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Psimon

Quill-Bearer
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Everything posted by Psimon

  1. I cop the RL plea-bargain too I have finished my under-grad and am now at Teacher's College - the workload in this first block is INTENSE! I've got classmates squealing, running around the online room, clutching their heads and yelling "Brainy-thing HURTS!" before running into the walls and knocking themselves out... ok... so maybe that was hyperbole, but it HAS been really intense Anyhoo, that's why my muse filed for a divorce stating irreconcilable differences - it's a good thing my wife and kids love me, though! Congrats to all on their recent successes - a collective "whoot!" goes out to y'all I'll try and be more regular, but I just don't get enough fibre-optic...
  2. I'm reading my Application to Graduate in 2008 form. Now, I'll admit it's a little preemptive given that I've only just finished my last exam (today), but at least no-one can accuse me of being less than confident in my success!
  3. Well, it appears that being fashionably late is a Kiwi trend so I'll add my belated congrats to one and all PS. Are you a native Geordie, Deg, or an import? ( my dad is from Blyth ) Small world
  4. My initial edit (above) was fairly well received by my tutor, and he suggested I could try a revision/re-envisioning that developed the emotional centre of the piece, that is, the emotional transformation of the narrator from stroppy teen running away from home to psychotic/very disturbed killer. So here it is... enjoy (?) Broken - revised **************** I broke my grandfather’s bone-handled knife the day I left home to sign up. I was six months too young and seventeen years too stupid to realise what it meant when my father tried to stop me. I left just as the clock on the wall chimed the quarter hour, its little bells echoing as I slammed the door to drown out my father’s rage. It was the last time I saw him – a broken man sitting on his father’s kauri chest in the hall, holding the pieces of his father’s knife. I wanted to kill Jerry but I started with my father. When I got to Egypt in ‘40, I’d already proven my luck by surviving the trip. I was a trained killer, at least that’s what they told me, but I don’t know if it was seasickness or something else that had me waking in a cold sweat and waving my lunch goodbye over the rails for the first week onboard. I shot my first German in Greece. He poked his head around a corner and I put one through his brains. I chucked when I saw him close up, lying all twisted and broken in the dust of a town I can’t remember anymore. His eyes and mouth were wide open, enough to let the flies crawl in when it got too crowded at what was left of the back of his head. After I’d wiped my breakfast from my boots I tried to say the Lord’s prayer for Jerry, to make it alright, but I couldn’t get past the first line. I slipped a bayonet under a man’s ribs and up into his lung in a ditch beside a road in Crete. He sighed as his legs gave way and he slid off my blade. I watched him fall but I can’t remember his face now. Maybe he didn’t have one. I asked him his name but he didn’t answer so I called him Jerry like all the rest. I told him he was going to die, that his lung would be filling and he would drown in his own blood. I think he understood. He started to cry and I sat beside him, crying with him until it was only me holding his hand as it became cold and stiff. I tried the same with a soldier as I had him pinned beneath me in the rubble of a house in Italy – tried to tell him he was dying and that he needed to just let go. My words didn’t do the job so I had to use a brick. I was all out of bullets. He looked as young as I was before I smashed that brick into his terrified eyes. I can’t remember much about him except his eyes. They were blue, like mine, and they were set too close together. They were as round as the face of the clock on the wall back home as I swung that brick down. It took me an hour to wash the dust and blood from my hands. I didn’t apologise for killing the enemy, and I didn’t pray for them. I didn’t cry about it anymore either. I used my fists on the last Jerry I killed. He’d quit, raising his hands above his head, when I had him dead to rights in the attic where he’d holed up in the last town we took before the end. I used my fists, and my boots, and my thumbs pressing into his soft, blue eyes as he tried to block out the end he saw was coming. I held him by the head