Crane Dancing

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stuartryder
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Crane Dancing

Post by stuartryder » Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:05 am

Hi

I'm working on some poems informed by a Qi Gong form. So this is one of them, very much a first draft and recent, but I think it's okay so far, but could use some refinement. (Eventually it ought to be really refined and smooth while still having its intent... thanks. Stuart.


Crane Dancing

We turn away from each other
While our feet face together -
I to your right, you to your left.
Not wanting to look, or

Scared lest our sacred beaks cross.
I lift my wings. Then lower them
Down - intentional hesitation.
Then I lift them back in withdrawal

And, looking behind me,
Push away in each possible
Direction. I hold this for some time
Then I come back to life, but

With feathers flattened in submission
To myself, and eyes coquettishly
Closed. I can only imagine
You are doing the same.

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by Poet » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:57 pm

I find this poem to be exquisite because it had the qualities of a great poem, I'm being biased but I thought the poem itself was amazing and had a lot of depth to it (well maybe a little) but I thought it was beautiful cause of the imagery you used to create a dance of itself. Anyway thanks for sharing this piece, I'll let the expert critique this poem since I don't seem to find anything wrong with it.

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Feb 20, 2020 2:27 pm

.
Hi Stuart,
for a first draft, it works. But I think you could do with much more imagery and less straightforward description.
'Down' after 'lowering' and 'Coquettishly' seems particularly poor.
What does an 'intentional hesitation' look like? How long does it last? A breath, a heartbeat ... ?
Similarly 'sacred beak'?

We turn away from each other
- How (or even why)? Slowly, quickly, with regret, joyously? Is there an image that would capture this?
While our feet face together -
- the meaning is clear (though should it be 'face each other'?), but 'feet' and then 'face' hits rather an odd note for me.
I to your right, you to your left.
- the repetition of 'to your' is unnecessary. How about a descriptive term instead?
Not wanting to look, or
- I think ending on 'or' (and later 'but') just weakens the line/verse. And given S2, you could simply cut it.


Regards, Not


.

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by stuartryder » Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:34 pm

Thank you, Not. Yes could take some refinement. I see where you're going with some of the phrasing, I thought it was clever but actually it could be confusing.

I worry about adding more imagery in though, as part of my brief was to make the poems accessible and more direct rather than impressionistic. I think there is a tendency to think of qi gong and tai chi as something very mystical but it is also very formal and unpretentious.

Notwithstanding that, some other pieces within the suite have more imagery and abstraction in them. I haven't posted them here yet.

Cheers

Stuart

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by NotQuiteSure » Fri Feb 21, 2020 6:22 pm

.
Hi Stuart.

I think there is a tendency to think of qi gong and tai chi as something very mystical but it is also very formal and unpretentious.
A good and fair point :) but I think, as it stands, the piece lacks a context (who are the 'we' for instance?And what is the purpose of the 'dance'?) It's all 'what' but no 'why' - which, for me, is a bar to 'accessibility'. Granted, if it is part of a series, then the context may be explained elsewhere, but that doesn't help when viewing this piece in its necessary isolation.

As to 'directness', consider - We turn away from each other - do you mean turn our head or the whole body (the position of the 'feet' in the next line suggests its a turning of the head, but it simply isn't clear).

I worry about adding more imagery
Easier to edit out than edit in :)


Regards, Not

.

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by bjondon » Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:03 pm

Hi Stuart - this one has steadily grown on me - it blooms quietly and is well made, just like its subject.
Mind/body technologies are very impervious to explanation, but you have found an interesting angle here, a way of injecting mischievous life without disrespecting the tradition. Though without atleast a little prior knowledge I can imagine it being quite mystifying.
In fact I'd better check that I have understood the basics : I have done a bit of 'mirroring' and 'pushing' in Tai Chi classes ages ago, but what you're describing here seems to be halfway between a formal set sequence of moves and the fascinating imorovised 'game' of mirroring (where one partner leads and the other follows) - except it's happening asymmetrically here, which must be much more challenging (and amazing to do and watch). So quite an advanced form and perhaps much closer in spirit to what real cranes do.

The only question I'd raise is whether the line capitalization is interrupting the flow too much. I can appreciate you want to signpost the underlying formal structure, but I think the linebreaks and stanzas, plus quite stylized punctuation (fullstops where you might expect commas or semis) are all doing effective work here.

It might be fun and quite helpful to have little diagrams running down the side of the poem (an additional piece of mischief since the whole point of this exercise seems to be that the outcome is unpredictable). Having said that, I note the playfulness and effectiveness of leaving the key information that the partner is supposed to be copying the N till the last two lines, so perhaps diagrams would spoil that, though they could be quite abstract. Or some other additional dynamic to draw the reader in?

