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Subject:

Re: "September dream" revised

From:

judy prince <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 4 Oct 2005 07:26:45 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (144 lines)

Good morning, Janet,

I'll try this "inter-leaving" thing, tho it always confounds me with all 
those little <<<>>> marks to every line!  Below, then:

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Janet Jackson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2005 1:25 AM
Subject: Re: "September dream" revised


> Oh fuck, it's one of *those* poems.
> One that everyone else understands better than I do.

Yes!  That's one of the gorgeous things about poetry.  It may not be the 
poet's role to KNOW her own work's effect on others, which gives that 
sometimes uncomfortable feeling of not being in control.  She's not in 
control in some rather essential ways, hard as she tries to weed and hone 
and shape and test.  Once she "finishes" a poem, that's it.  It's other 
folks' baby then.
>
>> Astonishing.  In one little sentence-transposition you brought the poem 
>> to
>> ordered meaning.
>
> How do you mean?
> "Ordered meaning" - that's a bit scary!

Well, again, Janet:  Your poem suddenly became a Whole to me---had an 
entirely different feel!  I had no part in that feeling-shift bcuz I 
originally had no idea what your poem meant.  Serendipitous revising? 
Probably, since its revision then gave me a lot of meanings.  The poem now, 
to me, has a moving, tender feeling about it, about another person, about 
your connection with that person.  I'm still amazed that so much meaning 
("order") could come from so little change.
>
> I get the digest, so hadn't actually read your comments before revising
> the poem (sorry if that disappoints you Judy).

As I said:  serendipity!  I hadn't known what to suggest as changes since I 
didn't get any meaning, or, rather, separate meanings that cohered, before 
you revised.  I loved your original individual phrasings, lines, chunks, but 
couldn't grasp any relationships.  That was the frustration:  each little 
serious "setting" (as in movie settings or scenes) had power, but together 
they didn't work in any way I could figure out.
>
>> Originally, I'd analyzed your poem because you asked for comments; 
>> otherwise
>> I wouldn't have given my views.
>
> Oh, go for it - everyone's views are interesting.
> I've been writing too long to take analysis & criticism personally!
>
It isn't the personal part that I was referring to, Janet, though that's 
certainly part of the process---it's that poem-making seems sacred, private 
and intimate in that the poet works with some parts of herself and some 
other unknown power that requires utmost quiet, focus and reverence. 
Lawrence Upton showed that recently in his relating the process by which he 
brought his poem to life.  I feel the same about playwrighting's intimacy. 
Collaborative playwrighting's a cozy concept, has been for maybe 30 years in 
the States, but it wigs me out with its committee-like groupness, its 
"everybody's" handprints, and therefore, its anonymity-of-spirit.  I 
appreciate helpful comments about my plays and poems, but recoil at many 
concrete suggestions such as what words to substitute or cut or add or where 
to place things.  It feels to me like folks are trying to maim my baby.  I 
may be unusual in that regard.  Dunno.

> As to your earlier comments:
>
>> Main part's the most developed part, and is, I think, (crazy me) a 
>> gendered
>> connection.  Hence my confusion at your repeating the "genderless" lines.
>> Now, if you are female and your dreamlover's female, well, doggone, I'm
>> wrong.
>
> The poem really is based on a dream I had, but it is not supposed to be 
> just
> about me (or some version or persona of me).  If readers cannot connect
> it to their own lives, feelings, dreams, whatever, then I'm communicating
> only with myself and would rather not trouble the world with it.
>
> The gender thing is deliberately confusing, intentionally ambiguous.
> Gender, or sex, does not come into it... and yet it does.
> The line with "genderless" says that it doesn't,
> yet the other lines may suggest that it does.
>

I'm now responding to the above part, but in a sideways-creeping way.  A 
difficult thing, for me, anyway, is to know the NECESSITY of "suggesting" 
with wordbits a very physical seeing/feeling/hearing in m'sel' so that it 
can be seen/felt/heard in a reader----and in trying to grab words that do 
the suggesting to ME---and then to find that they may mean little or nothing 
to the reader!  I do, however, always want readers to "see" and "get" the 
meanings I think I'm after.  That whole process is at least as horrifying 
and frustrating as trying to make sure that others "get" the meanings of 
these emailed messages!!!!  Add to that the thought that themes and 
realizations are often hidden from the poet herself, as in dreams.  Our 
poem-babies are born from more than our consciously-aware brains and 
emotions.

>> I really like the schoolchildren lining up nervous and the schoolenemies
>> tittering---but I don't get why they are in the poem, and I don't get why
>> they only appear "in dream."  That makes it seem as if they don't appear 
>> in
>> "real" life, which they surely do.  But if you say they only appear "in
>> dream" to you---well, why do you say that?
>
> Because it's the truth.  They are recurring elements in certain types
> of dream that I have.  If they are there, then I should be able
> to recognise that it is a dream, as I can if I find myself flying.
> (anyone else on here ever have lucid dreams?)
>
> However I'm not sure that they do belong in this poem; it might
> be stronger without.  Maybe I should put them in another poem.
> Or expand on them somehow in this poem so they make more sense.
>
> This poem seems to have gotten a reaction, on this list and
> on another, so I guess it's worth continuing with.

Again, for what it may be worth to you now in your decision to revise, 
Janet:  In your revised poem I'm seeing you and another teacher on a morning 
at the beginning of school.  I see you, rapt, in your attention to the other 
teacher as s/he watches the students coming out to line up in front of 
school, or as you both watch and interact with the "bullies" and their prey. 
I see you taking notes in class, perhaps as the students are writing at 
their desks.  Those notes of school/home activities grow and threaten the 
significance and existence of your love for the teacher, so you continously 
overlay the teacher's name, face, body and persona.  That connection to the 
person gives you your deepest life-meaning, your truest focus.

And now I wish you the best of poet's "luck" in whatever you decide to do, 
Janet!

Judy

> Janet
> ------------------------------------------------------
> Janet Jackson <[log in to unmask]>
> Poems at Proximity:
> http://www.arach.net.au/~huxtable/janet/proximity.html
> ------------------------------------------------------
> 

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