What is a poem anyway

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vern.silver
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What is a poem anyway

Post by vern.silver » Sat Apr 25, 2009 10:17 pm

What Is A Poem Anyway

Yeah!
up here in this red gong
this life
suffice to say
this life suffering out sound
after bellyaching sound
in this twist of words
that neither you nor I
can suck much juice from

Yeah!
up here in this high place
way up here dangling along
on swingy nerves
forever impure
bits of blood bone
and falling hair
muse these words

twisted agony
to tell you that a poem
is a poem
only in its most fermented sense
and as only I can love it
in that way
that you can only hate it

Yeah!
me with my love
bound and gagged
in bleak tissues
and you
wanting more than I can give

fuck it!
what is a poem anyway
but a piece of brown stink
convoluting
in a cistern’s torment.
"Clarence said a striking thing about rowing that I've always valued ... that he liked rowing because you were approaching life backward. You could clearly see the past, and you glanced quickly at the future over your shoulder.' Jim Harrison.
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mat james
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by mat james » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:52 am

fuck it!
what is a poem anyway
but a piece of brown stink
convoluting
in a cistern’s torment.
vern, I assume this is more about your mood than poetry!

fuck it!
what is a mood anyway
but a piece of brown stink
convoluting
in a cistern’s torment.

That sounds/reads better to me.
In fact I can say that I feel quite liberated by the black-ness/pissedoffedness of it all; it's 8)

matbbgmephistoj
"Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart." San Juan de la Cruz.
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Geoffrey
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Geoffrey » Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:41 pm

vern.silver wrote:
>up here in this red gong/this life/suffice to say


hello vern. you write 'suffice to say' in the first verse and then elucidate by giving the reader several more verses - a contradiction. it wasn't sufficient after all, apparently.

also, ignoring the title, usage of upper and lower case letters seems inconsequent. although lower case are the preferred style, a capital 'I' and 'Y' has sneaked in for no logical reason.

punctuation, too, deserves to be governed with a heavier hand. Four exclamation marks and one full stop breaks no modern rules, perhaps - but points towards a lack of literary awareness.

i don't know what happened to you when you were small, but i know you have a problem tackling criticism. therefore i will try to balance up the negativity by telling you that i admire you efforts. i enjoyed reading this, and wish that i had the inspiration and talent to post as readily as yourself.
vern.silver
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by vern.silver » Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:50 pm

Actually Geoffrey, I have no problem with critcism if it's aim is to help and simply not to take a shot at someone. I do appreciate the commentary you made and will give it some thought. I am also of the school that believes a poem is only complete when it is complete and will always rework and rewrite until I am satisfied - though that rarely happens (being totally satisfied, that is.)
"Clarence said a striking thing about rowing that I've always valued ... that he liked rowing because you were approaching life backward. You could clearly see the past, and you glanced quickly at the future over your shoulder.' Jim Harrison.
Simon Says
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Simon Says » Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:52 pm

Vern- what an angry poem! Only real poets can write of torment and you are a very rare modern example. I hope you don't think of yourself only as a tortured soul and I hope the very act of sharing your stunning writing eases your tragedy.

I know how hard it is to fight the cistern.

Simon
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Geoffrey
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Geoffrey » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:39 pm

Simon Says:
>Vern- what an angry poem!

Yes, I wonder why it is so angry.

vern.silver wrote:
>I have no problem with criticism if it's aim is to help and simply not to take a shot at someone.

There is a problem with criticism if its purpose is to "take a shot" at you, I read. Have you ever meditated upon this problem, wondered from where it stems, even sought professional help? Initially, especially after your thread entitled 'Why I will not criticise the poetry of others', I wondered about the childhood of someone handicapped with an inability to either give or receive criticism. To me it was obvious there had occurred an early mismanagement in an emotional area, resulting in this necessity to avoid potential conflictual interaction. In another message you wrote four words that revealed something that I believe played an important role in forming the basis of an insecure personality trait, yet nobody seemed to pay it very much attention. You wrote: "My mother is Anishnabek." I do not know if you were taunted as a child, but I know that children can be cruel - and that 'halfbreed' is a word with which you, who had an American upbringing, would have been familiar. In any case, my recommendation to you is to try to get to the core of the 'problem'. If, as I suspect, there is a neurosis, a psychiatrist will assist you in uncovering its source and deal with it. You should then be better equipped to tackle the demands of a social environment without the burdon of unreasonable personal limitations. Good luck.
vern.silver
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by vern.silver » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:42 am

Mat,
Thank you for the comments, and I am considering your input serously.

