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Old 01-03-2014, 03:59 PM View Post #1 (Link) 49
ishmael (Offline)
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Updated 8/1/14

i am made of stone
don’t touch me
i am a sand sculpture
please touch me
remind me who
i am
where
i am
i am i am i am
i think

i am so far above you
and so far below
lesser yet greater
not so happy
yet much happier -

i am a storm
flickering lights and
rain on the window
i’m not the cuteness, the dainti-
ness
i am the baby drowned and
the cars swept into the sea
i am the houses destroyed and
the tears

i am so much water

there is enough of me just
not in the right places

i am incessant background music
a soundtrack stuck on repeat

i am the music getting louder, coming back

i am the train crash
the shipwreck

i am cpr
that didn’t work

i’m so very alive
burning and crushing and
flickering

my candle burns at both ends
and so does your house

it's so cold here but
i am so warm now that
my head is
smashed open

pinata
look at my brain

it’s black and filled with you
where did you get those
bright blue
devil
eyes

they’re all i can see at night

i am a blown fuse and
a bad singer

and
i don’t know where i’m going with words on paper
so how am i supposed to figure out
life

it begins
and ends

i’ve been dead for millions of years
and alive for fourteen

but still i can’t
begin to fathom the former
or bear to let go of
the latter

it will be easier when
you know my name and
it won’t be a dirty word
spat around like
chewing gum

i have been a million people
and lived a million lives
a million deaths, weddings, grandchildren, books

i'm going to find out though
as soon as i can see
when, where, why and
i think there’s another word

one last word
my last word

my first word was dad

my last word is

who.
  
						Last edited by ishmael; 07-19-2014 at 11:49 AM.
					
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Old 01-03-2014, 04:30 PM View Post #2 (Link)
lalodragon (Offline)
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Crit ticket! It'll take me forever because this is long and I've never critiqued you before. But I'm shackled to the poem by the line "I am so much water".
Originally Posted by ishmael View Post
[This is my first post here. I'm aware it's not good, but I've only just started writing, and I'm definitely still learning.

To be honest, it's more of a ramble than a poem, and most of it doesn't make a lot of sense and it doesn't have many characteristics of a poem. Nonetheless, I'd be super grateful for any feedback (even though it's pretty long and drags out and is bad). Thank you!]


i am made of stone
don’t touch me
i hate myself
please touch me
remind me who
i am The opening lines of this poem would be a disappointment if they weren't the beginning-- I mean that the rest of the poem is better than they are. (This happens all the time in drafts.) I strongly dislike the third line. It's blunt; it has no layers, it's pure self-pity and emotion; and yet it shows us nothing. Anyone can say "I hate it" but so what? What does your hate make you do? Why do you hate? It sounds like any other emo, angsty teen poem. Not a good first impression.
where
i am
i am i am i am
i think These last two lines are interesting. You're playing with language and ideas now. I like the segue from the question (where i am) to this statement. I feel the speaker repeating it (i am i am i am) to reassure herself, trying to convince herself. It would be convincing, but the last line is vulnerable. And through these two lines we can climb inside the speaker's head. We get in not by being told ("i am vulnerable, i am unsure"), but by being shown (she says this to herself because she is unsure).
I do like these two lines at the beginning of the poem as they gets us into her head and are very simple. It waits to be expanded from here.


i am a rosebud queen
caramel basket king
basket case
healthy children
with sick people to keep them
healthy A "rosebud queen" would symbolize innocence, maybe? I googled the caramel basket. It's beautiful, fragile, sweet; but I'd never heard of it, so "caramel basket king" befuddled me. I like king to follow queen, connection there, but I don't see the connection between the king and the basket (gold? crownlike?). And I'm not sure exactly what I should get from the symbolism.
Equally unsure how basket case transitions to healthy children. The last three lines bring up all kinds of question marks-- what children; are you a child or a sick person; how do the sick people keep them healthy; what is all this sickness and healthiness supposed to symbolize or relate to?
In short, I didn't know what anything in this stanza meant. It all could be interesting. At the moment i pass over it without gaining.


i am so far above you
i think i’m perfect
i am perfect
i am a rock
and a rock feels no pain so
i’m not one of those While I like what you're doing with contrast-- the beginning to the end of the stanza-- I don't like the last two lines because they're plagiaristic. You know what I mean. Simon & Garfunkel did it better. (We sympathize with the singer, trying to become a rock; your tone here is more rueful and self-defeating, acknowledging feeling as the singer doesn't, but all I can think is it's been done better, I liked their take.)
I don't have more to say on this stanza. It informed me rather than involved me, which isn't bad (we do need some telling) but doesn't ask comment. (I won't count "i am a rock" as showing, as imagery, because it's not your image, it's universal.)


i am a storm
flickering lights and
rain on the window
(such a clichť
nowadays) "nowadays"? This parenthetical comment makes the speaker condescending and bored, looking down her nose on all those who use "rain on the window" (who make it cliche). I would say "nowadays" makes her sound old, but it doesn't; it makes her sound like a teenager trying to be aloof, being apathetic, and too lazy to find a better image, since she considers this one so far below her. I strongly dislike her. Do you want to burden your speaker with all this for the sake of two short lines?
Now I'm going to appropriate one of those accusations for you. If you find this image cliche, why are you using it? Do you like it? Does it work, does it describe your speaker well? Then make it your own, make it personal. Don't act like you're too good for it.

