Monday, February 28, 2011

Open 2/28: Gluck, Robinson, Technique of Empathy – Free Indirect Style

How we tell a story says a lot about the story teller -- and point of view is one of the first items that will determine how fast we turn the pages. Free Indirect Style allows a blending of voices, whether preverbal thoughts in character’s voice, a peek inside of his or her inner life
and compresses story and feeling to make the reader care.

In Gluck's poem, A Fantasy, in 4 stanzas (5, 6, 7, 6 lines)
the poem starts out with a strong speaker, "I'll tell you something:
with the observation of death as a beginning;
Indiscriminately generalized as "they" and someone, we witness a burial in the cemetary.
Stanza 3, a gathering at a specific widow's house ends with her thanking them for coming,
but told as if she is speaking.
Stanza 4, we see inside her heart, and there, the poem opens up -- the wishing that things would be otherwise -- no people sharing in the condolences, and turning back time, to cemetary, to sickroom, hospital -- this wish to move backward. Not so far as "the marriage, the first kiss"
and all that happens between.

We are allowed to feel a widow's grief, reflect on the larger theme of what it is to "live a life" -- scroll backwards in our minds our own story.

Robinson's poem, The Mill is a double suicide, or perhaps just one suicide, or perhaps just one crazy woman's world where tea is cold, and not just the fire is dead: lifework, spirit, zest,
and fear takes its place.

In the first stanza, "there might yet be nothing wrong" foreshadows and prepares the return of f the conditional in the 3rd stanza. Did she or didn't she drown herself? If she imagined dying without leaving a mark, good or bad, it is plausible. We are left curious, as our knowledge of other lives is guesswork. But perhaps as well, we imagine what it is to live a life so lonely, so isolated, that no one would know the difference.

The next, "Octopus in the Freezer" by Lee Ann Roripaugh is a playful poem using all the rich possibilities of the intelligence of an octopus -- layering 8 questions of a lone woman to an octopus, before we see her life. The rich life and memory of a child contrasts sharply with the snowstorm, the possible breakage of empty wine bottles described as bowling pins, and the last six lines which have such a desperate wish for feeling alive.

The McPoem by Ron Wallace is a fun way of looking at mass consumption of poetry available to all. We felt the last line was not needed with the clin d'oeil to Marianne Moore. Good use of enjambment WITH stanza break even, "free // of culinary pretension. after a 5 syllable, "economical." 4 syllable "American" which matches the 4 syllable culinary.

Wings and Earth -- bad title for a beautiful poem.

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