Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What is a Setting Poem?

Before I discuss the specifics of setting poems, I'd like to introduce a major concept in poetry which is often overlooked when trying to categorize poems.  Essentially, any poem has elements of every poem.  For example, in Bishop's "In the Waiting Room," it's a narrative poem, but we have the elements of a child-like voice and the setting details surrounding her narrative.  In Larkin's "Church Going," we have a similar effect, but it's a setting poem because the narrative is somewhat less important, but we still have some elements of narrative along with the voice of a man who's detached from religion and church in general.


Today's discussion will focus on Philip Larkin's "Church Going" and  Yusef Komunyakaa's "Sunday Afternoons" (Magic City version).
Komunyakaa's "Sunday Afternoons" takes this a step further.  In "Sunday Afternoons," we have a strong narrative movement - the poem starts with the children being sent out to the yard, it reflects back on the family events surrounding this, and then comes back in the end to that last view of the house: "If I held my right hand above my eyes..."  The events are generalized to reveal the pattern of Sundays rather than just a single Sunday, but there is a story being told.  The voice, too, is exceptionally strong.  Phrases like "we were drunk & brave" and "Where did we learn to be unkind...?" reveal the narrator's older perspective looking back on a younger time.

"Sunday Afternoons" is considered a setting poem not due to a lack of narrative or voice, but because the setting is the dominant element in this poem of setting, narrative, and voice.  From the first line, "They'd latch the screendoors / & pull venetian blinds,"  the narrative in this poem is driven by these setting details.  The sense of formless anger is revealed through "Speckled eggs, blue as rage," and "...gospel on the radio, / Loud as shattered glass."  The voice, too - the character's sense of realization - comes out through metaphors drawn from the setting: "The backyard trees breathed / Like a man running from himself."

As you write your own setting poems, I'd like you to bear in mind this idea of combined forms.  Often, the temptation in writing a poem like this would be to start and end with the setting.  For example, I could write a poem about my childhood room that would go something like this:
Desk so cluttered
there was no desk.
The lamp was a spindled island
of aluminum
and light.
It's a nice image, yes, but this short poem goes little farther than that.  The idea of an "island of aluminum and light" seems to imply something, but it's impossible to say what.  Is this a commentary on childhood?  Or maybe regret due a lack of clerical organization?  Let's expand this to see if we can't develop something further:
They told me
to clean my desk.
Out my stuff would go:
the papers, the cheap sci fi pulps,
that beanie green turtle thing from Shelley at Christmas.
The black bag waited,
plastic and Hefty,
thirty-gallon maw
of hunger.

"You need space to work,"
they said,
pointing to the lamp,
that spindled island
of aluminum
and light.
Right away, this poem develops a great deal more tension (granted it has more lines to work with - this helps).  We have "they" in that first line - a very malevolent presence in this poem.  The Hefty bag represents a "thirty gallon maw / of hunger."  There's a kind of narrative tension here - the narrator versus "them" and "their Hefty bag," but we don't know from where exactly this tension arises.  The setting has established the situation, and it's given us elements of voice in the line of "Out my stuff would go."  There's a sense of resignation here, with the possibility of resistance, but it's uncertain.  If we wanted to pick it apart, we could say that "would" implies an older voice looking back, whereas using "will" could have given the sense of a child facing the Hefty bag here-and-now.

But let's not go that far today.  Instead, I'd like you to focus on what it is you'll write about.  The real problem with setting poems is that they are very rarely about the setting.  "Church Going" uses churches and their decay to reveal a larger truth about human society.  "Sunday Afternoons" uses the house and the yard to reveal a complicated family situation.  For your setting poems, I'd like you to do something similar.  Find a story or a truth from life that you'd like to explore (and it doesn't need to be from your own life by any means).  Think about a place to reveal this truth (if it's a story, just consider where it happened).  Write a list of the setting details from this place.  Consider how each one reveals the tension of the story/situation.  And from there, write your setting images to reveal the narrative and the voice together.

Please feel free to post questions below or send me an e-mail.

Happy Writing,
Ryan


40 comments:

  1. I think I will come to your workshop more often, as I am learning so much from you. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  2. There is big competition among students to get admission in good medical school but only few students qualified for scholarship. Your tips are pretty awesome for passing the competitive examination MCAT and get an admission. All those people who are looking for someone to write papers can contact with a firm college paper writing service from our source within their budget.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks for the best blog.it was very useful for me.keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. Thanks for giving me the useful information. I think I need it!
    pacman games |happy wheels games |little pony games | unblockedgames
    friv 4 kizi4| unblocked games unblocked games for kids
    madness project nexus hacked
    happy wheels hacked
    hulk game

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you very much for your post, it makes us have more and more discs in our life, So kind for you, I also hope you will make more and more excellent post and let’s more and more talk, thank you very much, dear.
    happy wheels| friv|monster high| shooting games| tetris| 8 ball pool
    cool math games| barbie games| friv4school| agario| sudoku

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can reword my essay with the help of these services. I am so thankful to them..

