Provisional

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Ryan P.
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Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 02, 2011 7:38 pm

I used to tell you
you were the kind of girl I’d marry
if we slept in separate houses.
The best days were the ones I spent
marking out your face
or pasting others over it
and cutting off pieces of you I didn’t like.
You’d smile in mosaics and tell me
you never met no one like me before.
I would fuck you like a kid with a screwdriver
and a remote-control car.
Last edited by Ryan P. on Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:52 am, edited 2 times in total.

JohnLott
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Re: Provisional

Post by JohnLott » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:03 pm

Cynical and in a dishonest relationship.
Written to shock perhaps.
What else is there to say?
Easy to read - balanced.

8)

J.
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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:09 pm

Thanks for the kind words, John.
JohnLott wrote:Written to shock perhaps.
Perhaps... Lately I've been reading some Ai, and I greatly appreciate her stark use of bold images. I thought I'd give it a try (though, admittedly, I've always been prone to seeking beauty in the crude).

I have to admit, though, that I'd like to replace the casual F-bomb in the poem with something else, if I could; I just can't seem to think of anything else to use that captures the tone that I'm going for.

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Re: Provisional

Post by JohnLott » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:23 pm

Roger, hump, screw (but then you've used screwdriver) bone, shaft, rift, ream, bang, douche
etc
Try Urban Dictionary - it's full of surprises

8)

J.
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Ryan P.
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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:28 pm

JohnLott wrote:Roger, hump, screw (but then you've used screwdriver) bone, shaft, rift, ream, bang, douche
etc
Try Urban Dictionary - it's full of surprises

8)

J.
The most likely candidate for me was 'screw', but, as you stated, it'd just be too much screwing in one poem. Nothing else that I've seen captures the tone in the way that I want it to... 'Hump' might be close, but it's a little more playful that I like.

Thanks for the insight, John.

:)

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Re: Provisional

Post by brianedwards » Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:09 pm

"fuck" is perfect. I like how it's throwaway, buried in the longest line of the poem.
l7 is too long.

Nice work.

B.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Mic » Sat Sep 03, 2011 1:47 pm

I thought this was good - a bit unsettling, but good. In a very short space of time you manage to create a vivid image and the piece has a strong voice, I think. The language does its work with impressive ease.

Michaela
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Re: Provisional

Post by Nash » Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:38 pm

Hello Ryan, this is certainly a strong and confident first post and very good it is too, in a slightly disturbed way.

Looking forward to reading more from you.

Nash.

Ryan P.
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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:50 pm

Thanks to everyone for your kind replies.

Question: What do you folks feel about the title? Is it fitting and/or tasteful (albeit simple), or should I seek out something better?

Brian, in regards to l7, I'm going to have to agree with you; However, I struggle to find any unnecessary words that I can pull out to shorten it without reworking the image as a whole. Would you feel it is better left as-is, or is it such a problem that I should try to find an alternate way to express that image?

Thanks again for the warm welcome. I'll be sure to post more very shortly.

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Re: Provisional

Post by JohnLott » Sat Sep 03, 2011 6:57 pm

Title?

Presumably she is a 'provisional' girlfriend while you look for the real one?
in which case OK

If it's a provisional poem while you work it into a better one, then I'm not so sure.

If we don't like what you call your poems, I'm sure someone here will tell you.

J.
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Ryan P.
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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Sat Sep 03, 2011 7:06 pm

More so the former, John. Or a provisional relationship. Really, it's just to give the reader the notion that this "thing" they have is intended (at least, by the narrator) to only be temporary. Of course, that's pretty apparent throughout the piece, but, then again, I've never been good with titles. That's mostly why I asked.

Cheers for the feedback.

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Re: Provisional

Post by brianedwards » Sun Sep 04, 2011 6:42 am

Ryan P. wrote: Brian, in regards to l7, I'm going to have to agree with you; However, I struggle to find any unnecessary words that I can pull out to shorten it without reworking the image as a whole. Would you feel it is better left as-is, or is it such a problem that I should try to find an alternate way to express that image?
How about moving the images around a little?

The best days were the ones I spent
pruning bits of you I didn’t like,
marking out your face
or pasting others over it


Not saying you should go with "pruning", just giving you some ideas. This way round brings mention of the face closer to the smile.

B.

