Is this too much like a story to be a poem?

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Is this too much like a story to be a poem?

Post  dennis20 on Fri Apr 26, 2013 1:45 pm

Creation

 

It wasn’t a whimper as he stood

in front of the picture window

looking out into the falling darkness

to eye the snowman—his creation.

But it was a heavy sigh, almost

like the weight of the world on him

because only faintly now could he see

the hickory nut eyes.  Acorn teeth

and stick arms were only imagined. 

 

Around and around the yard he rolled

to make balls for Grandpa to stack

into a human shape and he sculpted

the sneering smile before topping

the head with Grandpa’s straw hat,

a salt of the earth looking man.

 

He stood in the warm light

looking out into the cold dark

wondering, “Is he scared?”

He had always been scared

of what lurked in the night,

under his bed, or creatures

creaking through the house

as it settled. 

 

As Mother tucked him warmly into bed,

assured him that the snowman could

stand the cold and dark and noises

of the night, the snowman’s icy stare

questioned the house and everyone

in it—almost like Adam looking

longingly toward Eden and God,

and the garden.

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I'd whittle

Post  tsukany on Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:43 am

Dennis

I'd whittle away. I think you have too many players (snowman, boy, Grandpa, mom). Seems like you could whittle down to two players that will in the end become Adam and God. Would you post that revision...should you go for it?
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I think all poetry has a flash of a story or parable. . . .

Post  Pat on Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:16 am

narrative poetry definitely has a story line. You can even pick out the climax. Some poems are moments with a bird walking down a walk (Emily) and we glean a meaning; some have characters (like poetry by Robert Frost or Mary Sarton.) Some poets may not want to read a story though; they may want to catch the moment. But you enjoy Ted K and he has some stories about family members. I'm beginning to think we just have to keep it simple. Maybe that's a good reason to hold it to two characters. I'm thinking that's what Ted K does. Check me on this. Another good place to look might be: Good Poems by Garrison Keillor.

I like the title. I wonder if you could I, II, III, IV before each stanza? Also, I think you have a little picture story in each stanza. I'm just going to play with your last stanza:

Creation

Mother tucked the boy warmly into bed,

assuring him the snowman outside,

his creation, could withstand the cold

and dark and noises of the night.

What disturbed him most was

the snowman’s icy stare

questioning the house

and everyone in it—like Adam

must have looked longingly

in the garden

toward God.

I don't mean to change any of your meaning here. (Garden and Eden just confused me.)


Thanks for sharing, Dennis. I'd like to see whatever you decide to do with this poem. Pat

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Sweet edit Pat

Post  tsukany on Sat Apr 27, 2013 9:30 am

I like the power of the edit Pat. I think I like the Eden ending of the original but this version is pretty compact and powerful. Go Dennis Go!
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too many characters

Post  dennis20 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:55 am

Todd and Pat,  I thought about leaving out the part about grandpa but the end phrase of "salt-of-the-earth-man injected a more indepth picture of Adam into the poem. I wanted it to carry a deeper meaning than just a kid and his snowman.  I probably do that more than I should.  I have a problem with being too wordy.  I can see this problem with other, but can't see it in myself.  This is why I need you guys.  I will work on rewrite and see what I can throw back to you.  Thanks for the help.  Oh, BTW Pat, the Bible says God planted a garden in the east of Eden, hence I named both places.

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deeper is good

Post  tsukany on Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:58 am

Dennis...I don't think you will lose the depth by reducing characters. I think the biblical allusion will do that. Smile
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Your request for rewrite

Post  dennis20 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:15 am

Creation


The falling darkness in the front yard


closed in on the solitary figure


of a snowman.  The
weight of the world



seemed on his stick-figure shoulders


as his hickory-nut eyes faded from sight.


 


In the light of day he was a salt-of-the-earth


looking man, but as night settled he seemed


weak and unsure.  He became a weak spirit


wrapped in the snow sculpted to his height.


 


He stood staring toward the house,


toward the yellowing window light


and frozen on his face was a look


much like that of Adam as he looked


back toward Eden and God.

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This is so good

Post  tsukany on Sat Apr 27, 2013 11:58 am

Dennis

I really like how this poem ends. It is so strong. My suggestions are beside the lines below:

Creation

The falling darkness in the front yard
closed in on the solitary figure (present tense and a “loaded” verb might help carry more weight)
of a snowman. The
weight of the world
seemed on his stick-figure shoulders (“Seemed” is another verb to load)
as his hickory-nut eyes faded from sight. (Stick figure seems out of place for a snowman)

In the light of day he was a salt-of-the-earth
looking man, but as night settled he seemed (we already know it’s night)
weak and unsure, a weak spirit (“became” is another verb to load)
wrapped in the snow sculpted to his height.

He stares toward the house,
toward the yellowing window light
and frozen on his face is the one
Adam had as he looked
back toward Eden and God.
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Okay, hoping second time is the charm

Post  Dennis20 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:19 pm

Creation

Falling darkness in the front yard

closes in on the solitary figure

of a snowman.  The weight of the world

rests on his broad shoulders

as his hickory-nut eyes fade.

 

By light of day

a salt-of-the-earth-man,

but shadows cast him

unsure, a weakened spirit

of sculpted snow.

 

He stares toward the house,

toward the yellowing window light,

and his frozen face reflects

Adam when he looks back

toward Eden and God.

 

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Energy

Post  tsukany on Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:25 pm

Dennis

Do you pick up any energy by switching the order of stanza two and one?