i’m not the cuteness, the dainti-
ness What's the linebreak for? linebreaks in the middle of a word have to be bloody well justified before I approve of them. (I pause at a linebreak, as I pause at a comma but more breathless, and a pause in the middle of the word is hard to maintain.) I've read poems with breaks in words which worked. I'll take it when it adds to the poem. How does this? You've got a one-syllable line, a syllable usually slurred and not accented. Why?
ah, so you know; I'm aware this is an early draft and I totally support experimenting, messing around with words like this. I'll even tell you to do it more. But I'm critting now, not discussing the writing process, and I'm going to question everything. You're editing now, not writing; what I tell you applies only to later drafts NOT to the original crazy creative process. k? Don't stop being awesome.
Next up! cuteness and daintiness! I'm not a fan of abstract words-- the intangible idea of "cuteness", "daintiness" without a dancer-- and that's part of why I question them. The other part: why are these ideas in this stanza? They're a denial (I am NOT dainty!) but who called her dainty? You said "storm", not "kitten". Unassigned denial reads to me, as a reader, as an accusation. It assumes that the reader found her dainty, or whatever is being denied, and she defends herself-- but I never did. (Either she's accusing me, or she's standing up to someone who did call her that, in which case I feel like I'm not the intended reader & I'm getting in the way & I should just leave.)

i am the baby drowned and
the cars swept into the sea
i am the houses destroyed and
the tears

i am so much water I got to this line and suddenly I HAD to crit the poem; which is ironic since I cannot comment on this line. I just love it wholeheartedly. Water and rock are the twin motifs of my poetry, and this line is such a clear ringing expression and all. It's simple but the sounds are good-- clear and ringing as I said.

there is enough of me just
not in the right places These two lines I also love on multiple levels. I like them connected to water (it's true of water in the world) and I like the tone of them (self-aware) and I like the idea for its own sake. As always, I don't know what to say about things I like.

i am the half-lit eerie reflection
of myself
the sick one, the dying one
all these problems when i could have
that I don't know what this is saying. "all these problems when I could have that"-- what's "that"? How or why could you have it, why don't you? What are the problems, how do they prevent you? This is mostly confusing because of "that". The word is isolated for emphasis. It refers to something. Apparently I should know what it refers to, and I don't. I think it's an ugly thing to do to a reader.
and you’d think that from my view here Where is "here"? Why should it give you perspective? It's odd actually that "here", a place from which you can apparently see everything, is attached to the image of speaker-as-reflection. A reflection is chained to its mirror. It's not omniscient, it's quite limited, it has no perspective. Does it?
i’d get perspective
you’d think i’d accept
my problems are so
small

i am so
small

i am an island
i am great britain
and all the britons
the english
irish
scottish
welsh
inside
outside
inside
on I'm not british, this feels cultural, so I'm passing over it. Tell Derezz to comment on it if you like. I do like how it slips into word play, these last few lines, and maybe that's related to the english/irish/scottish/welsh nationalities inside the UK. I like it for the sound and the play of it. I like ending with "on" because it's a bit unexpected, neither in nor out, and its monosyllable, and its assonance, wrap up the sound well.

no one ever let me
play that with them because Play what with them, what's "that"? Is the previous stanza a jumprope rhyme? Personally I'd just take out the word "that"-- if your reader noticed the above as jumprope, they'll connect it to this, but if they didn't this is a troubling reference. It spoils my appreciation of this stanza, which I like. I like the image and the childhood connection.
i always tripped on the rope I'm glad this line is here, being honest, instead of laying blame; they didn't let her play, which was still mean, but not just because they didn't like her.

sometimes
they’d let me hold it
once they used it to
tie me to a tree I like this too, as it continues. Instead of saying "no one ever liked me", you look back and show us.

there’s no connection
because of the weather
it’s symbolic
somehow
i think Yeah, no connection. Where did weather come from? Why does it pop up here? What are we supposed to be connecting? (you say there is no connection where I wasn't looking for one, should I have been looking?) This stanza doesn't offer me anything; I never had a connection so it takes nothing away; it says "weather" but not what weather so I can only discard the word. "it" is symbolic (somehow maybe-- clearly not going to explain anything) but what is "it"?

i am the flirting woman
who everyone laughs at
when she leaves the room because
well
i don’t know I feel like you've lost your train of thought in these two stanzas, they sort of ramble off the rails, and in the next one come back. They add nothing to the poem for me. I don't learn about the speaker through this moment of indecision (I already knew she was unsure).

i am the broken link
in all ways you can think of All right, maybe you're not back yet. It's like you don't know what to say next, you're casting around, you have a metaphor but you're not quite sure what you want to do with it so you tell the reader to make their own connections. Now, if you said "i am the broken link" and left it at that, I'd interpret it in some arbitrary way and move on. But the second line tells me to stop reading and think of more ways.
Poetry is connections; reader and writer both create them. I already cast around for connections when you offer a metaphor. That's in the contract. But this second line says take care of it yourself, the writer can't be bothered, instead of leaving me to believe that there is an interpretation for this metaphor and I can find it. The second line says, effectively, "whatever".
Which isn't what you meant. (Is it?) I think you liked the metaphor, saw lots of uses for it, but didn't want to spell them out and repeat yourself. Unfortunately this alternative doesn't work.