with my thumbs in his eyes and smashed his superior blond head into the floor until it started to splash in the pool that filled the floorboards beneath us, soaking them in pure German blood, and I laughed when it splashed ‘cause it reminded me of the puddles in the road on a wet day walking home from school trying to kill time, trying to delay the end, with Mum crying on the kitchen floor and my father standing over her with his fist raised ready for the next look or the next word that would justify the next hit, but it never came, and Mum slit her wrists the next day and lay on the bathroom floor, her life filling the floorboards beneath her… I knew plenty of ways to kill a man – a bullet, a blade, a grenade – but I have never forgotten that I killed my father with a word. The letter from Aunty Pat reached me three days before I demobbed. My father had gone downhill pretty quick after I left, she wrote, but he had managed to hang on till VJ Day, after Little Boy and Fat Man broke Japan. I cried then. When I got home there was too much work to be done to stop and think. I worked for the Railways until ’48 when I signed up again. There was a new enemy in the jungles of South-East Asia, but a familiar way of dealing with him. I hated the slant-eyed bastards. They all looked the same to me. They were cookie-cutter soldiers, like the gingerbread men that Mum used to make. Cookie-cutter communists. I had always been bigger than most of my mates at school but compared to them I knew I was a giant. It was bloody hard work but I remember feeling pretty stoked when I made it into the Special Air Service in ‘55. They showed me more ways to kill than I’d ever dreamed possible, and they taught me how to be smart about it. I was smart about it all right. ’56 and ’57 were good years in the business. We wiped the communists out in Fort Brooke, near Perak and Kelantan, and in Negri Sembilan, in an area the guerrillas called Mountainous, between the towns of Seremban, Kuala Pilah, and Tampin. I didn’t look at their faces anymore. Just put a bullet between their slope eyes or tried not to slip in their guts after they lost the game of grenade ‘hot-potato.’ They were good times… until I took some metal. It’s still there, in my head and in my chest. Doc said that they couldn’t take it out – too risky – they might break something and that’d be the end of me. So they left it all in and I was out again. Back home to the wife and boy. I’d almost forgotten about them. Picked up the wife after the war and the boy was born after I left again. I didn’t ask for much when I got back – just some peace and quiet, a hot meal on the table, off to the races every now and then to watch the geegees lose what was left of my hard-earned pension, or to stand in a haze in the pub with a beer in the hand and a bellyful to piss away during the night before going home to the wife for a quick one. To spend a morning sleeping off the night before and grabbing some grub before setting off to the TAB or the pub. Not much to ask – the simple pleasures. I can’t remember how it happened now. I know I came home from the pub with a skin full, ate my dinner and sat down with a cold one. The wife had stayed up, but the boy was asleep. I was watching the telly, can’t remember what was on, and the wife had said something about going to her Mum’s for a while with the boy, like a holiday… and then I’m looking her in the eyes as she’s pinned beneath me in the rubble of the house… and I’m telling her that she’s drowning… and all I can see are her eyes, as round as the face of the clock on the wall back home… back home… as I swing the brick down, but it isn’t a brick, it’s my fist, and the little commie bastard must have heard me and is watching from the hall, and I’m up and grabbing him before he can get on the blower to call up his million slope-eyed buddies, and I hold him close as I push the bayonet under his ribs and up into his lung in a ditch beside a road, and the flies begin to buzz around his eyes and his wide open mouth and he starts to cry and I sit beside him, crying with him until it’s only me holding his hand as it becomes cold and stiff and I try to say the Lord’s prayer for Jerry, to make it alright, but I can’t get past the first line… I can’t remember. And now I can’t say goodbye. So I sit here, on my grandfather’s kauri chest, writing this with my old bayonet next to me. It looks a bit grubby. I can’t remember how it got that way, but a bit of dirt won’t matter much. Under the ribs and up into the heart. Good times.
