MARTIN JERVIS : Mai Tai Cocktail MICHAEL MIKUS : Soft Cry at Mourning JOHN HORVATH Jr : Notes on Narrative ( #3 ) POETRYREPAIRS v11.08:087 contemporary international poetry - for your reading pleasure, poetry from new and established poets and essays on writing
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Mai Tai Cocktail Soft Cry at Mourning Notes on Narrative ( #3 )  
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Mai Tai Cocktail
A Mai Tai cocktail: Captain Morgan, Bacardi, pineapple, Topped up with grenadine. I once flew into the jaws with Captain Morgan. Three attempts to land at Madeira airport. Swirling fog and a narrow rocky gap Between hard placed looming cliffs. They loomed on my retina. Watery wheels skiCcing in the runway mist Stick full back we hit the clouds again Accelerating like a sparkly November rocket Piercing blind rising metres of cumulo nimbus. "You need special training to land on Madeira" He said cheerily over the intercom. How I needed a Mai Tai cocktail: Bacardi, pineapple topped up with grenadine And without that shot of Captain Morgan.
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Mai Tai Cocktail Soft Cry at Mourning Notes on Narrative ( #3 )  
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Soft Cry at Mourning
The world becomes stranger the older you get although memory lives of times troubled yet     forgotton with the dream of all things new, that hangs deep beyond the horizon blue           in pictured radiance of eternity                  above the clouds so limitless, but free to struggle with beautiful pain to endure the sacrifice of ultimate gain's cure of envy and shame, guilt and sad regret; the feeling your chance passed by unmet, and through it all you tell lies to survive; the painful hurt of being dead alive that settles to a shameless, remorseful state but yet, not a moment do you hesitate to hide honesty that buries the truth and drives away cluttered mass of youth so frightful and bent in the holy night, to make you cry soft at the coming light through windows open to the breath of dawn and the clinging dew, the wind's mourning song.
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Mai Tai Cocktail Soft Cry at Mourning Notes on Narrative ( #3 )  
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Notes on Narrative ( #3 )

From television, cinema, and theater we are become accustomed (become almost naïve) to the use of multiple narrators those actors - characters, figures, personae - who determine actions thus plot. Likewise our milieu fills with the dissonance of multiple narrators - from several news 'anchors' reciting headlines on TV, to radio (in our cars and passing our cars), and on to the gaggle of voices in urban centers. Perhaps this explains the popularity of internet poetry: voice to voice in the quiet of ones home. But are we READING poetry or mouthing its words?

The discourse that is poetry has its own rules of narrative; these are not rules of WRITING but rules for READING poetry (such as it is a rule in theater that audience members refrain from jumping out of their seats in order to save a heroine from harm; nor do we curse at an actor who plays a particularly mean villain – the villain he is actually a mere person, an actor doing a job). Otherwise all poems mean anything which means they mean nothing. Let me see if I can think through some of the rules of poetry narrative. For the sake of simplicity, my example will be Ezra Pound's “In a Station of the Metro”
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Evidentiary narrative, has to do with the reader mediated reaponse to the text: I observe via my ability to read and interpret. “Station” is both a stopping place or a place to pass; I am reminded of the “Stations” of the cross in Catholic ritual performed, I think at Easter time. “Metro” is an underground transportation system in Paris, France; it could be Chicago (the 'El') or London (the 'Underground') or New York (the 'Subway') but it's France yet the poem is in English. “Apparaition' is what one thinks is seen; “faces” more definite objects though taken en masse (the “crowd” also suggests a packing closely together, a “herd”); Petals provide scent and beauty, such as an oriental painting might, from contrast between primary color and the “wet, black bough”. So we have an indescript mass of faces (we must be passing and observing them) each of which is distinct (flowers with petals) and linked (on the bough). This is a quick journey have an implicit beginning middle and end: entering the station, passing quickly, exiting the station. It takes a moment, perhaps as long as it takes to read the poem.

As narrative directs attention to recognitions and reversals, incongruities among points of view, or other tensions in the poem, narrative thus hints that plot has a significance other than suggested by mere events. In France, in English the poem is perhaps about alienation among people who are different; being linked to them (the bough of the rails), and/or pitying them (tears/wet bough), and it may be about death (black, traditional Western mourning color).