i am sickened
disgusted and repelled
by you
but can i
be your girlfriend I like this and I'm not really sure why. I like the honesty of it, and the impression it gives of the speaker-- insecure (needing a boyfriend) and manipulative, self-aware. Many written characters are either insecure, open to abuse, or manipulative and abusive; but in truth the insecurity and manipulation go hand-in-hand.

i am so angry
i’m just a ghost
i am impossible
and difficult
and unwanted
unnatural
i am raised with wolves
and i’ll tear you apart if
you let me get my hands on I don't absorb all the things you state in this stanza. You tell me, and I take it, and I move on; I never engage with the facts, so they don't stick and don't affect my view of the speaker.
The only things that move with me to some extent are 'raised by wolves' and 'tear you apart', because they're concrete things I can get my hands on. "I am so angry" doesn't really mean anything, but "tear you apart" is a depiction of anger, and that matters more.
The last line ends abruptly, I expect a "you" on the end. It makes me stop and look. On one hand, that interrupts my flow. But on the other hand, I see you "getting your hands on" like gloves, and that's interesting.


i am too loud
too fast, too stupid
i don’t think Same issue here. You're listing things wrong with the speaker, and while I appreciate the speaker's self-depreciation, I gloss over what she actually says.
Here, though, it may be planned. The previous stanza may actually mean what it says, I'm not sure, and that obscures my vision of this one. In this one, the speaker is called loud, fast, stupid, and thoughtless, where throughout the poem she speaks quietly, slowly, and thoughtfully. So these lines are pure self-depreciation, and in that way they are "showing" (their goal is to show self-depreciation rather than tell us how the speaker is). I think it would work much better if the previous stanza weren't full of maybe-true statements.

no one ever
does what i think they will Related to the manipulation/insecurity above-- this dual characteristic is so interesting.
no one ever says yes

or no Why is "no" set off like this? it's emphasized, it should be monumental, but why is "no one ever says no" more impressive than "no one ever says yes"?

i am a virgin
i am a slut
i am a stud
i am a prude
spot the difference I like this "spot the difference" idea, here and where it shows up below. it's a child's game but not with children's concepts. This sequence of things-- slut, prude-- also connects to "no one ever says no", the idea of consent, and makes it clearer why that should be emphasized. "or no" bridges the gap between the stanzas very well.
what difference
where did the party go
and where did the difference go
and what am i talking
about This last bit is rambling again; it ruins the effect.

i am incessant background music
a soundtrack stuck on repeat

i am the music getting louder, coming back I like these three lines (including the gap between them, that's important). The first two I wasn't sure of (what did music symbolize) but this one completes them. And something changes. Most of the poem, you tell us what you are and continue to be, but between these line something shifts, you start moving, you transition from background to foreground.
I love the sounds of these three lines (including the pause between them, that's important), the repetition of "back", subtle rhyme with "soundtrack", all the assonance and consonance winding between them. "incessant" and "music" with their hisses contrasting with sharp hard sounds in background, soundtrack, stuck.


i am the train crash
the shipwreck Again I like the sounds, how train crash hisses and shipwreck crashes and they echo the above lines. It's interesting too to compare & contrast the violent, loud train crash with the quieter, tragic shipwreck. (I see the train move and crash, where the ship goes down slowly in place.)

i am cpr
that didn’t work I love this! There's a tragic death, which someone tried to prevent and couldn't (lots of emotion in the scene); and the speaker identifies not with the dead, not with the hero, but with the tool. CPR, the Swiss army knife of medicine, which availed nothing.

i’m so very alive I like the contrast after "cpr that didn't work"-- and I think it's necessary, to be sure you aren't dead
burning and crushing and
flickering Your verbs for "so very alive" are on the verge of death, especially this last one. They seem to describe the cpr patient who then died, crushing and burning and flickering in his chest. Don't get me wrong: I like using these near-death verbs for life. Death defines life/we know we're alive when we feel pain; and you can use bright verbs to describe it instead of platitudes. Good.

my candle burns at both ends
and so does your house Linked in tightly to the previous stanza (I like them tightly linked). I guess you've read E St V. Millay's poem, First Fig:
Originally Posted by A Few Figs from Thistles
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!
I actually have a bit of trouble with your first line because it's her first line, it's a direct quote, and it's become such a common phrase. I know you know that, and this seems to work; but it bothers me a bit.
The second line is such a dark threat, more threatening than anything else in the poem. Is "you" still a general address to the reader, or is there another character in this poem (the boyfriend, the one to tear apart and burn down)?


i am so alone
i am so lonely
spot the difference I like "spot the difference"; I'm really glad you brought it up again, instead of only using it once. When you use it a second time it become more established & becomes another thread of connection. (Though at first I don't see any difference between alone and lonely; I suppose it references the feeling of being "lonely in a crowd"?)
what does it matter
they mean the same to me
when nothing else
means anything Both times you say "spot the difference", you then deny that there is any difference. It mars the effect and strength of the idea. And it feels emo, angsty, drab, languishing-- oh, I could find lots of adjectives, but at heart it feels bad. It's not an emotion I connect to; it feels like the speaker's so hunched over navel-gazing I can't connect to her, she's not willing to connect to anything if it require movement. It doesn't make me sympathize with her loneliness. I feel that it's self-imposed.

