Author Topic: [untitled canoe poem]  (Read 1468 times)

Offline storm_lantern

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[untitled canoe poem]
« on: August 03, 2009, 11:25:44 AM »
Here's one I first wrote early last week; it's been through multiple tweaks and revisions, and reading some remarks and critiques here have really helped. I'm pretty happy with the first stanza (but I'm not saying don't critique it), but the second stanza continues to challenge me. Lines 20-22 are especially troublesome, as they're probably too abstract but I can't come up with a succinct, specific alternative wording. There's no rawness or sting to it, either, but again, it's not meant to have those qualities.

And I really hate the word "breathe" in the second stanza, but again am stumped.

Lastly, I'm stumped for a title. Any ideas or suggestions are welcome. Have at it.

~~~~

Youíre in the front of the canoe, long, dark hair
Swaying with the sweep of your arms and shoulders.
In back, my awkward hands try to communicate mastery
But the paddle and current chuckle at my nerves.
The river sluices beneath, around us,
Green-brown opacity refusing any hints of its depths.
More than twenty years of diverging roads and loves
Crowd the four feet between us.
Coyly disregarding decades and distance,
Phantom lines, unseen but viscerally felt,
Filigree the air from me to you.
I feel them deftly anchor themselves
In places I thought too scarred for intrusion.

You ask me about my children, about my work;
My forty-year-old mouth feels as if itís four and wrestles with words.
But mostly we paddle contentedly, heated by the midsummer sun,
Cooled by wind slipping through the overhanging trees.
And these spectral cables between us
Thicken with our mutual, comfortable silences,
Carrying words and deeper signals without sound or guiding.
The only jolt comes when I realize the connection is shared;
That this voiceless joy, this spiritual resonance
Signals out from you to me as well, weaving
A quiet communion that will breathe
Long after the river run ends,
Even if another twenty years
And two thousand miles intervene.
But for now, there is profound, wordless delight
In working the water together.
"Sooner or later, we all end up in the trunk of someone's car."

-storm_lantern's daughter (really!)

Offline eric

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2009, 11:52:26 AM »
Well, there are a lot of surplus words, and I see the abstractions that bothered you, but I really like the basic image here, I am quite fond of your general thrust, and think there is a good poem waiting to be liberated from these lines.  Good one.  I will come back to this one later, with your permission, and work on it a little bit with you if you wish.

Offline storm_lantern

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2009, 11:59:04 AM »
Well, there are a lot of surplus words, and I see the abstractions that bothered you, but I really like the basic image here, I am quite fond of your general thrust, and think there is a good poem waiting to be liberated from these lines.  Good one.  I will come back to this one later, with your permission, and work on it a little bit with you if you wish.

*GRINS* I know it's way too wordy for some folks here. But yes, feedback and suggestions would be welcome. Come back to it when you can/want to.
"Sooner or later, we all end up in the trunk of someone's car."

-storm_lantern's daughter (really!)

Offline indar

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2009, 05:07:34 PM »
I really like this. Let me practice making suggestions. It might read better if only the current chuckles. I like the foreshadowing of the relationship in the opacity and unknown depth. Phantom lines WOULD be unseen. Nice---anchoring in places thought to be too scarred. 2nd line 2nd stanza stopped me cold---my 40 year old mouth makes a 4 year old answer (?) If the spectral cables are being thickened by the silent paddling I'd like to see those 2 lines more connected. If you just say the jolt came it would be more----well----jolting drop the "only". Nice ending.

Offline John Yamrus

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2009, 05:26:46 PM »
WAY too wordy for poetry.  poetry's about saying as much as you can in as little as you can.  distill this.  burn off the fat and then you've got yourself a poem.  as it is, you've nearly got a short story. 
y'know, it's like when you're cooking and you do a reduction...CONDENSE this.  Indar's giving you way too much credit when she says she "really likes" this.  if she does, she's setting her sights way too low.  you're onto something, but nowhere near where you should be.  keep working it, though.
john
Since 1970 John's published 2 novels, 18 books of poetry, and had more than 1,300 poems published in mags around the world.   His new book, (his 20TH) called CAN'T STOP NOW! is available here:

http://www.epicrites.org/

Offline storm_lantern

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2009, 10:36:20 PM »
john, I was just thinking about starting a thread on this topic. I think some of the lines are too wordy, but I don't know that I think ALL poetry has to be spare and lean. I've really liked what I've seen of your stuff...but one of the reasons I like it is that it's different. I don't want all poems to be that Spartan in their wording.

Having said that, I know the second stanza especially needs work.
"Sooner or later, we all end up in the trunk of someone's car."

-storm_lantern's daughter (really!)

Offline eric

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2009, 10:41:24 PM »
Yeah, I think I will start a thread on why tennis players can be flabby and out of shape and get away with it.  No, maybe not.

Offline storm_lantern

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2009, 11:19:25 PM »
Clever, but not equivalent. I'm not talking specifically about my writing - there are many widely recognized classic poems and poets who did not write exceedingly spare verse. They didn't waste words, either, but that's not the same thing.
"Sooner or later, we all end up in the trunk of someone's car."

-storm_lantern's daughter (really!)

Offline Akeith (Gray)

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2009, 11:38:34 PM »
StormLantern (or S/L if I may, to spare my tired knuckles):

You said

"I think some of the lines are too wordy, but I don't know that I think ALL poetry has to be spare and lean. I've really liked what I've seen of your stuff...but one of the reasons I like it is that it's different. I don't want all poems to be that Spartan in their wording."

I have to agree with Mr. Y., up to a certain point. His talent speaks for itself in his poetry. It is spartan, formulaic, and well liked because (as you have said) it is different and rather unique. And as you also said, not all poems should be Spartan in their wording. But the use of words in poetry (as opposed to prose) should be sparing. It is one thing to use a lot of words if to do so enhances the structure and intent (etc) of the poem. It is another to use a lot of words just for the sake of using a lot of words.

I think a poem is at its best when the least amount of words are used to create an illustration, to address the point or intent of the writer, when one word will serve in the place of two. I think a poem can (should) have as many words as are needed, but then no more. Anything above and beyond that is a waste and distracts the reader.

Why overstock the pond, if the point is to be able to fish more than once? Too many fish overcrowd and destroy their environment, leaving it barren and of no interest.

As you have already pointed out, the second stanza is overfilled with unecessary words. I think the first one is also. Underneath the rubble of words, however, is the potential for a good poem.

Or so I think.

Offline Victor

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Re: [untitled canoe poem]
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2009, 07:13:35 AM »
Quote
It is one thing to use a lot of words if to do so enhances the structure and intent (etc) of the poem. It is another to use a lot of words just for the sake of using a lot of words.

yeah man, that's the point.
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. -ECCLESIASTES 1:17