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Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: March 30, 2004 05:28PM

What are your opinions about sharing work which is admittedly unfinished? We often get poems and works in progress on the USP, which state at the end "This is unfinished".

To me this is a real turn off. How can I critique or comment on something that is not complete. To me it's like saying, "That's a nice arm you've got there, I can't wait to see the body."

Any opinions on this?


Les


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: March 30, 2004 05:52PM

I don't read the USPs, so how unfinished, Les? I would have thought the first draft of the whole thing acceptable, as comments still have time to cause improvement. But odd verses would be very difficult to deal with.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: March 30, 2004 06:17PM

Varying stages. Some are rough drafts. Others, who knows.

Even rough drafts leave me speechless. I guess my concern is this:
If I input a change to your poem, is the resulting poem still yours?


Les


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: March 30, 2004 06:22PM

How much does any poem belong to its poet? They've all been filtered through an education system, the rough and tumble of life and the comments of friends. Your considered input is just a layer on top of all this.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Hugh Clary (---.denver-02rh15-16rt.co.dial-access.att.net)
Date: March 30, 2004 07:26PM

Duddunt bother me. How is one to know when it is finished? Lots of poets go back and change things even decades later. And, one can consider anything posted on USP as being 'workshopped', looking for input about possible improvements.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: March 30, 2004 07:45PM

Good point Hugh. But I still do not care for the idea of bending a poet's mind to fit my perception of what a poem should be.

Shouldn't the poet have enough pride in their work to want it to be relatively unspoiled by the hands of others?

I'm not talking about the occasional grammatical change, or tinkering with a word here and there. I'm talking about suggested endings, revising stanzas, etc.

Linda, I disagree with your premise that all the factors a person experiences makes a poem "not theirs". The freedom of choice in writing makes our work unique, so does the innate ability of the artist.


Les


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: J.H.SUMMERS (---.chartertn.net)
Date: March 30, 2004 07:56PM

I think Les is referring to poems that the author says is still unfinished. For example, on the usp you can read this from one of the newer people:

"This is not finished and probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense yet."

In this case I think that the poem should not have been posted. If you give any input at this point, you are helping them write the thing. It's like painting a picture of a sunset and leaving the sun out of it. Or, writing a play without a final act.

john


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: March 30, 2004 08:06PM

This is exactly what I'm referring to, John. Many people including JP, who's work I admire greatly, have posted unfinished works and asked for suggestions as to which direction to take from there. I don't believe the intention is the same, although it might be. I'm talking about posting half-baked ideas on the USP.

I just can't help but think it's like putting a raw piece of meat on the table, then saying: "Sorry I guys I didn't have time to finish this." I just don't think any self-respecting cook (or poet) would do this.


Les


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Marian-NYC (---.nyc1.dsl.speakeasy.net)
Date: March 30, 2004 08:56PM


I don't read the USP postings, but if a friend asked me to look at a DRAFT of anything, I'd be happy to. In fact, I spend a lot of my work time AND personal time looking at drafts of various things, some "creative" work and some not.

I think it's every writer's right to ASK someone to look at a draft. But if you decide to say YES, in my experience it's VERY IMPORTANT to agree with the writer about what kind of feedback they are asking for.

FOR EXAMPLE, if someone is desparate to have the thing finished and all they want is for you to spot errors, then they will NOT appreciate constructive ideas about expanding or re-organizing it.

FOR ANOTHER EXAMPLE, if it's what I call Love-Me-Love-My-Poetry, raw feelings on a page that they hand you with a puppy-dog hunger in their eyes, then ALL YOU SHOULD SAY is "I like this image ... I like this phrase... ". If you can't say, "I like it," just shut up after that. Trust me on this one, people!

FOR ANOTHER EXAMPLE -- Wait, this is really a separate issue:

Someone asked, "WHOSE POEM IS IT?" once feedback has been taken. I have a very strong position on this.

If you write the poem: It's yours.

If you show it to me and I make a lot of suggestions and you use every single one of them: It's yours.

If you show it to me and it gives me an idea for a poem of my own: THAT is mine.

