Punctuation in Poetry

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Punctuation in Poetry

Gardeners

when three bearded men
unbury winter’s bones they pick
at old wood scars dead trees and
their limbs now lying there lifeless

they dig deep at flowerbeds
uprooting a riot of Japanese
Knot Weed untangling roots
all tangled and twisted with
Bees’ Balm and perennials
that stray across borders
unwelcome immigrants neither
barriers nor fences can possibly hold

they probe between flag-
stones where wintering birds
and squirrels and chipmunks
cracked the seeds and wild weeds
that grow there and flourish

but where would the land be
and what would it accomplish
without helping hands
and the power of strong fingers
and fresh eyes that spot those
intruders who diminish
the space where good flowers
grow strong with fresh herbs
chives and oregano basil
and parsley peppermint sweet
crushed beneath feet

Comment: I posted this poem yesterday. It’s another raw poem. On re-reading it, I found it confusing. To punctuate or not to punctuate, that was my question. I decided to rewrite it and use punctuation. Here’s the new version.

Gardeners

Three bearded boys unbury
winter’s bones. They pick
at old wood scars, dead trees and
their limbs now lying lifeless.

They dig deep at flowerbeds
uprooting a riot of Japanese
Knot Weed, untangling roots
all tangled and twisted:
Bees’ Balm, Cape Daisies,
and quick-growing weeds
that run across borders,
unwelcome migrants
that barriers can’t hold.

They flourish between flag-stones
where wintering birds,
squirrels, and chipmunks
cracked seeds from the feeders.

Where would the land be,
and what would it accomplish
without helping hands,
the power of strong fingers
that pluck out the intruders
that infringe on the spaces
where proper plants grow
unthreatened by weeds?

Second Comment: Both versions work, but in different ways. The first version is more spontaneous and less logical. It allows thought and image to freely flow, but there’s some repetition and a certain lack of clarity. It does allow the  reader to be creative and to seek for alternate meanings and choose the combinations that please the most. The second version is more logical and expresses a slightly different train of thought. Punctuation forces revision and a revision that punctuates demands good grammar, less freedom of speech. The result is a tighter, much closer expression. By extension, the need to punctuate also demands more thought, more concision. Needless words are eliminated. Better combinations are possible. In addition, I find the rhythm becomes more prominent, but less spontaneous. To punctuate or not to punctuate: only the poet can decide, but any comments will be most welcome.

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Gardeners

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Gardeners

when three bearded men
unbury winter’s bones they pick
at old wood scars dead trees and
their limbs now lying there lifeless

they dig deep at flowerbeds
uprooting a riot of Japanese
Knot Weed untangling roots
all tangled and twisted with
Bees’ Balm and perennials
that stray across borders
unwelcome immigrants neither
barriers nor fences can possibly hold

they probe between flag-
stones where wintering birds
and squirrels and chipmunks
cracked the seeds and wild weeds
that grow there and flourish

but where would the land be
and what would it accomplish
without helping hands
and the power of strong fingers
and fresh eyes that spot those
intruders who diminish
the space where good flowers
grow strong with fresh herbs
chives and oregano basil
and parsley peppermint sweet
crushed beneath feet

Comment: This was the day for Thursday Thoughts, but I don’t have any, save for those in the poem. How does Mother nature manage without us? What is the difference between a weed and a flower? Why do the dandelions dance in my garden and why so many, fresh every spring? What happens when the gardeners no longer garden and nature takes over? Is the wilderness that arrives really a wilderness? The garden that grows, does it really need us? Do we own the land, or does the land own us? The same with development: do we shape the land or does the land shape us? Was the wilderness a wilderness before we arrived? I watch the deer drifting past the trees in the garden. They are so tolerant, so aware of my presence. “Beware of the possessive,” my teddy bear tells me. “I’m not your Teddy and you’re not my master. The world exists without you possessing it. It will continue without you. And yes, I can hear you: ‘my flowers, my garden, my bees and my deer, my house and my grounds, my groundhog and my Teddy.”‘ “My God,” says the Teddy Bear who sits on my bed and hears me snore and watches me dreaming … “Whatever are you thinking?”

KIRA

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KIRA

Kingsbrae International Residence for the Arts has appointed five artists who will work in residence at Kingsbrae and Kingsbrae Gardens (St. Andrews, New Brunswick), from June 1 to June 28, 2017. The artists who will work in Kingsbrae in June are Carlos Carty (Lima, Peru, musician), Anne Wright (Ottawa, multi-media), and Elise Muller (Muskoka sculptor). They will be joined by two New Brunswick artists, Ruby Allan (Fredericton, painter), and Roger Moore (Island View, poet). Note that KIRA is making a special effort to encourage New Brunswick artists. Full details are in the link above.

The selected artists met face to face on a video conference call and discussed some of the work that they could do in common: more about this later. Suffice to say for now that joint workshops on different forms of creativity are being planned. While the residency will be an excellent time for individual work, each participant has a specific project to be undertaken during our time at St. Andrews, there will also be time for the interchange of creative ideas and for readings and workshops within the local artistic community.

My own project will be to establish a Bakhtinian poetic dialog with my time (June) and my place (Kingsbrae, St. Andrews).  This follows the ideal of the Bakhtinian chronotopos, as outlined in my earlier post Alebrijes or Inspiration, and I plan to use my time to reflect upon and write about both St. Andrews and the Kingsbrae Gardens. I intend blogging regularly throughout the month of June and I look forward to posting photos and cartoons to accompany my poems and the journal that I will maintain throughout my stay. My blog is located at rogermoorepoet.com.

Further to this project, I hope to establish a rapport, much along the lines of my poems on Monet at Giverny, between myself as poet and Kingsbrae Gardens as a subject for poetry. Giverny and Monet at Giverny 1-4/16, Monet at Giverny 5-8/16, Monet at Giverny 9-12/16, and Monet at Giverny 13-16/16 offer a model for some of the art work I would like to accomplish.

Each artist will have studio space. Should you visit St. Andrews in June, please consider not only visiting Kingsbrae and its beautiful gardens but also dropping by to meet us as we work to accomplish our artistic tasks. I, personally, will be very happy to meet and talk with visitors to the residency who are interested in the daily workings of my art.