Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Merry Band of Poets

For the next several days, I’m handing this blog over to a merry band of poets, led by Son Rivers. His merry folk include Ry Foote, a stalwart formalist if I ever knew one; Tweed Majors, a connoisseur of all brands of free verse and graceful perceptions; and last but certainly not least, Nolo Lingua, card-carrying member of the avant-garde. They will be free to post their poetry, criticize each other, or just do whatever feels right or wrong.

But in order to convince Tweed to risk the blogosphere, I had to promise him he could have the first poem:
Game Called on Account of Years

There’s nothing in the dark but past
concerns of days when I was younger
and my breathing was more like
paper airplanes and summer
breezes resplendent with dandelions.
I roared with youth on Sundays,
after Communion lessons, playing
baseball by the field behind the river.
Harry threw a fast ball and I fouled
it back. We heard the splash like years
rippling outwards to this day. No one
had ever thought to bring a back-up.

Tweed Majors 2005
The others will discuss the poem tomorrow. All have forsworn any code of any kind.


Tony said...

Son Rivers, Ry Foote and Tweed Majors? I suppose a poet called John Smith is out of the question?

son rivers said...

Yeah. But I almost went with Bob Jones.

Alan Sullivan said...

Why wait till tomorrow? This deserves some debunking right now.

First, if the author thinks this verse is metrical, he's mistaken. There is some intermittent rhythm -- for example, one can make a case for regular alteration of stress and unstress up to the closing syllables of l.3. But rhythm and meter are not one and the same. I fear this distinction may be unknown to the author.

Second, the enjambments at lines 1,3,4,7,&11 are all painfully awkward. Such early and numerous enjambments establish a deliberate desire to obliterate any sense of line. It's easier to write this way, and sheer laziness is generally the true reason for it, no matter what rationalizations an author might employ.

Third, the setting, sequence, and tenses are muddled.

Fourth, there are several problems with usage. I shall specify some of them. 'Concerns' is a poor word choice. Breathing might be 'like' the flight of paper airplanes (not the planes themselves), but 'more like' implies a comparison that is not expressed. A breeze cannot really be 'resplendent.' Perhaps the author thinks such stretching is poetical. It isn't. Finally, I'm not even sure what is meant by 'bring a back-up.' This is supposed to be the point of the poem, but it conveys nothing.

Sorry, Tweed, but you've got a long way to go before you make poetry. This is just self-indulgent noodling.

Greg, you know my credentials for such a crit. I am not being wanton. I am merely explaining what makes mediocrity mediocre. A poet has no hope of advancing beyond mediocrity without understanding such things.

son rivers said...

Alan, although I heartily endorse your criticisms, I am afraid Tweed thinks them fastidious and forced. He says there is an inner rhythm of his soul reflected in the flow of the poem's words, and the meter that you speak of is something modern American poetry has overcome.

As for enjambments, he believes the laziness you speak of is the current of a river, like the great Mississippi that flows in the bloodstreams of true American poets.

Third, the setting, sequence, and tenses are muddled like physics itself, exhibiting the true macro-energy of the living.

Lastly, he feels sorry that you don't get the ending, but maybe in time, you shall see the light.

A wink and nod to you my friend. And thanks for playing along.

Alan Sullivan said...

You're too kind. I didn't see through the joke. Maybe that explains why I didn't see through the end either. It's a sort of reverse Ern Malley.