Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Diamoms, reforged

Yesterday I posted Nancy Gerth's "Diamoms" and my critique. The following is the result of Nancy's rethinking the poem. Comments welcome.


On blue ground,
Their loose charm a sudden jubilee of patience
For all the world to wash away,
Grow, phosphoring in shadow,
Round, radiant gazes
Glow-bezeled all with hair;

Pressure-proved and fire-intensed,
Some brew a kindly brilliance that forgives.
Their cradlings--overblued, and hard-edged,
Do rough and darkly trudge,
Save mothers smooth and light the ground
With dust and shine
From their own mother's diamonds.

Seeded with a billion and a half
Old sharded stars,
Earth’s early heart
Slips them one by one
From out beneath the mantle,
And spews them up the self-same pipe
We all must ride to heaven.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Talking to other poems

The following poem was entered by a friend, Nancy Gerth, http://www.nancygerth.com/, into a Mother’s Day poetry contest. She wrote the following comment when she sent it to me:
"I know, I know, my poetry isn't what they are looking for. But I used it for a writing prompt."


Earth’s early heart.
Seeded by a billion and a half old
Splintered stars
Slips mothers one by one
From out beneath the mantle;
Spews them up the self-same pipe
We all must ride to heaven.

Diamondiferous, on blue ground,
Their hidden loose charm
A jubilee of patience
For all the earth to wash away.
‘Til grow, phosphoring in shadow,

Round, radiant gazes,
Gold-bezeled all with hair;
Trans-parents with fair
Clarity and fire.
By pressure harded, heat intensed,
Yet glowing with soft brilliance,

That forgives their cradlings,
Overblue and hard edged,
(Each sees hers the first one offered Mary);
That smooths and lights our way
With dust ground from sharded stars.
-- Nancy Gerth

What follows is my (unsolicited) critique of this poem. Really, a dialog between me, the poem, and the author. I wrote:

“I confess, this is not the kind of poetry I like to write, or read. In truth, it is an exceedingly difficult form to succeed in, at least in my narrowly bounded world. Thus my delay in reading and responding. Please forgive.

“Here's what I think:

“Lots of wonderful word play. I sure hope I'm not the only one that gets it and likes it (but I fear it's outside most peoples' boxes).

“Poem structure: complex superimposition, which, honestly, I doubt most will comprehend.

“Abstract. I couldn't really find a narrative, so it's hard to walk away holding onto anything more than ephemeral image-feelings. The poem's superimposition structure causes or amplifies that. And in general, superimposition is a hard mode to work in. I'm not even sure this is the right place to be trying something like that. [I'm sure *that* makes you feel good. Not.]

“First stanza: I'm not sure I understand it, but it's the best stanza *by far*, ending with a very powerful image of ascent/death/birth.

“Last 2 lines of 2nd stanza: "Til grow" clashes with the tense/movement of the rest of the stanza. I know you want the clash, but I don't think it works. Piss-assed me.

“I don't get what "that forgives their cradlings" refers to.

“Last stanza doesn't wrap it, even tho I know you like the "lights our way With dust ground from sharded stars" image. It doesn't clarify enough into a big bang. In my opinion, it's the momentary clarities that make this kind of form really powerful. But without those clarities that emerge from the relative chaos, abstract poems fall flat, at least on my ears. Actually, I'd try putting the first stanza last. THAT can stand as a closer, for sure. Then do a bit of touch up, if needed, to make it all work.

“But remember, I like diamonds because they're geologically and chemically interesting, not because they're valuable, and as for moms, they are all-too-human in my little mind. So this subject is going to be a hard-sell to me from the get-go.”

Friday, July 27, 2007

Blog talk (blogtok) and stevespell

In September of 2004 my very good friend, and Shivvetee webmaster, Steven Toleikis, had the following brilliant insight. He wrote:

Was reading the paper ystrdy 'bout blogs. (If by some small chance you don't know what they are see: http://www.blogger.com )

They were going on about how they're changing how people communicate, report on news, yadda, yadda and how they also seem to be leading to an evolution in ........ SPELLING! Bingo - I thought, the perfect arena to use SteveSpell! Whatdoyouthink. It might just catch on!

My response:
Well, blogtalk (blogtok?) has definitely caught on. Both my 19 and 9 year olds are teaching me new "words," acronyms, and abbreviations all the time. Perhaps it will indeed open a door of acceptance for stevespell. In that case, stevespell might take on the status of the (dare I say) priestly and "high" form of the language, while blogtok will be the cockney or bronx dialect (or "dialects" assuming the evolution of variants). On the other hand, perhaps blogtok, as the organic form that is evolving in a communal arena, will ultimately become the canonical form, while stevespell will be rejected as a contrived and academic aberration.