i am overuse
drug dependency
an alcoholic at a private school
i’m a corpse found in the toilets Obsession/addiction is an essential part of your speaker, isn't it? The private school & the corpse in the toilets have a setting in common; they're either a tragic individual story or the sad story of a school. But i don't get the full effect of them. I feel OD'd on tone, still torpid, still blah, so interesting pieces blur.
such a great,
friendly atmos-
phere

i am dead inside
i am so warm now that
my head is
smashed open "warm" is a state of being, but something is "smashed open" from the outside. How do they relate? How does warmth translate to the smashed head?

pinata
look at my brain

it’s black and filled with you I really like this line coming long after "look at my brain" (not so long, but the stanza gap). It makes this more abrupt and impressive, more eerie; it also finally relates to "can I be your girlfriend", how "I" and "you" are connected. This obsession.
where did you get those
bright blue
devil
eyes this reminds me so much of Sylvia Plath. I thought there must be a poem of hers that asks "where did you get those bright blue eyes", but I'm flipping through her collected not finding it. I think it's just the motifs: black, filled with you, blue eyes, devil-- so, so much like her.
It also reminds me of "Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear?"
Originally Posted by George MacDonald
Where did you get your eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
I think this is an intentional reference, and I really like it; the Baby Dear poem is angelic to contrast your devil, innocent to contrast your black pinata.


they’re all i can see at night I like the whole of this sequence (from head/pinata to here), specifically its sounds. It holds together well.

i am a blown fuse and
a bad singer Both interesting; I wonder how they're related? the fuse makes me think of lights; the singer of "name in lights" and backlighting, but "blown" and "bad" plunging them into darkness.

incense ashes and Where do incense and ashes come from? incense, worship, gods; ashes of incense or offerings, things burned away; are they symbolic, are they linked to your other imagery, or are they only grab-bag words?
i don’t know where i’m going

with words on paper so how am i supposed to figure out
life It took me a couple of reads to link these two stanzas together. I was reading "with words on paper" as something you took on a trip ("where I'm going"). But you're actually saying "I don't know where I'm going with this poem". This is fine, fine. Showing her indecision. But you've done this stream-of-consciousness indecision earlier in the poem, already peering into her creative mind as she's scrawling this down. (I'm thinking of weather, flirting woman, and a few other places.) I like it all right in this instance, mainly because the introspection serves as a kickstart to the next stanza & the latter part of the poem. It's necessary. Needful (if you recall the injunction to "omit needless words"). But I still call it navel-gazing, and I hope that there's less of the unnecessary in the final draft.

that’s a good subject
i’ll start there

it begins
and ends I like this being simple and short, a slow and careful start; she's choosing her words.

i’ve been dead for millions of years
and alive for fourteen

i’d been dead for two years
i’ve been alive for fifteen weeks What are these times referring to? Is there really a two years / 15 weeks we should be aware of? then I wish you'd explain. And if there isn't I wish you'd use times that did matter, what would you gain by using times that don't?

either way i can’t What were the two ways-- millions/14 vs two years/15 weeks? How or why are they alternatives to each other?
begin to fathom the former
or bear to let go of
the latter

i’m insignificant

i’m not Interesting; at this point i don't feel that she's trying to assure herself, that she really feels insignificant or significant. I feel like she's just playing with the two ideas, stepped back from them. It's a shift from the beginning of the poem but it's not out of character, it reminds me of the girlfriend stanza.

god, you’ll know my name I'm very interested by this address to god. He hasn't been the addressee throughout, has he?
and it won’t be a dirty word
spat around like
chewing gum And I like this stanza. There's talk in Revelations of a "new name" given to the faithful. I vaguely recall a name known only to the named and god. And names of god that we don't know, that are to be given in paradise. So revealing your name to god is dramatic, making you significant, giving you control. And it won't be a dirty word; implying that the speaker's name now is? (I also like that because I know a song "He's more than just a swear word" referring to Christ; the speaker applying it to herself puts herself on level with Christ, or above him.)
On a cozier level, the image 'a dirty word spat around like chewing gum' is perfect.


i am not used until
i am discarded

i have not the heart of a woman
or the stomach
or the body
or the brain You begin with "heart of a woman" which the reader recognizes, and explore from that, and I like it. You open four interesting things for me to look at (what does it mean to have the stomach of a woman? the brain of a woman?). Most of all I like how you move out from that first phrase, like ripples, or peeling off an onion.

i am not a man
i am not forced
or shrouded Are men forced and shrouded? are men forced, and women shrouded? I'm not sure what applies here but I don't dislike it, I just want to play with it.

i am a person
and the difference
does not matter

treat me not like a girl
or a man
but like a person oooookay. I agree with the sentiment expressed here. I've been cogitating over it all my life. But this is that point of declaration I dislike in all types of essays, slams and written poems. it's common in them, it affects people who sympathize, maybe it's important and necessary. I sympathize with next to nothing, and I really dislike this type of declaration.
On the other hand, I used to like the song "I'm just a girl" by No Doubt:
'Cause I'm just a girl, little 'ol me
Don't let me out of your sight
I'm just a girl, all pretty and petite
So don't let me have any rights
I like the irony of this voice, asking for the same thing.
Ed; I see above you took it out, thank you, before I even got here. I'll leave this in anyway just 'cuz.