I reject the idea that there's a "gray area" where you are contributing to someone else's poem. Asking for suggestions and then taking or rejecting them is every writer's right. If you don't want someone to use your suggestions, don't make any.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: March 30, 2004 09:23PM

Marian, as usual you have cut to the chase in terms of your observations in the matter. But how do we know what expression they have on their faces when they post something which says "this isn't finished."

if it's what I call Love-Me-Love-My-Poetry, raw feelings on a page that they >hand you with a puppy-dog hunger in their eyes, then ALL YOU SHOULD SAY >is "I like this image ... I like this phrase... ". If you can't say, "I like it," just >shut up after that.

It's easy to suggest, at least for me it is. When I read a poem, I have a preconceived way of wanting it to end. This may, or may not, be what the author had in mind.

I guess the question I'm posing here is this: If you say your poem is unfinished, what do you want me to do?


Les


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: opiateourfather (---.lax.untd.com)
Date: March 31, 2004 12:44AM

To comment on what is there, and not worry over what is not...?


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Marian-NYC (---.nyc1.dsl.speakeasy.net)
Date: March 31, 2004 03:06PM


Re "a preconceived way of wanting it to end" and
"If you say your poem is unfinished, what do you want me to do?"

UNFINISHED could mean that the ending isn't written yet, but MORE LIKELY the person has written the entire thing, but wants it to be better and doesn't know what to do next.

===================

"how do we know what expression they have on their faces?"

Two answers.
(1) We don't. They are taking that risk when they post on the internet. But we should be KIND, even if our feedback is negative. "Hate the abuse of language, love the poet."
(2) Ask them. Especially if someone "sounds" raw, or if the poem is about the death of the speaker's mother or something. You could say, "My impressions are thus and so. Do you want more feedback on anything in particular?"
(3) Okay, I'm a writer, not a mathematician. When in doubt, lay off.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: March 31, 2004 03:43PM

Marian, I agree wholeheartedly with your third choice. If I knew what the author intended, I'm sure I could say something appropriate.

Opiate makes a good point here:

comment on what is there, and not worry over what is not...


Thanks for the input everyone, it does make a difference.


Les


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: J.H.SUMMERS (---.chartertn.net)
Date: March 31, 2004 11:50PM

I've thought about it for some time now, and if we are in a position to help (if it is asked for) we should. To improve is why we are here, after all.

john


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: April 01, 2004 04:25PM

Les,

I'm agreeing with Marian-NYC here. (not surprising...) I do read the USP. but don't do a lot of critiquing- mostly because I assume that many of the contributors are 'love me' contributors, not 'help me learn' contributors.

I don't have a problem with people putting up unfinished work, and, other than my congenital laziness, no problem with critiquing or commenting- after all, people have to learn to write poetry somehow. They don't have to take my advice, but maybe reading it will help make them better. (Or not, I freely admit that I come under the 'people who can't do, teach' category)

pam


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: April 01, 2004 04:44PM

Those who can't teach become Ofsted inspectors.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: April 01, 2004 04:57PM

Excuse me Linda but those of us on the wrong side of the pond know not what Ofsted is.

:es


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: opiateourfather (---.lax.untd.com)
Date: April 01, 2004 05:24PM

Office For Sandards in Education


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: April 01, 2004 05:26PM

Thank you Opiate, I did not know that. Over here we call them "Legislators."


Les


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: opiateourfather (---.lax.untd.com)
Date: April 01, 2004 05:30PM

oh, i'm not british, i looked it up...i get bored very easily.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Linda (---.cache.pol.co.uk)
Date: April 01, 2004 05:58PM

Think busybody, appointed to go into a school and tell experienced teachers that they're doing it all wrong.


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: Pam Adams (---.bus.csupomona.edu)
Date: April 01, 2004 09:17PM

I heard it was 'those who can't teach, teach physical education.'

pam

It always amuses me that, at least here on the leftpond, college professors are not required to know how to teach!


Re: Unfinished works of poetry: To share, or not to share?
Posted by: -Les- (---.trlck.ca.charter.com)
Date: April 01, 2004 09:23PM

Judging by some of my "education" professors they take that notion very seriously.

Les




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