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    dots Submission Name: why we should not be poemsdots

    Author: WhatYouWill
    Elite Ratio:    5.75 - 65/76/35
    Words: 136
    Class/Type: Poetry/Love
    Total Views: 1444
    Average Vote:    5.0000
    Bytes: 914

       This particular poem is quite a bit abstract, so if that's not your cup of tea, I suggest heading over to any of my other poems -- all guaranteed to make at least some kind of sense!

    Make the font bigger!! Double Spacing Back to recent posts.

    dotswhy we should not be poemsdots

    She speaks without voice,
    His smile makes a susurrus of sightless butterflies,
    well fitted for inside of me.

    She looks at me when I can see her.
    When I cannot,
    her face is as twisted
    as the gnarled beautiful tree bark.

    But, as in stanzas of marching black ants,
    her boughs have only been revealed
    in a slight and scattered harmony.

    That scratch across his cheek.
    My warmth craves warmth.
    And when they are together,
    What is this beast inside of me?

    And why does this feeling come in such ecstatic,
    inconsistent bursts?
    These slim arms
    are now pale against the apparent wind

    This great longing, this,
    as full of force as the tempests long gone

    And I ask myself,
    when will my dove alight upon the tallest tree?

    Submitted on 2008-06-21 15:10:14     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
    Submissions: [ Previous ] [ Next ]

    Rate This Submission

    1: >_<
    2: I dunno...
    3: meh!
    4: Pretty cool
    5: Wow!

    ||| Comments |||
      I must respectfully disagree (although I hate that phrase) with the two previous comments. In poetry we do not strive for clarity, or at least not every good poet has to. And just because solid butterflies, the ones you see flying about, can see, doesn't mean we need to constrain ourselves to the limits of the solid world. We're poets, for chrissake.
    Neither do I think that because the poet didn't tell us exactly what's happening she is robbing us of emotional connection. We can interpret the emotions she is trying to convey by her phrases and to delve into plot for this particular poem could destroy its fragile beauty. Or thart's what I think anyway.
    | Posted on 2008-07-30 00:00:00 | by LunaMoth | [ Reply to This ]
      I have to say that even after reading the explanation that you left me about this poem that I am still not "feeling" this piece as you seem to have intended people to. As a rule, I also think that explaining a piece at such great length robs the reader of identifying with it in a meaningful way. Perhaps this is because (as it does in this case) a detailed description of what the poem is supposed to be saying comes off as a vain attempt at a justification for using lines or words that the poet feels have failed him or her in the poem itself. You say as much by describing some of your word choices as a “feeble attempt” to convey gender neutrality.

    My suggestion is to look carefully at your explanation for this piece and use that to transform your poem into what you intended it to be to begin with.

    I understand the impulse to want to hold tight to certain words or phrases because they mean something special to you (or perhaps because they are an attempt to disguise the meaning for those who do know you). To me though, I think that is the difference between someone who writes in verse solely as a way to explore his or her own feelings and someone who writes to also connect with the world. I would guess that you post your poetry online and are willing to explain this poem to me because it is your intention to reach out with your words and touch others.

    My contention is that if your thoughts and feelings are so encrypted that they only hold meaning to you and to those close to you (even though you may not even let these others read your words—as I would imagine is the case here) that is fine. I think that it is a very healthy endeavor. I actually looked into becoming a Creative Arts Therapist for a while. I strongly believe that writing poetry can be very cathartic for the poet. I’m just saying that if you want to have that cathartic effect on others you need to be willing to see what is missing or isn’t working and change those things. I hope I’m not coming off sounding condescending here. I often “miss the mark” in my own work and have to really scrutinize it—or sometimes even abandon it for a time to be able to find the words that will create what I first intended. Even better though, is to put the words out there and see what others make of them. If they aren’t finding the meaning I was aiming for I tend to reassess. Still, I often don’t get it right.

    All of this is has just been to say that while there are lines within this piece that are poetic--by leaving us (the readers) in the dark about the fact that you are speaking of specific people and incidences you are robbing us of the emotional connection between the words and their meaning to you. I just think that if it is your goal is express specific feelings or ideas to others then your words should speak as such—what is the purpose of veiling your intention when it is your intention which would transform what you have written into something that has real beauty and intensity?

    As for the questions you posed to me: First you asked “How do you feel about the fact that the entire poem is a contradiction? That I title it “Why we should not be poems”, and then make us into a poem?” To this I would answer that the irony is not fully realized because of the vagueness I already spoke of. I read the poem expecting it to be ironic (after all it is a poem stating that people not being poems!). Instead of making the people poems you made them trees—poetic trees-- but still trees.

    Next you asked, “What do you think of the aesthetic quality of the poem, the way it sounds?” For me these are two separate questions. “Aesthetic quality” refers to some heightened sensitivity to beauty. While asking about the sound of the poem, I presume means that you are asking me how I think it sounds when read aloud.

    I think what you are asking me more than anything is whether I think this piece has a lyrical quality about it or not. You want to know if it is musical and flows for the reader as well as whether or not this music is pleasing to the ear. I would have to answer that parts of it are but that much of that is lost (as I tried to explain in my earlier critique) by the vague or superfluous words “one”, “one’s”, “but” and “and”.