  5. These are big subjects you have tackled here – a personal faith struggle, faith vs. ‘science’, freedom of thought – and they are, for the most part, well voiced. There are, however, two major issues as I see them: 1) the restrictive form (rhyming couplets) and 2) the jarring last stanza (#13). 1) The form: rhyming couplets are *very* restrictive unless one’s vocabulary is positively Shakespearian. I think the piece would benefit from some extensive tinkering in the form of a complete re-write in free-form. Many times the rhyme dictates a line end, a particular vocabulary, or a meter that jars with the reader. For example, stanza 11: The twist - this story subsisted in such times, Where many gods existed in many climes, So why then do religions still persist, To deny that multi-gods perhaps exist? They borrow stories from a "heathen" time, And pass them off as theirs which ain't a crime? But yet they fool the masses and purport, Its a crime to kill, to steal or to extort. There are words such as “subsisted” and fairly precise (almost archaic?) grammar such as “So why then do religions still persist, / To deny that multi-gods perhaps exist?” and “yet they fool the masses and purport, / Its a crime to kill, to steal or to extort” (you don’t need the “But” in front of the “yet” on that penultimate line, btw) with a clanger contraction like “which ain't a crime?” (emphasis added) in the midst of it all. The rhyme, perhaps mostly due to the preceding contraction, seems forced – out of place. It breaks the spell for the reader. There are many such examples, particularly of ‘forced’ rhyme, throughout the poem. Stanza 1, in free form, might look something like: There is no God – no guiding hand to save you! Man worships or destroys that which he fears, while the farce of heaven only serves to lessen loved ones' tears. In the pulpits pastors preach; Can you not feel the brimstone’s heat? - ok, that didn’t quite end up completely 'free' but is less restricted (IMHO) than rhyming couplets, but I think it serves to illustrate my point 2) Stanza 13: The (unlucky?) closing stanza: The ruling factions in this modern age, Do not attempt to teach you but to cage How you think from when you are a child, To enslave you to obedience and being mild. I urge you all to think outside the box, This is just a key to force the locks On the prisons they have built around your mind, To keep you in the dark, to keep you blind. The education theme runs throughout the piece, well woven into the fabric, but here the threads seem to have come loose. There is a conclusion (of sorts) for the narrator, but for the reader the piece jumps from Deuteronomy 13:6-15 and an ongoing struggle with religious authority and its apparent demands, to a sudden tirade against secular authorities, “The ruling factions in this modern age” (the Church, of whatever flavour, does not ‘rule’ – certainly not in Western culture). Perhaps there is an element of the narrators struggle against *all* authority, secular or religious? I'd suggest bringing the faith issue to the fore here at the end, to show that this is still at the centre of the narrator's struggle (if it is). Perhaps a generic "They" can be used in place of "ruling factions": They don't teach, but cage you - Tell you what to think, not how, till you are nothing but a slave. Think! Break down your prison walls. As I have said above, these are major subjects you’ve tackled here – issues that are very much at the front of many questions (and news items) today. You’ve taken a big bite of a big pie by trying to bring it down to a personal level and have got some great ideas down. Well done. Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed above are entirely my own opinion and may be used or discarded as the reader sees fit. I hope it's helpful in some way.
  6. Broken *************** I broke my grandfather’s bone-handled knife the day I left home to sign up. I was six months too young and seventeen years too stupid to realise what it meant when my father tried to stop me. I left just as the clock on the wall chimed the quarter hour, its little bells echoing as I slammed the door to drown out my father’s anger. It was the last time I saw him – a broken man standing by his father’s kauri chest, holding the pieces of his father’s knife. I wanted to kill Jerry but I started with my father. When I got to Egypt in ‘40, I’d already proven my luck by surviving the trip. I was a trained killer by then, at least that’s what they told me, but I puked my guts out almost every day for the first week onboard. I shot my first German in Greece. He poked his head around a corner and I put one through his brains. I chucked when I saw him close up, lying all twisted and broken in the dust of a town I can’t remember anymore. I knew plenty of ways to kill a man – a bullet, a blade, a grenade – but I have never forgotten that I killed my father with a word. I slipped a bayonet under a man’s ribs and up into his heart in a ditch beside a road in Crete. He sighed as his legs gave way and he slid off my blade. I watched him fall but I can’t remember his face now. Maybe he didn’t have one. I remember