Critique For The Fledgling Poet?

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  • #71654
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    I was only able to track down two of my poems, but I was wondering if you guys could give me some direction? I know these aren’t very good, and I was actually hesitant to post them at all, ’cause they feel so personal. But I really want to figure this poetry thing out, and I know getting critique is a good way to start. So yes.. I know there is a lot wrong with these, but if you could pick out what you think most obviously needs work, I would really appreciate it. 🙂

    I’ll start with the oldest of the two. It was created last October.

     

    The world is as an ocean.
    It’s big, and dark, and violent.
    I’m the foolish sailor caught in it’s waves.
    How could I think I would survive
    without your warmth, and sheltering love.


    Without you?


    Be my anchor. Still the waves around me.
    And hold me tight lest I fall into the cold abyss.
    Oh, please keep me in your care, till to the shore 
    We fare.

     

     

    Dear Heavenly Father, 
    … I just don’t know what to say.
    I want to obey, and I know your word says to pray!
    I could ask you to make me more like you today,
    but I know your hands are already about me,
    gently turning, twisting, and folding my heart like clay.
    Hey! I could request your good plans to come about, 
    but you’re God. I already know you’ll have your way.
    Maybe it’s not about my requests. Maybe my prayers 
    aren’t meant to be that way.
    I think I now know what to say.
    Thank you, Father, for the ability to pray! For how
    else could I praise you for your ways? For the flowers of May,
    for the debt you needed not to pay. For your grace, and all the 
    loving words you say. Thank you, Father, for the ability to pray.

    This one is very recent. I should say though, I’m not meaning to say we shouldn’t ask God for things. In fact Jesus told us to ask for our daily bread, and for God’s will to be done. I just wrote it at a time I was struggling a lot with my prayers. I had so little motivation to pray for anything. I felt like they didn’t matter. But as I was writing this I realized I ought to be thanking God more. This is kind of besides the point, but I just wanted to clarify that. *awkward cough*

    I wish I could have found some of my more lighthearted poetry, but when ever I try poet(ing??) it usually comes from a desire to express something deeper.  Neither of these utilize meter and all that fancy stuff, because I don’t understand them yet, but as of now It’s on my to do list to figure out. Maybe the next poems I post for critique will have meter in them. 🙂

    @evelyn @k-a-grey @kb-writer (Sorry, you guys are the only poets I can think of right now.)

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #71669
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @the-fledgling-artist

    I love them! The second one in particular is gorgeous! What a lovely message!

    When I have a bit more time I’ll take a closer look. Just wanted to let you know it’s on my radar. 😉

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #71683
    Lin
    @lin

    @the-fledgling-artist I don’t know much about poetry but I gotta say the second one really touched me. Beautiful!

    “I've loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

    #71698
    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    (Tagging @libby and @h-jones who are amazing poets. :))

    I love them! And agree with @kb-writer …especially the second one. 🙂

    So I have a couple suggestions for the first one and you can dump them or adopt them. 😉

    The world is as an ocean.
    It’s big, and dark, and violent.
    I’m the foolish sailor caught in it’s waves.
    How could I think I would survive
    without your warmth, and sheltering love.

    I love the idea behind this! So true and beautiful. I’m wondering though if you can be a bit more vivid in descriptions and the smiles to set to the mood and engage the reader. Here in the first section you compare the world to an ocean… “it’s big, and dark, and violent.” How is an ocean violent? Can you show that? Maybe something about the ocean lashing out and crashing into your boat? Or it spinning your boat and splashing salty froth in your eyes until they sting or drenching your clothes and making your shiver? I’m sure you could come up with some more example and pick one to use. 🙂

    The word “big” is so often overused that it falls a bit flat for me. Could you find a different word that feels stronger and appeals to the mood? For example when something is “vast” it makes me feel overcome by it. I suddenly feel small, helpless, lonely.

    I think you could also appeal to the reader’s sense of smelling and feeling. Back to the idea of including something about salt water. And even think about how incredibly humid and heavy the air is at sea, especially during a storm. It makes it hard to breath and you might be able to play around with that thought.

    Remember though, that the point in vivid writing is not to dump paragraphs of descriptions on the reader, that quickly gets old and gets… disgusting, for lack of a better word. 😉 The goal is find that one golden sentence, unique and vivid, appealing to the senses and setting the mood, that brings it to life.