This is a unique activity and I like the way you have homed in on its weird simultaneity of the personal and impersonal, the inward and outward. A space for the interplay of ego and world and even ego and its own conception of self - which in turn, pointedly connects with the differences between eastern and western poetry.

stuartryder wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:05 am

We turn away from each other____ Good start - the estrangement of 'normality'. This is a
While our feet face together - ____physical dance but also about human relationship
I to your right, you to your left.
Not wanting to look, or
____We've jumped from straight description to imbuing these movements with symbolic meaning (I don't think the dancers would actually feel this, but as an imagined play between two egos it makes sense to me, and the N may well be registering the symbolism as it happens).
I like the hanging 'or' - it has a very tangible feel and the next word is quite unexpected, accelerating us from quiet observation/speculation into emotion, myth and gentle humour.

Scared lest our sacred beaks cross.
I lift my wings. Then lower them
Down - intentional hesitation.
____The capital D intrudes a bit. The mild tautology is ok
Then I lift them back in withdrawal__I like 'intentional hesitation'. It seems quite funny to me, both a parody of official names given to poses (could even be in italics) and gently teasing the 'you' trying to follow the N.

And, looking behind me,
Push away in each possible
____This pushing out into the world and then a long hold conveys
Direction. I hold this for some time__ a sense of constrained joy, as does 'coquettishly'
Then I come back to life, but___The hanging 'but' an echo of the 'or'

With feathers flattened in submission___Great enjambment, unexpected and thought-
To myself, and eyes coquettishly___provoking (subverting the meaning of submission)
Closed. I can only imagine
You are doing the same.
____All three enjambments in this stanza excellent
Jules

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by capricorn » Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:46 pm

We turn away from each other
While our feet face together -
I to your right, you to your left.
Not wanting to look, or

Scared lest our sacred beaks cross.
I lift my wings. Then lower them
Down - intentional hesitation.
Then I lift them back in withdrawal

And, looking behind me,
Push away in each possible
Direction. I hold this for some time
Then I come back to life, but

With feathers flattened in submission
To myself, and eyes coquettishly
Closed. I can only imagine
You are doing the same.

A fascinating poem. Like Jules I find the capitals at the beginning of each line rather distracting (I used to write that way) but I realise that some like to write this way.

Do you need 'down' at the beginning of L3 St2 as the previous line has already said 'then lower them'?

Eira

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by stuartryder » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:53 pm

Thank you Jules. It has been a while since I properly frequented this workshop and already I see the value of doing so again - one gets such different perspectives, it's not just about approval or criticism, though those are both so valuable in their own right.

I agree that punctuation is very important in pacing the lines of poems. It can detract from real pace, but in terms of controlling the flow the different marks have the effect of setting the pauses and flow obstructions. Insofar as that might also symbolise the flow and hindrance of qi, this is certainly important in this poem (and the others in the suite). With regard to capitals at the start of lines - I used to do it habitually, and then for some time I consciously did not - but both those periods of my writing were as I was (mistakenly) believing that either arrangement was some form of convention or that it must be that way to be accepted. Over time I grew to realise that's not the case; now I capitalise where it seems to fit the shape, tone and aesthetic of a poem. In this case it seemed right, indicative of the formality of Qi Gong but also the Importance of each individual line as a unit in itself. Pretentious? - probably, but why run from having a precise concept in mind?

The really interesting thing for me from your reading is that you got a completely different sense out of the poem than I had really intended. This pleases me. It was really about the distance created when a relationship falls down but the protagonists have to coexist. And not intended to be particularly mischievous - the movement is formal and we practise it in pairs but left means left and right, right, so the "mirroring" as you call it is asymmetrically opposed.

If you have the patience, I put the whole sequence up the other day - even if people can only critique one piece of it that would be so valuable as I develop the poem to its final form.

Regards

Stuart

bjondon wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:03 pm
Hi Stuart - this one has steadily grown on me - it blooms quietly and is well made, just like its subject.
Mind/body technologies are very impervious to explanation, but you have found an interesting angle here, a way of injecting mischievous life without disrespecting the tradition. Though without atleast a little prior knowledge I can imagine it being quite mystifying.
In fact I'd better check that I have understood the basics : I have done a bit of 'mirroring' and 'pushing' in Tai Chi classes ages ago, but what you're describing here seems to be halfway between a formal set sequence of moves and the fascinating imorovised 'game' of mirroring (where one partner leads and the other follows) - except it's happening asymmetrically here, which must be much more challenging (and amazing to do and watch). So quite an advanced form and perhaps much closer in spirit to what real cranes do.

