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#1 of 19 Old 09-22-2005, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Welcome the the montly Works in Progress thread for the Writer Mamas at MDC. Feel free to post your works in progress for September. If you are seeking feedback, please read the following before posting/asking for feedback:

First and most importantly, there is one key rule about the feedback game. In order to play you have to ask yourself one question: what kind of feedback am I looking for? This is where you get to be brutally honest with yourself and with us about what you seek.

Feedback is give and take. It is a dialogue that deserves attention and nurturing. Giving feedback takes time and energy, receiving feedback requires openness and courage. Feedback should, at its very core, seek to build a person up not tear them down. It can be tricky for both people.

I hate asking for feedback and only getting “it was good” comments. Those kinds of comments do nothing for a writer and require little of the person giving feedback. Real feedback means two people are engaging in an open dialogue about a piece of work in an effort to make that particular work the best it can possibly be.

The way I see it, there are four kinds of feedback: technical (for grammar or technical issues); clarification (feedback that checks for fluidity and reader understanding); praying-to-the-writing-gods (cause we all need divine inspiration sometimes); and, my sometimes-favorite: needing-some-lovin’ (feedback for the insecure or pat-on-the-back feedback).

Asking for feedback means you are ready to risk putting yourself out therefor the world to comment on what you have to say. It also means you know you can take or leave any comment that comes your way. You are by no means obligated to use what someone has suggested, but in the asking you open yourself up to the considering.

Giving feedback requires honesty and compassion. Let us be forthright but empathetic, helpful and loving, gentle but direct. Above all, own your opinions and celebrate the writer within us all.

If you’d like to ask for feedback, post a short note at the end of your work asking for kind of feedback you are seeking: technical, clarity, praying to the writing gods, or needin’-some-lovin’. Highlight passages you need help with, or entire sections of your work. Respondents will then address your work. Remember, this is a dialogue. Let’s be specific about what we like or think needs work. Pay attention to physical reactions and emotional responses. Be honest and compassionate.

Happy writing!

Jesse
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#2 of 19 Old 09-26-2005, 03:02 AM
 
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Hi all,
I am currently working on a poem to submit to a local queer/feminist zine called PUSH. Their theme this issue is "Flesh and Blood."

THEIR DEADLINE IS THIS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1st.

I've gone over the Four Feedback Options, and I figure I am looking for:

clarification (feedback that checks for fluidity and reader understanding) -- I would love to hear what this poem "says" to you, what you think it's about.

technical (for grammar or technical issues) -- I will offer an alternate ending sentence, please tell me which one seems better and why.

THANK YOU very much!

Here's the poem:

Calving

My belly button, an eye
staring straight into my midwife’s face
her gathered hands pressing
with soft persistence the edges of
my burgeoning uterus

My belly button, a window
a yawning cavern
turning itself obverse,
into the world, a baby

came out of me
and was on my stomach,
lifting his head to look at me,

marked at his center with
a silver spiral ladder from one life to the next.
Our ghost shadow, one flesh
calved, halved, split, opened anew

A new life, for him, and for me.
I’m a mother now.
I never saw mothers before and then suddenly

a miniature beach, trucked-in sand,
a lifeguard, moms and babies,
among mom-bodies I see

the new geometry of my body
my stomach a renaissance woman’s stomach
a woman who has given birth stomach

My belly button
the center, the core, the cord,
the beginning of my own life.


ALTERNATE ending…

My belly button
the center, the core, the cord,
where I began my own life.
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#3 of 19 Old 09-26-2005, 09:20 AM
 
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I think you might want a period after uterus in the first stanza. I think that would be more consistent with how you used pucuation through the rest of the poem and the capitalization of the second stanza. Also the capitalization of 'A" in the 5th stanza and 'My' in the last stanza. Just want to be sure you meant that even thoought there isn't a period after 'anew' or 'stomach'. I'm on a big puctuation kick at the moment, I really struggle with it in my own work, so I tend to pay close attention to how others use it.

As far as the ending goes perhaps it depends on whether YOU started your life (the second one) or your life was started (the first one) but not particularly by an act of your doing. I guess it's the difference between passive and active and which you want to convey. I like the second because I like the idea of the beginning of life being something I choose or do..................but then I'm a control freak.

Sorry I don't have more time to write more, but I hope those comments help a wee bit. Let me know what you think. I'll never look at my belly button the same!

Heather
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#4 of 19 Old 09-26-2005, 01:45 PM
 
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Hi,
I remember your name from last fall when we were doing the session with Tanya Taylor. Thank you for taking the time to make your comments. They do help.

To be honest, I am pretty ambivelant about this piece. Long before I saw the call for submissions on "Flesh and Blood," I had done some free-writing about my belly button (for the "passions and obsessions" list of Tanya's, in fact). So when I saw the call, I thought this piece would be a good one to develop.

The piece started out as prose and including the story of me having my belly button pierced (some time ago). I also incorporated a quote I either read or heard by a doctor or midwife: "I don't need to see a woman's cervix to tell whether or not she has given birth. I can look at her belly button." Something to the effect that before birth, the belly button is more shallow and vertical, and that afterward, it is deeper and horizontal, with more of a gather around it.

