Yesterday some girls from my workshop and I went to A&M in Middlebury, where a roller skating waitress attached a tray with our order to the driver's side window just like they did in the fifties, and we gorged on hamburgers (veggie burger for me), onion rings, milkshakes, fries, and 'cheese curds.' The latter are like mozarella sticks served as appetizers in restaurants. One would think they'd change the name as cheese curds doesn't sound all that appetizing. It was a lovely, sinful lunch.
Today they are roasting a whole pig in the courtyard outside the kitchen for dinner tonight. That same group has decided that's a little too 'real' for us, so we're going into town for Chinese food. I am, personally, dying for broccoli in any form, as there has been nary a green vegetable since I got here. The only thing helping on that score is the salad bar.
Had my second agent meeting today and it went well. Kit Ward. She asked for both the first and third manuscripts and gave me a new genre name for the third one - autobiographical novel or personal narrative. So add those to your list.
Natasha Trethewey is teaching poetry here and gave her reading this afternoon, from Native Guard, her Pulitzer Prize (this year) winning book of poetry. I'm not well versed on her work, but I have to admit that she is a terrific reader and some of the poems were very beautiful and satisfying. One in particular, the name of which escapes me, was fascinating - she wrote it in about 10 or so lines, then repeated the lines backwards, one after the other, to exit the poem - so the last line is the same as the first. Try it! We are both Hollins Univ. grads (her father teacher's there), so we bonded later on the front porch over that. She is lovely and gracious.
Now on to lyric-narrative poetry. I took a great craft class on that this afternoon and want to share with you the elements of each one separately, and then the elements of the hybrid (which you can also use as a list of steps for a writing exercise if you like, using element number 1 as step 1 and on from there). Note that the elements are listed based on the idea of a spectrum, with lyric poetry at one end and narrative poetry at the other, so the elements are contrast/compare:
circular (stops time)
the here and now
guided by emotion
uses figurative language/comparisons
composed of observations
moves forward in time
guided by action/scene
1) Contextualization - the who, what, when - context. Usually given in the title and/or first 5 lines of the poem)
2) Descriptive Language - figurative language takes a backseat here. This is where you can announce your originality as a writer. This is the description of the environment we're in, as observed by poet.
3) Lyric Departure - the poet mentally (maybe emotionally as well) leaves the context/environment of the poem. Something in the environment triggers a memory or feeling, etc. that leads the poet away from the environment and away from time. The poet now enters no-time, moving into the interior, lyric space of meditation.
4) Revelation/Epiphany - the meditation leads to an insight that (this is key) IS NOT STATED. The insight/revelation should be represented through an image, or put in the form of a question. Explicitly stating the epiphany makes the poetry therapy. (Blech.) The revelation is earned by what happens in the lyric space.
5) Return - the poet now returns to the environment of the beginning of the poem. Sometimes the epiphany happens at the same moment as the return.
6) Open Ending - the poem ends on an image that is open to interpretation.
Note: the leap into the lyric space from context, is where we show/announce our personality. We create an invisible bridge between where we are leaping from to where we want to land (inside the lyric space). You do not want to make an expected or cliched leap here.
"The secret wish of all poetry is to stop time." Charles Simic (U.S. Poet Laureate)