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#1 of 14 Old 03-06-2006, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry to be so late with this, Feb. is such a short month...post away

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#2 of 14 Old 03-10-2006, 11:42 AM
 
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I am trying to get myself together (courage, and all that) to start revising a group of poems to attempt to publish (one at a time or a book). They all seem to deal with wistfulness, longing, snapshots of a frozen moment, and I would like to get some honest feedback on them (images, technique, is it clear, do you like it, etc). Here is one poem in two sections, very much a first draft. Please let me know what you think, and if you would be interested in reading more.

Poem 14 – part 1

Her hips swivel like crazy eights,
Dancing on liquid thighs and knees,
Springing and bent by catcalls of
“Hoooo, girl! You sway!”
Trailing after her down the hall,
Past banging lockers.

Her eyes wild from side to side,
Arms dance around her,
Pencils jammed into her natural, immobilized by
Hair that wants a hot comb.

Her body has flowered and flowed and is clad
In rumpled T-shirts, torn or
Slightly dirty,
Tight, no-waist jeans trimmed in glittering paste
That can’t seem to stay on,
And eyes cannot be peeled from
The rise of her ass, and the thin river of peeking chocolate
Above her hips.


Poem 14 – part 2

The girl with the good hair
Walks straight,
Back vertical like iron bars,
Arms lashed over books pressed
to budding breasts,
Eyes forward ,
Thighs locked,
Knees on hinges that open and close
her calves above feet that glide
across the scuffed floor of the hall.
Boys sneak sideways looks –
Speak in whispers, suddenly quieted as she passes,
Knocked down from their swaggering ledge of boastful prowess,
Hushed by the ice of her horizon-fixed eyes
And by the loneliness of the grosgrain ribbon
dancing alone on top of
the ponytail that gathers
The streaming good hair.



Thanks in advance....

HoneyFern

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#3 of 14 Old 03-10-2006, 07:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I would definately be interested in reading more.

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#4 of 14 Old 03-13-2006, 08:35 PM
 
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It's not much, and like I said, it's from a notebook of what-if ideas, not straight fiction, but here it is.

I slid out of the truck and brushed my hair back from my face. Looking up at the faded brick building in front of me, I couldn't believe it was real. After ten years, we were right back where we started from. So many things had changed, especially in our family, but basically, we were back to the beginning. Only now we were adults, even by the super-restrictive standards of our hometown. So much for getting out and staying out. God had obviously had other plans. We'd been talking and praying for months about a potential move when the opportunity to move back and become part of a brand-new church planting literally dropped into our laps. So we prayed about it, and looked at it from a fearful human standpoint as well. Both ways, it appeared to be in our best intrests. So we talked it over with the kids, and after making a couple of weekend trips to talk to the pastor and flock of the small group that was starting the church, we agreed to take the positions.
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#5 of 14 Old 03-14-2006, 06:12 PM
 
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Suz (if I can call you that?) I really like the first one. It's fun, got a swinging rhythm and great images. I could put msyself there, in her shoes. The second one I understand is to be more sedate but it's also missing some of the visual interest of the first. I think there has to be something more descriptive than good hair. It's very general, auburn hair, straight hair, smooth hair, shampoo commercial perfect hair, ect... They are a great play off each other. Opposites. I could see them being great friends too.

Kaitnbug- I think that going back home is always hard. You can't be the person that you were but people who knew you then don't expect you to change. It's an interesting start and I'd like to hear more.
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#6 of 14 Old 03-15-2006, 11:09 PM
 
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can I have feedback on this one...I was thinking about adding it to the end of daughters babybook so I guess it needs to be finished.

Glory and Power

If I recounted a legend
Fraught with danger and strife
Full of glory and power
And yet untrue life

Standing strong as a pillar
With glory and power
Insides churning from judgements
Hour by hour

The soul drank acceptance
From a bitter well
The person drinking,
I could not tell

Hard to recognize that person
The person, untrue
Seller of souls
I bid her adue

If there was a payment
For that souls return
No glory, no power
Just lessons to learn

And to sigh and breathe deeply
Feeling each compartment unfold
Unashamed, unwanted
Alone-but yet whole
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#7 of 14 Old 03-16-2006, 01:42 PM
 
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New here, haven't posted work yet, but I hope it's ok if I give some feedback?

Suzannah-- I read your poems several times and liked them more each time I read them. Do the parts 1&2 complete the poem, or will there be later parts? I like the contrast between the two. The first more gritty and sexual, the second more reserved. I think the way you have written each poem mirrors the description of each girl.

I agree that the hair thing could be a little confusing if taken out of context. But if you are publishing in...say...Essence magazine or a collection of Af-Am poetry, readers will understand exactly what you mean.

As I read, I find myself interested not just in the girls who are the object of the gaze, but the gazers themselves. Will you dedicate a section of the poem to the boys? Also, I think in the last line of part two, you might not want to repeat the word "good" in front of "hair." I think you acheive the intended effect by saying it earlier in the poem and then later with the word "streaming."

Thanks for sharing, and I'd love to read more.

naismama
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#8 of 14 Old 03-16-2006, 02:07 PM
 
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#9 of 14 Old 03-17-2006, 05:38 PM
 
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Naismama - you have a straightforward style that captures your subject; this, to me, is a blessing and a curse. Although I "recognize" this teacher, it is hard to really picture him, or picture the scenes of his classroom. I like the cyclical nature of the piece; merde comes back in the end, and it brings me back to the beginning, hearing the child's perception of what he said. It does seem a little clinical at times, like the part where he insults the main character about rotting teeth; you simply report on it, whereas, in reality, often the humiliation is as fresh 30 years later as it was the day it occurred.
It is, however, a first draft, and mostly I see a good framework to build on.

