Write What's Left

So it begins.
January 3, 2010, 11:17 pm
Filed under: Poetry, Writing | Tags: , , , , , ,


So, I figured I needed a little niche within the intertubes – partly because of that natural impulse to graffiti your voice on every surface you come across; partly because I want to give my writing the consistent dose of love I owe it; partly because I want to share some of my weird-ass tastes with all you weird-ass people who are still reading this; and also because I want to build myself a little bakery for artistic projects where you can get ‘em warm an’ fresh an’ free. If I can accomplish any of these things, then I think the purpose of this thing will be well fulfilled. All of which leads me to…

THE PROMISE: to post one finished piece of creative work at least once a week.

Be it a short story, a chapter of a tale, a poem, a recorded reading, a song, a dramatic scene, the plans for another universe, a plot to bring about the fall of our doppelgänger overlords, or any coherent fragment of my mind enjoyable enough to warrant a few kilobytes on the vast Wildlands of the Web. Ok. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but I promise that I will gear every particle of oxygen I draw from this world towards creating something worthy of a few minutes of your time a week.

Well I’m sure that’s quite enough rambling for tonight. So here goes the first of my children, and hopefully every Sunday, we’ll give it a sibling. So by the end of the year I’ll have my own little army of 52+ pieces of writing to invade the internet with. I have a lot of fun things planned for this blog, and I’d love any comments from anyone who’s taken the time to read my stuff.

This is a little poem I wrote when thinking about Chile, and what it is to me, and what it is to other people. It sounds a lot better spoken than read. Hopefully, I’ll upload a recording eventually.

Bandera Tricolor



3 Comments so far
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Brilliant, Alberto. It really painted a picture in my mind.

I’m looking forward to future postings!

Comment by Michael

Alright, time to do what I promised! At the very least you won’t be able to accuse me of doing what your professor did – giving insufficient feedback :P

Oh, and please pardon the horrendous formatting I am forced to abide by by this tiny comment box.

First of all, I love your opening. It’s intriguing as all hell, and captures my interest.
I notice what might be some minor discrepancies in tense throughout the piece, and I’d suggest a quick revision focused specifically on that is worth the time it takes. I’m not even sure if they are discrepancies, or merely if you are occasionally unsure about what subjective timeline you are depicting in some instances. Example: the sea ‘slices’, the ocean ‘grasped’, and you ‘face’ the wind.

I was initially concerned that your use of so many comparisons per colour of the flag would detract from the impact of each individual metaphor, and though I’m not entirely convinced that this does not occur at all, I do appreciate and enjoy the narrative flow you’ve managed to weave throughout the piece as a result of this. Personally I find that discarding a few ok or subpar metaphors in order to focus on the strongest ones and elaborate on them further is usually good policy in writing poetry. For the record, I am not dissing your metaphors bro, blue for the taste of salt when you face the wind? I love that one. And what you do with the transition from blue to white, from sky to stars is damned cool.

The use of the travel brochure excerpt style section is just perfect, I actually have no beef with the length, which surprises me, but I believe you’ve chosen just the right amount of it to include, and just the right moment to break away.

… this next part took me a moment to pin down what was wrong. “This is not the sight that I remember” “There is no dirty-faced man calling fish…” initially those and the lines between them gave me pause, but I couldn’t figure out why. But it’s the jump from ‘this’ to ‘there’ that does it. I still haven’t found the way to explain this conceptually, but think on this. This = here, that = there. Upon further consideration though, both sentences work fine individually, it’s just together that they have a minor conflict. I think keeping ‘This’ is the way to go, but if you can afford it rhythmically, adding a ‘here’ to the second sentence somewhere might be worthwhile. ‘Here, there is no dirty-faced man calling fish forth from the sea.’ or ‘There is no dirty-faced man here calling…’ or ‘there is no dirty faced man, calling fish forth from the sea here’ (That last one is crap, don’t use it). Honestly, I’m not sure what I think about this section of the critique. I think I may be in the process of learning something, and would appreciate your reciprocal input in this matter.

In regards to the transition from blue to white, As written I find it a little overly awkward than it needs to be to convey what you’re aiming for, though I see that as written it might be more effective spoken aloud than some alternate executions of the same effect.

