Losing People (A didactic poem)

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Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by Firebird » Tue May 07, 2019 8:35 am

It started with hundreds
then thousands,
and though some protested,
most did not:
it seemed distant -
nothing more than hearsay.
They didn’t like them much
anyway.

When it was too late,
pictures and numbers
were pushed in front of their faces
and they began
to understand.

Don’t let this process
of denying those deaths
start again.

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by ray miller » Tue May 07, 2019 9:57 am

My initial thought was this is to do with insects, now I'm not so sure. I like the first stanza, its ending could be applicable to any persecuted minority, I suppose. I'm not so keen on the last 5 lines of the poem. I find them too glib, anodyne, "didactic".
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by Jackie » Tue May 07, 2019 11:30 am

Tristan,

I have a poem underway that I keep backing off of because it turns didactic on me, so I find this especially intriguing.

Didacticism changes a poem's genre, doesn't it? It takes on a role. Do you have a wish for how this poem could be used?

Are you looking for feedback not only on the poetics but on how to make it more persuasive?

Jackie

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by Perry » Tue May 07, 2019 10:01 pm

Firebird wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 8:35 am
It started with hundreds
then thousands,
and though some protested,
most did not:
it seemed distant -
nothing more than hearsay.
They didn’t like them much
anyway.

When it was too late,
pictures and numbers
were pushed in front of their faces
and they began
to understand.

Don’t let this process
of denying those deaths
start again.
The meaning of this poem is pretty obvious, but it lacks any poignancy to drive the point home. As I envision the poem, the first strophe doesn't need much changing, but a real-life example of the effects of the genocide (that's how I read this) could be introduced in the second strophe. The third strophe is problematic for me because it suggests that denying the deaths is the problem, not the deaths themselves -- or the need to prevent such a thing from happening again.

I have often wondered how the Russians felt after a pogrom, or how the Germans felt after Kristallnacht, when, the next day, they went to the store to buy something, and the store was no longer there, nor the pleasant shopkeeper who had served them for years.

==================

Having given that advice, I understand that the people who were "disappeared" were "distant", and for that reason were not immediately missed. What I am suggesting (above) would be a different poem altogether. I'm sure there's some way to get some poignancy in the poem and keep the basic storyline.

I am reminded of something that happened in the United States. We have something called "eminent domain" which allows the government to take your property to use it for a "public" purpose, but rulings by our stupid Supreme Court now allow it to be used for profit. A perfectly good area of a city can be designated "blighted", even if it isn't, and it can be torn down to build something new, like a mall. In New London, Connecticut, the mayor campaigned to get a whole neighborhood destroyed (the neighborhood with the poorest people, of course), and he succeeded. Ninety houses were torn down, but nothing was ever built on the empty land -- and the city's remaining residents supported the mayor, as he was re-elected when he ran again. I have often wondered how the people of that city felt about evicting a huge number of their neighbors, and how they would have liked it if it had happened to them.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by ton321 » Thu May 09, 2019 10:35 pm

I
Hi Tristan

I think the title is better just as "Losing People". Being told it's a didactic poem doesn't really add anything, in my opinion. You don't read poetry to be taught something, or at least I don't
Tony
Counting the beats,
Counting the slow heart beats,
The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats,
Wakeful they lie.

Robert Graves

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by JJWilliamson » Fri May 10, 2019 9:23 am

Hi, Tristan

I'm not altogether sure what the title is adding to the poem. There's also an abstract thread running through
the entire piece, as if it was just about to begin, but didn't. I thought of the holocaust but realised it could
just as easily apply to any global genocide. Are you referencing a news story or documentary? Perhaps it's a bit too
general or vague to elicit my emotions.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by Harbal » Sun May 19, 2019 8:48 am

There's something called "First They Came" (I'm not sure if it's poetry or prose) that is much on the same lines as this poem, and there have probably been numerous others. I think it is a theme that cannot be made too prominent in people's minds so the more the message is said, the better. But, because it has been said many times before, I think any repetition of the message needs to be all the stronger to make an impact. Taken in isolation, I think your poem makes its point admirably, but, given the -by now- jaded ear of the audience, I think it should have been more forceful; a little aggressive, even.

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by RCJames » Tue May 28, 2019 4:03 pm

I agree with some others here that the message is an important one and needs to be heard.

What's missing for me is a concrete reference point, where, who, when, why - rather than
a generalized polemic. One only need hear "Warsaw Ghetto" and the specific scene, situation,
outcome is recalled. Aside from that, the ending could be much stronger. - RC

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by Poet » Tue Jun 11, 2019 3:52 pm

It ends so abruptly, I don't know why. But improve on this piece once more and you'll get there, I think you should get rid of every line and write the whole poem again with a better ending. That's just my two cents.

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by Antcliff » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:42 pm

Although I don't dislike the (occasional) didactic poem, there is, imho, too little here that is specific. It could fit a load of bad events. Of course it might be said that we should not let any such happen. No doubt. But doesn't a warning lose force if it is against something so very general? "Beware of bad stuff!". So I suppose I am suggesting that something a little more specific might give the poem a bit more weight?


Seth
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Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Losing People (A didactic poem)

Post by Firebird » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:29 am

Ray, Jackie, Perry, JJ, Herbal, Ton, RC, Poet (welcome!) and Seth,

Many thanks for all your replies and sorry for my late response. I have been running a campaign to save a green space which the EA/council propose to destroy. Thankfully, this proposal has now been suspended, so I now have some time to spend here again.

Now to the poem. This was an attempt at a didactic poem, but on reading it after some time I agree that it is too abstract and doesn’t really do a great deal at all. So I think I’m going to scrap it.

Sorry not to reply to each individual comment as I would normally do, but I have left this one so long my heart is no longer in it and I’d rather spend my time replying to some other poems.

Many thanks again for all the comments. Much appreciated.

Cheers,

Tristan

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