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Thread: The Imagist

  1. #16
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    You're not going to be an outcast, miyako. Really, Hawk and I are amongst the gentlest of poetry critics you can find online that do more than just say if we like something or not. But we welcome anyone who's willing to be criticized to post their work. You just have have to accept that not everyone is going to see it as you do.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

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  2. #17
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    Did you really think I ran away? Hell no! I just found your incomplete understanding of formalism and new formalism naive and sophomoric. Your criticisms are form-oriented as if content is unimportant.

    I'm not here for arguments but for insights. Frankly my dear, your criticisms come out to me as more about you than someone's poem. I usually shut up when I sense nothing worthy of my time.
    Last edited by miyako73; 05-07-2012 at 10:53 PM.
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  3. #18
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    ""Key words" and "couplet ties" are formal terms, related to how Shakespeare developed a word over the course of a sonnet. Again, it's a formal feature of his sonnets. And Vendler uses terms like quatrain, couplet, octet, sestet, structure, chiasmus, etc. repeatedly, which are all formal terms as well. "

    How can I take you seriously with that? "Couplet" is the formal term. "Couplet tie" is Vendler's way of probing ambiguous words, shifting meanings, form-affected contents in a (Shakespearean) sonnet. You said you are a formalist and a fan of Vendler, but what you wrote said otherwise. You seemed clueless in this one. I'm not nitpicking; I'm close-reading.
    Last edited by miyako73; 05-08-2012 at 12:20 AM.
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  4. #19
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    I'm just going to ignore the silly ad hominem.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Your criticisms are form-oriented as if content is unimportant.
    It's naive and sophomoric to think that form and content are inextricable from each other. Read Brooks: Form is content. Content is meaningless without understanding how form renders it. If all I cared about was referents and signifieds I would only read philosophy or science.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Your criticisms come out to me as more about you than someone's poem.
    You mentioned Empson in another thread, Empson was influenced by Richards, who made the strong case (that has been taken up valiantly again by Christopher Ricks even in the wake of New Criticism and Postructuralism) that to ignore the relationship between reader and text is foolish. Texts alone can't tell us why we care about them to begin with. Practical Criticism is about discussing a reader's reaction in relationship with a text, and not the text just by itself.

    So the fact that my criticisms tell you something about me shouldn't be dismissed. All criticism tells us something about the critic; that's inevitable. Maybe you don't care about your audience and critics, and to that I say: good for you. Not sarcastically, but seriously. Learning that you write poetry for yourself and not to please people like me is an important part in the process. On the other hand, you still choose to post your poems on forums like these. That tells me that, on the one hand, you care enough about criticism to do so, but, on the other hand, you only care about it if you receive your ideal criticism, IE, someone gushing over your poems' brilliance and taking the time to parse every aspect--every image, every possible meaning, etc.. As I said elsewhere, that's something you have to earn by making us care first. The fact that you've failed (relatively) for me is nobody's fault, it's just a fact. Get over it.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    "Couplet" is the formal term. "Couplet tie" is Vendler's way of probing ambiguous words, shifting meanings, form-affected contents in a (Shakespearean) sonnet.
    I keep insisting that form is not limited to fixed forms and you keep ignoring it. A Couplet is a fixed form, any particular couplet is content. Likewise, a couplet tie or key word is innately form, any particular word or couplet tie is content. While there are various theories on the exact dynamic relationship between form and content (see Furniss/Bath), one interpretation is that form is an empty container in which any thing (content) can be poured into as long as it fits. A Couplet is formal because a variety of different words can fit into it in a variety of ways. Likewise, a couplet tie or key word is a form that a variety of words can fit into in a variety of ways. A Shakespearean key word is no different than a refrain except that instead of occurring at one fixed line it can occur anywhere in each quatrain and couplet.

    FWIW, the above definition of form is not exactly MY definition as I think the relationship is more fluid and gets confused quickly: Brooks discussed this when talking about diction. But there are some clear distinctions, and something like Key Word being form and any particular Key Word being content is about as straight-forward as it gets.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  5. #20
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    It's naive and sophomoric to think that form and content are inextricable from each other. Read Brooks: Form is content. Content is meaningless without understanding how form renders it. If all I cared about was referents and signifieds I would only read philosophy or science.

