Monday, February 24, 2014

Poetry Manuscripts and Classical Music Compositions

Yesterday, after a morning with the poetry manuscript, I went to the Broward Symphony.  This concert was much more traditional than the one in December; is that the reason the audience was so much larger?

Although I don't have the understanding of classical music that my parents do, it's always a delight to get out to hear live music--or live art of any kind, for that matter.  As I watched the second half of the program, a part of the Scheherezade suite by Rimsky-Korsakov, I thought about how similar an orchestral suite is to a manuscript of poems.

At first I tried to make a metaphor wherein each instrument was a poem.  But I quickly moved to thinking about the individual chunks of the music.

Each part of the orchestral piece has to work all by itself.  But by careful repetition, they also link together.  Some orchestral pieces link together fiercely.  Maybe they're tied to an outside story, like Peter and the Wolf.  Maybe it's a story that the composer has made up, like The Nutcracker Suite.

Even with no external scaffolding, we see the same elements holding the suite together; but a composer could choose from a wide variety of possibilities.  There's repetition.  There's the type of composition.  There are all sorts of experimental directions.

I don't have the music vocabulary to continue further, so let me shift to the poetry manuscript.  I've always tried to have a variety of poems in my work.  I could put every single monastery-themed poem into one single work, but I like the way they interact with poems that have a different focus.  Still, I've kept the overarching focus the same:  how our faith in various systems (weapons, religious, medical, Capitalism, science) may doom us or redeem us.

I decided that most of my poems would be in the free verse style.  I have a whole manuscript of formalist poems, but I don't think I conform to those structures as skillfully.  I think it's important to return to the poetry of form (villanelles, sestinas, and sonnets are my favorites) as a good discipline, but I don't often leave that practice with a solid poem.

I have a sonnet in the new manuscript, but I took out the pantoum and there are no sestinas.  My next question:  was having a lone sonnet in a manuscript of free verse too weird?  I decided it was fine, like a hidden treasure.

I read the manuscript to make sure that the themes and imagery swirl around each other without collapsing with the weight of it all or slamming into each other in a destructive way.  I think I've been successful.

I don't have any submissions in mind right now, so I'll let it sit a bit longer.  Then I'll read it one more time to make sure I think it's all in good shape.  And then, once again, out into the world it goes.

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