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The Clearing Winner

Blog Posted:2/26/2023 8:09:00 AM


The Clearing
Form: Free verse 

It's summer, and sunlight's syrup pours sweet into afternoon.
We've come to the bungalow's cemetery
to pick over bones of bygone days;
touch time's tender skin, lay flowers on childhood's grave.

The Lodge is razed to the ground. We raise
our eyes to sky and take each big breath of blue.
Sharp lemon-light cuts through
the detritus of our days; the oaks once cloaked in dark.

The knotweed nooses and dreamlike domes of fly agaric
have all been cleared; the forest sentinels' leafless limbs
discarded - an abattoir of strangeness, sawdust-strewn.
But all dismemberment is a clearing of sorts.

The echoes of emptiness eavesdrop
on each reminiscence, as we forage for a few last remnants:
blue paisley swirls of 70s tiles,
red bricks from an 80s fireplace.

A yearning rises suddenly, slick sick-sour in my throat...
and yet, it feels cathartic, this purging of the past;
this merging of our then and now,
this blending of bitter and sweet.

This poem was written by Charlotte Puddifoot and was the clear (no pun) winner in my contest. It exemplifies showing versus telling and does so by eliciting emotion and inciting the reader's personal perceptions. I would love for you to discuss what makes it excellent writing and what you think it is about. I think I truly know but will join the discussion as it proceeds. This could be fun and educational. Where did she show? The uncommon word pairings? The personifications?  etc etc

I'll ad here what Charlotte said about the inspiration and you can see how she developed it into a poem -did have a look at your blog and what people thought my poem was was actually about a day in summer when my sister and i revisited the site where we grew up, an old lodge bungalow with an acre of wild garden and wood behind it, it was a listed building but property developers bought it and demolished it all, they also cleared all the woods behind the house..we wanted to see the site one last time, but it was very sad seeing all the rubble of our old home, and we both said how strange it felt, almost as if our younger years had all been erased, as if they had never was this i tried to get into the poem, with reference to fly agaric etc, was it all just a dream, a hallucination? i also wanted the bitter/sweet theme to run through the poem, the sweetness of our happy childhood memories contrasting with the sadness of the present, bittersweet indeed..i'm a very intuitive, imagistic writer, i don't necessarily think too deeply about the meaning behind the lines i'm writing, i just go where the images take me, but i do think a lot about the technicalities in a poem; for me, writing a poem is almost like building a sculpture..