Simon Says and Geoffrey,

I am neither an angry person nor am I a tortured soul. The many people I have met from this forum over the last few years in Hydra, New York and other gatherings can attest to my nature. These include Jarkko, Dick and Linda Straub, Joe Way, Elizabeth, Don Cummer, Evelyn Stein and many others.

Like the other poems I have posted, I have simply decided upon a subject I wanted to write about chose a voice and tone then worked with language, metaphor etc to get me where I wanted to go. They are simply works of creative writing.

Geoffrey,
I once again will reiterate that I do not fear nor avoid criticism. I just prefer to do it face to face and not from a distance and hiding behind a keyboard. It is the way I feel and is my choice. I think I am free to make it. Just as you are free to continue what you are doing.

As to my reference to my mother's native heritage, I did so for the sake of News Gal to let her know that she was not the only person posting here who has native american ancestry. In my whole life I have never been subjected to any racial hatred, and the first time other than american movies and Cher's song have I heard the term halfbreed used is now and by you. To suggest that I am traumatized by my heritage is ridiculous. As far as I know we have not met. You do not know anything about me, nor I you. I guess I can make a genaralization that all brits are boorish louts such as portrayed on Coronation Street, but I know too many decent ones to put you all into one basket. And I refuse to judge you be our interaction here. At some point in the future, we can perhaps meet maybe in Krakow in 2010 if I can make it there.

By the way, I am Canadian and not American.

Unlike US history, there were no 'Indian' wars in Canada. Different first nations sided with either the british or french over the fur trade, with the British ultimately winning out. In 1812, 'Canada' with the assistance of these first nations repelled an American invasion which ultmately resulted in the burning of the white house - a piece of history even most Americans are unaware of. Most of the problems in Canada that first nations are and have been dealing with began in the late 1800's with the creation of the Indian Act. But I am not up to giving you a history lesson at this time. I will leave that for the chance that we might meet at some future date. I believe we might enjoy that interaction.

I am going to post a series of poems with explanations on how they came into being. I hope it will help you to understand that my poetry is largely NOT AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL. It is creative writing. Are mystery authors murders and rapists? Is the guy that writes Dexter a serial killer? I observe and absorb. Then if I see something I want to treat as a creative project, I do.

Vern
"Clarence said a striking thing about rowing that I've always valued ... that he liked rowing because you were approaching life backward. You could clearly see the past, and you glanced quickly at the future over your shoulder.' Jim Harrison.
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by News Gal » Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:01 am

Well said Vern. I for one wasn't subject to any racism until I moved to Connecticut--they dislike Native people here because of the casinos owned by the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Nation. This is a heavily Italian-American state, so they felt they were being discriminated against because they're Italian. How that happened, I'll never know LOL. Back in Tennessee however, nobody really cared if you were Native or not. The view was there was no such place as Tennessee without the Cherokee, and our contributions to the local culture couldn't be disputed. In CT, if you're not Italian, you don't matter. The irony is this is coming from someone whose last name is hyphenated with her stepfather's Sicilian-South Asian last name.
ᎤᏩᎬᏗᏒ ᏥᎪᏩᏘᎲ, ᎯᎩᎾᎵᎢ, ᎠᏓᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ. Uwagvdisv tsigowatihv, higinali'i , adahisdi geso (I've seen the future brother, it is murder.)
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Geoffrey
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Geoffrey » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:28 pm

vern.silver wrote:
>In my whole life I have never been subjected to any racial hatred, and the first time other than american movies and Cher's song have I heard the term 'halfbreed' used is now and by you. To suggest that I am traumatized by my heritage is ridiculous.

OK. Then that, perhaps, makes you feel a little awkward. To know that Cher, a person like yourself who is semi Native American and semi Immigrant American, chose a song that gives the world an incorrect illustration of life on that side of the Atlantic. Of course she did not write the lyrics, but I wonder why she would nevertheless promote a view that was misleading - for such dishonest activity could only smear the proud reputation of people in her situation. There are so many other nice songs around, and yet she unfairly settled on one that painted a "ridiculous" picture of racial hatred that I now learn wasn't as widespread as the American films would have us believe. I doubt that Cher meant it as a joke. She specifically chose it because she is herself of mixed blood and wanted to make a statement - a false one. This is called 'propaganda'. I appreciate you putting the record straight, Vern.

PS
At no point did I suggest you had been traumatised, only that your background naturally influences your behaviour as an adult.
Manna
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Manna » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:53 pm

Natives, immigrants, two whole continents
All of us
Canadians are American
Mexicans too
And Brazilians
and Argentinians
Cubans
Some Europeans are American
Some Chinese
Some Aztec
Some Pakistani
God bless us, everyone
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Joe Way
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Joe Way » Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:04 am

Dear Geoffrey,
Like the protagonist in the Christy Moore song, The Lakes of Pontchatrain, I find myself treading in foreign territory by entering this poetry forum, dependent upon the kindness of strangers. And like that selfsame, protagonist, I curse all foreign money and wish that I could drink a flowing bowl with all concerned.

My friend, Vern, is very fortunate to not have been subjected to the terrible discrimination that has occurred to the Native Americans in my area. I did not know that he had native blood until very recently. I know how proud he is of his mother-and as an aside through her kindness, I have a copy of Leonard Cohen's song, "Everybody Knows"-retitled as "Tisshenenitenanu" by Florence Vollant-certainly one of the rarest covers of a Cohen song, done in Innuit.

There is a line in the family history that my great-aunt, Laura dictated involving one of the early Native families who were displaced by the lumbermen-farmers who took over the midwest in the middle of the nineteenth century when my family relocated to Wisconsin coming down from Canada after leaving Ireland in the 1830's: "Shopadock John was our friend. Dad was very upset when he found him murdered by the creek near Split Rock."

All I can say to you about the version of American Indians that has been promulgated through the movies and popular culture is that it is important to remember that had the Nazi's won World War II, we would be celebrating the heroic bravery of their troops against the Jews. Introducing a word, like "halfbreed" only serves to add unnecessary emotional tumult to an already rocky relationship.

I can testify that Vern is a good man, unemotional-certainly not angry and a true admirer of Leonard Cohen like yourself. From my private knowledge of you both, I know that you are both challenged by circumstance that was not brought on by you. As Ezra Pound said of Walt Whitman, "Let there be commerce between us."

Joe

P.S. As an aside mentioning Cher, after her role in the movie Elephant Man, she took an exceptional interest in children with masio-facial issues. My niece, Cindy, was born with an invasive tumor that required her to have numerous surgeries throughout her childhood. One of her doctors arranged a trip each year through the "Make a Wish" foundation that took many of the children to a different, exciting, touristy place-like Disney World-and Cher would spend a day with them. My niece has a picture of herself with Cher yearly from the time she was about 4 until she was in her early teens. I don't know much else about Cher, but she sure did right by Cindy.
"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."
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Geoffrey
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Geoffrey » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:09 pm

Dear Joe. This has to be written quickly because a car is picking me up in 5 minutes. Thank you so much for joining in. Yes, I too think Vern is a good man - and also an interesting one. There is something about him, probably his heritage and intellect, that I find absorbing. The Native American issue is fascinating, and I am now being inspired to read much about it on the internet. The more I learn the more ashamed I am to be who I am. It would be wonderful to sit down with Vern and discuss all of this, but I have to be careful not to say the wrong thing, something I'm not too clever at. For example I did not know that one shouldn't use the term 'Red Indian' until I was recently admonished - but that is due to my ignorance. As a boy I took it for granted that the American cowboys and Indians movies were factual, that it was superior versus inferior. Even in the innocent children's show it was always 'The Lone Ranger and Tonto', never 'Tonto and The Lone Ranger'. If there was anything good in Cher's song (she was never in 'The Elephant Man'!), it is that she diluted the insult initially intended with the word 'halfbreed'. There is no better way to take the sting from a word than by bringing it into the light. Hiding it, or treating it as taboo, only serves to increase its stigma. Why, if DH Lawrence and Leonard Cohen had not dared to use the 'F' word so liberally, it might today still be a great weapon in which to shock or outrage people. Anyway, I feel like I could write for hours and hours but that wouldn't be fair on anyone. Thanks to you and Vern for making this forum so appealing, so educational - and the intricate personality dynamics in which I am forced to feel my way forward. It's like playing chess with a computer.
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Joe Way
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Joe Way » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:13 pm

