Monday, February 24, 2014

Assignment 12: Response to Robert Hull

image: Alone - Belhoula Amir

Arundel Swimming Pool

is good fun
for everyone –

teeter toddlers
bald dawdlers
and ancient waddlers
keen lean chaps
in goggles and skull-caps
counting the laps –

it’s great
for the two-yard dashers
unnecessary splashers
crawlers, sprawlers
screamers, dreamers
bare-back riders
sun-lotioned idlers
drop-outs on loungers
tiny ice-cream scroungers

it’s so smashing for everyone
with all the slosh
and swirl and splash
and shouting friendly din
and the view of the castle
and blue sky now and again
and clouds and swallows and martins
skimming in –

they’re going to close it
and turn it into an Important
perhaps Significant
possibly Exclusive and Prestigious
or even Significantly and Prestigiously Exclusive


and instead of an old swimming pool
which is only good fun for everyone
they’ll have something to make a lot of money
for someone.

(poem by Robert Hull)


For this week’s poetry assignment, I chose to respond to Robert Hull’s Arundel Swimming Pool.  I wanted to choose subject matter that I had written about in the past and investigate the poet’s approach.  After searching for swimming pool poems on Google, I stumbled across Hull’s work and fell in love with it.  At first I compared it with mine – I remembered that during the in-class critique, it was suggested that my poem’s story take a turn or develop to an interesting ending.  Robert Hull definitely achieved that in Arundel Swimming Pool.  He began by setting up a fun and whimsical scene, a cheerful day at the pool that most everyone can relate to.  In the end, however, the joy is taken away when the reader finds out the government is closing the pool.  There is already contrast established in mood, but also in the way it is written.  The beginning rhyme scheme is clever and bouncy, which of course reflects the tone Hull wishes to establish.  When he begins to discuss the pool’s closing, however, the rhyming ceases and the lines become longer and more formal.

While writing my own swimming pool poem, I focused a great deal on word choice.  There are definitely certain words that are more appropriate for a story that takes place at a public pool in the summer.  Robert Hull used some really great language to express this, and I especially appreciated his simple use of rhyme.  There isn’t a strict pattern to his rhymes and this adds more spontaneity.  Arundel Swimming Pool also uses wonderful repetition, for almost all the lines directly describe the various people one sees at a swimming pool.  Because the setting is so heavily human-based, for pools are generally associated with being overcrowded, Hull’s focus on a diverse population paints the perfect picture.  Some of my favorite lines were “Sun-lotioned idlers, backwards-down-the-sliders, drop-outs on loungers, tiny ice cream scroungers”.  So many stereotypes and ages are represented, from tanning women to rambunctious kids to burnout high school students.

I must say I preferred the beginning of the poem, for I enjoy writing that has a fun and childlike feel.  The end was so different and a little uncomfortable, but I suppose it needs to be that way.  By using the strong contrast in language, Hull has truly captured the sadness of the closing of a significant public place.

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