Wednesday, August 19, 2009
bread loaf, workshop four
Today's workshop returned us to previous discussions and delved a bit deeper in the dramatic of poetry.
We clarified a few definitions, and in particular, our use of "end-stopped." EBV prefers to use it in a way that does not indicate punctuation but that the line has an ending, or pause. Thus, we speak of enjambed lines as being annotative and those that are end-stopped could also be called parsing or end-paused. EBV said she will often use the terms consonant and disonant, as in: supporting or not supporting the syntax. (Let's not forget her most recent book is not a book of poems, but one of Graywolf's lovely little volumes on writing.)
The discussion on structure brought us to the question in the poem: is it a dramatic enacting of the trope or an argument? One way to tell if it's truly dramatic (and working) is asking yourself if it's filmable. EBV: "If you are going to give us a scene, give us a scene"--because that is where the tension is. Watch the dramatic moment and ask yourself: how are you representing it? In the poem we were workshopping, EBV said the "predicates imply the poem wants a narrative."
In this particular poem, we were also able to discuss competing tropes--this poem had a great deal of Christian language competing with mythology (James Allen Hall described some of the lines as having "carbuncles of language"--a lot of moving parts and a reverberation of connotations). So then, if a poem has competing tropes, can that work? Yes, but we need to examine how those tropes interact--do they complement one another or compete with one another? Be wary of everything being a trope but only in passing.
who: ellen bryant voigt