Saturday, July 08, 2006

Critiquing An Inland Journey       [chat extract]

On "Puttered A Tad" and Hazarding a Curveball

This pertains to my new narrative poem (blogged here over the past few days):


The following dialogue is extracted from an impromptu chat with a writer-friend, who'd offered a stylistic critique of the poem.

she:. . . . the phrase puttered a tad is charming
me: ah, gracia
she: ...but seems to me a bit out of sync with the the rest of the stanza
me: well I will consider the point, as I re-read the whole
she: ...or maybe that was deliberate? Like [Priyanka Joseph]'s recenet line?
me: It is not inconsistent with certain other peculiar phrases elsewhere in the poem -- such as . . .
    "Good Father," I sighed, "I'm flummoxed and strange
          my canard should no rustic believe
she: ah
me: -- in comparison, puttered a tad is downright ordinary ;-)
she: ...shades of Father William. let me re-read the whole
me: good, obliged . . .
she: I like: so a nautical chilla-nashini I kept :-)
interesting transposition of context
me: gracia. yes -- the poem does not try to be pucca antiquated. I was happy to find chilla-nashini listed in the Wikipedia too.
she: however, I still feel that maybe having a phrase like this tossed in regular intervals would make it less prominent when it does show up. It might create a kind of wry tongue-in-cheek feel about something really important deep down. on the other hand, it would change the feel of the poem.
forgive me -- I have a plebian sort of mind and look for synchronicity [sic] in some things
me: It's a good observation of a question.
I feel I have made a good try to "negotiate a style" -- it is a tricky business I quite agree.
she: ...a sort of assurance of the expected in certain cases, and the anticipation then lies in what that something will be. so I'm a bad critic in this case, because I don't really have an open mind in this context. for instance, the line in Priyanka's poem jarred me...
me: But again -- I think to best judge, you need first to read the whole in sequece. I do feel there is more or less a new synthesis of style in this poem overall -- it is a new synthesis, not simply a following of a pre-existing model. It chooses its own lexicon and degrees of modernity or antiquity, fairly carefully, -- or so I think.
she: wouldn't have in another context.
I did read it :D just read the trilogy
me: ah -- you're quick
she: :-) yes
me: Well yes one can critique the point you raise, I agree.
she: ...I tend to read fast
me: However, the whole poem is premised on a synthetic style. So that's what it is.
she: like I said I have a slight block about these things. hmm
me: My partial justification involves the view that even Coleridge was inventing a faux antiquarian style
she: ...consistency
me: Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
she: I agree
me: I presume to do the same.
she: but he sustained it through
me: Yes, but he was not living in the 21st century. Here, we have more latitude.
she: granted
me: Or at least, I allow myself this. Another poet can write in another way if they please. To be fresh and original, I need more sloppiness. :-)
she: ...but even so -- I would still argue that there should a sort of rhythm in it
me: ...But I think it is a controlled sloppiness.
she: ...much like a radif in a ghazal
me: ...I argue there IS a rhyme to it. But it could take some time to justify it.
she: sure there is a rhyme. not my point at all.
me: You said "there must be some rhyme to it" -- my phrase replied to that.
she: rhythm, not rhyme
me: rhythm. oh. rhythm, metaphorically
she: exactly. say we are looking a wave on a sea shore. each one is different. but each one crests
me: Well here's my next absurd thought: The poem must be recited aloud before it can be judged. ;-)
she: ...I'd like to catch the crests.
OK. will do. hang on
me: ;-)
she: ok. I recited the whole. there is a very clear physical rhythm, rhyme and meter
me: mm
she: but while the sprinklings of modernity were more than my non-verbal [silent] reading revealed, I still maintain what I said. maybe there need to be more of those :-)
but that notwithstanding, the poem is quite a remarkable effort
me: In terms of the style and intraoduction of some archaisms, I feel it is fairly calibrated, fairly controlled. But this is a matter that different sensibilities will differ on. And it's good to have your input, and a fair input it is.
she: ah but it's not the introductions of archaisms. it's the introduction of obvious modernities
me: Well yes -- the mixing of archaisms and modernisms.
she: like spiel
me: ...But but but
she: or puttered a tad
me: ...those SEEM like modernisms,
she: or well, yes
me: but they can be imagined to have antecedents ;-)
she: it's a question of what the ear is used to in terms of usage
me: the poem is in fact playful about this, I will admit
she: that it is :D
me: It does hazard some off notes, that's true, including the spiel. I'm aware of it. But I feel it makes it less boring ;-)
There are many surprises this way.
she: but the poem is not boring, it's very lyrical in fact
me: ...Also, because it is consciously a poem written now. Not trying to pretend to be written in 1892.
It is really my own expression, in short, and so is as confused in its frames of reference. ;-)
But if you're a guy who can't even figure out whether he's sitting on a boat or sitting in a hermitage, naturally the talk will be gibberish, or borderline so. ;-)
I do have a couple thoughts about the language. The anchorite tends to be slightly more antiquated than the narrator. And the language pulls back into an olden style gradually. The first few stanzas, one might not think of it as antiquated in style, particularly. But then it starts to throw in curveballs a bit.
I think I've tried to be smooth, but failed -- but then, the failure is part of the work. Or maybe I didn't try hard enough, because the curveballs seemed interesting enough after all. ;-)
she: oh they are :D

[edited very slightly, mostly as to lineation & punctuation]


Post a Comment

<< Home