sitting beside him for a while, crying with him until it was only me holding his hand as it became cold and stiff. I didn’t need a blade to break my father’s heart. All it took was a word. I said it once, to a soldier as I had him pinned beneath me in the rubble of a house in Italy. It didn’t do the job so I had to use a brick. I was all out of bullets. He looked as young as I was before I smashed that brick into his terrified eyes. I can’t remember much about him except his eyes. They were blue, like mine, and they were set too close together. They were as round as the face of the clock on the wall back home as I swung that brick down. It took me an hour to wash the dust and blood from my hands. I didn’t apologise for killing the enemy, and I didn’t cry about it anymore. And I never got the chance to say sorry to my father. The letter from Aunty Pat reached me three days before I demobbed. My father had gone downhill pretty quick after I left, she wrote, but he had managed to hang on till VJ Day, after Little Boy and Fat Man broke Japan. I cried for the first time since Crete. When I got home there was too much work to be done to stop and think. I worked for the Railways until ’48 when I signed up again. It was a new enemy but a familiar way of dealing with him. I hated the little commie bastards. I had always been bigger than most of my mates at school but compared to them I was a giant. It was bloody hard work but I remember I was pretty stoked when I made it into the SAS in ‘55. They showed me more ways to kill than I’d ever dreamed possible, and they taught me how to be smart about it. I was smart about it all right. ’56 and ’57 were good years in the business. We wiped them out in Fort Brooke and Negri Sembilan. Good times. Until I took some metal. It’s still there, in my head and in my chest. Docs said that they couldn’t take it out – too risky – they might break something and that’d be the end of me. So they left it all in and I was out again. Back home to the wife and boy. The wife and boy. I can’t remember how it happened. One moment I was watching the telly, and the next… I can’t remember it at all. I just can’t remember what it is I have to apologise for, or to who. I can’t remember, and now I can’t say goodbye. So I sit here, on my grandfather’s kauri chest, writing this with my old bayonet next to me. It looks a bit grubby. I don’t remember how it got that way, but a bit of dirt won’t matter much. Under the ribs and up into the heart. Good times.
  7. Mother ************* We were sitting in the coffee shop on Courtney Place when James came in and told us that Thomas was about to shoot himself. We were stunned. James said that when Thomas told him what he was going to do he could think of no reason to dissuade him. “Are you going to do anything about it?” I asked. “No.” He ordered a latte and sat down to await the sound of the shot. I glanced at him as he sipped his latte as one who had lost hope long ago. James had already finished his coffee and was walking to the door, an unlit cigarette, his fifth of the hour, between his trembling fingers when the shot finally came. The sharp report caused him to drop his cigarette, and he paused before bending to retrieve it from the floor. It was some few moments before he moved again, reaching the sanctuary of the doorway where he could safely light up without fear of disapproving looks or the impending doom of prosecution for smoking in a public place. After several attempts at lighting the filter James threw the cigarette into the street and swore as his shoulders sagged in his black suit jacket. We stared at our friend before checking the levels of our own coffees, unsure how to begin to offer condolences in such a situation as we found ourselves that afternoon. James and Thomas had always been closer to each other than to any of us. There was an unspoken camaraderie between them that had no room for a third member. While the rest of us lounged in our hideaway in the pine trees behind Room 3 pondering how we might steal a glance at Miss Garmonsway’s ample cleavage, James and Thomas whispered together of deeds that were far more divisive. They spoke of revolution, not evolution, in Biology, and of Marx, not marks in History. They walked to a different drummer’s drills. The sweat of the proletariat was upon their brows as they ran the school cross-country, imagining that around every corner lay some ruling class pansy that needed a damn good kicking from the boot of the down-trodden. And kick they did. They kicked the Somerset boy like he was a miscreant dog, and kept kicking him until Mr. Humphrey hauled them bodily away, saving Somerset from total annihilation. As it was, he never returned to our school, or any school for that matter. He had suffered enough of a beating that he was unable to add two and two or count the moments between the times that his mother had to wash his wasted body, or feed him another spoonful of pureed apple, or wipe his arse after he had soiled himself again. Served the privileged bastard right, James and Thomas had blustered to us and we stared slack-jawed at the most evil pair of juvenile