On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale (V2)

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On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale (V2)

Post by Firebird » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:42 pm

V2

I pride myself that I can trace
in these rickety legs and back
a lively tight-knit symmetry
of acanthus leaves and curlicues;
and in the back-splat’s tracery
flames of Cuban mahogany;
bold and vital carving
in the woodwormed cabrioles;
a noble, upright frame
through the years of dirt and grease.

But maybe I’m a little too much
like that distant relative,
who chased a beauty through the mist,
discerning only now and then
a hip, a thigh, or breast,
while all the time seeing her
the way he wanted her to be.


V1

I pride myself that I can trace
in these rickety legs and back
a lively tight-knit symmetry
of acanthus leaves and curlicues;
and in the back-splat’s tracery
flames of Cuban mahogany;
in the woodwormed cabrioles
carving bold and vital;
through the years of dirt and grease
a frame upright and noble.

But maybe I’m a little too much
like that distant relative,
who chased a beauty through the mist,
only glimpsing now and then
a hip, a thigh or breast
while all the time imagining
what she would be.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by NotQuiteSure » Mon Apr 22, 2019 10:39 am

.
Hi Tristan,
enjoyed this, starting with the title, but I think it
rather falls at L15 (too much like a bucket of chicken
order). Are there no suitable parts of a chair that may
be 'glimpsed' ? (Hip works, but the others ... ?)

L2 seems a beat short, to me and I'm not sure about
'rickety' then 'upright'.

You've two 'backs' (the second being the spectacularly
ugly 'back-splat', yes I know it's correct, I looked it up,
but, really?). And 'trace' then 'tracery' (would L1 work
as 'I pride myself on discerning' ?)

I think you could cut the 'and' (L4) and the last line
of S2 (it just rephrases the previous).

Regards, Not.

.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by Perry » Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:31 pm

This is a lovely poem, with lovely language. It is a sheer pleasure to read. But I wonder if the idea really works. You are comparing an old chair whose beauty has become obscured by use and age, to a nymph-like woman who personifies youthful perfection. If it were my poem, I would find something else to compare the chair to -- i.e., to something else which is old but still retains its beauty.

The common thread between you and the relative seems to be imagination -- your imagination which allows you see the beauty in the chair as if it were new, and your relative's imagination which causes him to see the body parts of a nymph-like creature. But it still feels like apples and oranges to me, not apples and apples.

However, if in your mind you see a direct connection between the two (which you obviously do), then at least some other people will also get that connection, so I am not advising you to change the poem. It is lovely however you read it. Perhaps I haven't read the poem enough times, and at some point I'll get it too. I'll come back to it later.

But what lush and delicious language you've used!

Oh, it just occurred to me that the explanation is in the title -- the word "want". We want things to be what they aren't. But the chair is what it is, and has simply aged a bit. Chasing a lovely woman through the mist seems a very different thing. Still, I see the connection now, though it's a slim one.

I can't imagine why you put this on the Beginners' board.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by Macavity » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:07 am

Hi Tristan
I did wonder if you were playing with cultural references in that title (the dance troupe linking to the Tarzan in S2 and the use of ballet reference cabriole). Perhaps the primitive vitality of a hip, a thigh or breast of S2 has also triggered that thought.
of acanthus leaves and curlicues;
and in the back-splat’s tracery
flames of Cuban mahogany;
in the woodwormed cabrioles
Some interesting word choices, that took me into the chair's craft and origin, though I agree with Not on the ugly sonics of back-splat’s in the soundscape. In regard to sonic threads... rickety lively symmetry tracery mahogany...too much 'e'?
in the woodwormed cabrioles
carving bold and vital;
through the years of dirt and grease
a frame upright and noble.
bold and vital carving
in the woodwormed cabrioles;
an upright and noble frame
through the years of dirt and grease.
I have a nagging sense of twisted syntax and inversion, which could be intended, but I thought I'd offer an option.