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Date: 3/1/2023 9:07:00 AM
i just wanted to thank everybody who has taken the time to comment on my poem and craig's blog..i've found it very interesting reading all the responses, and helpful to me as a writer..when it comes to interpreting a poem there is no 'right' and 'wrong', all interpretations are valid..and thank you craig for putting together a thought provoking blog! :)
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Date: 2/28/2023 1:36:00 PM
Thanks Charlotte and Craig. Other than picking up on the idea of loss I was completely off course but I guess that's poetry..and, it has to be said, it's what I like about poetry: how we interpret others' work. Kudos to Charlotte's writing and her description of how she writes. I've really enjoyed the discussion. Cheers - Gary
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Susan Woodrow
Date: 3/1/2023 6:28:00 AM
Yes thanks for this blog Craig and I’m glad Charlotte gave us her thoughts and events that inspired the write.. great thing about poetry is how one perceives the write and the words she chose led me down a slightly different path .. the difference between show and tell :)
cornish Avatar
craig cornish
Date: 2/28/2023 3:40:00 PM
Very true Gary, but you were no farther off than me and, truth be told as you alluded, if a write elicits thought and consideration it has achieved its purpose. Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to the blog and poetry as well! There are way too few blogs about the art of writing, any contribution would be great.
Date: 2/27/2023 10:37:00 PM
I revisited the poem following the discussion below and after I had Googled 'Bungalow Cemetery'. (Fascinating - thanks Craig;) I'd never heard of such before. I think that my own initial (and somewhat literal) interpretation of the poem may have been influenced by the harrowing themes Charlotte tackles so poignantly and masterfully in her other works. I defy anyone to read her poems Rape' and 'Facets of Loneliness'' and not feel moved.This particular work 'The Clearing' (Clever use of title) stands as a metaphorical masterpiece that, as discussed, deserves more than the one read I initially gave it. Cheers - Gary
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cornish Avatar
craig cornish
Date: 2/28/2023 12:28:00 PM
I added Charlotte's comments above
cornish Avatar
craig cornish
Date: 2/28/2023 6:08:00 AM
I contacted Charlotte and we were both circling the real intention - I'll ask Charlotte if I may copy and paste the experience that prompted her write. I think you will find it interesting.
Date: 2/27/2023 11:40:00 AM
Gary's "TIME" - yes, it hovers there - the rest of Gary's analysis proves the value of showing in poetry - the value of ambiguity - sort of a sexy foreplay (soup of thoughts) that hints at the details It allows the reader to make it their own. We've all visited those places in our past and flashed back to both then, what it and we have become and almost always had many mixed emotions. If what you read exactly tells you what to see, it may often be enjoyable but because you can't truly make it your own it is of less emotional value - that chaos of thought that leads us close enough to the edge, but not so close that we tumble off.
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Arlo Parker
Date: 2/27/2023 8:44:00 PM
Never read a poem just once. At least three times, every time. Nuances will definitely rise to the top and the reader may be surprised at the depths/shades of meaning they begin to reveal and share. Poems are participatory. This one is a prime example. Thanx for posting.
Date: 2/27/2023 11:24:00 AM
Love your thoughts! What Susan says is the feeling I got right from the start - it creates a feeling/atmosphere/ambiance within which the other thoughts will grow. Then, taking advantage of that captured thoughts, she adds 3 lines of wonder/ambiguity.. There is such a thing as a "bungalow cemetery" where the cemetery is enclosed in a home (is that a metaphor for this house of past thoughts?) (This garden of memories?) (these remnants - bones - of the past that (times fragile cocoon we hesitantly dare to touch - pause to contemplate?) and...these reminiscences - a respectful farewell to childhood past? Everything now gone like the old school house perhaps - memories bitter and sweet tears...
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Date: 2/27/2023 6:55:00 AM
I'll be back later - sorry - have to address a medical issue
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Date: 2/27/2023 3:31:00 AM mind is doing cartwheels through the metaphoric medley of interpretations peeking through the rubble and beauty of this eerily beautiful write.
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cornish Avatar
craig cornish
Date: 2/28/2023 12:29:00 PM
I added Charlotte's comments above
Date: 2/26/2023 10:22:00 PM
My take: Time, (they say) is a great healer...While returning to the scene of where a child died (possibly a now demolished hospital and its graveyard here) can be cathartic it can be naturally fraught with pain and sadness too.. So many triggers. Charlotte, with her words doesn't directly inform us; her clever lyrical style has us thinking and feeling her situation and looking beyond her words. The line "A yearning rises suddenly slick sick-sour in my throat..." is a masterstroke. Great poem Charlotte and a great post Craig - I'd like to see and read more discussions about Souper's work here. Cheers - Gary
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Date: 2/26/2023 8:07:00 PM
I loved this write and a great winner...the opening metaphor of the sunlight as syrup gives an atmosphere that's thick or heavy and gives a great lead into a funeralistic type of feel in that stanza of burying childhood...the second stanza has a contrast of the sharp light of the present cutting thru the past and memories that I feel, were dark and painful since she uses detritus, nooses, agaric (I love when a poem forces me to look a word up), and the abattoir sums up the images of chopped up parts...yet there is a strange sadness of letting childhood go tho' the overwhelming sense is one of relief. I had a similar visit to childhood but to find an old tree cut was anger and sadness till later things cleared and the cord was finally cut clean thru :)
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craig cornish
Date: 2/28/2023 12:29:00 PM
I added Charlotte's comments above
Date: 2/26/2023 12:46:00 PM
Craig, thank you for the contest and inspiration and congratulations to your winners, blessings, Constance
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cornish Avatar
craig cornish
Date: 2/26/2023 1:09:00 PM
Always a lady Constance.
Date: 2/26/2023 11:30:00 AM
The ebb and flow of bitter and sweet as it manifests itself in human experience parallels is quite well spoken. Removal of what seemed permanent shocks the senses into a reality of man's control of nature. Relationships found and lost. Excellent piece. So much to discuss.
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craig cornish
Date: 2/28/2023 12:29:00 PM
I added Charlotte's comments above
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Susan Woodrow
Date: 2/26/2023 8:21:00 PM
Hi Craig...I didn't get a sense of paradise...just one of relief that she could let go at last?
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craig cornish
Date: 2/26/2023 1:04:00 PM
Yes, love it, and what of the writing itself and how it "shows"? Also, is this a mixture of Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again" and perhaps Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" - "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot"? What emotion does this touch and how is it achieved.

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