delinquents we had ever laid our eyes on. They were two of our number, but even we had to acknowledge that they had crossed the boundary between schoolboy fantasy and prison yard shiving with unnerving ease. It was ten years before any of us heard from them. Thomas phoned Michael one evening, and Michael, according to his recollection of the event, nearly shat himself when Thomas revealed who he was. Thomas was more softly spoken than we had remembered. The State system can no doubt claim a measure of success in the rehabilitation of such a seemingly unsalvageable piece of human flotsam, but whatever the reason, Thomas seemed a different man. A man now, yes, but somehow less than a man. Some element of his being had been carved from his soul and expelled. Some fragment of his psyche, perhaps a bloody big fragment, had been sheered from the glacier of his being to come crashing down and lay broken into millions of razor-edged pieces at the base of his humanity. He seemed, and this is a cliché, I know, a shell of a man. A façade. But he was pleasant company, liked a good latte as much as the rest of us, and though he never told us what had happened in those intervening years, he felt safe to be around. James was a wreck. His experience with State care had left him fragmented but, unlike Thomas, his shards had stubbornly refused to fall away, clinging to his mind like a collection of irritating psychological scabs. James was now in community care, having been institutionalised for much of the time he had been away. He rattled off the names of his prescription drugs like a compulsive gambler reading the form guide for the coming week. A glacial sheen covered his eyes as he named his new best friends, licking his lips and twitching his forefinger and thumb together as though picking each lover from his harem of the day’s dosage tray. We were never too sure about James, but we accepted him as a prodigal son anyway, embracing him, enfolding him within the bosom of our coven as though little had changed between us all. It was all illusionary, of course, but when one wishes to escape the realities of one’s life, it does no good to simply embrace another reality, does it? So there we met at the coffee shop on Courtney Place every Friday, ready to fall headlong into another weekend of café get-togethers and cultural experiences that defined the young urban set. We’d catch a play together, or roll along to the latest boutique theatre offering, preferably with subtitles because the English-speaking world makes crap movies about crap characters leading equally crappy lives. Who wants to go to the movies to see themselves? When we were together we presented the United Front against an unjust and uncaring world. We were the People’s Liberation Front of every ilk, the Oppressed People’s Party, and the Order of the Skull and Bones rolled into one. We represented a horrifying reality for the powers that held sway. We were the underground. When we weren’t together, our lives were as diverse as they had been in school. A DJ, whose speciality was the kind of techno/ambient/rave/trance that allowed its aficionados to pop pills by the score, take another litre of water and hit the dance floor without ever missing a beat; an IT uber-geek, l33t in the ways of haxor – a BOFH whose knowledge of protocols far exceeded his knowledge of social etiquette and whose bank balance far exceeded that of many a small, Pacific island nation; a goth whose complexion made Bella Lugosi’s look like a Bermuda tan, with a scowl to wither Michelangelo’s David; an independent internet journo whose blogs named and shamed the oppressors with gay abandon and CIA subterfuge; a psychiatric refugee seeking asylum outside the asylum, whose personalities were now legion and whose tenuous grip on what we all took for reality was slipping by the hour; and Thomas. The mysterious, yet somehow altogether together Thomas, whose role in life was as illusive and illusionary as that of the members of the long-defunct X-2. Wheels within wheels within wheels tumbled and turned behind his eyes as he observed all yet gave nothing away. He watched and recorded all, I am sure, collating notes and cross-referencing ruthlessly. But something must have been missing. Mother killed herself today.
  8. Psimon blinks in carrying a bag bulging with tags which he proceeds to pin, plant, or paste on everything... "Yes, I think the desk is 'Bob', and this tree is definitely a 'Delores', and this rock... hmmm, this rock is... is, ah..." He rummages through his bag for a moment. "Ah, here we are... 'Peter', yes, 'Peter' is a good name for you, my friend. I... sorry, what? This is the Garden Name Recreation Center, isn't it? Oh... well, I'm so embarrassed. No, really. I thought it said... oh, dear me..." In a blaze of red-faced fluster, Psimon blinks OUT...
  9. Happy Birthday, Sweetcherrie (it wouldn't be a proper 'Happy Birthday' from me unless it was late LOL)
  10. Huge congratulations, Salinye, on a marvelous achievement - your (obvious!) talent was recognised, appreciated and is to be utilised doing what you love to do... what more could one ask for? Well done!