The poem does travel - England/Cuba/Africa - civilization/jungle - history. I guess that word symmetry is key again.

best

mac


.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by bjondon » Wed Apr 24, 2019 1:11 pm

The anthropomorphisation of the chair, the subtle
choice of language to cue painful cultural juxtaposions
. . .this does seem to be about slavery . . . and I'm liking it
more each time I read it.
The two traces bother me a little . . . would it work to change the first
to 'spy' (setting up a nice 18th century mis-rhyme with symmetry.
Jules

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by Perry » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:43 pm

Slavery, eh? It will be interesting to hear what Tristan says about it.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by Firebird » Fri Apr 26, 2019 8:55 pm

Many thanks all for commenting.

I’d love to say you were right Jules with your interpretation, but I’m afraid it was just a bit of a tortured comparison and had nothing to do with slavery.

Perry, really pleased you like the language and you may be right about the comparison being a bit too much like apples and oranges.

Mac, I take your point about the inversions. They were not meant. Thanks for pointing out. I also agree that the title could lead one to the dance troupe and Tarzan, which was not intended either.

Not, I agree with you about it being a little too much KFC. I’ll see what I can do. I also agree about ‘backsplat’ being phenomenally ugly, and the trace/tracery issue. All areas that need improvement.

I’ll try to get a revision posted in the next week.

Cheers All,

Tristan

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by Perry » Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:53 am

Tristan, I don't think you need to revise it very much. The language really is very nice. As for my apples/oranges objections, I realize that they can be fixed very easily by changing the final two lines of the poem:

The lines as they are:

while all the time imagining
what she would be.

My suggestion:

while all the time seeing her
the way he wanted her to be.

By putting the word "wanted" in the close, you would be stating explicitly what the comparison is: You see the chair as you want it to be, just as your relative saw the woman as he wanted her to be. Indeed, the closing is the right place to make this explicit comparison, as it brings the poem to a sensible conclusion. That solves my objections.

As for "back-splat", it isn't ugly in itself, but only because the word "splat" reminds us of something hitting the pavement and breaking. It wouldn't bother me if you left it in.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale

Post by HonourStedman » Sun Apr 28, 2019 2:58 pm

Well Tristan, I look forward to reading the revised version of this poem - it contains nuggets of gold. In terms of a detailed critique, I agree very much with Perry's analysis so I will not add anything further. :)

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale (V2)

Post by Firebird » Mon Apr 29, 2019 10:09 am

Perry, thanks for the encouragement. Much appreciated, and I’ve taken on board your suggestion.

Honour, I’m pleased your liked the poem.

Many thanks both for commenting.

I’ve posted v2.

Cheers,

Tristan

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale (V2)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Mon Apr 29, 2019 12:51 pm

.
Hi Tristan,

I don't think this is an improvement, the new ending, which the title already suggests,
makes the implicit explicit, give the reader some credit. :)

Not entirely convinced by 'trace' works with the final two lines of S1. It would be an
astonishing amount of dirt and grease that would hide a frame, wouldn't it?

Just a thought

But maybe I’m too like that
distant relative, who chased a beauty
through the mist, discerning only now
and then a hip, an arm, a breast,
while all the time imagining


Regards, Not.
.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale (V2)

Post by Perry » Mon Apr 29, 2019 9:50 pm

Woops, I gave you poor advice. NQS is right that the ending is too explicit now.

I do feel, however, that the fix is in the last two lines. Between your lines and mine, there must be a middle ground that makes it clear the relative was seeing only what he wanted to see, but somehow you need to convey that idea more subtly than I did. If you can't come up with something better, I think you should stick with your original ending.

while all the time seeing/imagining
what he hoped she would be.

while all the time hoping she was
what he was seeing.

while all the time wondering
if anything was there.

while all the time wondering
if there was anything at all.

while all the time seeing
something that wasn't there.

I could probably come up with a dozen suggestions, there are so many possibilities.

I think you should subsitute "a" for "or" in this line:

a hip, a thigh, or breast,
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: On Wanting a Chair to be a Chippendale (V2)

Post by Jackie » Tue May 07, 2019 4:07 am

Firebird, I enjoyed your V1 a great deal because it’s so fun to read—the opening line, the concept, the rhythm, and the delightful language. They probably go over the top a bit. V2 comes in then like a drinking partner’s retort, lewd and plain, to bring you back to reality.

The original V2 seems to end with what the woman desires or is, but the revised version ends with what he wants to make of her. More likely what a bar friend would say when you get these aspirations of yours. Chippendale, indeed!

Jackie

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