Tuesday, 2 November 2010

One Stop Spotlight - Luke Prater

Luke lives in rural South-West England with a Mac, a guitar or two, a silent fridge and a brain that won’t switch off.
I stumbled right into his WordSalad a few weeks ago and immediately loved the taste of the ingredients he mixes in an imaginative and skilled way - so I can highly recommend to jump over there and enjoy his formidable and tasty word-salad creations..
Luke also runs a Facebook poetry crit group and will provide more information about this below.
The poem he chose for us is a Villanelle - one of Luke's favorite forms of poetry - enjoy!
~ Claudia

To Ashes (villanelle)

The fire was lit, the pyre a plume,
a wedding day became a wake;
deep red the wine, and black the moon.

A darking day for bride and groom,
of burning flesh it stank, the cake.
The fire was lit, the pyre a plume.

Sick shades of grey creep-skulking loom
as ash descends upon the lake.
Deep red the wine, and black the moon.

Throats parched, they prayed for long monsoon;
just sullied lake, and wine, to slake.
The fire was lit, the pyre a plume.

See ashen-face and ash impugn,
mere ashes of his wife to take.
Deep red the wine, and black the moon.

The daybreak grey they can't presume
as steps into the distance make.
The fire was lit, the pyre a plume,
deep red the wine, and black the moon.

© Luke Prater

And here is some information about the Facial Expression Poetry Circle:

About seven months ago I had the idea to use the Facebook Group platform to start a group specifically so poets could post their work, read the work of others, and in particular give and receive constructive criticism, which I find to be lacking in other places. Often poets are afraid to offer honest feedback to their peers because they don't want to cause any offence, but also because (and this really does happen a lot, it seems), no matter what the quality of the work, positive, back-slapping feedback is given because it pleases the poet, and the commenter knows they will get a similar response in return on their work. This is fine, but how does that help me learn? How will I see that I have a tendency to, for instance, end my free-verse pieces on a single line in an effort to come full-circle and 'wrap things up' (I see this again and again and do it myself sometimes), when it is redundant because I have said all that, and more, in the body of the poem? Constructive crit/honest feedback (with tact, of course), is truly the greatest gift a peer can give. Our poet friends can actually do us a disservice by continually evading pointing out a penchant for cliched phrasing when on a certain topic. Please, tell me! How else will I learn? 

Now we have a strong, busy group with several other admins, and we learn very fast in that give-and-take, collaborative environment. It is also a lot of fun. I know I have much to learn. There are many many of these groups on Facebook, all shapes and sizes, but I have purposefully kept Facial Expression Poetry Circle smaller and more intimate - though we take anyone who requests to join. Novice poets either take the crit, work hard and become decent poets very quickly, or stop posting - simply because they aren't yet ready to take honest feedback. One has to be in a place where not too much of the ego is invested in the poem and the poet is open to learning. I love blogging, but if someone forced me to choose between the blog and the Poetry Groups I would be with the Groups. My blog is a showcase of my polished pieces, but the Group is where I learn to write poetry. This is more important for me. New members, as I said, are welcome. Are you ready to take the crit? Great. Let's do it.


LL said...

You're so right! It's nice to get feedback, even if it forces you to 'kill your darling' How can we get better if everyone just says 'wow!' or 'good work' We need to now where we can improve. I wish I was on facebook so I could join your group.

penelopephoebe said...

Genuine criticism is essential for growth.

Shashi said...

I agree with Luke and its a dillemma we face everyday.. how to comment. Some of the times I do write separately to the individual if I can add some thoughts to his / her writings, as I know, like me when we write, we write the best to our capabilities. So its a vry sensitive issue.. too.
I have request to join your group and here is the link of the poetry group that I have started, where I just share thoughts, good verses some of my own and some of the people who are there, who do so time to time..


Have a look if you like... Cheers!!

