January 1, 2011

A Conversation between a Pedant & Me

[This exchange took place on Facebook in response to my list poem on my Blog posted December 30. You will note that the critic threatened to, & then did, remove his comments from my Facebook page. However, I have my FB messages sent to me via email (otherwise I might never check my FB page) so, remove, shmove, I know what you said. I think it's interesting as an exchange between someone who has a rigid idea about what a poem should be (& has no sense of humor), & someone (i.e., me) who plays it much looser & enjoys the playfulness of poetry with language, grammar & syntax (& with pushing an uptight someone's buttons). As always, feel free to add you own 2 cents in the Comments.]

Pedant: says, Hey, Dan, though this piece is thematically quite good, it needs revision; it's a rough draft, very rough, in the sense that an Eng. 101 Comp. teacher would have a field day with the lack of coherent syntax in the piece. Whaddaya think? A few minutes of rational thought, working on the syntax, and you'd have a much better piece. I'm just sayin'!

Me: I only write crappy poems.

Pedant: I'll go ahead and remove my comment, since it was meant to appeal to one's intellect.

Me: You are way too serious.

Pedant: You really don't see the lack of syntactically complete statements? "Love will make you want to." Followed shortly after by "The wrong words in the wrong place can." There's no syntactical coherence. It's a technical problem. You need an editor. I'm not saying it isn't a good poetic theme, I'm saying you need to make a few tweaking lil revisions. Would you teach a kid to write that way, using poor syntax? He'd be ill-served.

Me: as I said.

Pedant: I'm going to remove my comments.

& he did.

I guess the issues are:
1) do I want to "have a much better piece"? &
2) will the correcting of a "lack of coherent syntax" make it "a much better piece"?
oh, & 3) maybe the "kid" is a she.


Anonymous said...

the issue for me is that it's bad form to offer critique on someone's poem on their blog unless they specifically ask for it. that's basic etiquette.

Mike Mooney said...

As the person who made the comments, I stand by them, as their point is a simple one:

While the poem has a good concept or theme, it has poor craft, the individual sentences weren't well crafted enough to make good simple grammar sense, taken as a whole.

The piece is full of parallel statements, in a list, that aren't parallel and have mismatched referents. The problem would be easy to fix. One extra word here and there to point up the structure of the piece, and it would be cleared up.

Rather than furthering the writer's intent, these syntactically incoherent statements made a sloppy display of ignorant usage.

As I said, an English 101 Comp. teacher would have a field day with the syntax errors. Honestly, this piece, if it were written by a ninth-grader of 15, would still need the same corrections. In a mature person, it's just very lamely underdone.

(How many drafts -- no, I mean draft beers-- were involved in writing this piece? It's pretty clear there was only one draft.)

Why not simply tweak a few of the statements in the poem in order to get the syntax straightened out?

I think you're failing to grasp, Dan, what the issue is in the writing itself, so then it becomes about me and my attitude.

Fine. My attitude is you should learn something about grammatical coherence.

Pedantry is one thing, but the need for remedial English instruction in a "writer," is another.

Yeah, I'll be pedantic enough to assert I'm an intellectual, and I know grammar is easy enough to master, or to obtain by artful rewrites. This is why we redraft things.

You're an anti-intellectual, as you think it's cool to not bother knowing such things, while at the same time you attempt to communicate in language.

I'm a rationalist, as I believe it's possible to easily grasp these matters.

~ Yours in remedial instruction,
Mike Mooney, Mr Pedant,

(I see myself wearing a monocle and top hat, carrying a walking stick, wearing spats on my shoes-- and a bow tie would be nice, etc.)

one of Prometheus and Antigone's children said...

painted pagliacci in a box

a pox
who cocks
and cleans
preens and weens
wears words
cut off from
the rich loam of listening
though glistening
eruditely blightly
tone deaf and bereft
the wisdom of learning
leans away in the winds deft
and silent and sure
that all shape
forms and follows
where gravity
has stolen
another of love's masked hollows
to fill this cask
with a smug bask
while the near death of simple courtesy calls for your arms out
you fall in on your blade and shout
"words have great meaning"
as if some found fumbled key
as if some pendant
as if some penchant
as if you weren't
just another addict
to vox populi

~MDM said...

