Dave's Poetry Workshop—Exercise #1 Submissions

By David Van Etten:

Review of Exercise #1 – The Contest

I was thrilled to read your contest submissions for the first writing exercise in Dave's Poetry Workshop series for Flapper Press. In the first lesson, our readers and writers were asked to interpret the phrase “down the hold” in the opening lines of U2’s “Until the End of the World,” employing both a literal secular interpretation (our Lothario reading) and an allegorical religious interpretation (our Judas reading). After careful consideration, I decided to crown the following four entries as champs and will be following in the weeks ahead with a free copy of my new book of poetry Twist the Blue Burlap Inside You to each of the four writers. Congratulations to all!

George Whyte’s contest entry:

My interpretation of the phrase's meaning from the U2 song "Until the End of the World" in regard to an allegorical religious meaning is one of Judas sitting in purgatory atoning for his sin waiting for Jesus to bring him up to Heaven and all its glory. The secular meaning, in my opinion, is one of a depressed soul sitting down in a hole passing time for his lover to come dig out and release him from his misery.

The back and forth between the Lothario and Judas reading of the song's lyrics definitely harmonize each other, as the protagonist of the song deeply loves the other person—they are singing only to feel guilty about doing them an injustice even though the love is so strong.

The guilty person, knowing they have done something they know is wrong, is unaware it's already known by the person they have done it too, and they are perhaps wondering why the person is not enjoying this grand party they are attending as read in the lyric “Everybody having a good time except you, You were talking about the end of the world.”

The fluidity back and forth in the song’s meaning has the listener wanting to search deeper for the truth behind the meaning, which can be either depending on the point of view taken. After several listens to this song on repeat, it kindly reminded me of several other great songs that tell a story and have the listener thinking more about what its true meaning is rather than just some party anthem.

Dave Serra’s contest entry:

When scanning the phrase “down the hold,” the hold or store of a ship or boat is the immediate reaction. While storage seems to reside in the bottom of the boat, the space always felt as this dark bottom area that never actually touches water, but never resides above the waterline . . . a limbo or purgatory.

I’m not too versed in biblical literature, but I am definitely getting a Last Supper vibe with “eating food and drinking wine” while Jesus would be talking about the end of the world. Judas would be the one to take the money, betray with a kiss, and break Jesus’s heart. While there is guilt and regret, “drowning in sorrow” and “waves of regret,” forgiveness, and “joy” are the end result when opening your heart in full acknowledgment of sin; hence Jesus or God or Love "waiting until the end of the world."

In this middle space, which some could say is life on Earth, actions create reactions. A secular take could be as simple as a betrayal between two lovers. “Down the hold” here could be a hold on mental state in relation to the other person or lover. How they make you feel when “close together” in a “low-lit room,” and not always getting the reaction one wants or needs at the time because they are feeling a different way or “thinking about the end of the world,” not engaging, “miss too much when they stop to think.”

In a way, we are just floating around reacting to energies, instincts, and impulses based on a given situation. Hopefully, the decisions or results lean toward the good or somewhere near the middle, never fully understanding the consequences until much later.

Matt Bennetti’s contest entry: