign" is a sort of response to "in-Just."

My poem is also shape poem; hopefully, the stanzas will work out the way I intended:

                                               * * *

-------------------------------------------- Terreign

---------- To the edge running close
-------------------- Flirtlizing with fear...

-------------------------------------------------- Just suppose
---------------------------------------- A mansionbat .... man
------------------------------ Presupposed
-------------------- My propensity for trapfloors
---------- A mansionbat .... man
-------------------- Terrors my fancy
----------------------------- And riddles my knows
---------------------------------------- with noes.
-------------------------------------------------- A mansionbat .... man
---------------------------------------- Turvey-tops my wheres
----------------------------- And teases to fright
-------------------- My scared.
---------- A mansionbat .... man
-------------------- Stickpins my skin
----------------------------- And adds spines
---------------------------------------- To my twinge
------------------------------------------------- A mansionbat .... man

---------- Reins my why,
-------------------- Opens my suppose
------------------------------ To my edge running close...

[Written by Jennifer Semple (Brown) Siegel, 1979, revised in 1982, copyright 2006]

                                             * * *                                    

I was an undergrad, and I had not yet discovered my best genre.   :roll:

Still, I find it interesting in that I was attempting to imitate a known poet who was (and still is) considered somewhat an outsider poet. Also, I could not bring myself to do a FULL imitation--no lower case "i." I also chose to punctuate (albeit inconsistently) and capitalize.  

Bugz
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« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2006, 01:37:59 AM »

Oh, drat,

The shape didn't come out  :cry:

The big middle stanza is supposed to be in the shape of a bat.

Bugz

Okay, I think I fixed it. The yellow text is supposed to be invisible.
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« Reply #42 on: December 21, 2006, 08:00:59 PM »

Hey Ex Pat,

Was the a snail-mail letter announcing who will be published from the open reading?  I cannot find any mention of it on their website.

Can you tell us who they are?
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« Reply #43 on: December 21, 2006, 10:31:53 PM »

Quote from: "Wilson"
Hey Ex Pat,

Was the a snail-mail letter announcing who will be published from the open reading?  I cannot find any mention of it on their website.

Can you tell us who they are?



Dear Wils,
   I find myself in a mail group called Tupelo Press "News & Readings" which is sent from announce@tupelopress.org. I think this was a perk for having a manuscript in the July Open Reading.

 The December 15th Dorset Prize extended deadline was publicized here long before it was on the Tupelo Press website. That seemed an unfair advantage to me for Open submissions--very little compared to allowing them to skip over the first round altogether, but there we are.

So much to be explained!

Here is what I received:


July Open Results
                                                                                                         
Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that we have committed to five books of poetry from the many wonderful poetry collections submitted during our July open reading period. We received approximately 1,000 manuscripts, and found so many terrific ones. These sorts of decisions are so difficult. As always, we wish it were possible to take more. We are endlessly grateful to all who submitted.

We will be publishing:

Angela Shaw of Swarthmore, PA, for The Beginning of the Fields. Angela Shaw’s poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry Anthology 1994 and 1996. She has also had poems selected for The Pushcart Prize & The Beacon Best of 2001. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Chelsea, Field, Pleiades, and elsewhere. "The Beginning of the Fields" is her first book.

Karen An-Hwei Lee of Santa Ana, CA, for two books: Ardor and Erythropoiesis. Heather McHugh selected Ms. Lee’s first book, In Medias Res, for the 2003 Katherine Morton Prize from Sarabande Books. In Medias Res also won the Norma Farber First Book Award from Poetry Society of America. She won a 2005 individual artist’s grant
from the NEA.

Joshua Marie Wilkinson of Denver, Colorado, for The Book of Whispering in the Projection Booth. Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s first collection, Suspension of a Secret in Abandoned Rooms was published by Pinball Press in 2005, and Lug Your Careless Body Out of the Careful Dusk won the 2005 Iowa Poetry Prize and was published by U. Iowa Press in 2006. New Michigan Press published his chapbook, A Ghost as King of the Rabbits.

Christopher Buckley of Lompoc, CA, for Modern History—Prose Poems 1987-2007. Christopher Buckley has published fourteen books of poetry, most recently, Sky (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2004) and Star Apocrypha (Northwestern University Press, 2001). For his poetry he has received four Pushcart Prizes, two awards from the Poetry Society of America, a Fulbright Award in Creative Writing to the former Yugoslavia, and is the recipient of NEA grants in poetry for 2001 and 1984.
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« Reply #44 on: December 22, 2006, 09:35:09 AM »

Quote from: "Expatriate Poet"
Quote from: "Wilson"
Hey Ex Pat,

Was the a snail-mail letter announcing who will be published from the open reading?  I cannot find any mention of it on their website.

Can you tell us who they are?



Dear Wils,
   I find myself in a mail group called Tupelo Press "News & Readings" which is sent from announce@tupelopress.org. I think this was a perk for having a manuscript in the July Open Reading.

 The December 15th Dorset Prize extended deadline was publicized here long before it was on the Tupelo Press website. That seemed an unfair advantage to me for Open submissions--very little compared to allowing them to skip over the first round altogether, but there we are.

So much to be explained!

Here is what I received:


July Open Results
                                                                                                         
Tupelo Press is delighted to announce that we have committed to five books of poetry from the many wonderful poetry collections submitted during our July open reading period. We received approximately 1,000 manuscripts, and found so many terrific ones. These sorts of decisions are so difficult. As always, we wish it were possible to take more. We are endlessly grateful to all who submitted.

We will be publishing:

Angela Shaw of Swarthmore, PA, for The Beginning of the Fields. Angela Shaw’s poetry has appeared in The Best American Poetry Anthology 1994 and 1996. She has also had poems selected for The Pushcart Prize & The Beacon Best of 2001. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Chelsea, Field, Pleiades, and elsewhere. "The Beginning of the Fields" is her first book.

Karen An-Hwei Lee of Santa Ana, CA, for two books: Ardor and Erythropoiesis. Heather McHugh selected Ms. Lee’s first book, In Medias Res, for the 2003 Katherine Morton Prize from Sarabande Books. In Medias Res also won the Norma Farber First Book Award from Poetry Society of America. She won a 2005 individual artist’s grant
from the NEA.

Joshua Marie Wilkinson of Denver, Colorado, for The Book of Whispering in the Projection Booth. Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s first collection, Suspension of a Secret in Abandoned Rooms was published by Pinball Press in 2005, and Lug Your Careless Body Out of the Careful Dusk won the 2005 Iowa Poetry Prize and was published by U. Iowa Press in 2006. New Michigan Press published his chapbook, A Ghost as King of the Rabbits.

Christopher Buckley of Lompoc, CA, for Modern History—Prose Poems 1987-2007. Christopher Buckley has published fourteen books of poetry, most recently, Sky (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2004) and Star Apocrypha (Northwestern University Press, 2001). For his poetry he has received four Pushcart Prizes, two awards from the Poetry Society of America, a Fulbright Award in Creative Writing to the former Yugoslavia, and is the recipient of NEA grants in poetry for 2001 and 1984.


Hey it sounds like Tupelo is picking manuscripts by poets who have already been recognized with awards going back quite a ways; in other words, they choose poets who have already been in the game for quite some time and who don't need to buy critiques and have already learned their "trade."  

OK, fine, but it makes it all the more galling that Levine would simultaneously line his pockets by attracting innocent outsiders willling to pay good money for feedback, when Tupelo's intention is to publish insiders--like people who were in BAP 10 years ago or won NEA grants for poetry in 1984 or have connections up the yazoo like Joshua Marie Wilkinson.  Do these people send money to Levine?  They've already spent $50,000 learning poetry at college.  They are editors elsewhere.  They have connections to offer Levine.  They don't need to send nobody no stinking 300 dollars.

 "Lug Your Careless Body Out of the Careful Dusk" won the Iowa Prize.  Doesn't that say it all right there?  Wouldn't you get chosen by Tupelo Press if your name was Joshua Marie Wilkinson?  You bet you would.  If you had an MFA from Arizona, were finalist for the Verse Prize, Colorada Prize, Sawtooth Prize (twice), were an editor at Denver Quarterly, wrote a book with Noah Eli Gordon, if you were a doctoral student at U. Colorado-Denver (all this sounds very familiar to foetry readers I'm sure) and you wrote vague, small, harmless poems and you won the Iowa Prize you better believe our friend "Expatriate Poet" would not have a snowball's chance in hell against you.  Lug your careless body out of the careful dusk, expatriate poet.  Don't even think about it.
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