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Free verse poem in need of critics

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  • #73018
    Sir Leeds
    @sir-leeds

    @emma-star , @scribbles , @kb-writer

    Hi everyone, I’d appreciate some help with this free verse poem. Here are a few things I’d like to draw your attention to specifically, but I’d greatly appreciate any feedback you may have for me:

    1) I’d like to submit this to a Christian publisher, but I’m not sure if the rewording of Hebrews 11 is too gritty/graphic for my audience. What do you think?

    2) Is the theme of time too “heavy”? I want to stress the amount of “distance” traveled, but not to the extent that it weighs the poem down.

    3) Does the double meaning/play on words “land” or is it too subtle? I don’t want to point out what it is here for fear of giving it away. I’ll post a comment with what I was thinking if anyone provides feedback.

    4) Overall, does it seem to flow? If not, where do you think it could use rework? I know it’s one big run on sentence, but does it sound like it works if you read it out loud?

    Thanks in advance! I appreciate the help.

     

    Evangelism

    I’ve come all the way here to talk to you.

    Here, just a few years west of Eden

    On the other side

    Of Roman Empire Street,

    Right across from the American Revolution.

    I have come from birth and teething and crawling and

    Walking and eating and running and coloring and

    Riding bikes and building forts and sledding sleds and

    Studying textbooks and driving cars and texting and

    Rebirth all the way to you, here, and now

    I’m dying to tell you

    The same thing

    Those who came before me,

    Those who were tortured

    But refused release, sweet release,

    Who were mocked and beaten

    And imprisoned,

    Whose hands and feet were chained together,

    Whose faces were smashed in with rocks,

    Whose belly and legs were sawn apart,

    Who died

    To tell those who came before you:

    That a Man who was also God

    Lived and died but also lives

    So that you and I can be free.

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by Sir Leeds.

    "We are far too easily pleased." - C. S. Lewis

    #73023
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @sir-leeds

    Hello Sir Leeds! Glad to meet you! Don’t think I have yet.

    Before I get into it, I’d like to start by saying: Wow. That was very good! I really liked it. Here are the answers to your questions.

    1) I’d like to submit this to a Christian publisher, but I’m not sure if the rewording of Hebrews 11 is too gritty/graphic for my audience. What do you think? 
    I don’t think it’s too graphic. If you had tried to describe what that looked like or those emotions too much, it would be, but you simply stated the truth in the most straight-forward and honest way you could. It keeps it powerful without being grossed out with details. The only part you may want to alter is the line: “Whose belly and legs were sawn apart”. That line goes into slightly more description (by using body parts) which makes it more graphic than the rest. I think it’s fine as is, though, if you’d rather not change it.

    2) Is the theme of time too “heavy”? I want to stress the amount of “distance” traveled, but not to the extent that it weighs the poem down.
    Poems are always “heavy”. 🙂 Being serious though, I didn’t find it too heavy. Just so you have some insight into how the reader perceived it, I slowly digested the “directions” section, and really quickly zipped through the “growing” section, and slowed back down on the “point” (I hope those labels made sense). I liked it that way, though, because zipping through that sections (the “ands” made it flow like that) was almost a hidden reminder that our life is short, which led nicely into the final segment telling of how people used that short life to glorify God and tell of Jesus.

    3) Does the double meaning/play on words “land” or is it too subtle? I don’t want to point out what it is here for fear of giving it away. I’ll post a comment with what I was thinking if anyone provides feedback.
    I got the play on words if I’m thinking of the right ones. The “directions” were really cute and clever. I liked the correlation between distance and time and followed that idea (that they were almost one and the same in this poem) fairly nicely. Is that what you were wondering?

    4) Overall, does it seem to flow? If not, where do you think it could use rework? I know it’s one big run on sentence, but does it sound like it works if you read it out loud?
    It does seem to flow. When I read it in my head I followed along with the sentence perfectly well. It was a bit harder when I was reading it out loud, mostly because I more quickly break sentence and read slower when I do. A few tiny tweaks to consider:

    “On the other side / Of Roman Empire Street,” – Maybe change this from two stanzas to one (“Past Roman Empire Street”) That way I connect the point better. Otherwise, when reading out loud, I do a double-take to make sure it was the right meaning.

