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Stepping Up to the Plate, Part 3

Go here to see what I'm doing and why. All readers are invited, encouraged, and begged to respond. The purpose of this experiment is to engage in discussion.

Three more while I've got a quick break in my day.

"Spell" by Samantha Henderson

This is certainly an interesting twist on a mythic poem, though one that's been played with before. The idea of a counting rhyme in ancient, but part of using this form is the heaviness of that history, which, in someways, requires the poet to pull it off well or fail. Henderson, clearly, pulls it off. The first four stanzas are fairly consistant, in their "One if by X, Two if by Y" where X, Y and the other objects of the refrain are all thematic. Stanza one has its celestial category, Stanza two weather, Stranza three the planets, and stanza four mythic trees. What Henderon does that, for me, works is changes the sixth line of each stanza to break the pattern and the category, which caps the stanza in one way, but also builds tension in the poem. There is an "I" pursuing a "you" in this piece, and the sixth line of each stanza seems to allude to that relationship. However, in the fifth stanza, the pattern breaks a bit, and the poems becomes rough for me. There's a clear religious theme happening--Sunday, Lent, angelic trumpets, Mary, John--but no consistacy like the reader's seen in other stanzas: Sunday is a holy day, Lent is a season, Mary and John are holy figures or saints, and angelic trumpets a religious image or icon. Focusing the category a bit more might have improved this stanza for me, and the sixth line, for me, doesn't add to the "I"/"you" relationship, unless one is the bishop capturing the pawn of the other, which is a bit of a stretch for me. Maybe a stronger verb if that's what Henderson had intended. I also like the reverse in the last stanza, and I think that pulls the piece together, though. This one is certainly working on many levels, but the fifth stanza is a bit rocky for me.

"The Seasons' Dying" by Samantha Henderson

The personification and/or allegory in this piece is quite solid, and there is a lot here that's working. Some of the line breaks--six and seven, particularly--really work for me. Some of the images--"kisses her favorite frogs awake" and "dons the medieval robes of the last small Ice Age"--really are fun for me, and even if they're not exactly new, there's a unique comfort in their phrasing and presentation that makes them fresh. My biggest issue with the poem is the inconsistancy of the lines. Certain lines--4, 19, and 23 in particular--seem too short, and clip the gentle rhythm of the piece. If one assumes the adage that the line is the basic unit of poetry, I'm left trying to figure how these lines work in this poem, and how they hold up or support the basic structure of the poem itself. This is a great piece, and really mythic in it's approach to the year, but some of the lines jerk me too much out of the rest of the poem, and leave white gaps on the page that, for me, want to be filed in somehow.

"Animal Rescue" by Deborah P. Kolodji

First off, a question. Is "terraform" hyphenated or not? It's not a big issue, just something that caught me, and left me wondering.

Anyway, color me a fan of post-apocalyptic or dystopian literature. Yeah, buddy...bring it on! Already the setting for this piece has me cheering it on. I have never been a fan of full sentences with out capitals and proper punctuation, but I respect and understand the purpose of such choices, so I'm iffy on that visual aspect of the piece. I like the idea here, the sense of sacrificing what we want to save in order to save it, as well as the prophetic warning underlying this piece. I like the hint at futristic science fiction, too, the extraterrestrial wildlife preserve, and the word choice in the fourth stanza--arrows--that devolves humanity. There is a lot here that's working. A few of the images, though, seem--easy? "tigers and lions and bears" is quite cliche, even if the cats have switched places, and zebras in stanza one--why zebras? I get the alliteration with "zoo," but it seems to obvious a choice for me. This is a minor nitpick, but one that I think begs investigation. Is there a reason these animals were chosen over others? Does it matter? I think it might, and while the piece works no matter what animal has been chosen, for me, there's something in that choice.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
"Spell" was actually a poem I might have nominated if I had been a member. (I will join! Promise.)

I loved the incantatory quality of it and what I think of as a mandala quality--a building-the-world quality: it takes different realms (trees, planets, etc.) and places them in relation to one another. The overarching cause (within the story of the poem) for the spell--namely, securing the beloved--was almost incidental for me, as I was reading it. I just was spellbound by the summons.
Apr. 7th, 2009 09:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, there is certainly a sense of incantation to this piece.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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