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya
Twitter: @VerseEveryDay
Blog: http://shadowdancingwithmind.blogspot.com

Pete Marshall said...

a great spotlight...i love Lukes work and respect him for what he is achieving....

a great thread has also been started here and its good to see it opened up....commenting...the big issue..

for my own personal self i am open to any form of critique positive or negative as long as it is constructive...but then that goes without saying...if people want to read my poems and just comment i am also fine with that...i enjoy writing, i can only write what i write and if its to be liked or disliked then i am open to that by publishing it on the blog...i am self taught..i have never studied poetry i just know what i like which leads me on to how i comment on others...i dont feel i know enough to criticise someones work on style, pattern, form, meter and so forth...so i will say how the poem made me feel when i read it...

one thing i will say though is the key to good writing is writing more and more all the time...positive comments do encourage you to write more and thus become a better writer............if you want to critique do it in a positive manner...if you spot a flaw that you wish to point out then do so but dont forget to praise the parts you liked also..we all start from somewhere and more poets is surely a good thing for humanity

cheers Pete

Brian Miller said...

luke does some amazing things with words...and i agree with your feedback on honest crit...if you want to get better you have to get beyond the ego and take some honest rub....

Pete Marshall said...

well put Mr Miller

Myrna R. said...

Well, I'll check out the facebook group. I can use all the help I can get. I know nothing - so I start with an empty cup to fill. I hope I don't get disouraged.

lukepraterswordsalad said...

I'm glad this kicked off a discussion on the issue. Crit I think is essential, but tact is also good. And, as you say, Pete, to point out the bits that worked too... the bits you liked... even more constructively, say WHY they worked. Abuse there us no place for and I won't tolerate it. Why dishearten somebody by pouring unnecessary ridicule on their work?

But let me say a big THANK YOU to Claudia and One Stop Poetry for Spotlighting me this week - big love to y'all... and let's keep writing strong

Luke @ WordSalad

ps. Claudia - I usually centre-align my villanelles, as the line-lengths can vary a lot (I usually write them in iambic meter, which yields a perfectly even rhythm but a variation of visual line-lengths - the one above is iambic tetrameter). Is it possible to centre-align it? No problem if not. Thanks again

Hope said...

this may be a dumb question for I am a self taught poet but what is it that you actually correct in poetry besides, spelling, punctuation, grammar?

Is poetry not an expression of someone's feelings with the goal of communicating to another the unspoken word? and if that unspoken word is understood then have you not, as a poet, completed what you set out to do?

And is there a certain stereotypical goal in mind?Something to aspire to as all poets should aim? What is expected of a poet?

okay so it was more than one question :)

Hope said...

Luke~ you do some amazing things with words. That is something I could learn. Brilliant piece. thank you

Caty said...

Hope, I didn't think it a dumb question(s); I was thinking along the same lines. And I agree also with Pete's view of criticism.

lukepraterswordsalad said...

@Hope - it's about honing the craft of poetry, so the content/theme/message can be heard as clearly and strongly as possible. There are many aspects to the craft of poetry. Structure, aural poetic device (rhyme, alliteration, repetition etc etc), visual device (metaphor, simile, personification etc etc), scansion (scanning/rhythm, where applicable, though even free verse has rhythm, cadence, musicality within lines), and more. Now a novice poet may have a very important/powerful message/theme, but it is clouded/cluttered by cliched phrasing, redundant words/phrases/whole stanzas sometimes (saying the same thing over again; this just clutters), inappropriate structure/total lack of structure (this can make it very difficult to read, for a start. No line-breaks in a very long piece is usually a bad idea - but every case is different - it may be appropriate). In poetry every word must earn its place on the page/screen. Every single one. Like Coleridge said, and it still stands, in my opinion, "[poetry is] the perfect words in their perfect order". You can get away with some redundant words, a bit of extra baggage in lengthy prose pieces (certainly in a novel, though at a professional level, every word should earn its place there too), but with poetry, it stands there, just a few lines, bared to the world. Every word counts. They must be the right ones, in the right order, to allow your emotion/message/voice to sing out like you want it to. Constructive crit/getting technical with poetry is all about honing our craft.

Shashi said...

Very well said Luke.

ॐ नमः शिवाय
Om Namah Shivaya

scentofmyheart said...