‘vertebrates of the land’ I found confusing until I realized you probably meant ‘vertebrae’? You’re talking about the mountains right?
I think you might be glossing over the White portions a bit too quickly, as it doesn’t receive the depth of treatment the other colours do, I’d consider expanding a metaphor or two here to see what happens. Who knows, maybe you’ll come across another interesting transition from white to red.

I’m going to spend a moment now on this portion, because I LOVE IT, and also think it could be improved to be even more brilliant with naught but minor adjustments for clarity:
“My mother’s father would drink wine, with our
fathers, while they rattled dice on leather cups.
His voice was rough like the coal he mined for
in his youth, and burned with equal warmth.”

1. If by ‘our fathers’ you are referring generally to ‘forefathers’ or that sort of interpretation of ‘father’ as opposed to actual fathers of specific people, I would recommend changing the word for clarity’s sake.
2. Rattled dice on leather cups or in them? I’m not as familiar with dice games as I wish I was sometimes, and just want to be sure your intended meaning is conveyed here.
3. Finally, I LOVE the measure of his voice by the properties of coal, and am trying to think of a way to increase the parallel structure of the sentence so it can be more clear. Feel free to disagree, but I think that as a metaphor instead of a simile the statement becomes stronger (this statement is generally true, and widely applicable). The word ‘equal’ also seems out of place as more of a cold and calculating word, and is therefore not conducive to what you are trying to express here.
‘His voice was rough as the coal he mined for in his youth, and burned just as warm.’
I’ll admit some of the further comparisons for Red are confusing to me, as like you said yourself they require knowledge of Chilean history to interpret. I guess the names are a part of that?

I’ll apologize in advance for my rather concise discussion of the ending, but it’s getting late and I need to sleep here.

First of all, on many levels your ending is quite powerful. I like how you acknowledge the past but argue not to dwell on the negative without acknowledging the global truth of suffering, and use the name of ‘Mapuche’ as part of your argument by implying that the people, now being of the earth, have continued to live up to their name throughout the ages. And you accomplish this with great passion and sincerity.

The downside here is that I think some clarity of message has been lost, as there are alot of unnecessarily complex sentences towards the very end of the poem that could be simplified to increase their effect. Generally, the more emotional a speaker is the more use direct language has in serving the message. And there is at least one unanswered question in my mind: You say you’re here to remind of where there’s also been blood shed, but you don’t actually remind anyone of any of these places specifically. This could be an avenue worth exploring.

At first I felt this line was just out of place, as it seemed disconnected from the lines that precede and follow it, but the line itself is also very strong. I am pretty sure that “Because whatever god gave you ‘your’ land, lied” is a line from a Shane Koyczan poem, or that of another beat poet I’ve heard somewhere. I’m not saying you did this intentionally, I’ve accidentally plagiarized a line or two in my day. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure I’m not.
There is rhythm underlying the last bit, and the drummer in me desperately wants to bring this to prominence, but of course being me I would say that.

What I really want to see at the end here is some sort of return to the first couple of lines. As much as I love the movement of the piece, I think there are some wicked possibilities in bringing the poem full circle. I mean, does the speaker reach some conclusion about the meaning of each color of the flag, or of the flag as a whole? If so, what? I’m honestly not sure if this last suggestion will bear fruit for you or not, I’m just saying it might be worth thinking about for a bit. On second thought, this may be a technique that I myself overuse and should free myself from…

Alright man, I hope you find some of this useful, now I’m gonna grab some sleep. And of course, if any of this needs clarification or you have any questions of me, feel free to ask.

Comment by Liam

Wow. Thanks Liam. I was staggered by the amount of feedback. I am very, very grateful.

Regarding the verb tenses, I think I want to keep these as they are. I mean, it’s true, there are discrepancies. But even so, I feel like they fit, you know?

Mhm, I know what you mean about the narrative of the flag-colour. When I started writing this piece, I wasn’t sure that I’d go through all of them, or even the order. But it just flowed out (more or less) easily.

The This/There thing: Your criticism is completely valid here. The grammar in thi section is technically incorrect. But, I think at least, I did this on purpose. I was trying to express the oxymoronic feeling of closeness and distance to my home country. It’s like I will always watch through a TV screen, yet have known the place itself. Plus, I’m not sure how to change it without having it sound awkward.

The God-land line I liked, because I saw connected to the nationalist and patriotic sentimentalism I was trying to combat. But I think you are right in attributing it to another poet, and this scares the sh*t out of me.

Comment by albertocristoffanini

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