Anyone dabble in poetry? Although I began writing a bit of verse last spring, I have rarely worked up the nerve to show the results to anyone. I guess I am wondering if anyone would be interested in a creative exchange of constructive criticism. Post your pieces if so! I'm too chicken to post the first one, even though I made the topic. Whoops. ;)

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Thank you. I found it. Shine, I appreciate the way the last stanza of "Diaspora" seems to (at least in my reading of it - if it's not your intention, perhaps this is indicative of talent in that you allow your readers to bring themselves into your poem) shift the focus from the LOSS of diaspora to the OPPORTUNITIES of diaspora. Seems to me this is parallel to the way we, as non-religionists, see ourselves as compared to how religionists see us...I mean, they lament our loss of faith, whereas we look forward to the opportunities that open up after we are free of it and move on. I try to look beyond loss in diaspora to opportunity so as to at least allow for more balance in discussion so that it's more than the binary of "here or there", "bad or good". I really like your poem; the last stanza resonated with me. Thank you for putting it up here! Carol
Thank you all so much for the great feedback! I really appreciate it. :) Forgive me for doing one lump reply, but my internet here is painfully slow.


I was afraid that "Diaspora" could possibly be interpreted as espousing racial purity and condemning mulitculturalism. This is completely unintentional, and I think that I may need to restructure a few things in order to fix this. I think that if I make the poem more self-inclusive I may be able to prevent this possibly racist tone. Thank you all for picking up on this possible antimiscegenational interpretation, and also for giving me the benefit of the doubt that it was unintentional. :)

I myself am the mongrel, a second- and third-generation mix of Irish, French Canadian, Italian, Portuguese, and Welsh immigrants. Like the majority of nineteenth century European immigrants, my family history and accompanying cultural traditions are largely obscured by a veil of immigrant poverty and hardship. The resultant American family--while perhaps a homogenized Caucasian in appearance--is completely devoid of any ties to the past or cultural heritage upon which to draw from. I realize that this is a common American experience, and perhaps I have overdramatized it.

I guess that sometimes around holidays, I feel the emptiness of a sparse American family unit and disconnect from any sort of larger ethnic community in general. I think that I wrote the poem around the time of some holiday...it was spring so it must have been Easter. The Catholic Church was my final remnant of any connection to the past, and a part of me still misses that sense of tradition surrounding the major church holidays. I do not miss the doctrine nor the dogma, of course, but there was something special about the rituals that was comforting; there was always the sense of continuity, that connection with the past and persistence to the future. I can still remember that feeling of security and community as a child sitting in Sunday Mass; the words never mattered, it was purely the feeling of belonging to something that had existed before me and would continue to exist after I was gone. And, of course, the collation of baked goods and chocolate afterwards. Ah, well...I am just romanticizing childhood memories.

Richard, I also see now that "bygone past" is redundant; something about that line had bothered me, and I think that you hit right on it. I also like the idea of incorporating another stanza in the middle.

S S Tragus, I agree that the flow of that "of" breaks up the flow of that line, and definitely need to reworded.

Carol, I am glad to hear that there is a sense of positivity in the final stanza. I cannot remember if I was feeling positive when I wrote it, but it makes me happy to see an optimistic note there now. :)

Again, I really do appreciate all the thoughtful comments!
OK, so I'll stick my neck out.

When I wrote this, I disliked structured poetry (though, in retrospect, I think C.S. Lewis was largely right when he said that one has to know well the rules of poetry before s/he breaks them), so when assigned a sonnet in a poetry comp class, I tried to reinvent it as an ABCDCBA ABCDCBA to suggest, thematically, the to-and-fro motion of ocean waves.

Thoughts are welcome -- criticisms too, but try to be a little gentle. :-)

Shipwreck (1996)

Beneath the blue-grey sky, upon the blue
Entombed, in ice, my dear-love ship remains
As I, alone, am tossed above the sea.
No bird, no fish in view to see my plight
For Neptune in his frigid heart must be
A vicious god, whose brutal mind complains
When forced to see what angered mortals do.

I faced the sea with rage, that much is true –
Alas! this icy cold must chill my veins!
My rage alone cannot afford to be
A martyr slain, beside my soul this night.
I faced the sea alone, that much I see –
And left adrift, with Neptune at his reins
I gasp, and scream, and bare my rage anew.
I really like it! I appreciate the deliberately constructed rhyme scheme; after studying EA Poe for the first time last semester, I became enamored of a mathematical, methodical approach to poetry (spurned on by reading "The Philosophy of Composition.") The rocking of ocean waves is very well simulated by the rhyme scheme; the subtle symmetry lifts the reader up before returning back down, much like the swell of the sea will raise and drop a drifting swimmer.

What are the rules of the sonnet form? Does it have to be in iambic pentameter? (I know that this piece is, I'm just asking in general; I haven't studied poetry much as my school doesn't offer any creative writing courses.)
Stupid phantom post! Actually, more like stupid work computer. Actually, more like stupid employee for being on internet forums on the clock... ;) (Hey, everyone needs a lunch break, who cares if I pass mine at the computer, right?)
I think the sonnet is quite often in the iambic pentameter, but need not be. It depends also upon what sonnet tradition it belongs to--the Petrarchan (Italian) or the Shakespearean). Milton and Shakespeare, as well as other renaissance poets, were fond of the iambic pentameter. It has a cadence more like natural speech (perhaps not as natural anymore as in their time, as our speech patterns have changed significantly).