    When did you decide to change your tone? Now that you have seen the light, apply it in your critiques.

    Go back to your critique of this Sapphic stanza. You went directly to your conclusion of falsity based on my placement of the formal negation at the end without really probing the content of the adonean line.

    You mocked my last line, "Formalists are dead," without really understanding it. Who are the (pure) formalists? Those are the language traditionalists, the structural linguists, the rhetoricians. The Russian and Eastern European pioneers of this school of thought died a long time ago. Tynianov, Jakobson, Bakhtin, Lotman are all dead formalists. Their formalism is what you have been doing in your criticism.

    You kept on mentioning Vendler, yet you haven't really followed New Criticism in you style of critiquing. One of the misconceptions about New Criticism is the idea that form is separate from content or form is above content.

    When your every reaction to a poem is about metering, rhyming, syllabic counting, you are following the formalism of the Russians and the Czechs. Vendler studies the forms to understand the content and studies the content to understand the form.

    You mentioned Empson in another thread, Empson was influenced by Richards, who made the strong case (that has been taken up valiantly again by Christopher Ricks even in the wake of New Criticism and Postructuralism) that to ignore the relationship between reader and text is foolish. Texts alone can't tell us why we care about them to begin with. Practical Criticism is about discussing a reader's reaction in relationship with a text, and not the text just by itself.

    Your critiques are not about reader-text relationship or reception theory, but what you have read and what you know. Stick to the poem, for God's sake. Do you want a sample? Here:

    "The key word in that poem is the "I" that begins it, because the last line is a falsity (either that, or poets like AE Stallings and critics like Helen Vendler are figments of my imagination... which wouldn't be so bad, come to think of it!)."

    That is a classic example of ignorance being bliss. You mocked your own deficiency. Stallings a formalist? There is no flexibility in Formalism but certainty of form.

    I think you want to be a New Formalist, a hip name for the literary traditionalist, classical rhetorician, anti-modernist of the 21st century. New formalism, as a literary school of thought, will remain a moribund intellectual group now and in the future because the very foundation of its reactionary endeavor is to go back to the past. It is like the "new environmentalism," in which, instead of embracing the future, environmentalists go back to a savage life, eat weeds, and live in caves.

    I read somewhere (and I can't remember the journal) that formalism of a different kind is the future of literary criticism. I think it is the treatment of texts as artifacts with narratives. In this exercise, literary critics become textual archaeologists. That makes sense. Vendler is getting there.

    As far as I can remember nobody did key word and couplet tie analyses before the emergence of close-reading. You made couplet tie sound like a standard term or concept in classical literary studies.

    I hope after this, you'll get my point: like you, I voraciously read.

    Another thing, negative criticisms directed towards my work do not emotionally affect me. I'm as open-minded as a whore, who can listen to any woeful stories of her clients. I'm not averse to criticism. Find a thread where I did the Vagantes way. I'm too shy for that. I wish I could.

    What I have been saying is that this forum should have more literary voices. I have no problem if you are a formalist (the Jakobson kind), but if every critique I read disregards content, that's a different story. I speak up when my intellectual growth is being limited.

    Prince has been veering us away from our dogmatic ways. The other day, his comment was about subtext and context. Yesterday, he opened our eyes to intertextuality or comparative reading. I think we should give guys like him a space to also lead in some conversations.

    Literary criticism is akin to that proverbial story about the blind man and the elephant. Formalism can only lead us to forms. What about context, writer's intent, reader's experience, narrative, sociality, surface, memory, ambiguity, sound-sense, etc.? A poem is indeed the elephant, and its critics are the blind men. They should share what they sense. Maybe they will realize their different interpretations and assessments will lead them to the best, if not certainly correct, literary analysis.

