Karmann Ghia (16)
Job (as in "Book of") (21)
Cambridge (22) (How was I supposed to know it was a long "a"?!)
Anais (27) (AN-na-eez)
W.E.B. Du Bois (32) (Du Boyce)
decollete (42) (deck-o-TAY?!?)
Simone Weil (45) ("Vay")
esophageal (50) (soft "g")
decedent (52) (deh-CEE-dent)
bas-relief (55) (That bass I caught felt great relief when I released it!)
Walter Bargen’s critique of a poem I brought to the St. Louis Poetry Center Workshop shifted my philosophy of revision. He said, You use too many words. Get it going with the first line. Make sure that in every line something happens. Shorten your sentences. Cut every word and phrase not absolutely needed. With these in mind I revised and think I improved the poem. Its first two stanzas will illustrate. See what you think:
Seekers and pilgrims leave rosaries and coins
at each of the seven grottoes engineered
like sand castles, frenzied
in conception and scale,
each begetting another, life-sized, more sensual:
a stone tent for the slumbering plaster disciples;
for the satiny skins of the plaster Pietá
a stone canopy inlaid with bottle glass and scallop shells;
Seekers and pilgrims leave rosaries, coins.
The seven grottoes engineered
like sand castles, frenzied
in conception and scale,
shelter strangely sensual scenes.
Plaster disciples slumber
beneath a canopy of masonry
chased with beach glass and scallop shells,
"POETS AT HEART": We’re all poets at heart. In this course we will address several poetry forms and devices. Class reports will be made defining these forms and devices and each week we will write and read poems (our own and other poets’). Our goal is to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of poetry, along with enhancing our abilities to write poetry. Remember, anybody can write poetry. (Text: Poetry For Dummies.)
- Get to know everyone.
- Attend every literary event that you can.
- Keep a journal.
- When you’re suffering, telephone (don’t E-mail) a fellow student.
- Your mistakes are okay.
- Understand that some of your fellow students applied to the MFA program and didn’t get in, so they are getting a regular M.A., and boy are they jealous of you.
- If you teach freshman composition, know that some of your students cannot be saved.
- Sleep on it before submitting it to workshop.
- Love affairs that start in the first weeks of grad school will end badly.
- Get a bicycle.
- Make yourself go to your writing professor’s office during office hours, just to chat.
- If you need money, get a part-time job no matter what your contract with the college says.
- Don't bug famous writers to help you, because they won't.
- It's not an illusion: Male and female writers are not treated the same.
- You'll get discouraged sometimes, but don’t let anybody stop you.
1. Decide it has to turn a bigger profit.
2. Cut the director's salary in half.
3. Refuse to pay reasonable fees for "name" writers as instructors and speakers, and instead hire graduate students, unknowns or personal friends.
4. Exploit upper-class high-schoolers' career-minded parents and start a youth writing workshop that runs simultaneously, and then mix the youth in with the adults.
5. Use as a logo a typewriter image or a quill pen image obtained from a free clipart site.
6. Cut the publicity and mailing budget and rely on Facebook and Twitter to drum up interest.
7. Book and announce the workshop instructors at the last possible minute.
8. Accept all applicants, including those who can't write a plain English sentence.
9. Raise the price each year.
10. Stop offering a scholarship for a person who can't afford the price.
11. Don't bother sending acceptance confirmation or welcome letters, or orientation kits.
12. Instead of offering bagels in the morning, get a committee member's mom to contribute a dry little quickbread. Cut it into very thin slices so there are enough slices to go around.
13. Hold the workshops and events in cheaper, shabbier buildings and rooms.
14. Cease hiring the instructor who is a popular, proven success, whose workshops fill instantly; get someone more hip.
15. Because the fiction and poetry workshops aren't filling, combine them into a fiction-and-poetry workshop.
(#15, friends, is the death blow, showing a total misunderstanding of writers, the writing process, and workshops.)
"What were you trying to say here? Makes no sense," he complained. I said, "But this, and this..." He wasn't buying. I saw that I was not going to become an author of serious, ominous poems about important international and social currents -- at least not by deliberately trying.
Not long ago tried a longer, solemn poem about something else important. Responses said it started out okay, had some good moments. Greatness was not mine.
Alas, like a singer I apparently have a range. Quirky, "jazzy" and "cute." I guess as long as I'm healthy and have enough to eat there is no point in wishing things were different. I've tried working within my range with very serious subject matter: In one poem I think is a good one, the speaker verbally abuses an ugly girl on a crowded greyhound bus. While I read it, the workshop laughed. "What are you laughing at? This is a very tragic poem," I said. The reply: "It's just the way you put things, like, her stye looked like a tomato seed." "But that's what a stye looks like," I said, chagrined.
Think it's time I gave up.