I have the best for respect for people who have the education to write in proper form and I truly admire them, but let me ask few question ...who taught the very first poets how to write? Wasn't it back then just the feeling said with words? And only because they remained famous through all these centuries now Shakespearean sonnet is a style of writing? How about your own style?

Hope said...

gotcha! Thank you so much for clarifying this Luke. Much more to ponder now. Actually, your words just excited me a little more about writing poetry.

Caty~ thank you! :)

Pete M~ Perfectly said!

Claudia said...

just came back from work and first thing...had a look at the comments - and i'm thrilled about the conversation and discussion - love it!
thank you so much Luke for not only sharing your poetry and the info about your crit group but also for being around to answer the questions..you rock!!!
(also saw the poem is centre-aligned now...thanks to the OS team!)

I joined Luke's group some days ago and think it's a fantastic and fruitful place to be!

Asobime said...

I agree with this: how are we to grow if we don't get the proper criticism?

I've written privately to a poet, in critique of his/her poem, and many times I have not received any acknowledgment. Sometimes, yes, but it's a sensitive matter.

I think it is important to go broadly amongst other poets and seek crits....But I would caution going amongst general writers who are NOT poets. This I have done, and I get little for the effort.

Poets are a special breed: they have a grasp (or don't) on structure, form, rhythm, etc.

I would want to join a group like this.

Thanks for posting this interesting article.

Lady Nyo

dustus said...

Thanks, Luke, for stepping into the spotlight and sharing both your villanelle and motivations for creating a platform for constructive criticism— which is indeed what you call "a gift," as well as a needed means for artistic improvement for those seeking it. Sounds like a helpful group you've established upon both supportive intentions and feedback leading to polished skill. Look forward to checking it out.
Thanks Claudia. Great

libithina said...

really great read Luke ~ this word salad had me eating every word ~ Salut

lukepraterswordsalad said...

Cheers all for that feedback. Scent of My Heart (Blaga) - let me come back to your question later if I may? I have an answer to it but it's quite involved.

lukepraterswordsalad said...

Cheers all for that feedback. Scent of My Heart (Blaga) - let me come back to your question later if I may? I have an answer to it but it's quite involved.

libithina said...

indeed 'salad' is one of my favorite delights ~ visual savour ~

Joanne said...

The rhythm of the villanelle is so well-balanced for some reason. Very smooth to sound inside the head. Challenging imagery, dark and deep. Will join your FB group tomorrow after I check out some of the blogs.

Cor said...

It was only a few weeks back that I actually learned about Luke. Luke you are very talented, keep up the excellent work. Claudia, great spotlight, you are doing fantastic! Can't wait to see more fantastic spotlights from Claudia and great works from Luke.

lukepraterswordsalad said...

In reply to Scent of My Heart /Blaga:

Lit/poetry, like most other areas, has two sets of laws: one arbitrary, which are just made up by someone once, or developed by a group/several people over a period and have a lot to do with what's in fashion during a particular epoch etc. These rules can and do get broken constantly. The other are natural laws, like the laws of physics, that just cannot be broken. Or at least, if they are, it has to be done in quite some style and takes a very special kind of stand-out genius type. Novice poets who don't understand those rules just look like.. well, novice poets. That's the very reason they look like novice poets and why when anyone saw their poetry they would immediately see that it doesn't interest them very much.

The sonnet, for instance, is an arbitrary, made-up form, but it's meter, iambic pentameter, isn't so arbitrary. The reason it was adopted and became so common is because a) it is the closest to how the majority of us actually speak; and b) by using that meter (if you're gonna go with metered lines), it makes absolutely damn sure that the line will flow smoothly and that their will be no doubt whatsoever as to how many stresses the line has rhythmically.

Because we are all human beings with ears/eyes/a brain, the transmission of spoken/written language from page/mouth to brain has to observe some physical laws, obviously. So it actually is partially in the realm of physics. And neuroscience too of course. That's why there are natural laws to the craft of poetry which aren't "made up" and easily disposable.

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