  11. Ah, I'm just in time... What? No, I'm not late. Of course I'm not late - I'm never late! What are you talking about? Are you mad? I can't be late. Look, it says right here on my wrist sundial, confirmed I might add by my Zenith's Almanac AND by the ever-reliable London Underground Timetable, that I am precisely... well, I mean, exactly... um, well, ah... oh, poop! Well, I'm here now, so I can at least add my own belated very best birthday wishes and hugs to the extended, extended birthday celebrations *hugs*
  12. Well, here I sit on the eve of my first exam this year (1 of 5) and I want to say sorry for not dropping by more often. I even uninstalled Morrowind (incl. expansions) - Oh, the sacrifice! The inhumanity of it all! *accepts Oscar [stage left]* Thank you, I love you all... My exams (in order) are: Medieval Lit. (Chaucer & co.) Victorian History Late Medieval History Victorian Lit. The Vikings (Yay, I get to finish with a bit of pillaging!) French Revolution for Summer School (yes, it's summer here in NZ - apparently...) and then I'll only have four papers to do next year to finish my degree!!!!! - sorry, smilie frenzy... I'm ok now. All the very best to other Pennites who are enduring the joy (!?) of exams at this time. Hugs Psimon
  13. The lies live in the shadow of yesterday’s interpretations; creeping, eyes bleeding – ideological automatons. The lies live in the fear of tomorrow’s exposition; crawling, sightless – world-view ‘scions’. The lies live in the oblivion of false dogma… Why won’t they just die? * the last line of my poem is my New Line: "Why won’t they just die?" *
  14. Difficult to transmit, with a long incubation period, it was challenging to determine where or when the disease was contracted. I suspect it may have been when we met. Mother and daughter: two common forms. The mother produced sores, though the daughter was potentially the more severe – difficult to comprehend how that could be possible. Symptoms: numbed fingers and toes, muscle weakness - a lack of backbone - leading to loss of all sensation. A slow but painless death of the soul. There, but for the Grace of God, go I. © 2006
  15. My lovers’ eyes are glazed and dull; Her thin lips too thickly rouged: Her well-suckled breasts sag unresponsively; Brown baling twine mats her wrinkled brow. I have seen dandelions in spring with less yellow Than I see in her cheeks; And I far prefer the scent of silage To the smell of her morning breath. When she speaks, I listen well but know That thrash-metal can be gentler on the ear: I have seen women whose dainty toes don’t touch the ground – my lover plods. But I love her all the same, Not least because she puts up with me. © 30 August 2006
  16. In the dust-speckled sunlight of an empty room once filled with things that carried memories of whole days, I hold the receiver like a drowning man clings to a passing leaf. I know the leaf will not keep me from slipping under but I cannot lightly bring myself to let it float away. What we had wasn’t love - just a second-string shadow slipping past us in the lights of the motorway. A flickering street-lamp, a match in a tempest, without the slightest hope of setting the world alight. I wipe my eyes. It’s better to drown than light a fire with gasoline.
  17. LOL, no probs at all, Mardrax Anything put forward as a suggestion is always at the writer's discretion whether to accept or not - what I suggested sounded better to me, but that is just my reading (aloud) to the rhythm that it suggested to me, if you get my meaning... I was perhaps influenced by Linkin Park's lyrical style running through my head at the time If any suggestions don't fit with what you are trying to express then discard them, but I think what we're trying to suggest is simply that, if you are sharing your work, you need to allow that others will almost certainly not read it precisely as you wrote it (although I am a powerful Psionic Druid, I chose NOT to use my telepathy on you... this time! ) Like Rev, I'm studying at Uni too (undergrad - several writing and lit. papers) and have come to realise that, as has been noted, in order to break the rules, I have to know what those rules are and how they came to be. A good writer (of any style/genre) is first and foremost a good student of the traditions that have brought us to this point - BUT (and it's a big BUTT ) it ALL depends on what you want to achieve with your writing. As Rev says, if you don't want to walk a path that someone suggests then that is totally cool and I for one will be looking forward to reading more of your writing regardless - I love this one! That's really just a verbose way of saying "I liked it. Keep it up!"