treat me like a human being
and i’ll spare you

flaky
fickle
inspired
going somewhere
anywhere

just you wait
till i stand up and
speak
just you wait
i speak too much, too loud, too wrong
and i don’t speak up
when i should

it’s unacceptable but that makes it
even better because
your jaw will break when
i say it The previous stanza was discourse and rambling. (I passed over it.) This stanza though is firm and tight and solid, and knows what it wants to say.

i don’t know what
not yet
but
it’s coming

i think I would actually scratch this. The emotion seems clear without it; a little more certain, but at this point of the poem it seems she should be more certain.

just you wait

i have been a million people
and lived a million lives
a million deaths, weddings, grandchildren, books

i don’t remember any of it
just like thursday night GOLD. Well, maybe not gold, but this sparkles anyway.

in the case of before the summer I don't understand this line.
just like
yesterday

some people can’t
spot the difference

i am powerful
enchanted
empowered
i am going to smash your face in
i’m gonna save you all

as soon as i find out how
when, where, why and
i think there’s another word

one last word
my last word

my first word was dad

my last word is This is abrupt, as I think you meant it to be. But to me it doesn't read like a stylistic choice, like a decisive stop; it feels like someone accidentally hit backspace and deleted the last word. The building rhythm doesn't want this line to end on "is" (which is unaccented-- normally I don't go in for scansion, but "is" is definitely not emphasized here, the rhythm wants to slur it as "was" is slurred, as a leadup to a noun). And I assume you leave it blank because you haven't said your last word yet, or your last word is silence. But you told me above that my jaw would break when I heard it. I want to hear something. Parts of the poem felt assured; the whole poem seemed to say that, though you may not know now, you are going to be sure, it's coming. And it doesn't come.
I mentally fill in this last word as "who". I don't want to put words in your mouth, but you put this one in mine. It fits rhythmically. It fits ideally: the word started your poem, it is the missing question, and is in a way a person as your first word was. (Though if your last word is "who", it would imply that dad, your first word, is gone, which I feel would be haunting but may not be what you want to impress.)
I don't want to tell you what to write or to fill "who" in here, as I'm mentally filling it in. But I don't think that the dropped word works in practice as well as in theory.
It got better and better. I think you got more sure of what you wanted to say towards the end, and in editing will be even more sure. I love the reference to the six words (who what where when why and how) that have travelled with me since childhood, and I think "who" can pull the poem together even more than it does. Which it does; the speaker addresses someone and it's rarely clear who; she seems to be addressing the reader in places, maybe because she has no one else.
Lots of beautiful images and lots of excellent experiments.
You know it's a ramble, so what I have to say should be obvious-- tighten it! in editing, you'll know better what you meant to say and where it works. You won't tighten out all of her indecision-- that's part of the speaker-- but you'll have a better idea of how to structure it.
  
						Last edited by lalodragon; 01-04-2014 at 11:06 PM.
					
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Old 01-03-2014, 04:34 PM View Post #3 (Link)
Clowningaround123 (Offline)
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I think this is a very beautiful poem, but I'm not sure I know what it means. You used a lot of symbolism, and so much of it, that it's a little hard to understand. You're trying to use it, I can see that, but you're leaving the reader nothing to go on, no actual clues for the reader to follow on to guess who the narrator is. You compared the narrator with so many things, it gets harder and harder to figure out who he/she is. I like, though, how you left the reader in suspense, wondering what her last word will be. I'm guessing this represents that the reader is young and she still is yearning to go through so much in life. Overall, it's very beautiful and a great poem. Just remember next time to go easy on the symbolism, and keep working on it! I'm interested in how you write, and waiting to read more of your writing!
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Old 01-03-2014, 04:47 PM View Post #4 (Link)
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Depending on what lalo has to say (as she'll be good and thorough with you), I may have to critique this as I would love to see it in the experimental section, (don't be scared to post there).
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Old 01-05-2014, 05:57 AM View Post #5 (Link)
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It looks like lalodragon has a lot of the specifics of the poem covered. Not that she hasn't looked at the big picture, but I'm going to focus on it exclusively and try my best to talk about what the poem is doing on the whole (and how to improve the whole thing, hopefully). Also, before I get started, I really like your attitude about poetry - a willingness to try stuff and learn comes through both in your notes and in the poem itself. I'm really excited to see more of your work and to talk poetry! I hope you stick around.

Also it looks like I'm critiquing the revision. I looked back at lalodragon's comments when writing this and I noticed the version she quoted was longer in spots than the one I was reading in your post. I think your edits made the poem tighter. But there still may be more editing to do.

My main impression of the poem: it's the speaker trying to figure out who she is, the process of growing up ("there is enough of me just/not in the right places" is a 100% perfect description of adolescence, especially female adolescence). And as the poem goes it does this by tapping into various moods, showing different slivers of what it's like to grow up. These different approaches vary in effectiveness, though. Some parts of the poem felt really familiar and 'right' to me. I could imagine them or connect with them. Other parts of the poem felt a little too general, or maybe referencing stuff that I didn't get. These parts of the poem were harder for me to imagine or connect with.

