Poem for Critique 015: Mother’s Day 12th of May by Stam Fasoulakis

Welcome to Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group and the fifteenth poem submitted to this blog for feedback. This piece is a rhyming poem by Stam Fasoulakis and was written especially for today (in some parts of the world, not here in the UK), Mother’s Day.

Please do comment in the section below telling us what you liked about this poem and, what if anything, the author could do to improve upon it. Thank you – it’s very much appreciated!

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Mother’s Day 12th of May

Mother is one and only

as we all say commonly.

She for you will always stand up

if sadness or joy comes up.

A mother is a source of life

that do not forget in your life,

so give her a hug and kiss

to make her happy, don’t miss.

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Thank you, Stam.

Folks – please do let us know what you think.

I write very little poetry (and then only to order) so I’m no expert and the only thing that leapt out at me the line, ‘She for you will always stand up’. I’ve never been a fan of inverted text and in some poems it’s done just to get the rhyming so something to be careful of. (NB. just my opinion).

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StamStamatios (Stam) Fassoulakis was born in Africa, Alexandria of Egypt (when it was still a British Colony) from Greek parents (two generations back). In 1961 his parents decided that they had to repatriate to Greece as the Nasser regime and its strict measures for foreigners forced most of them to a massive exodus. He completed his High-school studies in Athens and after graduation, he studied Physics and Mathematics at the University of Athens. In January 1970 Stam immigrated to South Africa where he worked and studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technikon Witwatersrand Johannesburg (today University of Johannesburg) following a sandwich course. At the end of 1977 he returned to Greece and was hired by General Motors Overseas Distribution Corporation (G.M.O.D.C.) based in Athens and travelled in the Middle East Area from Greece up to and including Pakistan. He worked for them for 14 years, travelling in those “lovely countries”.

In 1991 GM decided to close down their Middle East office (due to the danger of aero plane hijackings and the drop in the Middle East business). He found work at an Opel dealer in Greece as an Aftersales Manager where he organised the department from scratch. After another 14 years of hard work, he retired at the end of December 2007. Since then he has worked as a translator English to Greek and vice versa, specializing in Technical and Scientific texts and documents. He speaks and writes in four languages (English, Greek, French and Arabic).

His hobbies range from reading various books (he has a library of 400) and writing poetry in rhyme (his blog is http://emmetrhpoihsh.blogspot.com) but says that unfortunately most of them are in Greek (“real Greek for you”). He has also written a book (paper, self published) with the title “Productivity and efficiency of a service workshop” but he admits that it is technical and too specialized so it didn’t have a broad reception, but the books sold covered the publication expenses. He also belongs to a black belt karate club (J.K.A.).

He has written poetry (mostly humorous) in rhyme since his early teens, which were published at his High School magazine. He is currently writing a memoire book (in Greek) with the title adieu (goodbye) Alexandria where he describes the feelings of a teenager that had to leave his place of birth. His aim is to translate it into English and see how it will be accepted. If only, he says, to write all the experiences in his life, they are enough to keep him busy until the end of his life.

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3 responses to “Poem for Critique 015: Mother’s Day 12th of May by Stam Fasoulakis

  1. A nice poem, but I personally would not have used the same word to get a rhyme ‘life’. Plus some lines just don’t flow, but I reckon if I tried Greek poetry it’d be ropey 🙂

  2. This is just a comment, I guess, about the one and only,
    “Mother’s day on the 12th of May.”

    I read a book once by William Saroyan, “Sons may come and go but mothers hang in forever.” The title itself says a lot.

    Now I want you to know that I am very much an amature poet with no credentials whatsoever. For what they are worth, here are my thoughts.

    The title of the poem has an internal rhyme, it seems. The rhyme is in couplets. The syllable counts in the couplets for me are
    7 – 7
    8 – 7
    7 – 8
    8 – 7
    and it seems to me you have put thought into this structure. But in fact it seems to be too much structure for this heart-felt poem.
    In the first couplet, mother is one and only. A definite article seems to have been avoided. People are too frightened of this article in poems it seems to me. It would change the count to 8-7, which wouldn’t matter much. It means that mother is unique among women. But is it true that one says this commonly? I think I never said it often enough. Or do you mean this is a common way of saying? If so, do you want to say it commonly? I just leave the question open.

    Next couplet:

    She for you will always stand up
    if sadness or joy comes up.

    Here is one of those cases where you have used the same word to rhyme. Andrew mentioned this, and I agree with him. I wouldn’t have done that. Not that I would never do it, but just not here, and not usually. In fact, the little adverb, “up,” is attached just to make a rhyme. It adds nothing other than that. Like you, I am intrigued with rhyme. People say I am distracted by it. Robert Frost once said, “Rhyming is easy if you don’t know how.” I have taken that as a warning that I should be very careful in my attempts to make things rhyme. Very often a poem comes out better without it, I have found.

    In case you are interested: if I wanted it to rhyme I would have done something like this (I know the style doesn’t fit your poem, sorry).

    Mother was there, no matter what,
    to give a kiss or tape a cut.

    I want cadence, a drum beat in a thing like this. Some find that sing-songy. W. H. Auden got away with it. Please excuse the aside.

    Next couplet:

    A mother is a source of life
    that do not forget in your life,

    “Life,” in this case, is important to the meaning. I would still avoid using it twice. To say “a mother,” to me, is to make mother feel abstract and remote. And in saying, “a source of life,” you might mean that mother is a resource, or you might mean the more intimate, personal thing that you were once a part of her body, and that as an infant were totally dependent on her for your life. Rather than “a mother,” I think just “mother” would be better. And rather than the indefinite “a source,” I would have thought “the source” might be better. It is hyperbolic, I guess. Have you been instructed to avoid the definite article, “the”? I have been told to do that, and it is sometimes a good thing to remember, but I think most people now are too shy of it in writing poems. These changes would mess up your syllable count, and I don’t know how important that is to the sound of the poem. You decide.

    Now I must say you are doing an interesting thing with the word order in the second line. I assume the primary meaning is deontic, that you are saying, “Don’t ever forget that, that your mother is the source of your life.” So If you invert, “Do not forget that”, you get “That do not forget.” But you might not mean that, and there is an interesting other meaning close by. Relaxing the grammatical rules, I can almost make the couplet say that it is mother that do(es) not forget in your life. So the second meaning is that it is she who sees, listens, cares what you do and what happens to you, and that in the end it is she who remembers. I love that. It makes your poem stand out for me. Even if you did not intend that meaning, it is there. Whatever you do to change it, if you do, I hope you will not lose that ambiguity.

    In the last couplet too there is multiple meaning in “don’t miss.” I often missed saying a kind word to my mother, or giving her a kiss. She is gone now. And I miss.

    I like your poem when I read it out loud, but I still hope these comments are useful. Tom Spencer.

  3. Wow, Tom. Thank you very much. I’ve forwarded your comment to Stam.

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