Anyway, as you can see, I have lost the piercing part altogether. It was just started to seem to pat -- "before i was a mother i was all sexy and young with a belly button ring, and now i am ring-less and sorta paunchy on a family-friendly beach."

Okay, so I am just thinking out loud here -- but to try and get specific, I guess I am wondering about the following things:
  • Does this piece have any emotional impact on you? If so, what is it?
  • I am actually a bit concerned by the "universal" mother thing that is indicated at the end... was this something that also struck you? Did it strike you as positive, sorta schmaltzy, negative or profound?
  • Should I try to rework the belly button ring back in -- as in I marked my body with a ring, but now my body has been marked by something outside of me -- or rather -- inside of me: motherhood.

Thanks --
Stacy
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#5 of 19 Old 09-26-2005, 03:20 PM
 
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nak and about to leave for the week.....................

i'd think you could do something cool with the piercing becausr it seems to me having a baby is a kind of a piercing too

try 'this life' instead of 'my life' at the end and see if the generalization and ambiguity make the universal mom thing a little less obvious

ok gotta go, hth

bebackin a week

h
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#6 of 19 Old 09-29-2005, 11:00 PM
 
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Hmm.... I really love the concept.... and the story behind it--the midwife quote--i love that! I, too, will never look at my bellybutton the same again.

I don't know if this is silly, but it seems like in this stanza

A new life, for him, and for me.
I’m a mother now.
I never saw mothers before and then suddenly

you are going from one thought to another--the birthing to the beach....
I wonder if it would be nice to show that through punctuation or spacing.

I don't know. It is just a suggestion.

I also think that it is an interesting concept that you convey of two lives being born--your baby as well as your new life as a mother. Very interesting.
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#7 of 19 Old 09-30-2005, 11:14 PM
 
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"Hold your breast like this." After several midwives, nurses,
surgeons, anesthetists, and assistants all seeing me completely naked,
somehow it never crossed my mind the oddity of a woman I just met
placing her large hand around my breast.

I cupped my breast, guiding my nipple toward Sophia's mouth, her
head bobbing around like a hungry, hungry hippo. I had heard and read
numerous times about babies knowing instinctively how to nurse--the
need to suckle, a guttural urge. However, I was still surprised and delighted to see her eyes shut and her mouth, opening and closing like a fish, such beautiful O's. She was rooting!

It took me several tries, but she was so patient with me. She never
cried. One arm juggled the beautiful bundle, and the other's hand aiming my breast and nipple towards the slightly moving target.

And, finally, it slipped in. I nudged my husband, who nervous throughout the delivery, had finally fallen asleep knowing that both his girls were okay. "Will, she's nursing, she's nursing. Take our picture!" Eyes still closed, an undistinguishable grunt slips from his mouth. But I am too much
lost in the moment, and the moment too sacred, impervious to any
irreverent "huhs."

The excitement swelled even more inside of me, "Will, look, look! She's nursing--Take our picture!" Bleary-eyed, he clumsily found the
camera and clicked, and I continued reveling in the moment, my mind's
eye clicking with the camera--everything, the smell of my baby girl,
the dimly lit room, my inexperienced arms not feeling inexperienced,
the quick and gentle rhythm of her suckle. This is what I was made
for. It was all new, but so familiar.

Let's just say that the photograph taken that day is not exactly the ideal shot. It is out of focus and shot off kilter. I might be
banned from scrap booking circles forever, if I made it the
centerpiece of a page spread in Sophia's baby book! However, I love
the photograph my husband took early that morning. My head,
shoulders, and arms holding the baby form a large dark
indistinguishable blob looming in the foreground. It is more
foreboding than magical. Yet, if you take a closer look--mind, you
have to cock you head slightly to get the right angle. You can barely
make out the back of my little hungry hippo's head turned in towards
my chest and the faint curve of my smile.

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#8 of 19 Old 10-04-2005, 06:59 PM
 
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Supersarahmommy,

What kind of feedback are you looking for? I think it's a great description of a moment in time that SHOULD be in a scrapbook (or journal) along with that photo.

Mama O........what did you end up doing with the poem? If you get a chance, check out my poem in balance and give me some feedback please. I'd really appreciate it.
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#9 of 19 Old 10-04-2005, 09:14 PM
 
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I definitely do want to keep in a scrapbook, but...

I really see this forum for me as a place to hone one's writing. I just would love to improve as a writer--and it some way gives me even more impetus to write when I feel like I have peers to review it with me.

Is that sufficient enough as an answer? Hope I am not being too vague.

(Don't worry. I do not offend easily. I really do want to hear thoughtful criticism.)
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#10 of 19 Old 10-05-2005, 12:23 AM
 
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Hi,
Here is the version I turned in... Thanks for the feedback, Heather and SuperSarahMommy!