    As to form is content and content is form, let's forget it. I don't want to go back as far as Plato just to tell you this rhetoric sounds nice to our hearing, but it does not make sense. It's like saying plate is food and food is plate. Think about it.
    Last edited by miyako73; 05-08-2012 at 05:29 PM.
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  6. #21
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    When did you decide to change your tone?
    I didn’t. You’re the one that’s been insisting that my comments about form are somehow only about form and aren’t about content as well. If I’m making comments about form, I’m also making a comment about content because the two are inextricably related.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    You mocked my last line, "Formalists are dead," without really understanding it. Who are the (pure) formalists? Those are the language traditionalists, the structural linguists, the rhetoricians. The Russian and Eastern European pioneers of this school of thought died a long time ago. Tynianov, Jakobson, Bakhtin, Lotman are all dead formalists. Their formalism is what you have been doing in your criticism.
    All wrong. All dreadfully, terribly, utterly wrong.

    1. I didn’t “mock” your last line, I stated it was a falsity.
    2. You didn’t say “pure” formalists, you said formalists. You’re making the No True Scotsman argument here.
    3. The Russian formalists, of which you list, are not the only types of formalists in existence; it’s why the adjective “Russian” was put before “formalist.”
    4. Even accepting that the original Russian formalists are dead, that hardly means their theories are dead. Terry Eagleton is just one modern critic using their theories.
    5. The Russian formalists were hardly unified in thought. In fact, it was opponents of the movement that gave it that title.

    Let’s explore 5. just a bit more. When I say the Russian formalists “were hardly unified,” a more accurate statement would be “they aren’t unified at all.” Russian formalism basically runs the gamut from Saussurian structuralism to Barthesian poststructuralism to New Critical Close Reading that doesn’t concern itself with linguistics. So for you to say “their formalism is what I’ve been doing” is humorous because you’d really have to specify WHICH I’m doing. Saying someone is doing “Russian formalist criticism” is incoherent because the term covers many different critical approaches.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    When your every reaction to a poem is about metering, rhyming, syllabic counting,
    It’s not, and it’s a flat-out lie to say that they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    you are following the formalism of the Russians and the Czechs.
    Metering, rhyming, and syllable counting has nothing to do with Russian formalism.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Your critiques are not about reader-text relationship or reception theory, but what you have read and what you know.
    EVERY critique of poetry is about what the reader has read and what they know! How in the world are they supposed to critique something using methods and ideas and ways of reading they don’t know about?

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    That is a classic example of ignorance being bliss. You mocked your own deficiency.
    Geez… my comment was entirely limited to the philosophical truthfulness of the final statement. I said nothing about anything else. You cannot encapsulate my entire critical method in that post.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Stallings a formalist? There is no flexibility in Formalism but certainty of form.
    Again: WHERE do you COME UP with this stuff?

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    New formalism, as a literary school of thought, will remain a moribund intellectual group now and in the future because the very foundation of its reactionary endeavor is to go back to the past.
    This just erroneously assumes that there is some clean break between “the past” and “modernism” when the awesome irony is that modernism and postmodernism was built on reconstructing the past. Death of the Author, a very non-formalist idea, came about by analyzing the modernist method of obscuring the author’s voice in favor of reconstructing voices of the past, so they emphasized intertextuality rather than interpersonality. But there are still many people that think the concept is far too limiting, that it doesn’t seem to account for the unique and identifiable voices in art and poetry that very much seem the product of an author rather than just explicit borrowings of previous texts.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    You made couplet tie sound like a standard term or concept in classical literary studies.
    It’s not, but it’s lack of standardization doesn’t say anything about whether it’s a formal term or content term.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    I hope after this, you'll get my point: like you, I voraciously read.
    Good for you. I think you’ve misread somewhere along the way, or mistakenly conflated various schools of thought or distorted those that already exist. If you’re getting your entire concept of “formalism” from “Russian formalism” then it’s no wonder you’re confused.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    If every critique I read disregards content, that's a different story.
    My comment in this thread was completely about content.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Yesterday, he opened our eyes to intertextuality or comparative reading.
    You’ve voraciously read but you never encountered intertextual reading until you encountered Prince’s comment? How is that possible if you’ve read the Russian formalists?

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Formalism can only lead us to forms. What about context, writer's intent, reader's experience, narrative, sociality, surface, memory, ambiguity, sound-sense, etc.?
    Context: Most formalists were never allergic to discussing context as a way to be informed of what various words and symbols meant in relation to the author and their culture.

    Writer’s Intent: Haven’t you, a voracious reader, read Wimstatt and Beardsley’s The Intentional Fallacy?

