"At home I have a Tibetan terrier. I'm still not sure if he's a genius or very thick. It's a fine line." - Hugh Bonneville, Be running up that road Be running up that hill Be running up that building, Chew the raisin, Pay your toll sell your soul Pound for pound costs more than gold, See this world as the watchmaker would
Often it can be only one line that I enjoy in a poem I have ‘liked’ on a blog, or one I have come across when consuming the vast amount of poetry I ingest of a week. I may pick that one line out and mention it in a comment. Then again, that one line may be one of many I liked, and very, very occasionally, I like the whole piece. I find great merit in sourcing these little jewels that people squeeze from their flickering minds. Reading is as fine an inspiration for the arts as experience, more useful in fact at times in this huge melting pot of consciousness we are wading through. I do not ever criticize a piece of writing, for if an opinion is not asked for, it will rarely be welcome (I don’t mean you Heriod, you’rd a thpeshial cafse winks). However, when I have been asked for an opinion, I make sure it’s the cream of their crop I focus on – so that they see the parts that make them shine, and consider following those the paths which they excel at, and strengthening them as they go.
I say this as I have often been asked to critique pieces of writing, and have done so again of late. I am less a grammar checker for them, more a content reviewer. How smooth a piece runs, if the whole shebang makes sense, if the tenses need changing, first person, third person, twenty-seventh person and the like. Sometimes people add accents and get it horribly wrong, other times such slants are a bonus. More fine lines to tread, and not for the tactless on that side of the net, nor for those whose skin is too thin facing them with expectation on the other. Exposing yourself to public opinion is daunting enough on its own, to do so and actually ask the question – “Tell me what is wrong with this” can have a very high fear factor. This does depend to some extent upon who you are asking, but to be honest I think that if a writer asked a packet of flour that question (and the packet of flour was capable of answering), they’d still be worrying themselves sore as to the outcome. If anyone ever does meet a bag of flour that can talk, and you haven’t been taking acid at the time, then do let me know as I’d like to be its manager and run away with it to join the circus.
I have drifted. Like flour on the side of a bowl. I know the fear I speak of above, for I did just that myself before publishing my last Fragment. I handed it over to the most critical, well read person I know, and said nothing but the above – “Tell me what is wrong with it“. Barring the grammar. The content comes first.
Then I ran away and locked all the doors of the Cloud’s dungeons to hide and wait with my eyes shut tight and some fog plugged into my ears. As it happens things turned out very well in the end I’m more than happy to say, however I’d rather not do it again.
But I will do.
Because that is the only way forward. I will say however that I won’t necessarily change anything which ends up presented here purely because someone else either dislikes it, cannot grasp the meaning, or thinks it should be written in another fashion – because I know when something is too good to change (*oooh get me), and I am also aware that the Fragments and poems that emanate are not meant for everyone, therefore everyone need not ‘get it‘ when they embark upon a piece found floating here. I too hope one day to be eligible for a ‘What the Fuck are you on about?’ award. laughs They are often so beautifully created.
There’s time yet.
The idea for this post came from one line from a poem I read that struck a chord, whilst the rest was dull as dishwater to me, so here it is, and take from this post the premise that you needn’t like the whole of any singular piece of writing to gain a gem to take away and be inspired by that wee slice of prose, even if it be just one line, or phrase – there are thousands of stars in these literary skies, you just have to look with open eyes, heart and mind – whole stories can be born from them. Whole worlds.
Some examples now, of poems which I do not particularly like at all other than a…fragment;
“There are worse plagues on earth than tears.” – from ‘A Wish’ by Matthew Arnold.
“suspense on the quicksands of ambivalence is our life’s whole nemesis.” from ‘Love is a Parallax’ By Sylvia Plath
“They’d closed down the Bureau of Sad Endings” – from ‘Governors On Sominex’ by David Berman
“There is a gentle thought that often springs to life in me, because it speaks of you.” – from ‘There is a Gentle Thought’ – by Dante Alighieri
sonmi’s epitaph this time round is to be the last verse of a long, relatively tiresome poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley called – ‘To a Skylark’. I do not like the poem. I was instantly caught and held by the last verse however, (for I am long known and credited as being a ‘listener’) and it has remained with me now for some decades ;
“Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow
The world should listen then, as I am listening now.”
And what of you my reader – are there any lines in particular that you have fallen for hook and line, whilst the rest is a sinker? Do tell.