I am also quite fond of the pentameter and prefer, generally, to work within more rigid formal constraints. Few poets, in my opinion, do free verse well -- too often it reads like prose randomly chopped into uneven lines. It is the constraints that not only serve to distinguish poetry from prose, traditionally, but can also serve to release one's creative energies.

Since others are sharing their 'unfinished' work here, perhaps I'll throw caution to the winds and share some as well. Soon. Maybe... I still can't help fearing that publishers, when I get the guts to submit my work, may consider it published if found online and reject it not for its merits but because of its 'published' status. I wonder if it would be possible to make this into a private, password-protected group so that it becomes more like a writer's workshop group and doesn't appear as published in internet searches. What do you guys think? Am I just being paranoid?

I took a creative writing course in the final year of my BA (Hon.) English, a course I greatly enjoyed, and wrote not only a short story, set in Tolkien's Middle Earth, but also a number of poems, among them a villanelle, a sestina, and a blank verse in iambic pentameter. Two books we used there, which I still find helpful, are The Making of a Poem, by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland and Rhyme's Reason, by John Hollander.
Thanks, SS! I have really only begun to study poetry over the past year, and I am absolutely fascinated by the complexities heretofore unseen. I really like a lot of free verse, especially pieces that capture the gritty realism of a vivid image like Richard's Apologia Brachycera: Scavenger Plagiarist that he posted in a blog a few weeks ago.

However, I think my own attempts at free verse are completely terrible so I am consequently partial to a structured, metered form. I especially like the intentional rhythmic sensation of Joshua's "Shipwreck." Although quite different in structure and cadence, I am nonetheless reminded of Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for death" (XXVII), the meter of which mimics the lolling trot of a carriage horse. (Although I suppose that this meter marks most of her poetry and is perhaps not intentionally specific to this poem; nonetheless, it suits the plot much like Joshua's meter mimics the rise and fall of an ocean swell.)

Hopefully, I will be transferring to the nearest state university next year. (I really hate to sound like an elitist, but two years in a community college has driven me mad; I am beyond frustrated at sitting in a classroom full of people who just don't give a shit about school, most of the teachers included.) I have already been scanning the course catalog, and found myself intellectually salivating over the range of creative writing and poetry courses offered.

I really like your idea of a password-protected group or forum in which to exchange pieces for criticism. Perhaps we could ask Morgan or one of the admins if we can create an invite-only group, or maybe there would be a way to designate one of these discussions to be passworded. Would this protect our posts from being visible via an internet search? I do not know, but I like your thinking! :) I guess I have not been around the world of writing long enough to really contemplate plagiarism; perhaps a combination of naivete and unconfidence leaves me currently free from this worry, but now I fear that I may someday regret being so loose with my work.
Larry, I don't think that anyone meant to ignore you. Personally, I have been recovering from a date with a bottle of Bushmill's on New Year's Eve; consequently, I have not been able to look at my computer screen for longer than five minutes until tonight. I'm sure people are just out celebrating and traveling on the holiday weekend. Sometimes discussions don't always get replied to immediately, but I can assure that no one was excluding you intentionally. :)
Okay, here's a short poem I wrote about 7 years ago:

Existential Dream

i dreaming wake and waking dream again
and flutter endlessly through labyrinths
of care, through childhood, youth, again old age,
forever circling round and round I Am

and ‘round the solid centre that I Am,
concentric rings of confusion have grown,
electrons swirling ‘round the nucleus,
questioning the nature of existence

for some the beginning was the Word,
that manifest became the Universe,
and through some agency divine,
receiving form, became flesh

and others speak of primordial waters,
of struggles between darkness and light,
of gods and demons churning the Ocean
of Milk, transforming Chaos into Cosmos

but I feel a pull toward the Centre,
and dream not of Creation, but of Life
and wake, still dreaming that I wake,
and all I really know is That I Am
And another, written at Teachers College for the students at one of my practice teaching placements:

Powerful Words

a bookworm i, most
happily lost among words,
write myself a home

polymorphous home,
wordbricks form its walls of sound,
question marks its doors

and who answers doors?
seeing pupils, thinking minds,
and powerful words

little words, big words,
smooth, subtle, subversive words,
big, bold, brazen words

figurative words—
metaphor and simile,
things personified

facts and figures too,
queries and hypotheses,
and sometimes, answers

a bookworm I, most
happily lost among words,
reading, share my home
I like this one -- I had never seen a series of haiku that chained like this, the last word of the last quintuplet matching the last word of the next haiku's first quintuplet. And then the pattern broke, with the haiku beginning "facts and figures too"! It would be far more effective for me if the pattern continued until the end, especially as the last haiku/stanza is the same as the first. Link to it with a line ending "most", and you'll have me.
You make a good point there, Joshua, about the pattern being broken. I tend to do that, apparently. I get a nice pattern going, then end up breaking it well into the poem. I've done that in different ways in different poems. Thanks for pointing that out here. I was very conscious about having the first and last stanzas as a closely matched but meaningfully diverging pair.

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