There are some important similarities in the origins of blogtok and stevespell, that's for sure. I began with the dual impetuses of normalizing English and breaking open its grammar to allow the infusion of new rhythmic and conceptual energy. Blogtok seems to have a similar, tho less articulated dual impetus: to speed up (and maybe also normalize) spelling, and to allow, or promote, an "individualized" voice (or more accurately, a counter-cultural voice, since there's nothing terribly individual about it). Not so different, eh? Blogtok has the virtue of being organic, grass roots, and interactively evolving. Stevespell has the virtue of being more conceptually articulated and purposeful in its evolutions.

I'd like to say that this proves that popular culture (blogtok) follows art (stevespell). Or more personally, "see, I told you so!" But given how well-known I am (burn!), I think this really suggests something quite different: that both art and popular culture originate (and bifurcate) from the same sources. Artists may hear it or see it or feel it first, but they don't create it. They just try to represent it.

Now a question for you, Steven. Are you suggesting I do something to promote stevespell in the blogtok arena??? If so, please enlighten me to the opportunities and venues.

Note from 8/2006:
It took me 2 years to get enlightened and create this blog, but here I am blogging tokking on my bloggie tokkee.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Versez in a Werld a Kiendness

What follows is an opening vista from one of the tales in “Versez in a Werld a Kiendness,” from my midrashic poem, Pardaes Dokkumen. The Torah identifies 2 somewhat mysterious states of being: tammay (tamai) and tahhor (tahor). They are usually translated as ‘impure’ and ‘pure,’ or ‘unclean’ and ‘clean.’ I would suggest that perhaps a better understanding would be ‘complex’ and ‘simplified,’ or ‘stressed’ and ‘composed.’ Below are the tammay and tahhor versions of this text. You will see what I mean. For those more interested in the poetry than in my analysis of biblical terminology, I have put the tahhor version (edited and refined, simplified, composed, clean version) of the poem first.

A donkee driver wonderd a krouked trael.
Heer he the vareyan korrus ov the lokus,
Draggenfly, krikket, mosketo, bee,
Ov sparo and jay, mokkenberd, ren,
The russellen mertel and rattellee palm;
The smell ov fig iz rotten by the trael,
The supprize ov gwovva, entoxxakkaten vaelz,
Wield orreggenno krusht by hiz weel,
Ukalliptus branch overhaengen the path;
Seez a pachwerk texcher, thikket and krop,
The raw ferro erths, the almond grove,
Feeldz liend with sipress and boogannveya ro,
The ragged hillside in dustee olliv shaedz,
Pasteesh ov rock, chawkee wite tu gray;
The arid woddee and villij enkarvd
In stone and morter, dome and kortyard,
Kut intu the kontor. The land that iz himm.

And the donkee? Wut will he expere?
The grunts ov the man iz the song he heer.
The dust and stone at hiz houf the horize.
Dung in the roed the frangrens he deziyer .
Hiz masterz rod inspiyren hiz gaet.
And brayz he much ov hiz tedeyus way.

A donkee driver wonderd (a wiended)(a krouked)(iz loenlee) trael.
[Heer(z) he the vareyan][He heer(z) the vareed] korrus (ov a)

Draggenfly, krikket, mosketo, bee;
Ov sparo and jay, mokkenberd, (and) ren;
(The Ov) shudder(ing leevz)(ov ukallip)(ov mertel) and rattel ov

The smell ov fig (rotten on grownz),
The (rare supprize) gwovva (tree), its [hevvenlee (wiffs)]
          [hevven perfume]

          [entoxxakkaten (smell)][entoxxen its smell];
Wield orreggenno (brusht krusht) by hiz weel(z),
Ukalliptus branch(ez) overhaengen (the hiz) (path);
Seez a pachwerk (in) texcher, vinyerd and krop,
The (raw ferro)(unplanten) (erths feeld(z)), the (wienden rokkee)
           trael and
Roedz lien(d z) with sipress and boogannveya hej,
The (ragged rugged) hillside in dustee olliv (shaedz greenz),
Pasteesh ov rock, chawkee wite tu gray;
The (dry arid) woddee and villij (all splayd)(enkarvd embedden

(In Ov) stone and (morter plaster), wall and dome,
Kut intu the (erth lan). Thus the landz (tael himm vois seeng seel).

And the donkee? Wut iz he (expere see)?
The grunts ov the man (the song he heer).
The dust and stone at hiz houf he (reed see).
Dung in the roed the frangrens he (luv kno persu seek follo).
Hiz masterz rod all that he feel.
And (brayz braez) he (much ov)(all)(oft on) (hiz the) (tedeyus) way.