I approached this poem with some trepidation, because "I am" poems are so hard to write and nobody nails them on the first try. They can also be hotbeds of abstraction. But I got pulled in because the first stanza is mostly concrete and the contradiction is intriguing as well as pretty easy to imagine:
i am made of stone
don’t touch me
i am a clay sculpture
please touch me
The poem gives me something I can see/feel right a way. I like that this isn't the only contradiction in the poem, because it kind of sets up what we're going to get later. It made me feel like the speaker couldn't decide whether she wants to be connected or not - like pushing a lover away and then pulling him/her back again.

The next two stanzas were a little bit harder for me to 'get' though, and they were an initial barrier for entry into the poem:
i am a rosebud queen
caramel basket king
basket case
healthy children
with sick people to keep them
healthy
I can kind of imagine the first two lines of this stanza, but the rest of it just feels like riffing; I'm not sure what to get out of everything from "basket case" on. Is this whole stanza describing the speaker or is the 'healthy children' stuff going in some other direction?

i am so far above you
and so far below
lesser yet greater
not so happy
yet much happier -
more powerful, unpredictable
So this stanza uses the same contradiction approach in the first stanza, but it's a lot harder to imagine and relate to. It seems pretty abstract to me. You use abstractions and big ideas throughout the poem, and that's okay. But I think they work best when they're connected to something concrete or to a play on words. I don't know enough about the speaker at this point to guess how she's above and below at the same time, lesser and greater. This might work later in the poem, or you might want to think about how to convey this same idea in a different way. What if you looked at above and below as more literal? I read them here are metaphorical: better or worse. The way we often use above and below when talking about people. But what if it was physically above or below? In the sky, or below the earth? Okay, maybe that's not the best idea. But that's what I'm thinking might work here: something that we can imagine, that we can draw the metaphor out of. Maybe something that works thematically with 'i am made of stone/i am a clay sculpture'. Similarly, I don't get much from the last line of this stanza - I feel like the next stanza shows what the end of this stanza is trying to say.

Why not just jump into the storm and water images? I really liked that part of the poem (the parenthetical aside - like lalodragon I think it makes the speaker seem like she's not being genuine, in contrast to the rest of the poem which I think is genuine. I'd cut it entirely.) I like that you start with a comforting image of the storm and then get into the stuff that's powerful and unpredictable. That's showing and metaphor done well.

there is enough of me just
not in the right places
Love this stanza. The linebreak does a lot I think, as does the space from the other lines. This is something that might be classed as 'telling', but it gives me a really strong sense of character and it also says something familiar in an unfamiliar way. It's something that I can easily relate to, both physically and otherwise. How many times have we all looked in the mirror and thought basically this? But also it feels really specific to being a teenager: feeling mostly big but not done yet or not right yet.

I'm not sure I'm as sold on the next two stanzas of the poem:
i am the half-lit eerie reflection
of myself
the dying one, the dead one
all these problems when i could have
sickness
and you’d think that from my view here
i’d get perspective
you’d think i’d accept
my problems are so
small

i am so
small
I guess this is just in a different mode from most of my favorite parts of the poem: more reflective than descriptive, the speaker summing up or describing her perspective literally rather than using metaphor to show it. I feel like this part of the poem refers to something that hasn't been introduced yet, or has been introduced in passing: "all these problems when i could have /sickness" seems to go back to the second stanza. But I'm not sure how the focus on sickness or health figures in or if it's supposed to refer to something specific. It's like the speaker is referring to something obliquely and we're not supposed to know what it is - we can't know - or we're supposed to guess, blindly.

In contrast, I really liked this whole section:
no one ever let me
play that with them because
i always tripped on the rope

but
they let me hold it
once they used it to
tie me to a tree
but that was just
one time

i am sickened
disgusted and repelled
by you
but can i
be your girlfriend
and I like it because even though it's plainly told it gives me a really solid picture in my mind. I can see this in my head. I can relate to it. But even though it reminds me of my own experience that's not the only thing it does - it tells a specific story about the speaker and that's something I can imagine. I don't have to rely on my own experience to get something out of this part of the poem. It's not just memory and association. I get something from the scene and also the way it's told.

Also the linebreaks work well here. And the 'but can i/be your girlfriend' bit made me laugh the sad laugh of recognition.

I feel like the poem goes back again to less concrete, more summary/overall experience language in the next two stanzas (starting with 'i'm thriving now' and 'i am too loud'). I don't think those stanzas work as well as the next segment of the poem, where all the 'i am' statements are more descriptive or are metaphorical. I don't want to tell you to straight up cut those stanzas, because they seem important to the poem. The idea that the speaker is 'too _____', which may or may not be true (probably not) kind of comes through in the descriptions below: the music, the train crash, etc. But those aren't the conclusions that I'd draw directly from those descriptions. Like after reading the 'i am too ___' stanza, I saw those attributes in the descriptions for the next 6 to 8 stanzas in the poem. But I wouldn't have gotten there on my own. So I don't know. I wasn't a fan of this stanza when I read it - it felt like it was straying to far into "sympathy please" territory. But I feel for the speaker without that self-deprecation that often shows a desire to please or get praise. I like the speaker, for all her messiness. She doesn't need that strategy to get me to care.

i am incessant background music
a soundtrack stuck on repeat

i am the music getting louder, coming back

i am the train crash
the shipwreck

i am cpr
that didn’t work

i’m so very alive
burning and crushing and
flickering

my candle burns at both ends
and so does your house
This whole section does a really good job of showing the potential power and unpredictability and wildness of the speaker. There are places where you say it plainly: the third stanza, the wolf stanza. But this works better than all those instances. And I think you can probably ditch them in favor of this, or modify them to call out more explicitly to this. There are other places where ideas or images echo through the poem; here's another good place for echoes.