Narrative, more than simply a method governed by the relationship in which the narrator stands to the story, it is a method for understanding and learning relations: some parts represented, other parts RELATED. Cultural or Historical levels of text relations are ancestral (1), prior to birth and impinging upon us at birth: I was born in a place among Catholics who have this “tradition” or “ritual” I mention above. There are also interpretive levels (2a) of what I have experienced (done) and remembered (learned) in my life and what of the “done/learned” I can summon immediately. Similarly, authorial levels (2b) suggest associations between reader and implied author: how much of Pound I have read, how much about Pound I know, my reaction/s to Pound or Pound-like poetry – the lowest level of interpretive narrative is the naïve at which I assume that the poem is about my personal experience and written/created by me as I read; the naïve interpretive level places me at the center of the universe which is, actually, where all interpretation begins – when I am a child and all things focus on 'ME'. As Pound lived before me or before my knowledge of him, it is an implied author I deal with, one who is almost a fiction and whose actual life may be brought into question: when and where did Pound live? If I know, I add this to the authorial level of the narrative. If I don't, it may or may not add or detract from my interpretation of the poem. Scriptural levels (3) of text narrative (including the rules of grammar, logic, and rhetoric) are at work in my recognition of the New Testament agony of Christ's torment and crucifixion during what I know as 'Holy Week' and the scriptural is also at work in a kind of unspoken historical sense… it would be near blasphemous to suggest any reading of this narrative other than from left to right and from top to bottom. (The appearance of a poem by e.e.cummings would suggest to me freedom from my logical expectations.) Yes, I also read with expectations; I bring to the text my world, so that I create prior to and/or while I read, a certain inferential narrative (4). As in reading a grocery list when my expectation is to ensure I have purchased necessary supplies or as in reading directions when my expectation is the goal of building a bicycle out of a heap of metal, I read narrative in part because I expect to enjoy its reversals and recognitions, its moves toward or from what I expect. By exploring these, I may test my critical acumen, my intellectual prowess, my experience of how and why the world is as it is. Turns, when discovered, are most significant; they carry the ultimate pleasure of narrative: Dramatic level (5) of mediated and transforming narrative which occurs as I begin to 'use' the text, to understand how and when such knowledge and/or behavior is or can be an ally in my own journey through the world. One of the most frequent reading faults comes from a naïve identification of narrators with those who create them; narrators are especially important at the end not beginning of a text. Only after exploring and discovering the world in the text may narrators help of discover a world possible for the reader at the END of reading a text.

As regards the levels in Pound's poem:
ancestral (1): the French and English are historical enemies, separated by the Manche, two peoples derived from and influenced by like events: invasions, Rome, language origins, etc. They are brought together in the poem. I note how “wet black bough” slowly opens the mouth into a scream. That works with the war and separation theme. A twentieth century writer would note how England and France become allies rather than opponents during World Wars One and Two.
interpretive (2a): the knowledge of what “Metro” and “station” are.
authorial (2b): Pound was an American expatriate who wrote in England, France, and Italy before and during World War Two when he sided with the fascist Italian government. For this he was called a traitor and imprisoned after the war in an American asylum (“how else can one live in America, “ Pound responded to a question about his time in the 'madhouse'). Probably his best known work is the Cantos; he was influenced by an Italian scholar' research into oriental writing. Thus, the haiku-like second line of the poem.
scriptural (3): 'Metro' cannot possibly modify 'bough'. My cultural logic (implied scripture) deems we read from initial to penultimate cause, beginning to end, top to bottom; not, say, by last line then title, then first line; and my reasoning through should follow logic.

Narrative presents the reader with a range of human types available in the reader's actual everyday lived experience: narrative relies on these centers of consciousness in the text to help readers over the gap between the writer's thought and the reader's thought, to help reader help the writer to create or recreate the world. 'It means what I say it means' is untrue for writer and reader. Poetry is, first, about SHARING a world.

Observers, those privileged to know what could not be learned by strictly natural means, watch and tell or watch and react. To read of a “blue ax in the shape of a fish” may be meaningful to the observer or just “that is what I dreamed.” Failure or success of the narrative may rely upon the reader's ability to summon natural means of understanding or the means to suspend belief: “okay, there are axes shaped like fish; these axes are blue.” Agents, those who effect the course of events in a text, are limited to realistic vision and the power of the reader's inference. Agents often carry the bulk of the narrative. Even when no center of consciousness can be readily identified, there is one: Scenic Narration (the summary, combination, and progress of people places and things over textual time) derives from those objects and events chosen by an implied narrator (what color are the Metro walls? which station on which route is this? Commentators (we can safely argue) present the ornamental, that which is useful for rhetorical purpose and or that which is integral to the progression of drama-action. While they may present themselves absolutely, with unquestioned credulity, reporters may also be shallow. We must also remember that some observers, “insiders”, are actually reporters who purport to know more than we do; or, They may purposely be constructed to offer the notion that the reader is by far more knowing than the reporter. A degree of human judgment is brought to issue by these consciousnesses, we are asked to make a narrative of these judgments whether our observers, agents, reporters are self-conscious narrators (aware of themselves as writers – a “fiction within a fiction) or part of the self-conscious audience (readers aware of themselves as readers –“the fiction of otherliness” or the reader as someone other).