    “I have come from birth and teething and crawling and / Walking and eating and running and coloring and /Riding bikes and building forts and sledding sleds and / Studying textbooks and driving cars and texting and / Rebirth all the way to you, here, and now” By the third stanza, you switch from 2-syllable thoughts (teething, crawling, walking…) to 3-syllable thoughts (riding bikes, building forts…). It interrupts the flow a bit until I get back in rhythm with the new cadence. Perhaps you can prevent that by either making them all 3 syllables or all 2 syllables. That would make me keep the rhythm easier.

    “Who were mocked and beaten / And imprisoned, / Whose hands and feet were chained together, / Whose faces were smashed in with rocks, / Whose belly and legs were sawn apart, / Who died” – Before I give a suggestion, I just have to say this gave me chills. I love how you go into all this description before ending with the short thought, “who died”. It punctures through all the other thoughts and gives it weight, well done!

    “Who were mocked and beaten / And imprisoned,” – Okay, and here’s where I critique that group. You have this “who/whose” pattern going on that the “and imprisoned” breaks. It might sound better if you fix it, either by giving it a “who” of it’s own, or attaching it to another line.

    Hope that helped! Great poem, and I wish you the best of luck publishing it!

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

    #73107
    Sir Leeds
    @sir-leeds

    Thanks @kb-writer ! This is great feedback!

    1) I’m split on keeping the wording as it is because I think it stands out a bit more and makes the reader think a bit more concretely about some of the horrors of martyrdom than otherwise, but I also don’t want to come across the wrong way. I really appreciate your input on this.

    2) Yeah, I hear you. I guess I was wondering if it was getting too wordy or not and if the wordiness was weighing the poem down. Sorry I didn’t make that clear at all!

    3) I think maybe this new revision (below) will make what I was trying to be clever about more evident. While I was trying to be clever about mixing up space and time, I was really trying to connect the common phrase “dying to tell you” (like, excited to tell you) to evangelism and martyrdom.

    4) Looking back on it now, I tend to agree with you. Thank you for pointing out the clunky parts to me!

    This new revision seems to take an entirely new direction, but I think it’s a lot more honest and drives home the connection between “dying to tell you” and martyrdom better. What do you think?

    Btw, I don’t tend to check stuff out on SE unless I’m specifically mentioned or responded to, so please feel free to mention me in anything if you’d like feedback on something! Thanks again!

     

    Evangelism

    I’ve come all the way here to talk to you.

    Here, in an empty McDonald’s corner booth

    Around nine in the evening,

    Just a few years west of Eden

    Down the road on Roman Empire Street,

    Right across from the American Revolution.

    I have come from birth

    And teething rings and standing up and falling down and

    Stealing toys and riding bikes and building forts and

    Telling lies and driving cars and texting friends and

    Rebirth all the way to you, here, and now

    I should be dying

    To tell you

    The same thing

    Those who came before me,

    Who were tortured but refused release,

    Who were beaten and spat on and thrown in prison,

    Whose hands and feet were chained together,

    Whose faces were smashed in with rocks,

    Whose belly and legs were sawn apart,

    Who died

    To tell those who came before you:

    That a Man who was also God

    Lived and died but also lives

    So that you and I can be free.

    It’s simple enough and I do believe,

    But I’m not dying

    To tell you, and it’s killing me

    Because I know I should be.

    I should be dying

    To sit down across from you,

    To look you in your bewildered eyes,

    To use words like “sin” and “death”

    Like they’re normal words

    To bring to a conversation,

    To casually bring a two-edged sword

    To a knife fight,

    To tell you that there is one way out

    And that He is that way.

    And though I’m not dying

    To bring this evening to its climax,

    I set my tray down across from you

    And introduce myself.

    "We are far too easily pleased." - C. S. Lewis

    #78510
    Katherine Baker
    @kb-writer

    @sir-leeds

    I can’t believe I never got back with you on this! This newer version is SO much better! I love it!!! This is such an amazing poem!

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

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