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Cultivating Poetry and Poetic Criticism

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First Post [Jun. 25th, 2005|04:58 pm]
Cultivating Poetry and Poetic Criticism
Well, this is a newer piece. I think my problem with it is it doesn't say anything, does it? I think I'm close to tossing it, but any comments/criticisms would definitely be helpful. Thanks in advance.


incendiary blue—
and the orchids were dressed perfect for the winter.
She scratched the fabric from her mouth,
a dead flower on her tongue—

She tasted the pollen, metallic on her teeth
in the spaces—

In the spaces that capture time
between root and petal, petal and pistol.

[User Picture]From: blue_lightning
2005-06-26 06:08 am (UTC)
Hi saturncrashing! Welcome to the community; we're glad to have you!

What you have here looks to be the fragment of a poem, and that's awesome as a start. But don't stop there! You've introduced this "she"; now see if you can continue telling a story about her through the metaphor of an orchid. What does the orchid symbolise, and how is it relevant to her, to her story? What is her story?

Your poem reminded me of Li-Young Lee's poetry, specifically the poem below. But take a look at all his poems; he often uses flower imagery to tell the story of love, of women and life. That sort of unity is definitely needed in the above, and I really look forward to the next, fleshed out draft. Again, though, a good start!

Thanks for posting, and again, welcome!

From Blossoms
Li-Young Lee

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.
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[User Picture]From: seamusd
2005-06-26 02:09 pm (UTC)
The poem is too abstract to attract the interest of most readers, and the language itself isn't interesting or dynamic enough to compensate for the lack of a clear dramatic situation. Many people think that poetry can be weird and cryptic, in fact that it must be so. But this notion simply isn't true. Good poetry can be clear and communicate. Some of the best poems do so.

I have other issues with this poem as well. It's mechanics are inconsistent. For example, the opening words, which seem to pick up in the middle of a sentence, aren't capitalized as a sentence. yet the next two sentences appear in standard form, only to be followed by another fragment, the words followed by the dash, which for some unknown reason is capitalized as a sentence. These inconsistencies are very distracting. Why do you do this? Pound said that nothing should be in a poem that doesn't contribute to the presentation as a whole. Many of the choices you've made here make no sense, and the poem is so fragmentary that a reader has no solid clues as to why the poem appears so. Also, putting your title in quotation marks is a sign of an amateur at work! One of my teachers said that poets should use Standard English until they have earned the right not to do so.

If you are interested in writing in this style, I would recommend that you read other poets who have experimented with fractured narratives, but in more competent ways: Denise Levertov, Jorie Graham, Charles Bernstein (in particular, his book of theoretical essays called A Poetics). Remember that poems can (and perhaps should) tell stories, not just mysterious parts of stories. Every choice you make in a poem is important, so you need to work a lot harder to make this kind of strategy work. Good luck, and keep reading--reading is probably more important to your development as a poet at this stage.
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From: sofitsofit
2010-09-20 06:06 pm (UTC)
I think this has a lot of potential. I think what could help clarify your poem or help you is returning to certain concepts or ideas. For instance, "and the orchids were dressed perfect for the winter" can be/is a beautiful line, but I'm still a bit vague as to what you really want to express with this idea. There's a type of emotion I'm getting, but intellectually, I would like for it to be clarified with another line that shows how (or perhaps why) they were dressed that way.

I can see that you want to make a connection between an object and an idea, and I think one poet who does this quite beautifully is the classic William Carlos Williams. I haven't read much of him to be honest until recently and he's such a big presence that I feel a bit discussing him, but I think he's really a master at giving new meaning to things, especially to every day objects, and also making brilliant connections in his poems. One poem that I have fallen in love with is:

Flowers by the Sea

by William Carlos Williams

When over the flowery, sharp pasture’s
edge, unseen, the salt ocean

lifts its form—chicory and daisies
tied, released, seem hardly flowers alone

but color and the movement—or the shape
perhaps—of relentlessness, whereas

the sea is circled and sways
peacefully upon its plantlike stem

Oh God.
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From: sofitsofit
2010-09-20 06:06 pm (UTC)
Sorry, the Oh God, was me. I couldn't restrain myself. It's just so, so, so brilliant.
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