The observer in pound's poem gives us the natural facts of faces in a Metro; the observer here is likewise an agent (for we cannot know of this observation with the observer's action of observing). The reporter now brings into question certain items. If a 'crowd' is 'apparition' the correct word; if so, why? And, if not, what then? The image of petals on a bough is striking and we may be amused; but, what of the report that under the city there is the living plant, the residual of rain, flowers that require sunshine, and that opeing to a scream we find in “wet black bough”?

To answer such questions as I have raised, above, requires some distance, some stepping back as it were to take tally of what I know and what the narrator appears to know: Narrator by name is always more or less distant from implied author (else they would be one and the same, and economy of language if nothing else requires difference here). The distance may be moral, intellectual, temporal (younger/older/contemporary), social, or an issue of reliability versus unreliability. Narrative requires we read ourselves – what are my moral, intellectual, temporal, social values and situation; how do they differ or match that of the author and how do mine and the author's match or differ from the narrator's. The answers to such questions reveal for us more and more of the poem's world. Each reading of the poem will then present a different world as our distance changes; that of the past (the author) will be lost to time, sedimented in scholarship, and that of the text will be ever present in the reading. As the poem holds a static present (literary present) and an ever fading past (authorial license to interpret fades over time), the poem must be about change in the future. The future of the reader.

Characteristic changes can be listed briefly although not exhaustively: Allusion – reference to historical, scriptural, or other socially recognized personages : when a writer who refers to himself as a writer in a work then that reference is an allusion to the body of his work; the implied author is also an allusion whose purpose is, if successful, to lessen the distance between writer and reader. Stalin in a text may be allusion to tyrannical or totalitarian power over others. If the allusion fails – if Stalin is taken as an allusion to leadership, for example – the author asks the reader to judge by norms which the reader cannot accept. The higher degree of social recognition will lend to a higher degree of success. Mayor Joe Buggs may be no allusion at all, though intended as one; thus Mayor Joe Buggs becomes a persona.) Persona – any individual discernible in or from a text (these are the front line troops for poetry, almost all action is carried by personae in poetry as actors carried action forward in cinema and theater). Figures – a persona representing a clear notion or ideal (Faith, Hope, Charity). Type – a persona representing a social construct (earth mother); recall that stereotypes (those types constructed from little, if any, social evidence) always suggest we should read deeper for significance; archetypes (are those constructed from familiar cultural assumptions – Oedipal sons) also suggest further and more complex reading. The Character alone is a multidimensional construct whose development or degradation, permutations and combinations carry some weight in the changes that occur in the text, changes that occur in and/ or to the character.

Poetry can, should, and ought to be read for varying effects brought about by narrative; and a poem ought to be read repeatedly if one wishes to gain from the richness of its world. Following the rules of narrative (for READING) opens a variety of effects from one text. Kinds of effect include amusing, poignant, vivid, ambiguous, sympathetic, convincing…the effect is the aporia to which the writer must work and to which the reader must work. Is the effect of the text covert or overt polemic, typical, conventional, stylized, referential or merely descriptive. If poetry is read this way, the next step is to begin reading oneself. The great peace of a poem or poetic is then knowledge of oneself, a surety in ones situation and a calm against the future. Iliterature – where literature exists - exists almost always as a prime focus for teaching in schools. Not to learn appreciation for the art; but to teach ow one enters his or her own thoughts.
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You Take Advantage of My Good MoodTOP Mai Tai Cocktail©  MARTIN JERVIS . JH Few poets risk humor, fearing they will not be taken seriously. With humor JERVIS questions what we need and what we truly know.
Soft Cry at MourningMID  Soft Cry at Mourning©  MICHAEL MIKUS . from POETRYREPAIRS v01.08:086
Notes on Narrative ( #3 )]BTM Notes on Narrative ( #3 ) ©  JOHN HORVATH Jr . from v01.08:086
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