Also the 'my candle' stanza is darkly funny.

I feel like the poem wanders for a while between the 'i am overuse' stanza and 'i don't know where i'm going':
i am overuse
drug dependency
an alcoholic at a private school
i’m a corpse found in the toilets
dutch courage
and a silly child
such a great,
friendly atmos-
phere

it's so cold here but
i am so warm now that
my head is
smashed open

pinata
look at my brain

it’s black and filled with you
where did you get those
bright blue
devil
eyes

they’re all i can see at night

i am a blown fuse and
a bad singer

incense ashes and

i don’t know where i’m going
Everything I bolded here felt kind of rambling to me. Though I like some of the individual lines and images I have a hard time seeing how it all fits together and how that leads into the next part of the poem. It seems like the next part of the poem is trying to correct for the disconnection and wandering that happens here. But does the poem have to wander so much before getting to 'i don't know where i'm going'? I felt like the jump was too big between the 'i am overuse' bit and the cold, the smashed head, the brain. Who is the 'you' that the speaker is talking to? Is this the same person that's been addressed the whole time - god? the person in the 'can i be your girlfriend' stanza? The reader? Are we supposed to know who's being addressed here? I'm just not connecting the dots in this section and it frustrates me a bit.

I feel like this is the spot where the poem declares what it's about:
i don’t know where i’m going

with words on paper so how am i supposed to figure out
life
Seems like the poem is the process of figuring that out, or a snapshot of the process at least.

The poem gets more focused at the end, and is focused around this main idea now that we've build up to it. That's good I think. But there are spots where it gets a little bit too abstract I think and I get a bit lost - not confused, but I feel like the main track of the poem is lost again briefly:
fickle
inspired
going somewhere
anywhere

just you wait
till i stand up and
speak
just you wait
i speak too much, too loud, too wrong
and give silence instead of something
anything
This feels like an aside to me, not part of the main thread where the speaker is playing with the idea of significance, declaring that god will know her name, getting ready to say something big and important and unacceptable. I think the 'just you wait' lines are important - or at least one of them is important - but the rest is kind of abstract and I don't think it adds a whole lot. We already have a solid idea of what this speaker is like, so the description (fickle, etc.) distracts from the main declaration being made here.


One last thing. I was confused by this:
in the case of before the summer, just like
yesterday
Is there a word missing here? should there be a linebreak? Different punctuation? I just can't make sense of this and I think it's a grammatical issue.


So overall, I think this poem did a good job of showing a thought process and the process of starting to grow up. I got sucked into it even though it was long and I was a little wary at first. Those are all good things. I do think there's plenty to work on here though, between my comments and lalodragon's comments. I hope you find this critique helpful! If you have questions about anything I wrote or want to discuss something further, let me know! I'm happy to discuss in this thread or via VM - whichever. Even if it's tangentially related to something in the critique.
  
						Last edited by Isis; 01-05-2014 at 06:01 AM.
					
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Old 01-05-2014, 08:19 PM View Post #6 (Link)
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There's been some good general feedback I've skimmed through; I'd like to tell you about the side of this poem nobody seems to have really explored yet.

While reading, I didn't really think that much about the growing-up aspect. Adolescence is there, sure, but I didn't care much for it. (The blue eyes were one of your absolute best moments, though.) Making sense of growing up is common enough, and your poem's more interesting than that. I want to say a few things about the ending. I'm not sure it was much stronger than the rest, as lalodragon claims, but it had a lot going on that nobody's said anything about.

This is the bit I'm going to talk about:
Spoiler:

Originally Posted by ishmael View Post

so how am i supposed to figure out
life

it begins
and ends

iíve been dead for millions of years
and alive for fourteen

but still i canít
begin to fathom the former
or bear to let go of
the latter

iím insignificant

iím not

thereís a reason
iím going to do the most amazing thing
in the world
god, youíll know my name
and it wonít be a dirty word
spat around like
chewing gum

just you wait
till i stand up and
speak

it seems so ordinary
but that makes it
even better because
your jaw will break when
i say it

i donít know what
not yet
but
itís coming

i have been a million people
and lived a million lives
a million deaths, weddings, grandchildren, books

i donít remember any of it
just like thursday night

some people canít
spot the difference

i am powerful
enchanted
empowered
i am going to smash your face in
iím going to save you, i swear

as soon as i find out how
when, where, why and
i think thereís another word

one last word
my last word

my first word was dad

my last word is

who.

My reading was in the light of Polish romantics. I couldn't stop myself. Even though nobody would have read them, I felt this so strongly about the ending that I'll tell you about these similarities.

The feeling of insignificance that turns, eventually, into proving something to God, is something the main character of Dziady by Mickiewicz, one of the best Polish plays ever, addresses in a very long monologue to God, in which he proves he's worthy of all God's honours to create, to have power over souls, etc. "i am powerful/enchanted/empowered", and "just wait till I stand up and speak" is something that could've come out straight from his mouth; in fact it's the case with most of the above. Is this part particularly important to you or have I made a fuss of it in particular? I'm curious, because other people haven't made much of it; to me this is an aha! moment, I begin to understand something about the "i".

