I’ve had another brave writer step up to the plate and submit a poem for review. This is going to be short and sweet… because the poem is short and sweet. It’s a haiku, one of the most well known forms of poetry (second only to grade-school limericks, in my opinion). It’s also one of the most difficult forms of poetry.
One of my English teachers had an interesting perspective that sticks with me to this day. She said that the fewer the words a piece of writing has, the more important those words become.
If you’re writing a novel you have thousands and thousands of words to make the reader feel something and tell a story. A few sloppy words or phrases here and there don’t matter too much to the piece overall.
A short story does the same as a novel but with far fewer words. It has slightly less slack than a novel because there’s less to work with.
A poem makes a reader feel something, or paints a picture, or tells a story, but has very few words.
And a haiku… Well, I think you get where I’m going with this. Every word has monumental importance because they make up a far larger portion of the piece. Rather than 1 in 100,000 words (like a novel), or 1 in 10,000 (like a short story), or even 1 in a 100 (like a poem), a haiku is… What, 1 in 10?
That’s a lot of weight to put on so few words.
Now that I’ve totally psyched out the writer, on to the haiku review! (That rhymes, I laughed.)
Talking just to hear oneself
Speak ad nauseum
It’s a cute little poem and interesting conceptually. I read this and I picture someone in a conference room writing it in the margins of a page while a speaker goes on and on in the background.
There are some really good word choices here. “Monotone droning” sounds like a monotone drone, which is awesome. The definition of ‘ad nauseum’ is a discussion that has gone on so long that it has reached “to [the point of] nausea” (Wikipedia). So that fits well with the concept of the poem.
It also follows the form of a haiku, proper syllable count, which is good.
There’s no punctuation, not even a period at the end. I would fix that.
Secondly, the beginning of each line is capitalized. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, especially when there isn’t any punctuation, because there is no “right” way to read the poem. Is each line it’s own sentence? It can confusing to readers.
My interpretation of this haiku is:
“Monotone droning, talking just to hear oneself speak ad nauseum.”
That might be exactly what the writer intended or it could be completely different, I don’t know.
I like the “Monotone droning” and “ad nauseum”, but the middle section isn’t as strong as I would like it to be. First, it sounds like the speaker is just talking to hear their own voice until they get sick of it. Which seems odd, but I might be misreading it.
Also, “talking” and “speak” seem like weak words to use. This goes back to the statement at the top, with so few words the word choice is really important. The “monotone droning” is an excellent description, but then it’s ‘talk’ and ‘speak’. It seems to me like there are better words that could be used to say the same thing but with more power.
I pulled up thesaurus.com and they have some pretty interesting options.
Lecture, discourse, dissertation, epilogue, exhortation, harangue, homily, monologue, oration, sermon, spiel, etc.
Chat, convey, declare, deliver, express, say, shout, tell, utter, whisper, allege, articulate, assert, blab, converse, discourse, drawl, enunciate, gab, gas, jaw, modulate, yak, yammer, state, verbalize, vocalize, pronounce, mutter, murmur, mumble, etc.
So there are lots of different options that might make better use of the limited syllables allowed in such a short form of poetry.
Haiku’s are a tricky form of poetry to write but I think Smittenwithhim wrote a very interesting piece. There were a few things that I pointed out but overall it has some excellent word choices and a good concept.
Thank you to Smittenwithhim for letting me do this review and post it up. Hopefully she finds this an interesting exercise and the readers get a look at some constructive feedback.