    ReplyDelete
  6. It was great for me and I realized that it was more amazing if you share more, good luck
    happy wheels
    super mario bros
    pacman
    agario

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey kids, make sure you cooperate with bang-up writing services to showcase your works. Such blogs do give you enough support and inspiration but rest is vested with you only.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Truyen ngon tinh hay la the loai truyen tinh cam
    Truyen teen hay la nhung truyen tinh yeu tuoi teen
    Don doc tai trang doc truyen online.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I really enjoy reading this article. Hope that you would do great in upcoming time. A perfect post.
    abcya | abcya 10 | cool math games

    ReplyDelete
  10. I want to tell all of you that poetry and best essay australia is not easy job and we can learn here about a setting poem. It is very beneficent for the people who are interested in poetry writing and they understand easily what the writer want to say.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Everyone, I wanna tell all of you that poetry and Best essays is not easy job and we can learn here about a setting poem. It is very beneficent for the people who are interested in poetry writing and they understand easily what the writer want to say and i also really enjoy reading this. All those people who are looking for someone to write papers can contact Research Paper Writing Service from our source within their budget.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Get details of National Cat Day 2016,know about Happy National Cat Day.Visit by blog and get surprises of Cat Day.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I was working and suddenly I visits your site frequently and recommended it to me to read also. Age Of War 2
    Big Farm | Slitherio
    Tank Trouble | Happy Wheels
    Goodgeme Empire | Slither.io

    ReplyDelete
  14. Prized for their archetypal designs and assorted appearance options, the Air-King, Oyster Perpetual, and Datejust are some of the best aboriginal rolex replica to advance in. Plus, with their affable amount points, these accurate models are an attainable admission into the replica watches uk club.Crown & Caliber, the aboriginal online exchange alone adherent to appointment affluence watches, offers a simple, safe and assisting average to breitling replica
    buy and advertise affluence timepieces.

    ReplyDelete
  15. All the best blogs that is very useful for keeping me share the ideas
    of the future as well this is really what I was looking for, and I am
    very happy to come here. Thank you very much
    stick war 2| gold mine strike |animal jam 2 | shooting games |
    |stickman games|animal jam 2 |kids games free | games games |animal jam codes

    ReplyDelete

  16. Want to know about Cat Day, which is a special; day dedicated to your pet cat. Just check out my blog Milkeybuzz

    ReplyDelete
  17. Want to know about Veterans Day,which is a day to celebrate the great officers of the US army,just checkout my blog Veterans Day 2016 and stay updated.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Definitely pleasant content writing! When I seemed to be likewise researching linked material by reasonable length of time. You could have sorted out the dilemma. At this point click the key word Check Cashing Oceanside Appreciate it intended for giving that good material with us.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Such a very useful article. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.

    Discover our website bounty of free online games now!
    Our website has the biggest collection of free online games. Totally new games are added every day!

    age of War | gold Miner| unfair Mario | cubefield| tanki Online

    ReplyDelete
  20. The blog or and best that is extremely useful to keep I can share the ideas. Age Of War 2
    Big Farm | Slitherio | Tank Trouble
    Of the future as this is really what I was looking for, I am very comfortable and pleased to come here. Thank you very much.
    Happy Wheels | Goodgeme Empire | Slither.io


    ReplyDelete
  21. New Year 2017 is just round the corner, and it is one of the most celebrated days of the year. You can checkout my blog New Year 2017 Wallpapers for all other latest updates.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Ladies Rolex Watches JavyEstrella.com is a Los Angeles-based wholesaler and online retailer of authentic luxury watches. Their experts have a combined expertise of over 75 years of selling, buying and distributing authentic Rolex and other luxury watches worldwide.

    ReplyDelete
  23. تعتبر العاب طبخ جديدة 2017 الاكتر شهرة وطلبا في النت فكل الفئات تحبها منها الصغار والكبار و الاولاد و البنات و العاب طبخ بنات هي بداتها تحتوي على عدة اصناف
    al3ab-banat01
    العاب طبخ على al3ab-banat01

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank for sharing!Great! please keep!
    Feel free to visit my website! the best free online games for you! funny game wormax.io, game wheely 8 | Games for kids at zoxy name | kizi Much fun! I hope you guys have enjoyed it! Much fun


    ReplyDelete
  25. Play Slither io Online, a snake game like Agario where worms must eat light to grow and can't touch the others, except when they become growing bulbs too. The best free online Twizl games, juegos Twizl, jogos Twizlfrom the top game developers all over the world. Zoxy is the best entertainment site with free games.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank you very much for your post, it makes us have more and more discs in our life, So kind for you, I also hope you will make more and more excellent post and let’s more and more talk, thank you very much, dear.
    friv 100 | Friv 10 | agar.io | twizl games

