A Cosmopolitan, A Bit of Irony, and Ohio

One poem that I think is the easiest one to look at for the structural change that doesn’t necesarily follow a large turn, or even having to do with an emblem, is the poem ohio by m loncar. It is a short and sweet simple poem that gets across, not only the irony, but the shift in voice without making a huge dramatic turn.

“besides spilling the better half, as well as the steamier half,

of mcdonald’s  best try at a cup of coffee on my crotch,

the ride out of ohio passed without incident. (pg 23)”

I really like how simple this poem is in creating the shift/turn. The speaker seems clearly bitter about the ‘coffee in my crotch’, but he tries to end the poem with a happy thought, in a way, by telling the reader that the ‘ride out of ohio passes without incident’. I think I like this poem a lot becuase I feel like most people tellingan account of a trip where something bad happened would probably tell it like this. So not only was this poem giving me an easier way to approach the turn/shift aspect of structure, but it also gave me a look into how the shift can be an everyday normal human behavior that is tended to be looked over.

Another thing that I’ve noticed has been within The Cosmopolitan by Donna Stonecipher. She tends to take the turns in her poems as questions and sometimes doesn’t even fully answer them with the same speaker. For example, in Inlay 2 ( Elaine Scarry) #4 on page 15, she states as her very first line:

“Which would you rather your head be full of, facts or ideas? (Clouds, riposted the


She starts off the poem with a questions and then directly doesn’t answer it but links it to images and ideas. I took this as another interesting turn that I could probably use later on in my own work. It would be really interesting to try to run a question/questions through a poem and not answer them but ponder them with images and then possibly come back to them later like she does in the next line by having another speaker address the question:

“Facts are finate, said the dreamer. Ideas reproduce exponentially, said the monkey.”

I would love to use this kind of turn that Stonecipher uses as well as m loncar. I think by using the simplist techniques such as human behavior and even answering questions with images and different speakers I could really try to come across perfecting my own turns/shifts in my poetry.


2 Responses to “A Cosmopolitan, A Bit of Irony, and Ohio”

  1. stephroush Says:

    I like your notion of questioning in the Inlays and I posted about how I see the turn a little differently, but on the same questioning lines. What I was suggesting, which now that I read back through your post might not be that different, is that Donna Stonecipher turns by not answering, but the actual turn/shift is in the question posed by not answering which redirects my line of thought. You mention running questions throughout as a technique and I think that seems like one possibility for happening upon our own underlying questions when we write.

  2. I think I’ve said before how interested I am in using questions in poems, and I find that not only do they allow me a presence without having to say, “I wonder,” but they are also very helpful when I’m stuck in my writing. GC Waldrep said that when he got stuck, he would go back through and repeat an already-used-image in order to get going again. I pose questions as a way of propelling a poem forward.

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