Another thing "you won't die from" is re-drafting your piece so that it is minimally coherent. It would take about ten minutes.

~ Mike Mooney

one of Prometheus and Antigone's children said...

blessed be
to all that see
is the point
and not the clarity
of the belled weather
when the storms come and go
and know words know nothing
that a smile
hasn't already

....I agree with ms sherwood, that there just might be a tactless lack of mindfulness when we fence the great plains with what words are supposed to do...

keep on keeping on dan

edward rinaldi

Mike Mooney said...

I'm pretty sure Rinaldi was home-schooled, no? And Prometheus must've been away a lot.

one of Prometheus and Antigone's children said...

Hahaha...that was effing great...public schools but hey, are we not all home-schooled in one way or another?...Thanks for the continued conversation and the provision of a necessary laugh at the end of a long work day...thank you again mr mooney for reminding me to be more like water...as I seem mostly to be steam, I am always praying to be the rain...nameste...

Edward Rinaldi

mike mooney said...

Here's what I want to say about Dan Wilcox.

Okay, fine, he's prominent on the local scene, he was prominent in anti-war readings during the George W. Bush era, so he basically can do no wrong in terms of our social concerns and ethical concerns. He's a bona fide "good-guy." He's on the right side of issues.

Doesn't mean his piece, "A List Of Things You Won't Die From," wasn't ill-drafted. It plainly, simply was so. You can't tell me that piece went through five or six drafts, 'less they were beers. It was clearly a one draft, rough and sloppy, effort, and i suggested improving it. 'Nuff said.

Mike Mooney

one of Prometheus and Antigone's children said...

I am delighted that another crappy poet's blog sparked my emotional illiteracy to burn perceptual/residual images into the shadows and reflections that I call words. The relishable subject of the conflict between a necessary adherence to the eloquence of a grammatically massaged language and unmitigated spontaneity of expression of course, is always cause for me to grab tinder and hold my arm out to the rising Sun.

Meaning no harm and doing what I
will do, adieu, adieu, adieu...

Lance said...

I do find this a somewhat interesting piece... well not so much the piece as the interaction between you and Mr. Mooney. To me, there is plenty of merit to both form and "looseness" and it is very much open to one's personal tastes... of course looseness does bear the additional merit that it remains impervious to criticism because it needn't conform to technical standards. Additionally, I don't think Mr. Mooney's approach was necessarily the most tactful but in the end, he was attempting to be respectful to your facebook page. The part that I find interesting is that rather than actually engaging in thoughtful responses at the time, you chose to remain "critically impervious" in your responses on facebook, then address Mr. Mooney by a negative connotation back in your personal playpen (i.e. blog) and only then offer the responses where you feel like you might be backed up by your friends. I must admit that to me, it appears a rather thin skinned and cowardly response but not being a poet, I'm probably not a very good judge of such matters.

Dan Wilcox said...

Mr. Lance --
as the one who is challenged, I do believe that I have the right to choose the weapons.

Lance said...

Wow... great allegory although in this instance, you are choosing the arena not the weapons. I now understand why you steer clear of formal poetry as well as public debate.

Dan Wilcox said...

Uh, Mr. Lance,
I think you mean "metaphor" not "allegory."

Lance said...

I blush with embarrassment. Thank you for the correction, Mr. Dan. :-)

~ Mike said...

I have an old Italian saying for Rinaldi:

"You can't educate pork."

one of Prometheus and Antigone's children said...

"Art raises its head where creeds relax."
Friedrich Nietzsche

"Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason."

As foolish as I am want to be not to see I am bathing in mud between the sky and tree; there is no salve to the jagged rust of your compliments. I can only say thank you, again, for providing such an inspirational milieu. Though I always enjoy the courtship of fire from the spark, I care not to drag in the shadows and take away from my love of a lark.

brightest blessings mr mooney