    ReplyDelete

  27. تتنوع العاب فلاش وذلك على حسب كل شخص ورغبته فهناك عدة انواع منها وهناك من هي خاصة بالبنات واخرى للاولاد وتعتبر من اكتر الالعاب انتشارا في الويب وهي محبوبة عند الجميع ولديها جمهور واسع كما انها سهلة اللعب والجميع يمكنه لعبها بسهولة تامة بدون صعوبات تذكر كما ان هناك انواع اخرى متل العاب طبخ ومكياج و سيارات الى غير ذلك فلك صنف جمهوره ومحبيه ولكن تبقى العاب بنات الاكتر انتشارا وشعبيتنا في عالم العاب الفلاش كما انها تحتوي على شخصيات معروفة وغنية عن التعريف متل باربي و سندريلا وشخصيات اخرى تركت بصمتها في هذا المجال لهذا اصبح يعتمد عليها كتيرا في صنف العاب بنات الدي تحبه البنات بكترة خاصة في العالم العربي مما يجعل المواقع الخاصة بهذا النوع تزداد يوما بعدالاخر

    للمزيد من المعلومات عن العاب 10 العاب

    ReplyDelete
  28. I enjoyed over read your blog post. Your blog have nice information, I got good ideas from this amazing blog. I am always searching like this type blog post. I hope I will see again.
    friv 3
    friv4school 2017
    kizi 2
    zoxy games
    frivfriv

    ReplyDelete
  29. Mais uma vez, obrigada ao Parlamento por comungar da visão que informa a nova política dos consumidores Juegos Friv Juegos YooB Friv4school Juegos YooB Friv Games assente no mercado Jeux De Friv Friv Juegos YooB Juegos YooB a visão de um mercado de Juegos YooB consumidores informados e capacitados que procuram e usufruem

    ReplyDelete
  30. A todos que partilham e trabalham sob estas mesmas convicções e princípios Juegos Friv Friv 360 Friv4school 2020 Senhor Deputado Cashman, agradeço-lhe a informação. Jeux De Friv 2018 Juegos De Roblox Juegos De Zoxy Mais uma vez, obrigada ao Parlamento por comungar da visão que informa a nova política dos consumidores Gry Friv Juegos Friv 4 Jogos De Five Nights at Freddy's Juegos Friv 3 assente no mercado - a visão de um mercado de consumidores informados e capacitados que procuram e usufruem, com confiança,

    ReplyDelete
  31. Di nuovo, ringrazio il Parlamento perché condivide la prospettiva di una Fofy 2 Friv 2021 Jogos Fofy nuova politica per i consumatori basata sul mercato Juegos Fofy Juegos Friv 2020 Juegos Twizl Friv Per anni vi siete affidati ad Ethernet per la condivisione di informazioni Twizl Twizl Friv Twizy Games ous Grazie per condividere con noi YooB i tuoi piani e mostrare paso dopo passo il progetto..

    ReplyDelete
  32. Herr Cashman, ich danke Ihnen für diese Information. Juegos Friv Kizi Juegos Friv Wir danken aber auch Ihnen Juegos De Friv Juegos Friv YooB liebe Leserinnen und Leser, fur Ihr Interesse und Ihre Mitwirkung Juegos Friv YooB Juegos Friv Juegos Friv die Informationsgesellschaft in der Schweiz voranzubringen.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Danke, dafur dass Ihr jeden Tag mit uns die Hl. Messe gefeiert habt, fur all die Reparaturen im ganzen Haus Friv 10 Friv 2018 Friv 2019 fur Euere Bereitschaft YooB YooB Games YooB immer zur Verfugung zu stehen YooB Games Twizl Friv Games Jeux De YooB Danke, dass Sie Ihr Muhen um den Aufbau des Leibes Christi mit uns teilten.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Ihnen allen vielen Dank dafur, dass Sie diesen glucklichen Tag mit uns teilen. Fofy Games Friv 2018 Friv 2019 wir danken euch fur das bisherige Teilnehmen lassen, mochten aber den Rundbrief nicht mehr erhalten Friv 2020 Friv4school 2019 Zoxy 2 Ich mochte Kommissar Fischler fur seine Freimütigkeit und Offenheit danken, Gogy Games Juegos De Gogy Juegos Twizy Zox1 n der er uns jeden unternommenen Schritt erläutert und die verschiedenen vom Wissenschaftlichen Lenkungsausschu

    ReplyDelete
  35. Wir danken Ihnen
    Friv4school 2018 Gry Friv 2 Gry Friv 5 dass Sie diese Hoffnung mit uns teilen und diesen Schritt auf dem Pilgerweg des Vertrauens Gry Friv Juegos Friv 100 Juegos Friv 1000 mit uns gegangen sind. Juegos Friv 5 Juegos De Friv 2 Juegos Friv 250 Juegos Yepi wir danken Ihnen für das Interesse an unseren Produkten und hoffe

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thank you both for sharing Holy Mass with us each day FNAF Sister Location FNAF Sister Location Minijuegos Friv 2018 to make yourselves available Friv Twizl Jeux De Twizl Juegos De FNAF Sister Location when we were called out late at night and any other time and for your support and encouragement in every respect. Juegos Friv 2021 Twizl Gratis Juegos Gratis Juegos De Twizl

    ReplyDelete

  37. Sr. Cashman, le doy las gracias por esta información. Friv 2019 Friv Friv 2018 n todo momento puede Gry Friv 3 Friv 2019 Friv Friv 3 optar por compartir su información personal con terceros. Friv Friv 2020 Friv Gracias por compartir su pasión por el mejoramiento de las vidas de los niños en el Estado de Nueva York

    ReplyDelete