Hi Geoffrey,
Why, if DH Lawrence and Leonard Cohen had not dared to use the 'F' word so liberally, it might today still be a great weapon in which to shock or outrage people.
You make a very good point here, and I certainly remember Leonard's quote as a young man, "There are no bad words-ever." Do you think he has backed off from this a little? I remember watching one of the Stina interviews and she quotes a line from one of his, as of then, unpublished poems and I'm paraphrasing as I don't have access to it currently. "My life was the cart and my dick was the horse." Leonard seemed to recoil a little when she quoted it and he has, of course, changed it to "My life was the cart, depression the horse." It certainly could have been for poetic reasons as well as many others, but he has changed the line in "The Future" from "anal sex" to "careless sex" thereby seemingly softening it.

I also apologize for my bad memory regarding the Cher movie-it was, "The Mask" that involved a teenager with a facial disfigurement.

I hope all is well with you.

Joe
"Say a prayer for the cowboy..."
Manna
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by Manna » Wed Apr 29, 2009 3:41 am

Sorry, Leonard, but 'careless sex' just doesn't work for me, not when you've given us 'anal sex' and connected the thought with the only tree that's left, and your directions for said tree. I know you've become a gentler man since then, but it seems to me that if you're changing anal sex to careless sex, that you're creeping your way toward pre-Tobey Pleasantville. Pleasant is pleasant, but there are so many other ways, more interesting ways to... to... To pound an existence out of electric clay and roar, "ALIVE!!!" I'd hate to see you move away from that.

ok, ok, maybe the Pleasantville thing was a little over the top. I got a little agitated in the moment, and I may have said some things I didn't mean. But I also said some things I did mean.

xo, always,
M
vern.silver
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Re: What is a poem anyway

Post by vern.silver » Wed Apr 29, 2009 11:37 pm

Geoffrey,
I had asked Joe and Dick about you wondering if they knew you and the responses from them were very positive both describing you as a being brilliant, but both also stated that your humour tends to be dark. So I will accept that we both began to spar with one another from different corners of understanding. I take full responsibility for my role in this and offer you an apology if anything I may have said or implied may have been hurtful or seemed spiteful in any way.

But in some way it does prove my own feelings about this method of communication as a means to discuss a topic as important as poetry can be. I much prefer to know the person well enough so that when I offer criticism, they know the corner from which it is coming, and I am able to couch it in language that is more helpful that hurtful. That doesn't mean that I am unwilling to tell a person I think something stinks - but there are many ways to say this. I just like to know a person face to face before I beat them with a stick.

As I've mention elsewhere, I work as a prison guard and have just completed 31 years in this 'job.' The one thing you learn very early if you want to have a long and relatively stressless carreer is how you deal with those under your care. I have seen people set off near riots by choosing the wrong tone and words when dealing with 'inmates.'

I've recently been digging through my file cabinet of 40 years of writing looking through and sorting things. I don't throw a lot out. Boy, I wrote a lot of crap! But the crap has always been there as a reminder to me of the work that goes into making a 'good' poem. I think I succeed sometimes. I keep on trying. I'm hoping someday to at least be a 'one hit wonder' with one poem that will be remembered after I have moved on. We need to have our dreams!

What I found interesting was the stuff I saved from the poetry writer's group I used to belong to. We certainly pulled no punches. There was only 6 of us in the group. One of them absoluetly hated my poem Glogotha, and the rest liked it to varying degree. But they also made suggestions for improvements that are in the end result. When I joined the group at the recommendation and invitation of the local 'writer in residence' at the time, I had been writing largely by and for myself. This apsect of my writing was noted by one of the others who emphatically impressed upon the need to be a part of a 'community' to grow as a writer. I whole heartedly agree.

But, ss anyone who knows me well will tell you, I love a debate!

Vern
"Clarence said a striking thing about rowing that I've always valued ... that he liked rowing because you were approaching life backward. You could clearly see the past, and you glanced quickly at the future over your shoulder.' Jim Harrison.
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