Then metempsychosis. The "i" of the poem is a lot of things. This is common enough. Every poet needs to list the amount of wonders and horrors they are (metaphorically of course) from time to time. But you go from there to metempsychosis. Your question: "how am i supposed to figure out life" grows into millions of years, of possibly infinitely regressing death that becomes a 14-year old life. This is interesting, not just going for it, going for all the egotism you can squeeze out. I think you ask your questions and assert your answers not just as melodrama but with deep understanding. You do always spot the difference, and I really liked that. All this made me think, again, of Polish romantics - this time a poet I don't even like, Slowacki, claimed that there is a Spirit that changes its forms, passes from one person to another - this is History - and this Spirit is a force that has its origin in Word.

The writers you reminded me of were seriously crazy and seriously metaphysical, but your metaphysics are just fine - you weave them into humour, bitterness, spotting the difference. I love you spotting differences. There's a lot that needs cutting out to give more strength to the water, the blue eyes, the millions of years - but this was really absorbing. I rarely actually get to the end of any poem, I haven't commented on anything for months. Then this. I've been no use with alluding to abstract XIX-century men, but I'm really curious about your approach to metaphysics.


Plus: out of interest, where did you get your title? [it makes you have even more in common with Polish romantics, but I won't get into that]
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Old 01-05-2014, 09:22 PM View Post #7 (Link)
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Say I've been meaning to ask about the title! where did it come from?

Yay feedback! I hope you don't mind if I quote your pm here; if you do I'll delete it.
The part about the 'caramel basket king' was an idea I got from a book I read about Henry VII. It was fiction, but it was based on what happened, and it implied that he executed innocent people just to feel safe on his throne. He had a child who died who (in the book anyway) wasn't really mentioned in her own right, but just to prove how lucky the king & queen were to have other healthy children. (In the revised version, there's a quote from Macbeth to kind of link with the idea of a king and murder.)
This explanation is interesting. I couldn't find the quote (which doesn't mean it's not there), but with or without the quote, this isn't all in the poem. I didn't find any of it. It's interesting backstory, but if you want the reader to know it you'll have to put it in, allude to it more strongly.
Second, I'm not sure how this relates to your speaker. It is interesting. But are you saying your speaker executes innocent people, has dead children? What's that supposed to mean for her? how does it affect her?
Third, I don't know how the "caramel basket" connects to the king. There's nothing about it in your explanation.
I don't think "caramel basket king" is a bad phrase, and many readers won't even notice if it goes unexplained. But by the same token they won't gain from it; it is unexplained. Still is, I think I'm more baffled than before.

Originally Posted by ishmael View Post
i am made of stone
don’t touch me
i am a clay sculpture
please touch me
I definitely like the change from the original, giving us tangible things. It's also fascinating how each thing reacts to touch-- the stone, which doesn't want to be touched, wouldn't be affected much by that touch anyway. The clay sculpture, which wants to be touched, could easily be altered, for better or worse-- I'm inclined to say it could easily be ruined. (I read it as unfired clay, as I consider clay a soft thing, also to contrast with stone.)

there’s a reason
i’m going to do the most amazing thing
in the world
"there's a reason" is new. Do you ever give us the reason? I didn't spot one. That becomes a loose thread to the reader, never tied off.


This has gotten more comprehensive attention than I've ever seen on one poem before. Despite being the longest one I've critted. You freaking win at this, girl.
  
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:46 PM View Post #8 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
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I've edited out most of the parts about the king. It was just an idea I was kind thinking of/playing with when I wrote it, but I definitely see what you mean about it not connecting with the reader. I guess I just like the idea of something seen as so strong - a king - being portrayed as fragile and easily broken

I think I'll edit the reason part out as well, I see what you mean. I'm so appreciative to everyone who's commented, it's really interesting to see it from other people's perspectives I love the different interpretations a few lines got

The title doesn't really mean anything, it's just the 49th thing I wrote (if you can believe it, the others were even more ramble-y). This one is my favourite so far (probably because it's the most recent) and I'm enjoying adapting it in response to other people's thoughts

Also, I never mentioned the 'nowadays' part. I cut that entirely, but it was supposed to be sarcastic - a reference to the speaker being condescended to, rather than patronising the reader. However, I get that this didn't come across how I intended it to (like lots of it...)

Thanks again for your feedback! And that's so great! Thank you! I should have a party or something
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Old 01-06-2014, 12:13 AM View Post #9 (Link)
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I didn't say I didn't like the king! and if you like it, you don't have to get rid of it; you just have to tease it out, make it clearer to the reader. Up to you!

I'm glad to know the obscure reasons for the title; I guess it's a working title but I'd suggest you keep it. It intrigued me. Trying to figure it out.
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Old 01-08-2014, 08:56 PM View Post #10 (Link) This post is a reply - don't critique it
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Hey bookworm! I don't know if you'll see this now, but I've only just read your reply properly - sorry! Firstly, thank you so much for your feedback I thought it was so interesting - to be honest, I'm not familiar at all with Polish writing, but I'll have to do some research now. I guess I don't have a strong opinion about metaphysics, I don't know much about it. I think that religion and spiritual beliefs are really interesting though, and they inspire me a lot. I think the idea of looking at how different things relate to each other is interesting, especially different people and how they affect each other even if they never meet. I don't know if that really answers your question or anything, but thanks again for your feedback
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