The only question I'd raise is whether the line capitalization is interrupting the flow too much. I can appreciate you want to signpost the underlying formal structure, but I think the linebreaks and stanzas, plus quite stylized punctuation (fullstops where you might expect commas or semis) are all doing effective work here.

It might be fun and quite helpful to have little diagrams running down the side of the poem (an additional piece of mischief since the whole point of this exercise seems to be that the outcome is unpredictable). Having said that, I note the playfulness and effectiveness of leaving the key information that the partner is supposed to be copying the N till the last two lines, so perhaps diagrams would spoil that, though they could be quite abstract. Or some other additional dynamic to draw the reader in?

This is a unique activity and I like the way you have homed in on its weird simultaneity of the personal and impersonal, the inward and outward. A space for the interplay of ego and world and even ego and its own conception of self - which in turn, pointedly connects with the differences between eastern and western poetry.

stuartryder wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:05 am

We turn away from each other____ Good start - the estrangement of 'normality'. This is a
While our feet face together - ____physical dance but also about human relationship
I to your right, you to your left.
Not wanting to look, or
____We've jumped from straight description to imbuing these movements with symbolic meaning (I don't think the dancers would actually feel this, but as an imagined play between two egos it makes sense to me, and the N may well be registering the symbolism as it happens).
I like the hanging 'or' - it has a very tangible feel and the next word is quite unexpected, accelerating us from quiet observation/speculation into emotion, myth and gentle humour.

Scared lest our sacred beaks cross.
I lift my wings. Then lower them
Down - intentional hesitation.
____The capital D intrudes a bit. The mild tautology is ok
Then I lift them back in withdrawal__I like 'intentional hesitation'. It seems quite funny to me, both a parody of official names given to poses (could even be in italics) and gently teasing the 'you' trying to follow the N.

And, looking behind me,
Push away in each possible
____This pushing out into the world and then a long hold conveys
Direction. I hold this for some time__ a sense of constrained joy, as does 'coquettishly'
Then I come back to life, but___The hanging 'but' an echo of the 'or'

With feathers flattened in submission___Great enjambment, unexpected and thought-
To myself, and eyes coquettishly___provoking (subverting the meaning of submission)
Closed. I can only imagine
You are doing the same.
____All three enjambments in this stanza excellent
Jules

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Re - Crane Dancing

Post by stuartryder » Tue Feb 25, 2020 1:57 pm

Thank you Eira - it is valuable to get thoughts from other writers as I try to bring this and other poems to their final state!

I put some sort of rationale for the capitals in my reply to Jules but essentially it comes down to, on a poem for poem basis I see what feels and looks right for the concept / the brief. Part of my brief for this project was to make the poems as accessible as possible to non-poets, and that's difficult enough with the subject-matter and the lack of "obvious" rhymes... but I feel that a lot of people subconsciously associate poems with capital letters at the start of lines, so I figured it would provide some level of psychological comfort in the everyday reader. (And that critically-aware readers would forgive me!!)

Stuart



capricorn wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:46 pm
We turn away from each other
While our feet face together -
I to your right, you to your left.
Not wanting to look, or

Scared lest our sacred beaks cross.
I lift my wings. Then lower them
Down - intentional hesitation.
Then I lift them back in withdrawal

And, looking behind me,
Push away in each possible
Direction. I hold this for some time
Then I come back to life, but

With feathers flattened in submission
To myself, and eyes coquettishly
Closed. I can only imagine
You are doing the same.

A fascinating poem. Like Jules I find the capitals at the beginning of each line rather distracting (I used to write that way) but I realise that some like to write this way.

Do you need 'down' at the beginning of L3 St2 as the previous line has already said 'then lower them'?

Eira

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Re: Crane Dancing

Post by TrevorConway » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:36 pm

Hi Stuart,

Just came across this very interesting poem. I like the subject. I did find a guide bounced down a bit too much in technical detail, but then it took the kind of direction I was waiting for at the end. I think that more of that (the emotion behind the movement) would really elevate this poem, and I get the impression that the fairly rigid form works against the poem somehow (even if this form of dance involves very rigid rules). Some more detail below, always helps.

All the best,

T


Crane Dancing

We turn from each other,
Our feet aligned,
Not wanting to look, or scared
Lest our sacred beaks cross.
My wings rise, come down.
Can you feel my hesitation?

Looking behind,
I push away in each direction.
[More emotional detail here maybe]
I hold this,
Come back to life,
My feathers flattened in submission.
[Some or emotional detail again here]

I can only imagine
You are doing the same.

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