    The places where the poem succeeds in being lyrical are in the line I highlighted before: “These slim arms
    are now pale against the apparent wind”

    and in the last line:

    “when will my dove alight upon the tallest tree?”

    For me, these lines were lyrical in the musical sense as well as in the sense of “genuinely expressing a deep personal emotion or observation”.

    Finally you asked, “Do you think that I should sacrifice the hope of a little more clarity to keep the flow of the poem?” To this I have tried to already speak. Again, I will say that for me clarity is the key. Sounding melodious to the ear doesn’t mean that much in a poem if the words behind that melody have no substance in the reader’s eye. That’s more the function of pop songs, don’t you think? I believe that the true flow in any successful poem comes from the clarity of the poet’s voice, and the clarity of his or her intention. That is when words wring out like a song from the soul and move the reader.

    I will attempt to illustrate (with the full knowledge that I may have the genders mixed up—but also with the full knowledge that putting the gender in at least establishes that you are talking about your relationship with two specific people) how much more personal and therefore meaningful the words you have written sound just by making one clarification for the reader:

    She speaks without voice,
    His smile makes a susurrus of sightless butterflies,
    well fitted for inside of me.

    Now the readers know the power these two have on the poet. Now we can begin to identify with the emotions behind the metaphors etc.

    While on the subject of that particular strophe--I have to say that I still contend that “sightless butterflies” is a bad metaphor—mainly because it is well known that butterflies rely on sight to find flowers that carry the nectar they seek (thus many flowers having such vivid colors and unique shapes). I think that this will automatically make most readers think (like I did) that this phrase is nothing more than a grammatical error that occurred out of the poet’s eagerness to use alliteration. I would suggest using “blind butterflies” if you want to stick to the image it evokes. That way the intention is unmistakable (and you can keep the alliterative quality you were after there as well).

    I will end by saying that if indeed, the tree thing became a bigger theme than you had intended (as you state in the post you left me) that you should do one of two things—get rid of it all together or embrace it and make it the central symbol of the poem—and maybe call it “why we are not trees”.

    Again, these are just my thoughts. Good luck to you.

    | Posted on 2008-07-07 00:00:00 | by JanePlane | [ Reply to This ]
      I saw your journal entry and decided that I would critique one of your poems that had not been commented on. After reading this one, I can see why people might have shied away from it. There is so much here, critiquing this poem seems a rather daunting task, and yet, I will try.

    I'll start with the positive:

    I found the title to be compelling and I thought that there were several lines toward the bottom of the poem (within the two strophes near the bottom of the poem) that show a lot of promise. I particularly like the line:

    "These slim arms
    are now pale against the apparent wind" (except that I found the word “apparent” distracting and irrelevant).

    As for the beginning and much of the rest of the poem--imho--it just felt like you were trying too hard to be "poetic" or "symbolic" but with no clear idea of what you were really trying to say. As if you have a strong feeling or idea and you are scrambling to find the proper words--but you haven't found them yet, so you put these down as "placeholders" or something. There is nothing wrong with that—I do it myself sometimes, that way I keep the shadow of the idea alive--at least for myself. I guess what I'm saying is that it just seems hard to weed through some of your thoughts (pardon the pun). The first example of what I’m talking about happens almost immediately with the line:

    One's smile makes a susurrus of sightless butterflies,

    The way this reads for me is: “a certain person or object (maybe even a poem) makes a soft whisper or breeze of a blind butterfly”.

    I think maybe you were trying to say “a certain person or object (maybe even a poem) makes a soft whisper or breeze like an invisible butterfly”

    If that is the case, it may be that you have found most of the right words but they’re buried amidst too many words that are extraneous and inconsequential to this piece (especially the words “one”, “one’s”, “but”, “then” and “and”).

    I’ll try and illustrate (Please don’t be offended. I apologize if I have changed your intended meaning.):

    Why we cannot be poems

    Poems speak without voice,
    Their smiles make susurrus
    like secret butterflies,
    well fitted inside of me.

    Some I can see.
    When I cannot,
    I imagine their faces
    as twisted and gnarled
    but beautiful bark of a tree.

    when stuck in stanzas
    battalions of black ants march,
    weighting down the boughs
    but their harmony is still
    slight and scattered.

    leafless limbs scratch inside my cheeks.
    What is this seediness inside of me?

    And why does this feeling come in such ecstatic,
    inconsistent bursts?
    These slim arms
    are now pale against the wind

    And I ask myself,
    when will my dove alight upon the tallest tree?

    What I tried to do here was to take the essence of your words, come up with the most meaningful symbol from them and weave that symbol throughout the piece. Anything that did not seem to “fit in” with the metaphor of “poem as tree or insect-- but never me (human)” was discarded. Again, this is just one way (admittedly my way) of working this out, and is not meant to supplant your work :) They’re just my thoughts.
    | Posted on 2008-06-25 00:00:00 | by JanePlane | [ Reply to This ]

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