    So those are some thoughts. Like I said though, you don’t have to take my advice. Sometimes it’s just a difference of taste. 🙂

    #71744
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    @kb-writer @lin @evelyn
    Thanks so much. You guys are so sweet! I was kind of nervous to post anything. xD I agree that the 2nd is the better of the two, though I’m sure they both need a lot of work. I would imagine getting a grasp of how meter works will make a huge difference. 🙂 (It’s on my ever growing to do list of creative pursuits!)

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #71794
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @the-fledgling-artist

    Have a bit of time now. Let’s see how far I can go.

    I agree with Evelyn on your first poem. The thought behind it is beautiful.

    I think the goal here is to Show, Not Tell. Right now, you are telling me what I should see, but you aren’t letting me feel it. Poetry is all about feeling something.

    In order to help me feel the piece, you have to intentionally muddle the imagery a bit. Force my imagination to fill in the blanks.

    For instance, let’s take the first 2 lines of your poem:
    The world is as an ocean.
    It’s big, and dark, and violent.

    You tell me outright exactly what I need to know: 1. what you’re comparing (the world and oceans) 2.What the analogy means.

    To fix it, you want to allude to those answers, instead of telling me outright. <span style=”background-color: #f6d5d9;”>To give an example, I’m going to change the two lines to My heart is an empty hole / black and sad. Here’s one way to fix this prose: </span>

    Can you see?
    I guess I should say “welcome”
    but I don’t know if you’re here.
    All I can hear
    is the beating of my heart
    the crying of my heart.
    Can’t you hear it too?
    The tears alone fit
    except for you –
    if you’re really here-
    and I.
    I can’t get out.
    It’s dark in here.

    In the above example, I took a few “senses” to give you a sense of what was going on. I told you my heart was crying (hearing, seeing) and that it was dark in hear (seeing) to get across the imagery of a hole or dwelling. I let the monologue sound desperate with choppy, disjointed sentences to get across that I was sad, and implied I couldn’t see at the beginning (though I did say it almost outright at the end. I’m still implying the dark heart).

    This is just one of the many ways you can take that imagery and deepen it. Using your poem, see what other, more obscure connections you can make to put the desired images in the reader’s mind.

    I hope that made sense. The later in the day it is, the more disjointed my thoughts are. 🙂

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #71795
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @the-fledgling-artist

    When I have more time, I’ll discuss meter with you a bit. 🙂

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #71796
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    @kb-writer Thanks so much! That’s really helpful. 😀

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #71810
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @the-fledgling-artist

    Alrighty! I got myself a bit more free time, so let me try to help with your second poem. This is such a sweet poem…

    So, when you have a more measured poem like this one, you need to decide on a pattern and stick with it. You have points where every line rhymes, and you have points when you alternate. You have sections where the rhyming word is in the middle of a line, and sections where it’s at the end. You have longs lines and short lines.

    It’s hard to get into a flow of a poem when there isn’t a set pattern. The goal with Meter poems is to have a pattern, so the reader almost falls into a lull when reading it (the best kind of lull!)

    The pattern is based on two things, the rhyming lines, and the meter.

    The “Rhyming Lines” (for lack of a better term) deal with which lines rhyme with each other, and which ones don’t. Common patterns include:
    1) X A X A (with X meaning they don’t rhyme)
    2) A B A B
    3)A A A B / C C C B
    4) AAAA… BBB… (etc.)
    To give examples of each:
    1) There’s a dog / in my house / but he barks / like a mouse
    2) When it’s cold / I can see / love unfold / all ’round me
    3) It is grey / when the day / doesn’t play / with the sun // But I know, / from below, / I can show / it some fun.
    4) Can I be / like the sea / so softly / kissing me? / I can’t see / but know we / are now free.

    Those were fun examples to whip up. Hope they made sense.

    Now, to apply that to your poem, I feel like the easiest to adapt would be 1 or 4. I’ll mess with a bit of it to show you what that could look like.

    1) X A X A
    Dear Heavenly Father,
    … I just don’t know what to say.
    I’ve been here a million times.
    I really do want to obey –
    I know it is lovely to you –
    and I know your word says to pray!
    But what could I ask?
    To be made like you today?

    2) AAAA

    … I just don’t know what to say.
    I want to obey, and I know your word says to pray!
    I could ask you to make me more like you today,
    but I know that’s already your way,
    gently folding my heart like clay.
    “May your plans come about”, I could say,
    but you’re God. I already know you’ll have your way.

    Anyway, those are just a couple of the ways you could fit one of those patterns with your poem.

