Monday, 4 October 2010

A Poetry Bus Monday with a Difference.

This week the Poetry Bus has more or less broken down. A relief driver has arrived but things are in a bit of disarray. That gives me an opportunity to do my own thing for one Monday - so I beg your attention please.

I know that my greatest fault in writing is that I wax far too lyrical. Where one word is appropriate I am inclined to use six. I am aware of the fact but that doesn't seem to help me to curb the habit. So please can I crave your indulgence for a few minutes.

Last week if you read my blog you will know that I saw a young fox. It really made my day and the image I am sure will stay with me for ever. So I thought to write a poem about it. I scribbled down all my ideas - the main thing being that I was struck by his confidence which made me pretty sure he had not lived through a hunting season and had therefore not yet learned to fear man.

As usual my poem was far too long, rather sentimental and pretty turgid stuff. I showed it to my friend, Joan, who is a much better poet than I can every hope to be.
She was kind in that she didn't criticise but did point out one line which she liked!
Then I showed it to Dominic, my son, who is also a much better poet than me. He was much more honest and more or less said it was rubbish. He reminded me of the Ezra Pound quotation which is something along the lines of - if you have to say 'the desolation of loneliness' then you have not got over the feeling of desolation'. I really thought about this. My son said 'avoid 'of' like the plague.

So here, dear Monday readers, I bare my poetic soul by putting on my blog the first rubbish, sentimental version and the pared down version I ended up with. Will you please be my severest critics?

Young Fox.

with feisty youth -
sleek, slender,
you streak over the wall.

No hunt has yet
wrought fear of man
to make you slink,
in impenetrable places
til darkness lends you

Before feral life
blemishes your fiery coat
flaunt your foxiness and
print your sparkling image
in my mind.

Young Fox.

and slender
you streak
over the wall.

No slinking,
lurking in
impenetrable places
til darkness lends you

Help! Don't be bashful about saying what you think. You will not offend me - I don't want people to say it is 'lovely' as it is - I want you to criticise it in the hopes that I can come up with a final definitive version (if that is possible in poetry). And thank you in advance for taking the trouble to read it and think about it.


Jinksy said...

The second gives a clear cut image, I grant you, but I would choose the original for it has an immediacy and excitement - hang 'proper poetry'. I'm not sure that turning every piece of writing into a carefully constructed English assignment is the be all and end all of the wriitn word. In my book, horses for courses win the day. As a communication tool first and foremost, intellectual niceties which please a logical, academic mind, will always be second best to intuitive, emotional response to the subject matter. You will see, I'm even in favour of cliches as communication aids, too! LOL

Jinksy said...

P.S. I do, however, like a decent level of English grammar and punctuation at all times, and freely admit that editorial skills (i.e. being able to spot 'written' typos (!)) would be an advantage!!

Rachel Fox said...

Firstly I like 2 'y's in anonymity personally.

Beyond that I don't think I've ever thought that 'waxing too lyrical' is necessarily a fault with you. I would say your main fault is lack of confidence in what you want to produce. You don't want to write like your friend or like Dominic (do you?) you just want to write the best Pat T poems that you can. So study the poems you like to read best and think why you like them...and then concentrate on getting whatever that 'that' is into your work. Easy, eh?

I think the final poem is somewhere between these two...perhaps sharper than the first but not as sharp as the second. Read it aloud a lot (many many times). Imagine yourself reading it to a large crowd. Would it feel right? Are there bits that would make you cringe or blush (knowing they're not really what you want)? Sharpen the pencils and scribble til it's right to you. And then, in a sense, it is right. I think.

Poet in Residence said...

Firstly I don't like the opening word 'cocksure'. This poem is not about a chicken, so I'd bring it in later when we've got to know him a bit. I'd also get rid of 'you' just there.
So I'd start something like:

Over the wall
the young fox
of fiery coat -
with a sleek and slender
and rapid as a shot

and then take it from there. Really must dash, garage man waiting.

Golden West said...

As a fan of language, I was delighted by your use of the word "turgid" - a splendid word little used these days. My daughter and I bandy the word "treacle" about somewhat sparingly, but when it is uttered, it is often accompanied by either a raised eyebrow, a knowing nod or the occasional snort of derision. (None of which, by the way, attach to your poem.)

Of poetry, I am no worthy judge, but I do enjoy a bit of rambling, so I enjoyed both and appreciate the effort.

Gerry Snape said...

Weaver.. the first poem told me a story. that's good. the second made me smell the fox and almost become the fox...don't really know why! bothare legitamate, but the second moved me.

Ash said...

I really like your first attempt though I would actually start the poem with the title itself, if it were me. The first lets us in on your thoughts and feelings on seeing the fox that day - for me the second just aims to be 'clever'? I am fascinated on the 'coincidence' of coming across by accident someone who also dabbles in poetry and writing - a lady from my knitting group is trying hard to get me to go to their local writing group having seen one of my poems - I have no problem in admitting I find that rather scary!!! What I write has very little adjustments following that initial jotting down - it suits me and how I try to express myself, hang the critics!!

