Wednesday, February 07, 2007

What beats excelsior?

So....my poem, Willful, was one of several poems chosen by Julia Copus for The Guardian Unlimited's January Poetry Workshop...

Here are her general notes:
I was gratified by the overwhelming number of entries to this workshop, and impressed by the variety of the shortlisted poems.

It was good to see how some poems (such as Sally Goldsmith's wonderful The Singer, and Anna Hansell's An old British passport up on the shelf) stuck closely to the workshop guidelines, while others (like Cathy Grindrod's nightmarish Open) used the workshop as a springboard for a freer structure.

In general, I was moved by the emotional candour of these poems - peopled, as they are, with daughters, mothers, fathers, ex-husbands and lovers - and the direct way in which the writers handled their often emotive subject matter.

Inevitably some of these poems are more "finished" than others, and in many cases I have offered suggestions for revision.

There is no correlation, however, between the length of my commentaries and the quality of the poems.
Yay! (and also, whew!)

Thanks to Sheila Simonson, all around smarty-pants, for her last-minute-yet-fully-considered edit of the poem, and to M for reading the poem in its several many incarnations (and only asking once "This is different HOW from the last draft?").

(To see my first Guardian Unlimited poem, chosen for the April Poetry Workshop, click here.)

14 comments:

Brenda Schmidt said...

That's wonderful! Congratulations, A!

Sheila said...

Ah, shucks...way to go, my wiful friend!

Ariel Gordon said...

Thanks you two...

Anyone else have an opinion regarding the use of punctuation in poetry?

As you can see from my punctuation-free poems, I'm ambivalent about it...

tracy said...

Great news A! Kudos again.

I used to practice non-punctuation, but now I find it quite useful for clarity, esp with my tendency to use multiple images and a denser language. I think punctuation does have advantages--meaning is often clearer, and pauses and breaks often used at an advantage; however, if one really doesn't want to write with punctuation, line breaks and spacing require more weight/thought--more intricate handling I guess.

Alas, I'm tired and not really thinking very well. Perhaps 3 weeks away would help.!

Anita Daher said...

Woo-hoo! Cold temps and blue skies over Winnipeg would seem to indicate a big high. Good tidings at the Gordon house would seem to indicate same. Congratulations :-)

Al said...

Hi there -- I'd be tempted to throw in a whole lot of cute little round periods, but I'm a crazy kind of literalist.

Polly said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! You are one busy and successful poet! Congrats on this wave of well-deserved attention and recognition! Soooo happy and pleased and proud for you!

My advice: Use only exclamation marks! (and the occasional colon and parenthesis)

Ariel Gordon said...

Hey Polly - thanks for the exclamations. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the screenwriting life in Toronto...

Al, feel free to cudgel me with punctuation if you feel the need. I'm tough. I can handle a comma or two...

Ariel Gordon said...

Oh, and thank you Anita.

The fact that the pipes to my washing machine thawed long enough for me to get a couple loads in was as welcome as the good news says a lot about my domestic situation, doesn't it?

I've been furiously dirtying and washing clothes since, in the hopes of keeping the lines clear...

Ariel Gordon said...

Tracy, did I mention how jealous I am of your three weeks away? In the company of other writers, yet!

I suppose punctuation in poetry always felt like a prose remnant, especially when not all the parts of speech that you'd find in a sentence are present in a poem.

And I dislike it when a line ends with a comma, because that's what a line break is supposed to imply - a break.

Al said...

Hi there -- if I cudgel with anything, it'll be with an amperstand. I was only half joking about the periods -- I think a few well placed ones could work in your poem -- oh ok -- some commas too. I agree in the main about punctuation and line breaks; however, I've found times when, because of the syntax, a line break doesn't quite cut it. Then I have to decide between changing the lines and burying the comma inside, or leaving it hanging at the end.

Anna Hansell said...

Really enjoyed your poem - and delighted to find you have a blog...

Julia Copus picked up on several people's punctuation including mine. I have mainly been using it in a functional way to help guide the rhythm and inflection when reading out loud - but have to admit to just being sloppy on my submitted version!

Ariel Gordon said...

Hey Anna -

Glad you found me too - and that you liked my poem.

I appreciated several things about your poem but deeply admired your unobtrusive rhyme scheme...

If you make your way back here, could you speak to using a rhyme scheme, please?

Anna Hansell said...

"could you speak to using a rhyme scheme"
was a bit scary and I was a bit wary
of responding too fast and making an ass
of myself...
Then I thought I'd tell my secrets in doggerel
- all I know about rhyme and writing to time,
comes from a paperback book that deserves a good look.
By E.O. Parrott, it goes through a lot
Of metres making stanzas in extravaganzas
Of nonsensical verse from funny to peverse
It’s called “How to be well-versed in poetry”, which doesn’t lend itself to rhyme very easily.
For extra help if it’s not going right, rhymezone.com is the perfect website
And be prepared for redundancy as only one line in three
Makes the grade for the finished poetry
The remaining rills read regrettably rake-ishly.

Sorry – that sort of Saturday. I have no idea about rhyming really, other than experimenting until it feels right. The workshop poem idea emerged demanding to be written in an a-b-b-a rhyme with 10 syllables per line - it wasn't a conscious choice. I've not succeeded in imposing rhymes on poems that need to be free (verse). How about you?