Strand Street

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David
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Strand Street

Post by David » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:07 pm

We spoke of Strand Street in the good old days,
and all its little tributary streets,

with every shop along them owned locally,
apart from Woollies, Marksies and the Maypole.

Some litany seems necessary. Let
each name here their own most mourned emporia.

I think of Gore's, the rock shop, squeezing out
their candied anti-toothpaste; Tossie Cowin's,

haberdasher extraordinaire,
the pulleyed, gantried cash transferral system

creaking gamely overhead like some
absurd Heath Robinson alpine cable car;

and Newsons, on the quay, where men - my father -
would go for overalls and wellies (black).

But Christmas Eve was its apotheosis:
the twinkling lights, the crowds, the silver bands -

Hark! the Herald Angels singing lustily -
and traffic policemen dancing at the crossroads.

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Perry
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Re: Strand Street

Post by Perry » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:49 pm

I usually like your poems, but this one leaves me cold, starting with line one. Who are "we"? Since you are writing in the past tense, it is immediately clear that "we" are a particular group of people from the past, which leaves most of your readers out. Then you mention a street most of your readers haven't seen, and then you segue to the cliche'd phrase "good old days", which hits like a slap in the face for people who don't remember the past fondly. I understand what you are trying to do, but it just doesn't work for me.

The poem then turns into a list of names and places which some readers may or may not know. When writing about an area which many of your readers aren't familiar with, you need to do it with language that somehow draws those readers in and makes them feel part of it, and I don't think you manage to do that. This is a poem for insiders -- i.e., for a small group which knows the area you are writing about. The rest of us are left out. The poem needs to be less specific, more relatable, and more poetic in tone.

An example of a poem about a specific place which draws the reader in (mainly with its lovely, poetic language) is Leaf's poem "A Royal Birth" in the Beginner's forum. Take a look at that if you haven't already, and note that Leaf starts with the word "you" (which immediately includes the reader), and the tense of the poem begins with ... the future perfect? I'm not sure of the tense, but it isn't the past. Her language is also gorgeously lyrical.

It's possible to write a poem about a specific place in the past, but there are ways to do it that make the reader feel included. Somehow, you need to relate these forgotten places to events that the reader might be familiar with, and not just talk about them as memories.

Sorry to be so negative. As always, you deserve praise for writing in accessible language.

Perry
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Re: Strand Street

Post by barrett » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:17 pm

Beautifully done, David.

It's an interesting point that Perry makes. I wouldn't say I agree with it, but it's interesting and perhaps invites a question on how (or why) we read poetry. Personally, I think I possibly read it to experience the world through different eyes. Others may read it to see a reflection of themselves? I don't know. Having said that, I've never been to Strand Street but you paint it well and the recollections lead me to reminisce about my own locale.

I balked a little at the old cliche "the good old days" right in L1, but I think that's sort of the point of the poem, isn't it? Romance and rose tinted spectacles and all that? I think it works.

The only nit I have is that I stumbled a bit in S3 L2, not sure whether the sentence is a little clumsy. Probably my fault rather than yours though.

Cheers,
barrett.

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Re: Strand Street

Post by twoleftfeet » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:14 pm

David,

What a nostalgia-fest for people of a certain age!

L2 - I love "little tributary streets".

L6 - "here" or "hear"?
Unless in L5 - "Let" is being used in the sense of "permit/allow/grant"? A stumble from me too,I'm afraid.

And this is a perfect description of those aerial contraptions -
the pulleyed, gantried cash transferral system

creaking gamely overhead like some
absurd Heath Robinson alpine cable car;


- to me as a child they were utterly fascinating (they still are..).
How did they work? Was it compressed air? (I seem to remember a "pffutt" sound,but it could be a false memory.)

Do I have any real nits ?
Yes - I remember the name "Maypole" but not what they sold!! Please put me out of my misery.