Ryan P.
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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Sun Sep 04, 2011 7:15 am

Thanks for the suggestions, Brian. I must admit that I am pretty fond of the ordering of the images as they are (most likely because that's how they came out initially, so it feels more natural), so that'll take time to consider. I do like the possibility of switching out some words, though. Even just changing 'pieces' to 'bits' makes it read better; we lose a syllable and I think it adds a better depth to the image. I'll do some soul searching for more fitting verbs. 'Cutting off' could stand to be changed.

Thanks again for the thought.

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Re: Provisional

Post by ray miller » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:57 pm

Just to say that I like the poem. I think "The best days" ought to have a line of its own. Might even be a good title.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:55 pm

I took this one to my workshop professor, and here's some of what he told me:

Overall, he said it was a little too misogynistic. He said that it reflects too negatively on the narrator because of his instability to admit his own flaws (instead of harping on the flaws of this girl) and that he is unlikeable.

He said that the cutting/pasting image in l5-7 could stand some sprucing up and that he'd thing it'd be more interesting to see it as "cutting off pieces of you that YOU didn't like" as opposed to what it is now.

He said that he (my professor) wants some more unique dialogue in l9 instead of "you never met no one like me before." It's too broad and impersonal.

... and there were a few small other things. Overall, he said that he liked it, but some people wouldn't because the narrator is an ass and he'd be difficult to relate to or sympathize with. What do you folks thing about his comments? Just trying to get more feedback. Thanks so much. :)

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Re: Provisional

Post by RichardSanders » Thu Sep 15, 2011 10:30 pm

Hi Ryan,

I do like the poem even though I agree with your workshop professor that the narrator does come off as kind of an ass.

As for that part of his feedback...
In my humble opinion, I think it's nonsense to limit yourself to writing poems that make people like the narrator or even the writer.
Some people are asses. If you can hand them a mirror with a poem like this, why would that be any less good, than a poem that makes people like the narrator.
I think his response in this respect is quite commercially oriented. I also think that commercial viability is a very poor measure for determining the quality of a poem. I think poetry should invoke strong emotion. Whether the emotion is a positive or a negative one is inconsequential as long as it's not about the quality of the work itself.

As for it being to misogynistic. Does your professor determine what emotions and views are acceptable to express?


Am I alone in this?

Kindest,
Richard

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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:27 am

RichardSanders wrote:Hi Ryan,

I do like the poem even though I agree with your workshop professor that the narrator does come off as kind of an ass.

As for that part of his feedback...
In my humble opinion, I think it's nonsense to limit yourself to writing poems that make people like the narrator or even the writer.
Some people are asses. If you can hand them a mirror with a poem like this, why would that be any less good, than a poem that makes people like the narrator.
I think his response in this respect is quite commercially oriented. I also think that commercial viability is a very poor measure for determining the quality of a poem. I think poetry should invoke strong emotion. Whether the emotion is a positive or a negative one is inconsequential as long as it's not about the quality of the work itself.

As for it being to misogynistic. Does your professor determine what emotions and views are acceptable to express?


Am I alone in this?

Kindest,
Richard
You're right on pretty much all accounts, Richard. But the guy does have an MFA in poetry (studied under James Tate) and I do have to respect his opinion. And he admitted right off that he liked it, but I would struggle to get published in the future if I didn't consider those things. Probably too early for that talk, though.

That being said, I posted a small rewrite. I tried to doll-up the image mid-stanza and change the dialogue. Not sure I like either of the changes, though. I'll let the jury decide.

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Re: Provisional (rewrite)

Post by brianedwards » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:38 am

With all respect I think your Professor's comments are nonsense. It's not easy to engage an audience with an unpleasant protagonist, but that's not to say it can't be done or should be avoided. Think how much world literature would lose if that were the rule of thumb! The earlier draft was misogynist, yes, but also believable and quite original too. I agree with his call for something more interesting than "you never met no one like me before" (though the vernacular there is not without appeal) but mostly I think he's way off. His suggestion to switch the motivation of the cutting and pasting is particularly baffling and seems to miss the point.

Regards the posted revision, I think v2 is vastly inferior to v1, especially the shifting of "fuck" to end-line position, which now draws too much attention and is thus weakened significantly.

B.

