promising much good to come

22 May, 2010

This week we got the marks back for our third piece of coursework (the second poetry workshop module). I was determined to hand in a collection I felt more confident in this time around, but it didn’t quite work like that – although I do feel that my work has changed hugely since the first batch I handed in, I really didn’t give myself enough time for editing (although again I do feel I have a much better grasp on that side of things), and it was a risky move handing in three pieces that hadn’t been workshopped, though I didn’t really have any choice in that…

So given the above caveats I can’t really say that an improvement of one solitary mark was disappointing, exactly, but it was hardly thrilling, either. Just one mark off a first is one way of looking at it. Although the comments from both tutors are the really valuable thing, I guess, and once again they both wrote some really helpful and encouraging notes. The main criticisms appear to be 1: weak lineation – which is something I’ve been attending to but clearly still need to work on – and 2: occasional surrendering to easy resolution/romance/cliche. Damn.

Interestingly two of the poems that hadn’t been workshopped, and which I felt were pretty out there, got some of the most positive comments. So that’s encouraging. I was aware as I was writing them that I was doing something a bit different, so that’s clearly something to pursue.

The question of distance that I wrote about in my last post came up, too, with one tutor writing ‘You are allowing a lot more immediacy in while keeping the poem focused. The next step would be to pursue image rather than memory and to free yourself from the constraints of narrative prose – as you do in the final fishing image.’ So once again I feel a certain sense of direction – the steps I need to take, the things I need to pay attention to – is emerging.

And once again I’m afraid I’m going to indulge in sharing my favourite comments from each of my tutors:

There is a good coherence in this body of work and some fine poems [which have] a combination of formal control and a certain freedom in the consciousness they articulate… Passages in all the poems show a keen, refined ear and a sense of experience genuinely pressing at the skin of language.

The most exciting poem here is ‘In reverse’ which has all your strengths – urgency, imperative (that word again), light and dextrous use of form, intelligence, subtlety and the coherence that comes of sustained interrogation. It promises much good to come.

This post brought to you by Shirley Ellis’s The Name Game, hotpants and heels, much fun with friends, and stimulating and hilarious comment from the Magpie Lane workshop gang (thanks Julia). Music courtesy of Dusk and Blackdown via Sean, and of course the delicious Marky‘s badly packed kebab. Bisous a tous

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