  18. This 'sounds' to me like a pretty decent rap And they would be my only suggestions (and only suggestions ) Peace. Out. Remix... Peace. In. I would agree with what Rev has said too - try tinkering in the workshop with some new toys - but I would say keep plugging away with what you're doing now too. You may find a new direction you can take, you may find a new trick you can use with your current direction, or you may find something new that you discard completely, screaming "AAaarrggh, get that thing away from me!" LOL
  19. Update: I guess I need to clarify my list a little, particularly point #3, I think it's really important to still keep the 'old-school' flava of The Pen - ie. the feeling of the whole 'place' that is the Pen. The odd map wouldn't hurt in that regard - I still have to teleport home to use the bathroom because I still haven't found the ones here! j/k but, all joking aside, my point remains - the atmosphere, and the writing that that atmosphere inspires, is what for me distinguishes the Pen from a squillion other online writing groups that I've seen - that and the fantastic group of people that the Pennites are, of course! That's what I mean when I say above about "remaining true to itself". That's enough for now, I guess. I'll dwell on it some more and post as the muse descends
  20. I haven't been able to find more 'formal' guidelines in The Pen for how to offer constructive critique/criticism of poetry, so thought I would post this offering from my varsity poetry paper as a way of 'fleshing out' those suggestions above (please (re)move as appropriate if this has been done before or is out of place). These guidelines could, of course, be duly adjusted as per the writer's requested level of feedback: Guidelines for writing a review Here are some general guidelines to follow: • Avoid uniformly praising the poem. Your job is not simply to praise (though you should point out what you liked and why) but to help the writer improve. Find at least two aspects of the poem that might be improved: Every piece can be improved. • Avoid providing only a close reading: Feel free to spend a bit of your review “interpreting” or “analysing” the poem; this helps a writer to understand how his or her work is being read and understood (or misunderstood). However, interpretation is not the place to stop. You should focus the bulk of your review on what needs to be improved, why it must be improved, and how it might be improved. • Make the feedback constructive. It is best when possible to frame your remarks constructively by stating what might be improved rather than focusing only on what is lacking or wrong with the piece. Rather than, “you're too abstract,” for example, you might write, “More specifics and tangible images that appeal to the senses would convey the speaker's feelings viscerally—would allow a reader to picture them.” • Be specific in what works or does not work: It is not enough to say, “I didn't understand it”; point out a particular word or phrase or image or metaphor that confused you. It is also important to indicate, if you thought the piece effective, what worked—to point out why a particular image was effective, for example, rather than simply to say, “I thought this piece was great.” • Offer specific suggestions for revision: For instance, if you say that a poem could use more imagery, give an example—an image you might include if it were your poem. Below, you will find some specific questions to consider when responding to poetry. You do not need to address them all! Just focus on those that are most important for the poem you are reviewing. Remember: Make your responses constructive and specific. • Imagery: Does the poem rely primarily on concrete, tangible imagery, or does it rely too often on abstractions and generalizations? Give at least one example, if relevant, where the writer might use more detail or imagery. Offer a suggestion. Point out images that do not seem relevant or appropriate to the subject matter of the poem. Explain your logic. • Metaphor: How successfully does the poem use metaphor or simile? Do the metaphors help to create meaning? Are they relevant? Point out specific passages where a metaphor might be helpful. Any suggestions? Does the poem rely on mixed metaphor or cliché? Point out metaphors that don't work and explain why. • Language: Does the poem use language effectively? That is, does the poem choose the best words? Are there words you would replace because they are too ambiguous? Would more ambiguity, on the other hand, allow for multiple meanings and thus be helpful? Is there a place the writer might play effectively on multiple denotations or a word's connotations? Is there a way to tighten the writing—to say things more concisely and avoid redundancy? (An example of redundancy: I once wrote a poem about a boat and included the line, “two passengers aboard.” Another poet responded, “Aboard? Where else would passengers be but aboard?” I was appropriately chastened.) Is the language appropriate to the tone and speaker of this poem? • Sound: How might the writer improve the sounds of the poem? Does the subject matter call for more soft sounds or hard sounds? Where might