Provisional

New to poetry? Unsure about the quality of your work? Then why not post here to receive some gentle feedback.
Arian
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Re: Provisional

Post by Arian » Fri Sep 16, 2011 6:44 pm

Sorry, should have read the thread before commenting, I guess.
Ryan P. wrote:some people wouldn't because the narrator is an ass and he'd be difficult to relate to or sympathize with.
Oh, for god's sake! He's kidding you, surely? No doubt wants to see if you can recognise a daft commnt or not. Well, you can. And it is.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Fri Sep 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Arian wrote: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
Thanks for this. The whole thing.

It's probably the most equally discouraging and flattering piece of criticism I've ever been given. I'm soaking it in and I'll come back (hopefully) with a revision of this piece soon. If not, know that you're being listened to.
Arian wrote:Sorry, should have read the thread before commenting, I guess.
Ryan P. wrote:some people wouldn't because the narrator is an ass and he'd be difficult to relate to or sympathize with.
Oh, for god's sake! He's kidding you, surely? No doubt wants to see if you can recognise a daft commnt or not. Well, you can. And it is.
He was serious.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Moth » Fri Oct 14, 2011 11:17 pm

Not to shock but shake was how I read it at first - and that had little to do with the profanity although it does serve to add to the hard edge set with 'cutting' and 'screwdriver' - thinking of it in terms of a potential weapon - and to a slightly more subtle extent 'pasting' as in 'giving her a pasting' - ooh, I can see how this might well be passed off as a solely misogynistic work by those who don't take the time to read deeper. Or, like, me, fail to get the significance of the title till I re-read.

Anyhow, to continue with my initial thoughts, I thought great - good portrayal of a sneering user, till I got to the last line. Remote control car softened the whole piece somehow and I thought why? A car? A toy? OK, she's his toy, he's controlling her, but hard cases don't play - and here we had an image of someone playing, yet being cruel (it's in the subtext with screwdriver) at the same time.

So, I re-read - got the meaning of the title which can be read two ways - and then it clicked. Provisional. Is she the provisional girlfriend or is it he, the narrator who has a provisional? The answer, of course, is both. He's immature, a boy, still learning about life and relationships and despite being physically ready "would fuck' probably hasn't yet had a sexual encounter, at least not with the object of his rather confused desires. So the screwdriver/ car line is explained and merely carries on a hard/soft theme shown throughout. 'would marry' given a cynical twist, for instance - or could it be that he's merely too young to live in the same house as her? I mean why use 'marry' at all if this guy didn't have a soft side? He didn't say 'knock you up', now did he? Then there's the cutting and pasting - hard and soft (despite fore-mentioned connotations) also, he's playing (in a sense) again. Also not with her, but her image and the way I read it its her image - i.e. himself who's telling him 'he's different".

So far so good, if this is your intent. Then comes that line which I think spoils it, not because it's lazy as such, but because it fails to continue from what came before, i.e. what he percieves to be her thoughts, but are really his
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.
Try omitting the part in bold. Screwdriver has sexual connotations anyway and it would bring the piece together more as in serving an instant explaination of who your narrator is. You see what I'm getting at?

oh yes, and the car - if this girl's more than a fantasy girlfriend, she's the vehicle for everything he decides or can't help putting on her, as well as being a toy. Excellent stuff.

btw this whole pc, can't write this or that crap does my head in. Why is it Ok for prime time TV to tackle subjects like this and portray unlikeable characters, but when it comes to current publishing trends everything's automatically rejected, except by left-field publications, unless it's all nicey nicey or got some sort of Aesop tale moral ending?

Good poem. Far deeper than I expected and therefore very much enjoyed.
to be totally honest... whenever you feel you really shouldn't write that, that's exactly what you should write.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Ryan P. » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:54 am

Moth wrote:Not to shock but shake was how I read it at first - and that had little to do with the profanity although it does serve to add to the hard edge set with 'cutting' and 'screwdriver' - thinking of it in terms of a potential weapon - and to a slightly more subtle extent 'pasting' as in 'giving her a pasting' - ooh, I can see how this might well be passed off as a solely misogynistic work by those who don't take the time to read deeper. Or, like, me, fail to get the significance of the title till I re-read.

Anyhow, to continue with my initial thoughts, I thought great - good portrayal of a sneering user, till I got to the last line. Remote control car softened the whole piece somehow and I thought why? A car? A toy? OK, she's his toy, he's controlling her, but hard cases don't play - and here we had an image of someone playing, yet being cruel (it's in the subtext with screwdriver) at the same time.