    Reader’s Experience: Reader Response grew out of New Criticism and the two aren’t all that incompatible. Richards synthesized years before either were officially around.

    Sociality: Should be left up to historians.

    Surface, memory: Don’t know what you mean

    Ambiguity: Is a part of how form complicates content.

    Sound-sense: Is form. Pope said this much.

    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    As to form is content and content is form… it does not make sense. It's like saying plate is food and food is plate. Think about it.
    I don’t know what to say except: read Cleanth Brooks’ The Well Wrought Urn. The food/plate example shows an amount of naivety, because it assumes you can lift content out of form like food off a plate and the content will still “taste” the same the way the food will. This is not true. The idea that form is content comes from the truth that there are a billion ways to say the same thing, and yet some ways (form) are more affective than others. In Pope’s words, poetry was: “what oft was thought, but ne’r so well express’d”. The ways in which thoughts are arranged (form) inevitably affects how we react to them. It's why you can tell the same story to two people, and one may take it and make it into a masterpiece novel or screenplay, and the other can barely even re-relate it.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  7. #22
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    Ok, Morpheus. I will answer you few lines at a time as I'm playing a lot of poker tourneys this week, and it seems you did not understand what I said and what you wrote. It also seems that you only read popular books and use the Internet as your reference.

    Example:

    Sound-sense: Is form. Pope said this much.

    Pope's poem, "Sound and Sense", has nothing to do with Sound-Sense and performed literature. Read M.W. Edwards and Don Geiger. Their works are about reading and listening. Readers are listeners too. They can sense something from what they read to themselves and hear, and it affects their appreciation, understanding, and criticism of what they read.

    First installment: Is Stallings A Formalist?

    Read what she wrote in "Crooked Roads Without Improvement:
    Some Thoughts on Formal Verse".


    To her, form is artificial. That is a taboo statement among real formalists. How can the very foundation of a school of thought be artificial to its practitioner? It seems she is actually a formal verse writer not a formalist.

    She also said, "I'm not against free verse." She used free verse in “How the Demons were Assimilated & Became Productive Citizens,” which I love. She is indeed flexible, too flexible for a formalist. She even attacked New Formalism.

    Flexibility, by the way, is an enemy of formalism. If you have JSTOR, which I have, read Flexibility Versus Formalism by Lise Vogel. Although it's about Formalism in art history and criticism, you will sense how the notion of permanence is related to form and how Formalism was guarded by its early purveyors against flexible practice and interpretation. Yes, this is a 1968 article from Art Journal. Its historicity might interest you.
    Last edited by miyako73; 05-09-2012 at 08:57 AM.
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  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Let's stop this, Morpheus. It's ruining my sex drive. Let's just write poetry.
    Och, how refreshing.

  9. #24
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    I hope you will let me finish answering all your confusions and misreadings before responding and shooting more confused questions and misreadings. I will recommend readings from now on. Since I have been accused of being pretentious, let me pretend and "edify" you.
    "You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same."

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  10. #25
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hallaig View Post
    Och, how refreshing.
    Read what he wrote about me running away.

    Here's what he wrote:

    "Call the fire
    Department
    This
    Isn’t
    Pleasant-

    Ville!"

    And the saddest thing: he thought he was right. Damnnnnnn! It seems there's no god; idiocy still prevails. I'll be acerbic from now on. My English is better when I refuse to be passive.
    "You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same."

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    I wasn't being sarky. I agree we should just write poetry. Race you!

  12. #27
    King of Dreams MorpheusSandman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    it seems you did not understand what I said
    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    Read what he wrote about me running away.

    Here's what he wrote:
    I so adore irony... I should really work to use more of it in my own poetry. This is just one delicious example.

    I wasn't referring to you in that passage, and it wasn't about running away. Try again, Mr./Mrs. Infallible and Informed Reader.

    Another irony alert:
    Quote Originally Posted by miyako73 View Post
    It also seems that you... use the Internet as your reference.