Gerry Snape said...

I know that I mean legitimate!!!

izzy said...

Play with an axe- ( But keep a copy of the untouched original)
the first poem is great. If you wish to strengthen sound and tighten words,
'may hap' you could try: "Sleek streaking over the wall"
Down a bit- " Before feral blemishes your fire, (or: coat,)
Then: "Flaunt your sparkle in my mind."
I apologize for playing with your work- I only meant to show a little of the process I go through, to see what sings! Sometimes I trash my edits all together- Love your writing.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

I have no wisdom to offer because I am only a casual reader and very elementary writer of poetry. I read the other comments and like what Jinksy said about emotional response. This is probably why I like the first one best - the lines "Before feral life
blemishes your fiery coat" struck me and got me thinking about life. I was on vacation last week so didn't know about the fox at all, am happy to meet him today.

Heather said...

I am no scholar or poet, but I liked the first version better. It has spontaneity and freshness which I feel has been lost in your second version. Perhaps sometimes less is less!

Poet in Residence said...

I was in a hurry before but rereading it I'd let it stand only removing the 'a' in my 4th line. But then we all have our different styles. I can only say as Shakespeare said to the acting troop in Hamlet: fit the words to the action. So if the fox is sleek and fast then the words must be too. If you are writing about wilting flowers then it's got to be another slower story.

Caroline Gill said...

The second version leaped (fox-like) off the page at me, with its strong impact and 'no words wasted' feel.

However, there are wonderful images in the first version, too. I'm wary of adjectives (well, too many) in poetry, but 'feisty' imparted the impression you say you were trying to convey in one fell swoop about the fox's intrepid inexperience.

I trust you will be celebrating National Poetry Day later this week, Weaver. Thank you very much for your generous comment on my seal poem ...

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you for taking the trouble to think about this and for replying too. It seems you all feel something different. Thanks Poet for re=writing it and thanks
all of you for giving me confidence. I shall think about the final version and then maybe post it another day.

The Solitary Walker said...

I agree with Rachel here - go for somewhere between the two. Be so circumspect of words like 'feisty' and 'wrought'. Despite this, actually I think the first version is the best. It has an immediacy and spontaneity which the second version hasn't. 'Streak over the wall', 'impenetrable places', 'blemishes', 'flaunt your foxiness' and the last two lines are terrific. I know that very soon you will be posting a fantastic 'final' version. And I respect your honest and brave questioning, Pat.

Reader Wil said...

Dear Weaver! I am the worst critic with English, French or German poetry. I can criticise Dutch poetry however. I suppose my English poems are rubbish so I never post them anymore.You are clever and I find you a good writer.

Ash said...

Never too old!!! Many thanks for your offer of joining your group, maybe in the future as I have promised this friend in Reeth at the moment for her group. I know the longwool shop very well, I try and buy all my wensleydale fibre for my spinning from them. I live just the other side of Leyburn and spread my shopping etc between there and Richmond! Small world!!

Lisa said...

Fantastic poem very articulate, beautiful picture.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver, sorry I'm late to the debate. Since each one of us would write it differently, who's to say what may be wrong or right? The second one is certainly sharper and I like it but the first has some lines that I also like very much, especially the feral .. blemishes .. fiery coat. And, for me, it does convey more of your relationship with the fox. On a general note, "waxing lyrical" is very different to verbosity and you are most certainly not guilty of the latter!

Granny Sue said...

I suffer the same complaint, Weaver. I write many words, then pare down to the few that say what I really want to say. That's why I use prompts with word limits like First 50 and Susan's 140-character microfiction challenge.

About your poem: the first spoke to me with bright images and a sense of omniscience (I don't think I spelled that right). You knew something he did not know, and that lended a poignant urgency to your words. The second is chiseled but didn't make me feel that I was there with you watching the fox. It was removed and...clinical?

I agree with those who said write like yourself and don't worry about what others think, unless you're entering a competition and know who the judge is and what they like!

The US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser wrote about writing poems that ordinary people can read and understand, and the fact that many people are turned away from poetry because they feel the writing is too obscure and complex for them. He also said that many poets do this on purpose--to impress other poets. I prefer poetry that allows me to find meaning without digging through cleverness, poems I can read aloud to my working-man husband and know he will enjoy too.

Karen said...

I actually like the first because the second leaves out that great comment that begins the second stanza: "no hunt has yet/ wrought fear of man". That, along with the wonderful lines about blemishing his fiery coat make the first my favorite!

The second has a different flavor. It's good, too, and it conveys a sharp image of the fox, but the first fleshes him out for me.

Delaine said...

To see a red fox in the wild is a wonderful expiernce. There is a special place just across from Primrose Point the road is very narrow the trees lean over to creat a tunnel effect, and the view of the point across the smooth little bay is magical. I have seen a family of foxes cross the road towards the water four different times ovre the last twenty years. When ever we are out on that beautiful peninsula I always go the way of the Fox road just per chance I will see them again. We live on the Olympic Peninsula on the southeast point the Pacific Northwest is beautiful country. Sounds like we both live on a little piece of heaven.