So, I re-read - got the meaning of the title which can be read two ways - and then it clicked. Provisional. Is she the provisional girlfriend or is it he, the narrator who has a provisional? The answer, of course, is both. He's immature, a boy, still learning about life and relationships and despite being physically ready "would fuck' probably hasn't yet had a sexual encounter, at least not with the object of his rather confused desires. So the screwdriver/ car line is explained and merely carries on a hard/soft theme shown throughout. 'would marry' given a cynical twist, for instance - or could it be that he's merely too young to live in the same house as her? I mean why use 'marry' at all if this guy didn't have a soft side? He didn't say 'knock you up', now did he? Then there's the cutting and pasting - hard and soft (despite fore-mentioned connotations) also, he's playing (in a sense) again. Also not with her, but her image and the way I read it its her image - i.e. himself who's telling him 'he's different".

So far so good, if this is your intent. Then comes that line which I think spoils it, not because it's lazy as such, but because it fails to continue from what came before, i.e. what he percieves to be her thoughts, but are really his
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.
Try omitting the part in bold. Screwdriver has sexual connotations anyway and it would bring the piece together more as in serving an instant explaination of who your narrator is. You see what I'm getting at?

oh yes, and the car - if this girl's more than a fantasy girlfriend, she's the vehicle for everything he decides or can't help putting on her, as well as being a toy. Excellent stuff.

btw this whole pc, can't write this or that crap does my head in. Why is it Ok for prime time TV to tackle subjects like this and portray unlikeable characters, but when it comes to current publishing trends everything's automatically rejected, except by left-field publications, unless it's all nicey nicey or got some sort of Aesop tale moral ending?

Good poem. Far deeper than I expected and therefore very much enjoyed.
What a post.

Thanks for the breakdown, Moth. Most of what you mentioned was intended, but some of it was not; that's why I love getting feedback.

Your suggestion for a revision is very simple yet, in my opinion, pretty effective. Dulls the edge of the profanity (or rather, removes it) and makes the reader think a little more about the images itself. Not so sure it suggests sex as much as you say it does, though...

Regardless, something to think about. Thank you very much.

Ryan

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Re: Provisional

Post by calico » Sat Oct 15, 2011 8:12 am

Moth wrote:btw this whole pc, can't write this or that crap does my head in. Why is it Ok for prime time TV to tackle subjects like this and portray unlikeable characters, but when it comes to current publishing trends everything's automatically rejected, except by left-field publications, unless it's all nicey nicey or got some sort of Aesop tale moral ending?
Hello Moth. I agree to an extent but it has to be well done. Do you know 'The Sonnet of the Half-time Lover?'

http://www.abctales.com/node/503950

It's a rape, and the narrator doesn't know it's a rape, but the poet does. So it teaches us something about rape.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Moth » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:03 am

Do you know 'The Sonnet of the Half-time Lover?'
I didn't, but thanks for pointing me in that direction. Prefer a little more subtlety myself whatever the subject matter, but I won't go on as the discussion could well become off-topic and it wouldn't be fair hijacking Ryan's thread.
to be totally honest... whenever you feel you really shouldn't write that, that's exactly what you should write.

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Re: Provisional

Post by Suzanne » Mon Oct 17, 2011 10:54 am

calico wrote:
Do you know 'The Sonnet of the Half-time Lover?'

http://www.abctales.com/node/503950

It's a rape, and the narrator doesn't know it's a rape, but the poet does. So it teaches us something about rape.
Ryan,
Sorry to invade your thread. Hope you don't mind. It does have some things in common with your N., perhaps.

I thought this was a poem that can teach something about perspective and narration. I wanted to thank you for posting it.
I also found it interesting that it is titled a sonnet.

Suzanne

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Re: Provisional

Post by twoleftfeet » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:26 am

Ryan,

This is creepily convincing - I get the impression that "N" is only just getting started and his weird behaviour will get worse.

I agree with Brian about "hacking" instead of "cutting".

Also he is right about your tutor's comments - he (your tutor) is a muppet.
(Wait until you've passed all your exams before you tell him, though 8) )

The strength of the poem is (IMHO) the unnerving weirdness of N: if you try to make him less unpleasant (or say anything
about the character of the girl) you will dilute this strength.

Where you've written "fuck you" I'm also inferring "fuck you up" .

I don't agree that using swear words is lazy in this case: finding alternative words - that N would never resort to - would
make the poem less credible.

Geoff
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

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