Calving

My belly button, an oval
innocent, a tiny indent,
the center of my
child’s gravity

My belly button, a secret
sexiness, a flirtatious wink,
marked through with a
searing pierce: a ring,
metal so cold, and hot

My belly button, an eye
staring into my midwife’s face
her gathered hands pressing
with soft persistence the edges of
my burgeoning uterus

My belly button, a window,
a yawning cavern,
turning itself inverse,
into the world, a baby

came out of me
and was on my stomach,
lifting his head to look at me,

marked at his center with
a silver spiral ladder
from one life to the next.
Our ghost shadow, one flesh
calved, halved, split, opened a-new

life, for him, and for me.

My belly button, a node,
the motherlode, a fuse igniting
my sex child lover self

My belly button, the center,
the core, the cord
where I began my own life.
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#11 of 19 Old 10-05-2005, 02:39 PM
 
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Awesome... you did a really great job. I really love it...
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#12 of 19 Old 10-07-2005, 02:05 PM
 
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This is a group of haikus I have recently written. I would appreciate feedback. Thanks.

in tent under tree
surf pounding, cool wind whistling
heart home, soul home

a heart home in tent
under dark evergreen trees
distant surf pounding

under evergreens
whispers of wind through dark trees
wanting to be home

sea otter playing
where they were and are again
an early morning

rock of sea otter
simple home of soul and heart
mossy evergreens

where the wild winds blow
spirits sing through the mountains
the path to soul home

wandering down the beach
skeleton tree in the fog
shadow of a bird

pumpkins in the sun
scuttle of leaves across the earth
harvest of the year

home of heart and soul
cup of tea warming the hands
slow waking morning
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#13 of 19 Old 10-08-2005, 08:18 PM
 
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Ladywolf and SUpersarahmommy,

Have you checked out the sticky on feedback for the forum? It lists four types of feed back we can think about. I find it helpful to know which type of feedback you might be interested in before I offer it, particularly with poems since so much can be intentional even if it doesn't follow "the rules".

Ladywolf -I do like how each of your haiku is complete by itself and still when you put them all together there is a kind of flow to them, a context that makes them larger then they are alone. Was that intentional? I particularly liked the last haiku...........it reminded me of a sonnet I wrote to my teacup once about the ritual of tea in the morning for me.

Supersarahmommy- I'm not sure I understand the use of a hyphen after the "let's just say" in the last paragraph. Again, I wish you had posted exactly what kind of feed back you are looking for so I knew exactly what to focus on.............but here goes. The piece gives a good image of those first anxious/anticipating moments of learning to nurse and all the sleep deprived topsy turviness that goes along with. I'm not sure if it is a record of a memory or a poem? Are the breaks between lines in the middle of sentences where you meant them to be? I think the subject matter is really wonderful and I think the way you describe the moment is very tender and beautiful but the form leaves me a little confused.

So there is my feedback. I hope it was what you were looking for. If not, check out the sticky and let me know what it is you are looking for so I'll know better for next time.

Cheers,
Heather
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#14 of 19 Old 10-09-2005, 06:24 PM
 
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Sorry... let me be more specific.... I am looking for technical and clarification feedback as well as anything else that I may learn from to help make my writing better.

Also, sorry about the ambiguity of the piece... It really isn't a big deal. It is just supposed to be a short vignette (story). If the breaks are weird...It is because I don't know Javascript and how to create paragraphs correctly. I also tend to create new paragraphs often when I write because I don't want the reader to feel bogged down. It seems to make it more manageable--especially when I can't double space really on this forum. But, perhaps without even meaning to, I break up the piece into paragraphs too often, creating more confusion than ease for the reader. These are things that I would like to know.

I don't necessarily want to publish this. I just to write it down and write it well and to become a better writer from the experience: more practice, the better.

Just let me know though if you need further clarification.
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#15 of 19 Old 10-11-2005, 06:46 PM
 
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I actually read the feedback piece before I posted. I was looking for all types of feedback. More then just my husband's "That's cool" or "I like that." Is he just being a nice husband or is there worth to the writing? The group of haikus were actually about the same place and the same time of year. So, yes, the are separate and they are a group.

Since haiku actually was started in a different culture and language, technical advice is always helpful
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#16 of 19 Old 10-12-2005, 02:23 AM
 
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Ladywolf,

I'm curious about your use or articles (a, an the) You don't use any in some of the haiku but you use them in others. Is it a sylallable thing only or is there more to it?

The pumpkin haiku threw me a bit, it doesn't seem to me that it fits with the flow of the others.

The seventh haiku was the most powerful to me; the brief, concrete images combine beautifully.

So is that the kind of feedback you are looking for? Hope it helps.
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#17 of 19 Old 10-12-2005, 02:00 PM
 
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To answer your questions Violafemme:

The use of articles is completely dependent upon how the haiku is working in my head. Sometimes they feel very needed. Others, not. And I would not be able to tell you when and why.

The pumpkin haiku was a strange one. I would have to agree. I was trying to continue the season them with where I am now versus where I was and I just do not think it worked well.

Wonderful feedback. Thank you.
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#18 of 19 Old 10-12-2005, 02:57 PM
 
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you're welcome, hope you post more
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#19 of 19 Old 10-19-2005, 04:24 PM
 
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moved to the wip oct. thread

Momma to K ('01), E ('03) and A ('07)
Acting as a Gestational Surrogate for my cousin, EDD Jan 17th
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