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Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Rapprochement" by Geoffrey Nutter -- Poetry Daily 1/30/13

from Iowa Review (Winter 2012/13)
poem found here

first lines:
I awoke as from a dream. And I rose
near dawn, boiled and drank the blood-colored tea


crafting the little things

-- reformatted, and minor edits 11/24/2013  

Sometimes little things are enough to stop me reading what is ostensibly a finished piece but a few lines in, for the new-come absence of desire to go further. This is such a case, what with lines four and five: “and started to compose a lengthy list / of all of the day’s necessary tasks.” Flat tires of lines, they are. Why ever say “started to compose”: there are so many, more elegant and less chaff-ridden ways to say such. Then, not “a” list but “the” list: which is insisted by the fact that the list is already in existence (in that everything is “necessary”) and but needs but to be written down. As such, “compose” also fails, in that compose carries the idea of something being crafted. But you do not 'compose' a grocery list; you make one. You jot one. Then there’s the chain of blah nothing words “of all of the day’s." Was there no way to excise that, or replace it with something in some way interesting? You’ve essentially asked me there as a reader to “hold on, it’s going to be boring here, but I promise the next line will be better.”

No, absolutely not. The point of crafting poetry (intentionally reusing the word) is that I do not want to read blah boring whatever can I please get past this. Indeed, the very presence of blah boring tells me, as a sophisticated reader, not to wait for the next line, but move to the next poem. Because, usually, which is to say mostly, which is to say nearly all the time, that string of blah, boring, whatever isn’t an accident, but a character trait.

Next line: "a VI-sit to the a-LU mi num MILLs" – way too many unaccented syllables. (One can argue that the “to” is accented by context, but coming off of “visit,” with the common “t,” one naturally wants to leave it unaccented.)

Two lines later: “Street of the Hyacinth of Waters”: too much of a stretch toward the exotic to succeed. (And most of the poem is likewise: lots of describing words but it doesn't really reach what it is striving for. It comes off as a string of words, never coalescing as something greater than the words.)

Two lines later: “And as I walked out / and down a path that bordered the forest”: the “out” does not succeed in creating a scene shift when no real scene was established to begin with. This problem is exacerbated because of that earlier line, “started to compose,” which begs an ending before moving on. “Walked out” marks a terrifically clumsy shift.

And I could continue line by line but you get the point. (“It was strange to think”? Oh, what a givaway.)

Except to beg one little point: If you are going to write poetry that is little more than a paragraph or three or what cut up into lines, it rather behooves you to write it in paragraphs first, and see if they are actually worth reading.

And that the subject is so typically . . . . well, I'll leave that hanging.

(Might have got a little mean there. Didn’t mean to.)

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