Brilliant!
Geoff
Last edited by twoleftfeet on Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Strand Street

Post by Perry » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:31 am

Perhaps I had the reaction I did because the streets of my youth were very different. I could certainly be wrong about the poem. To be honest, now, after a three-hour nap, the poem seems better. Perhaps I was just feeling cranky.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Strand Street

Post by David » Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:38 pm

Thanks for coming back with your second thoughts, Perry. All those unfamiliar streets and shops, eh?

Have you read Ulysses, by any chance?
barrett wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:17 pm
I balked a little at the old cliche "the good old days" right in L1, but I think that's sort of the point of the poem, isn't it? Romance and rose tinted spectacles and all that? I think it works.
That's exactly the idea, Barrett old chap. And if the traffic policemen dancing at the crossroads reminded you, in any way, of Dev's comely lasses, that would be entirely appropriate. (I was tempted to say "voguing" instead of "dancing", for all those nifty little hand signals they used to use, but I'm not sure I understand voguing well enough to do that.)

You might well be right about S3 L2. I'd better revisit that.
twoleftfeet wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:14 pm
What a nostalgia-fest for people of a certain age!
Thanks Geoff. And you're probably one of the few people here who is - approximately, at least - of that certain - or, as I find now, increasingly uncertain - age, as I am.

Here!

Ah, the Maypole. It was just a little supermarket, wasn't it? Became Liptons, as I remember.

Cheers all

David

P.S. Geoff, I have a Wodehouse-based poem in the offing. Hoping to share it with you soon.

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Re: Strand Street

Post by Antcliff » Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:35 pm

"Ah, the Maypole. It was just a little supermarket, wasn't it?"

I note, apropos next to nothing, that my grandad's brother managed one. Swansea branch.

This bit was excellent..."creaking gamely overhead like some absurd Heath Robinson alpine cable car".

Nostalgic, of course, but then nostalgic poems are.

I especially liked the idea that the policemen were dancing at the crossroads, a location that inevitably carries a certain symbolic significance (despite, perhaps, being a little close to symbolic cliché....which it doesn't feel like here).

Lovely sound overall.

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Strand Street

Post by Perry » Tue Jun 18, 2019 10:52 pm

I'm still not in love with the poem. It is just too one-dimensional. Here are some individual crits.
David wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:07 pm
We spoke of Strand Street in the good old days, [Why the past tense?]
and all its little tributary streets,

with every shop along them owned locally,
apart from Woollies, Marksies and the Maypole.

Some litany seems necessary. Let
each name here their own most mourned emporia. ["Let each name his own most mourned emporum." You don't need "here". Actually, I suppose "emporia" works, but I think "emporium" sounds more logical.]

I think of Gore's, the rock shop, squeezing out
their candied anti-toothpaste; Tossie Cowin's, [The rock shop sold an alternative to toothpaste?]

haberdasher extraordinaire,
the pulleyed, gantried cash transferral system

creaking gamely overhead like some
absurd Heath Robinson alpine cable car;

and Newsons, on the quay, where men - my father -
would go for overalls and wellies (black).

But Christmas Eve was its apotheosis:
the twinkling lights, the crowds, the silver bands -

Hark! the Herald Angels singing lustily - [Shouldn't you continue the past tense here -- sang/danced -- or have you segued to the present?]
and traffic policemen dancing at the crossroads.
I still think this poem will not have much meaning for people who didn't know the area.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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Re: Strand Street

Post by David » Wed Jun 19, 2019 5:11 am

Ah well. Thanks for the latest update Perry.

I'll leave it there, I think.

David

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Re: Strand Street

Post by Macavity » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:43 am

Lovely sound overall.
Agree with that. No nits from me, which is not very helpful. A beguiling read that invites to be re-read many times.
Personally, I think I possibly read it to experience the world through different eyes.
Me too.

cheers

mac

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Re: Strand Street

Post by twoleftfeet » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:28 am

David wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:38 pm
Ah, the Maypole. It was just a little supermarket, wasn't it? Became Liptons, as I remember.
I just asked my brother about it (he's 5 years younger than me).
He said it was a little supermarket/deli and told me what street it was on.
I don't remember it at all..
As you say I'm of an uncertain age. :)

I do remember those manual bacon slicer machines that they had in deli's with the wicked circular blade that worked on a handle - they could slice ham so thin it was practically transparent. It got wrapped in greaseproof paper iirc,then in
that white paper they use in chip-shops.

David wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 6:38 pm
P.S. Geoff, I have a Wodehouse-based poem in the offing. Hoping to share it with you soon.
I look forward to it!

Geoff
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Re: Strand Street

Post by ray miller » Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:54 pm

Lovely. I don't recognise the cash transferral system but we had a local rock shop and I think that 4th couplet is my favourite.

We spoke of Strand Street in the good old days,
and all its little tributary streets, - tributaries would do for me.

with every shop along them owned locally, - owned by locals? locals/Maypole sounds good.
apart from Woollies, Marksies and the Maypole.

Some litany seems necessary. Let
each name here their own most mourned emporia. I'd leave out "here", it confused me at first

I think of Gore's, the rock shop, squeezing out
their candied anti-toothpaste; Tossie Cowin's,

haberdasher extraordinaire,
the pulleyed, gantried cash transferral system

creaking gamely overhead like some
absurd Heath Robinson alpine cable car;

and Newsons, on the quay, where men - my father -
would go for overalls and wellies (black). - I'm not sure you need to mention your father or the colour of the wellies.

But Christmas Eve was its apotheosis:
the twinkling lights, the crowds, the silver bands -

Hark! the Herald Angels singing lustily -
and traffic policemen dancing at the crossroads. - Really!

Top
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: Strand Street

Post by David » Sat Jun 22, 2019 3:33 pm

Thanks Mac!

I remember that ham, Geoff. Practically surgical, wasn't it?

Great. Thanks Ray. It's the 60s, innit? Where was your rock shop? I always thought rock was a seaside phenomenon, but now I realise I don't know why I think that.

Yes, you might have a point on Newsons. Although the colour of the wellies was (is) a social signifier. If that is a thing at all.
ray miller wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:54 pm
Hark! the Herald Angels singing lustily -
and traffic policemen dancing at the crossroads. - Really!
No, not really! But that's the point.

Cheers all

David

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Re: Strand Street

Post by k-j » Sun Jun 23, 2019 2:01 am

Much enjoyed. Maybe cut "along them" which doesn't add anything and the shorter line seems nice?

Cut "most" for the metre?

I love "anti-toothpaste" and the whole description of the cash transferral system (which I don't think I've come across before).
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Strand Street

Post by Firebird » Sun Jun 23, 2019 8:52 pm

Enjoyed a lot David. No nits from me either. Great stuff.

Cheers,

Tristan

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Re: Strand Street

Post by David » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:20 pm

Hurrah! Thanks k-j. A welcome and rare reappearance by you (outside the "Who's reading what?" thread) there.

And thanks to you too, Tristan.

Cheers

David

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Re: Strand Street

Post by RCJames » Mon Jun 24, 2019 6:53 pm

Being, seemingly, the only American amidst a group who claim the British Isles as home,
I can only chime in with what exposure I've gained from movies and literary sources, and
not any in-person experience. The first influence that jumped to mind was Joyce's Ulysses,
that I've held up to the light, since reading it, as a gem of language's play and possibilities,
along with its descriptive power. I've never stepped on the streets of Dublin, but Joyce
does the next best thing and puts me there through the strength of his imagination.

This piece did the same for me in that sense of transport, of placing me in circumstances
strange to me, but after reading through it, can feel some attachment to the place.

If there's something wrong with it, it's in the grammar and syntax I'll leave to others. RC

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Re: Strand Street

Post by David » Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:45 pm

Thanks RC. It’s always worthwhile pulling me up on points of grammar and syntax. There’s often something there.

Cheers

David

P.S. Re "Being, seemingly, the only American amidst a group who claim the British Isles as home", have you not met Perry?

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Re: Strand Street

Post by David » Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:12 pm

David wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:45 pm
P.S. Re "Being, seemingly, the only American amidst a group who claim the British Isles as home", have you not met Perry?
It's just been pointed out to me that you have, although he may possibly not have registered as American at the time. I genuinely did not know. Sorry about that.

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