Does the title still fit the message of the poem since the snowman is in the process of "de-creation"?

I like this offering...keep after it.

Todd
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three times for the charm

Post  dennis20 on Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:46 pm

I can see the possibilities with switching the first and second strophes.  I did change a little of the wording to make it work.

Creation

By light of day

a salt-of-the-earth-man,

but shadows cast him

unsure, a weakened spirit

of sculpted snow

 

when falling darkness

closes in on the solitary figure

of a snowman. 

The weight of the world

rests on his broad shoulders

as his hickory-nut eyes fade.

 

He stares toward the house,

toward the yellowing window light,

and his frozen face reflects

Adam when he looks back

toward Eden and God.

 

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I just read it with the two stanzas switched. Hmmmm

Post  Pat on Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:51 pm

I think I like it. Gives it a lift, I think. Hits me more deeply when you start with light, then falling darkness (the contrast),and then frozen face reflecting Adam. Just my little opinion. . . .and I like that you are playing with it every which way. That's the spirit. (The trick for me is this: not to get too attached to how I first thought it would/should be.) I'm trying to learn to treat my poetry like clothes. It's a big deal to just be willing to add and subtract what I first had in mind until I get the best plan/outfit/poem. Resolution is great. . . .

This web site is sooo smart. It tells me I wrote as you wrote the last posting. : ) I can modify or leave it. I'm leaving it with your understanding that I did not read your new comments. Pat

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one more thing, then I have to quit for the evening. . . .

Post  Pat on Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:57 pm

You guys, go to the top of this page and read it!!!! I laughed my booty off! I love it. Thank you, Todd!!!! There it is. . . . Pat

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I added some CAPS in the poem for fodder

Post  tsukany on Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:59 pm

RE-Creation

By light of day
a salt-of-the-earth-man,
but CHILLING shadows cast him
unsure, a weakened spirit
of sculpted snow.

When falling darkness
closes in on the solitary figure
of a snowman,
the weight of the world
rests on his broad shoulders (did the snowman have sticks for arms rather than shoulders?)
as his hickory-nut eyes fade.

He stares toward the house,
toward the yellowing window light,
and his frozen face reflects
Adam'S when he LONGED
toward Eden (PUT four or five SPACES HERE SO THE READER HAS TO WAIT FOR GOD TOO) and God.
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Pat a note for you

Post  tsukany on Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:03 pm

I taught from a book by Meyers, "Poetry," recently and he included interviews with authors of the poems discussed in the chapter. To a person, the authors spoke of the poems in third person, as if they just happened to be sitting at the desk or computer when the poem appeared. Maybe that is how they keep from being "married" to lines and to it's original inspiration. Smile

Todd
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Ah ha! and I'm still here: my husband is now involved in a book : )

Post  Pat on Sat Apr 27, 2013 7:52 pm

Good info on being married to a line and not being married to a line. I just know I cannot get too attached to the outcome or I ruin everything. Learned it in counseling work. Guess it's true everywhere. And a woman writer once told me to take the blood and guts of my life and write it in 3rd person because it hurts too much in 1st person. When I fell off a loft bed in N Y C and could not write about it, I did as she said. It is a flash of a short story, I guess. Short, but creative nonfiction. Helped me so much to write about it. . . . even in 3rd person. Therapy. I could not re-open that vein and let the blood pour: just too painful. It wasn't the fall so much as the E R experience, the plane experience and Blue Cross not wanting to cover me. I was devastated. I threatened to sue when I was well enough to threaten anything; they paid up, but I had to hold my ground. Hard on a Southern girl. Terrible experience though we didn't even go to court. Nevertheless, I learned the power of 3rd person. I think everything we write has a hint of confession in it, but 3rd person helps me soooo much. I like hearing the confirmation. Thank you. Pat

Dennis, I like what Todd did with caps on your poem. You are getting there. . . .

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Feedback on your poem

Post  robinaburrows on Sun Apr 28, 2013 9:42 pm

Dennis-

I think you have two separate poems here which are good in different ways. I really liked the narrative part of the original poem. I like the boy's point of view. I was moved when the boy was scared for the snowman. That's where I felt emotion in it.

The new version is good. It's very good. It's more literary, and the lesson of the poem is clearer and more focused. But you lose the boy's story in it. You lose the part of the first poem that moved me emotionally. The revised poem is good, but it didn't move me emotionally like the original poem did.

The original version of the poem is from the boy's point of view except for the last stanza which wanders off to the moral of the poem. It's got a lot of telling in it (about the mother, etc). Perhaps if you reworked that stanza, you'd have an additional poem.

For the most recent revision, I like the additional words, but I do not like them in all caps. (I didn't know if that was just to make them stand out or if that was the way they would actaully appear in the poem.) The last couple of lines felt odd in present tense, but in the version where they are past tense, I liked them. I think this version of the poem is much more literary and to the point, but I think you could make these two separate poems and they would both be good.

Robin

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Dennis's Poem, Thawed?

Post  Dewell H. Byrd on Mon Apr 29, 2013 7:11 pm

WOW! This poem has undergone major surgery! And survived! I like revision #3 best. Seems that revisions beyond that were too tight... lost the story-telling feeling in the origional version. The origional poem seemed to be two poems in one which can be misleading and difficult to hold. Dennis, you have great poetry ideas and moxy enough to wrestle them to publisher/acceptance. I bare my pate to you. Dewell

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