Please let me know if that feedback is too harsh, inappropriate, or not what you want. I teach writing for a living, to middle school students, and often I am very blunt with my feedback.

With regard to my poems, I hadn't intended to write a third, but it might round out the series, and when I read that question one starting shaping itself right away. Also, culturally speaking, is it offensive that I am not, in fact, African American, but still refer to her hair as "good hair"? I use it in the sense I hear my students use it, but it is definitely a cultural-specific term. I know what it means, and I know/understand the implications and significance of it.

Thanks for the feedback...

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#10 of 14 Old 03-17-2006, 11:19 PM
 
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Suzannah,

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, you are blunt, but every teacher has his or her own style. I teach writing for a living as well, but take a different approach with my students (and different still with those who are not my students, but my peers). I think offering feedback in a way that is truthful but respectful of the writer is tricky. You've given me some things to think about as I prepare to sit down with the piece to fill it out.

As for your piece, I think a third part to "round out the series" might be a good idea.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzannah
Also, culturally speaking, is it offensive that I am not, in fact, African American, but still refer to her hair as "good hair"? I use it in the sense I hear my students use it, but it is definitely a cultural-specific term. I know what it means, and I know/understand the implications and significance of it.
Actually I do find it rather offensive that you as a non-African American use the term "good hair," and I am surprised that you would do it if you truly know and understand the implications and significance of it. I and MANY other black people cringe at the term when African-Americans themselves use it. Hair is such deeply-rooted (pardon the pun), emotional, often political issue for Black people. To talk about "good hair" and "hair that wants a hot comb" in a way that is not social commentary threatens to reinforce ways of thinking that African-Americans are trying to move beyond.

cheers,
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#11 of 14 Old 03-18-2006, 01:43 AM
 
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Here is a poem I was inspired to write, this is my first submission in the writers forum

How did I get here
I don’t fucking understand
This was not how it was supposed to be
this is not what I had planned
Divorce wasn’t an option, my family intact is what I would have
The American dream, is that so much to ask
But I just can’t stand the sight of him
Every time I see him my skin crawls up my back
And when he puts his hands on me, I just want to scream “back OFF”
But he is so great with them, and boys need their Dad
And he tells me if I leave, he is as just as good as gone
How can I do that to them, break up their family home.
When he plays with them, he is so patient and so kind
everything my Dad was until that day that he was gone.
How did this happen, just how can it be
it doesn’t add up, what happened to our dream?
My parents never fought, they didn’t even disagree
Their Divorce was the “nicest” anyone had ever seen
And some days are great, I am worshiped and adored
He appreciates my light, the parts everyone else ignores
but then the curtain drops and I am a sick, evil whore
Sometimes he says it, and others he just glares
Nothing I do or say is right, and he’ll stab me with his words
I have learned to walk on eggshells, but somehow they always break on the floor
but how can I leave, what will my boys say
they love him so much, and he is only treating me this way
It looks so good to others, they think I have it all
Well that really is a lie, in truth the only ones who buy it, are the ones who pass right by
Those who can “see” me and knew the me I was before
see me withering away, my spirit crumpled on the floor
When I was young I thought I could save him, make him whole just like me
but there I go with another lie, for in reality
I haven’t seen myself as whole since that cold October night when that stranger raped my skin
That is why I chose this man here lying next to me
He furthered my guilt, my shame and fear
He never lets me forget, the horrible rag doll I became
But Dammit, I see the look in his eyes, my little angel boy
His big grey eyes are watching us, seeing just how a man should be
He watches his Dad degrade his mom, treat her as though she is a dirty and wrong
And there is no way in Hell I will let this cycle go on
This madness ends, no matter what
It stops here and now, my son will know the truth
The mom who is beautiful, whole and strong
Who deserves respect and is the Queen on her throne, a Goddess here and now
Their Dad has his own journey, his own demons to heal
I wish him well on his path in life, for he was once that angel boy

who saw his Dad beat his mom, and when the beatings stopped,
the abuse still went on, for many times the beatings only leave bruises on our soul
But I am taking back my grace, my body, and my soul
So my sons can see what Men they can be, warriors of light

Brianna Eve
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#12 of 14 Old 03-18-2006, 02:18 AM
 
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Wow, Brianna...very powerful. I liked it.
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#13 of 14 Old 03-18-2006, 11:01 AM
 
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Naisamama-

Thanks for your comments regarding if it was offensive or not; consider the poems tabled. I really meant it to be more observations on what I see in my school, something poignant, and I am not interested, in this instance at least, in stirring the pot.

I'll send something else your way, and look forward to your comments.

HoneyFern

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Never let your schooling interfere with your education. ~Mark Twain~

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#14 of 14 Old 03-19-2006, 01:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suzannah
Naisamama-

Thanks for your comments regarding if it was offensive or not; consider the poems tabled. I really meant it to be more observations on what I see in my school, something poignant, and I am not interested, in this instance at least, in stirring the pot.
Suzannah,

Your decision, but why not just reconsider the those parts? Maybe present the hair issue in a different way or use different modifiers? It really is a small part of the pair of poems--especially the first one.
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