    Example... Pope's poem, "Sound and Sense",
    Pope never wrote a poem called "Sound and Sense". I wondered where you got that from, and then I typed in "Pope sound and sense" on Google and found this, which fails to mention that that piece is an excerpt from An Essay on Criticism. Now, either you used the internet as a reference, or you just coincidentally decided to give that excerpt the same title that an internet search engine churned out!

    I'll let you finish your reply and check out your links in the meantime. See, if you recommend me something to read, I'll read it. I've mentioned Brooks to you I don't know how many times and you seem to be ignoring me.
    Last edited by MorpheusSandman; 05-09-2012 at 10:20 AM.
    "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light of meaning in the darkness of mere being." --Carl Gustav Jung

    "To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due." --Neil Gaiman; The Sandman Vol. 4: Season of Mists

    "I'm on my way, from misery to happiness today. Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" --The Proclaimers

  13. #28
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    Ahem! You are now denying that your "A Poem by Logics Cat" is not about me and my poem, "Invisible Pain." My God! If you think your readers are morons, I'm not one of them. Hawk, your "bandwagoner", will really be proud.

    Maybe this is how it happened. I mentioned sound-sense in my appreciation and criticism of poetry, you googled it, and voila... Pope's "Sound and Sense" came out, and then you used it as if it was related to performed literature, reader as listener, and interpreting the interpreter.

    I did not say anything about sound and sense being poetic themes. I mentioned "sound-sense" as a valuable tool in literary criticism. By the way, the relationship between sound and sense is a theoretical staple among performance theorists. Guess what... poetry reading (reading to a crowd or to one's self) is performance that involves understanding and interpretation of a text.

    Also, when a reader reads a poem to himself and hears it, there is already a process of sensing and interpreting going on. What he senses and how he interprets affect his appreciation and criticism of the poem. Pope did not say anything like that in his poem. Leave him alone in his grave.

    Second installment: Death of the Author

    You Wrote:

    "Death of the Author, a very non-formalist idea, came about by analyzing the modernist method of obscuring the author’s voice in favor of reconstructing voices of the past, so they emphasized intertextuality rather than interpersonality. "


    Read Barthes' "Death of the Author". Read it twice or even thrice; you might misread it again.

    How can it be about reconstructing the past when the past of the book is the author according to Barthes? The digging of the past is done by critics Barthes vilifies in the article.

    Death of the Author is about empowering readers, liberalizing interpretation, and letting a language speak.

    It's strange that you are trying to resurrect the author with intertextuality, which is about authoring and authorship, influence of text/author on another text/author, orchestrated writing, reading, and referencing.

    Denying authors their authorship is a tool in literary criticism. A confessional poem becomes a narrative of just about anyone but not of its author. Readers, in this case, extend the text and refuse to recognize the control of its author. Knowing the author before the text, which is becoming a literary fetish in biographical reading, is thus avoided.

    Since you have provoked me, and your provocation is between arrogance and insult, I won't shut up. One thing I hate is when a mosquito thinks his bite is that of a cobra.
    Last edited by miyako73; 05-09-2012 at 03:13 PM.
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  14. #29
    Registered User miyako73's Avatar
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    I nearly forgot. You mentioned Pope and wrote this:

    "Sound-sense: Is form. Pope said this much."

    I guess this one is really saying much about sound and sense in poetry or in literary theory.


    Sound and Sense
    by Alexander Pope

    True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
    As those move easiest who have learned to dance.
    'Tis not enough no harshness gives offense,
    The sound must seem an echo to the sense:
    Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
    And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
    But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
    The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar;
    When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
    The line too labors, and the words move slow;
    Not so, when swift Camilla scours the plain,
    Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main.
    Hear how Timotheus' varied lays surprise,
    And bid alternate passions fall and rise!

    It was you who were misled by what you read Online. Don't blame your folly on me. I did not use Pope as my reference; you did.
    Last edited by miyako73; 05-09-2012 at 03:50 PM.
    "You laugh at me because I'm different, I laugh at you because you're all the same."

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  15. #30
    The puddytat you saw Hawkman's Avatar
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    Sorry my original reply was posted in the wrong thread, but it kind of applies here too.

    Really, you should have this debate in the Poems Poets and Poetry thread.

    Live and be well - H
    Last edited by Hawkman; 05-09-2012 at 06:27 PM.
    Oh no, not again...

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