alliteration (repetition of a sound) provide more pleasure or support the meaning? If the poem rhymes, does this help or hinder it? Does the rhyme, in combination with rhythm, create a tone appropriate to the subject matter? Should the writer consider eliminating rhyme—particularly if it is predictable, clichéd or combined with a “sing-song” rhythm? • Form: Does the writer end lines at natural pauses? How might line endings be improved? Are there opportunities to extend sentences beyond the end of a line and into the next line or stanza to avoid stilted rhythms? Would you break the stanzas differently? How and why? What do you think of the beginning? Does it take too long to get into the heart of the poem? What do you think of the ending? Does it feel unfinished? Should it have finished earlier? If yes, to these questions, why? How might it end more effectively? • Subject and Theme: How easy or difficult is it to understand (after two readings) what this poem is about? Is the poem confusing or unclear? Where? • Mode: To what extent does the poem reflect a grasp on the tradition of which it is part, if any? If it is an ode, for example, does it reflect an understanding of the ode tradition? Why or why not? To which poems might the writer return as useful models? ***************** END GUIDELINES ******************
  21. What do I desire/expect from the Pen? To always be here to welcome me home with open arms no matter how long I've been away. To always be a vibrant and growing community of writers. To always be open to change yet remaining true to itself. To always challenge me to partcipate, to develop, and help others to do likewise. That about covers it for me, and looking at the above, I think the Pen is doing pretty well so far
  22. Hi Chanz Let me open by saying that writing about personal, and often emotionally sensitive, thoughts and issues can be hard, as they are so close to the heart and, well... personal , so you've done well to get them out like this. I won't go through stanza by stanza, as I would begin with the form of the poem. The title is Confused, as the emotions and thoughts expressed are, but the structure of your stanza is rigid - aabb rhyme and a semi-consistent rhythm - so the form doesn't reflect the content. A rigid rhyme scheme, particularly if it doesn't reflect the content, can and will seem 'forced', as it does here. The title can usually be left till the piece is almost ready to 'publish', as it can tend to 'take control' of your thoughts if you start with a title and then begin to write. I would suggest a complete re-write using a free-form style instead (no rhyme or specific rhythm) - let the emotion and confusion of the speaker's thoughts flow naturally. You can edit later, but it would need to be with a light 'touch' so you avoid rigidity. If, at that stage, a rhythm or rhyme begins to emerge, then begin to tinker - but I would avoid both, personally. You've got some great raw material here - set it free I hope that all made some sense, and, as always, it is just opinion/suggestion - so use or discard as you choose As Sweetcherrie says, it would be great to see you develop this piece.
  23. Well, by definition, a slam is: # winning all or all but one of the tricks in bridge # - unless one is playing bridge inside the revolving door, then no, this would not be applicable (though it would make having one's 'turn' a whole lot simpler) # close violently; "He slammed the door shut" # - as a revolving door has at least a portion of itself 'open' at all times, then this would not apply either, regardless of how violently one swung it. # the noise made by the forceful impact of two objects # - this one is more of a grey area. IF (and it's a big IF!) the door was slightly out of alignment to begin with, or was rendered so by the 'violent' swinging mentioned above, then it would be possible for one (or more) of the partitions to 'slam' into the frame of the door... hmmm... this one has potential, methinks. # strike violently; "slam the ball" # - one could certainly strike a revolving door violently. A definite positive result here. # a forceful impact that makes a loud noise # - really just another way of phrasing option 3 above. # slam dance: dance the slam dance # - it's a tight space, but it could be done, I suppose. # shot: an aggressive remark directed at a person like a missile and intended to have a telling effect; "his parting shot was `drop dead'"; "she threw shafts of sarcasm"; "she takes a dig at me every chance she gets" # - I've never abused a revolving door in this fashion, but again this option has potential. # Systemic Lupus Activity Measure. A method of measuring the disease activity of lupus. # - I don't even want to contemplate this one... I believe, IMHO, that given the array of results above, it can be said that it is possible to 'slam' a revolving door. I would, however, like to raise the even more disturbing question: "Is it possible for a revolving door to slam us?" One must always be careful to guard against the insidious nature of revolving-door prejudice - it just breeds a vicious cycle of hatred against doors of all varieties.
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