    After you have a pattern chosen, I would start thinking though meter. The easiest way to “accidentally” create good meter is to count your syllables (until I understood meter, this is what I did). Depending on what pattern you pick, your meter might change, but mostly try to stick with “matching” lines having a matching meter.
    Example: ()= syllables
    (12) I had a dream before I saw the moonlight die.
    (10) I dreamt that I would climb it’s shining rays
    (12) And on the back of shimmering light, I would fly
    (10) And in ribbons of moonlight, I would stay.

    It’s not perfect, but it gives you an idea of how I keep track of syllables. After that (if I wanted to be really fancy), I would find the more exact meter. In other words, where does the emphasis lie? Read the poem out loud and see what you emphasize. Here’s what I found in the above (Emphasis bold)
    (12) I had a dream before I saw the moonlight die.
    (10) I dreamt that I would climb it’s shining rays
    (12) And on the back of shimmering light, I would fly
    (10) And in ribbons of moonlight, I would stay.

    Then, count the syllables between each emphasis. that gives you its meter:
    (1 1 3 1) I had a dream before I saw the moonlight die.
    (1 1 2) And on the back of shimmering light, I would fly
    I put line 1 and 3 side-by-side so you can see what’s wrong with it. When I say it out loud, I don’t emphasize “shim” like I need to, but “light”. That throws off my meter.

    So I would fix it:
    (1 1 3 1 3 1 1 1) And on the shining moon-lit path, I would fly

    Now it matches. So together, the poem goes like this:
    I had a dream before I saw the moonlight die.
    I dreamt that I would climb it’s shining rays
    And on the shining moon-lit path, I would fly
    And in ribbons of moonlight, I would stay.

    Can you feel how that flows better when read out loud? Does it make sense what I did there?

    It takes a bit of time to get used to, but it’s a good skill to learn. If meter is still too much, just work with syllables for now. An odd-sounding line can be critiqued until it flows well, even not understanding the meter (one of my favorite poems of mine was written before I understood meter. It was a product of syllable-counting and messing with the lines until I liked them).

    One last thing, once you understand rules, be willing to break some. Sometimes the best poetry comes when you follow almost all the rules but play around with one. If you love the way something flows with a poem, but it doesn’t fit these rules, keep it (and ask for advice from other poets).

    I hope this helps!

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #71811
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @the-fledgling-artist

    I hope I’m not tagging you to death!

    If you try to edit one of your poems, I’d love to see what you do!

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #71814
    The Fledgling Artist
    @the-fledgling-artist

    @kb-writer Oh my goodness, thank you so much!! This probably took you ages to type out. I appreciate it SO MUCH! If I end up editing the poems I’ll make sure to tag you! 😀 Thanks again!

    "Though I'm not yet who I will be, I'm no longer who I was."

    #71815
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @the-fledgling-artist

    The fact that it took ages is mostly my fault. I’m way too wordy. 🙂

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #71865
    Evelyn
    @evelyn

    @kb-writer Wow, I learned a lot from your post. I have never approached meter like that and now I want to try it out! 🙂

    #72200
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @evelyn

    Seriously? You learning something from me is high praise indeed! I’m honored.

    I’d love to see you try out my way of doing meter, will you show me a poem once you try (I’ve realized when I ask to “see someone’s work”, I’m really just soliciting poetry for my own enjoyment). 🙂

    I think I come across that way because it makes sense from a musical standpoint to me (my job is as a music teacher). I could conceivably chart things with music notes as well, but I won’t go that crazy (though now I got myself thinking…)

    Always remember you're unique...
    ...Just like everyone else

    #72220
    Libby
    @libby

    @kb-writer Music and poetry always go together…let’s just say that. 😉 Also, your signature just is…great.

    @the-fledgling-artist

    Hi – I’m even later than Katherine, so hopefully I’m still welcome 🙂 Just to start out, your poetry is lovely and heartfelt.  Both Katherine and Evelyn’s advice are superb and I can’t say what they said better than they did.

    Since I don’t have anything to critique, I will just say that I love these lines:

    “Be my anchor. Still the waves around me.
    And hold me tight lest I fall into the cold abyss.
    Oh, please keep me in your care, till to the shore
    We fare.”

    While the rest of the poem may need work, this just floored me.  It is my prayer every day and to see it written in such a beautiful way, almost like a lullaby, but stronger, was just amazing.  And that last line: “we fare” – Just wow.  Perfect.  Wonderful.

    Second poem was also something I related to so much.  Lovely work.  Keep it up!

    "Young people, you must pray, for your passions are strong and your wisdom is little."C.H.Spurgeon

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