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Re: Provisional (rewrite)

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 5:56 am

brianedwards wrote:With all respect I think your Professor's comments are nonsense. It's not easy to engage an audience with an unpleasant protagonist, but that's not to say it can't be done or should be avoided. Think how much world literature would lose if that were the rule of thumb! The earlier draft was misogynist, yes, but also believable and quite original too. I agree with his call for something more interesting than "you never met no one like me before" (though the vernacular there is not without appeal) but mostly I think he's way off. His suggestion to switch the motivation of the cutting and pasting is particularly baffling and seems to miss the point.

Regards the posted revision, I think v2 is vastly inferior to v1, especially the shifting of "fuck" to end-line position, which now draws too much attention and is thus weakened significantly.

B.
Your comment is spot-on and I've already removed the rewrite, haha. I'll look into changing the dialogue (perhaps keeping with the regional dialect) and keep the rest as-is. Thanks for your insight.

In regards to your comments on engaging an audience with an unpleasant protagonist, do you feel that this piece (in it's earlier draft) does that, at least partially?

Great to hear your feedback.

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Re: Provisional (rewrite)

Post by brianedwards » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:06 am

Ryan P. wrote:
In regards to your comments on engaging an audience with an unpleasant protagonist, do you feel that this piece (in it's earlier draft) does that, at least partially?
Yeah I think it does, but I'm a fucking arsehole so you should probably ask someone else.

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Re: Provisional (rewrite)

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:22 am

brianedwards wrote:
Yeah I think it does, but I'm a fucking arsehole so you should probably ask someone else.
I'd say that's the intended audience.

Okay, one last question: the image(s) in the middle (lines 4-8): Are they powerful as they are or should they be tweaked some? A few people have mentioned that they could be stronger. Again, I'm just looking for suggestions and feedback, if you have any.

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Re: Provisional

Post by brianedwards » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:33 am

I'd be tempted to make them more violent perhaps - hacking instead of "cutting", bits instedda "chunks", hated stedda "didn't like" . . . Not saying you should, just saying what I would probably be tempted to try out during the writing process. Play around with the voice a little.
One area you might look at is the ending. Thinking in terms of what your professor identified as a difficulty in relating to the speaker, you might consider ways in leaving the reader with a suggestion of the Ns unhappiness. The behavior described suggests the guy has issues; a stronger hint of that might make him more accessible? If you want a more sympathetic readership you either need to make the speaker more human or the girl more of a bitch.

Dunno. Probably not necessary. Anyway, I like it.

B.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:53 am

brianedwards wrote:I'd be tempted to make them more violent perhaps - hacking instead of "cutting", bits instedda "chunks", hated stedda "didn't like" . . . Not saying you should, just saying what I would probably be tempted to try out during the writing process. Play around with the voice a little.
One area you might look at is the ending. Thinking in terms of what your professor identified as a difficulty in relating to the speaker, you might consider ways in leaving the reader with a suggestion of the Ns unhappiness. The behavior described suggests the guy has issues; a stronger hint of that might make him more accessible? If you want a more sympathetic readership you either need to make the speaker more human or the girl more of a bitch.

Dunno. Probably not necessary. Anyway, I like it.

B.
Thanks very much for the suggestions. I'll pay particular attention to making N more accessible, if possible. The guy is an ass though. We'll see what comes of it.

Thanks again.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Suzanne » Fri Sep 16, 2011 2:30 pm

Oooh, I like it.

Very creepy.... so I don't want to know the N but the short poem captures him well.

It would be nice to leave the edits on the thread so we can see the changes.

I, too, disagree with your prof no matter what his credentials.

liked it.
Suzanne

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Re: Provisional

Post by Arian » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:38 pm

To my mind, the last couplet completely undermines an otherwise tight and funny piece of emotional savagery.

It's not a prude thing. It's an I-hate-it-when-a-poet-takes-the-lazy-route thing.

Scenario: poet want to shock, or express a shocked state.
Execution: Poet uses taboo language.

That was OK 40 years ago, when language - some of it anyway - could still shock, rock the boat. Today, that's changed. All you've done by resorting to words like fuck is to show - or imply - the bankruptcy of your imagination. You sound stale, uninspired, lazy. You've become a poetic throwback.

Except that, even on the small amount of evidence we have so far, we know that that's not true. You're much better than that. You could find, if you wanted to, far fresher ways to say what you wanted to say. And that's your job as a poet. To be fresh.

In summary: very good.

Nearly.

Cheers
peter

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