Thursday, November 03, 2005

A curious (and pleasant) surprise ...

A couple of years ago I wrote a little essay about what constituted success in poetry. My point was that if you succeed in writing a couple of poems that are widely and routinely anthologized you are in a very select group of poets and, as such, a success in the field. I now realize that in the age of the Internet this notion may have to be modified. I recently found that a poem of mine called "Craft Warnings," which was published a few years ago in First Things, can be found on the Net. But one of the places it can be found intrigues me. I'm not even sure I know what Supernating Superdudes is. So I was both surprised and pleased when I found that someone there who goes by the name of Dragon *Etain* had posted my poem here (you have to scroll down to find it) -- and in a particular context to boot. I like the idea of the poem being out there adrift in cyberspace. Supernating Superdudes seems a youthful undertaking and I'm glad the poem is reaching whoever the people are who frequent the site.

6 comments:

  1. Frank, your experience raises a troubling issue, one far from your original concern -- that of intellectual property rights. Your poem, which originally had appeared in one place, pops up some time later in another, to your surprise. Was permisssion sought and granted for this to happen? Perhaps it was not required in your case with First Things, but the fact is there are uncountable numbers of copyright items that appear every day willy-nilly in places on the Internet they never were intended to be, simply lifted from the sites or the publications that had contracted and paid for them and pasted into someone else's blog or Web site. Is there an assumption in the air or atmosphere that because essays, columns, reviews, short stories are all composed of words (and words are "free"), then anyone has a right to use them in any way? The same sort of assumption, I gather, that animated those in the Napster controversy who wanted to get their music "for free" off the Internet.

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  2. Actually, I did think of that, and it is certainly a problem -- though in this case I didn't much care: The monetary returns from writing poetry are generally so small as to not be worth fussing over. The only solution for writers that I can think of is to make sure enough payment is upfront to make the effort worthwhile. Remember that everytime you write something, not only do the people who pay for the publication you wrote it for see what you've written, but also everyone they show it to does, and so do all the people who just come upon it in a library or waiting room. That said, it certainly is depressing that many people feel no compunction about arrogating unto themselves the intellectual labor of others.

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  3. Having said that, I should add that I did go and search out your poem. It is quite an affecting one, though I do not know how high a compliment that is from one who has little poetic sense. I do like poems, whether they rhyme or not, in which the sense or message flows from one line to the other ("Yet dampening the spirit with a plaint /Of longing. The soul’s the instrument . . .") rather than abruptly breaking or pausing at the end of each line ("My heart leaps up when I behold/A rainbow in the sky. . . ."). There probably is a poetic term for that, but, as I said, I am not sophisticated enough to know it. Do you recall the exchange between Julie Walters and Michael Caine in the movie "Educating Rita" where he explains some poetic term (is it "dissonance"?) and she says something like, "Ooooh, you mean it doesn't rhyme?," and he has to admit she nailed it better than the professionals?

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  4. Maybe it's "assonance." I told you I don't know from poetry.

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  5. I do remember the scene and I think it is "assonance" -- and of course it perfectly punctures the pomposity that can pollute poetic discourse (how's that for alliteration?). But why stop there? The term you were looking for -- for lines that do not end-stop -- is enjambment. I have a predilection for it, especially when I use end rhymes. I like the rhyme to be there, felt, heard -- but not obtrusive. Though it all depends on what works. End rhymes work perfectly in Pope:
    "I am his highness' dog at Kew;
    Pray, tell me, sir: Whose dog are you?"

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  6. It may be too late to post against this blog but hopefully you will see this. I am ^Dragon^ Etain, kind sir. I believe I Googled the word "tempest" in search of poems which address that lusty wind in order to help a friend write one of his own. I did not take the words as my own but did give credit to you the author. No malice was intended. You do inspire others - thank you!

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