Poetry Feedback – #3

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.) Continue reading

Poems update

I have two more poems that were submitted by some friendly writers and am currently working on their feedback.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of stuff coming up with work for the next few weeks and I’m going to be really busy.  I’ll get to the two poems that were submitted as I have time but I’m going to have to hold off on anything new for a while.  To be honest, it takes a lot of time and energy to go through the poems with the detail they deserve and I don’t want to short change anyone by doing a half-ass review.

Thanks again to the writers who’ve submitted, hopefully everyone has enjoyed this process and maybe picked up a few ideas.  I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, flexing some of the brain cells that haven’t been worked in a while.  Judging from the responses I’ve seen, some readers have been really interested in this kind of feedback and once work calms down I will be more than happy to open up the process to more writers.

Poetry Feedback – #2

This is the second poem that was submitted for feedback.  A big thank you to Mark Baron for letting me go over his villanelle.


I kissed her on her alabaster skin,
Where sun-sent bronze had never staked its claim,
And marveled at the joys I found therein.

She did as well, as evidenced in grin.
And as a blush spread quick throughout her frame,
I kissed her on her alabaster skin.

Her form, less hourglass, more violin,
I stroked, love’s melodies seeking to tame,
And marveled at the joys I found therein.

Though ne’er a great composer have I been,
When played on her, a symphony became;
I kissed her on her alabaster skin.

With every cobbled note I did begin,
An aria of lust from out her came,
I marveled at the joys I found therein.

And then the great crescendo of our sin,
She shuddered, and as dully grew her flame,
I kissed her on her alabaster skin,
And marveled at the joys I found therein.

– Mark Baron Continue reading

Poetry Feedback – # 1

Alright, when I put out a call to poets I got two fast responses.  So, first off, a big thank you to the two open minded poets.  This will be the first review, the second will soon follow.

Before I get to the review, I wanted to reply to part of the comment that Shawn L Bird left on the “Poets” post when she submitted her poem.

“Practising is the only way to get there. Reading other poets and writing poetry is the only way to improve. Modelling what you see and stretching for your unique view requires writing, writing, writing.”

I have to respectfully disagree with this statement.  Yes, getting the words out is extremely important, the more a person writes the better.  Absolutely.  However, writing in a vacuum does not improve one’s ability at all.  That’s like writing a paper for an English teacher and never getting graded (Yes Shawn, I read your profile.  No, I’m not a stalker).  The only way to truly improve is to be questioned, to be challenged.  Without getting honest feedback, a writer will reach a certain point and become static.  The only way to grow and progress is to be constantly questioned, to be dragged through the mud, to stumble and fall and get back up.  How can anyone raise the bar if there is no bar?

That’s why I have a problem with so many of the poetry sites I see on WordPress.  There’s a whole lot of mutual masturbation going on, stroking each other’s egos, and not a lot of constructive feedback.

Ok, that rant out of the way, on the to review! Continue reading

Poetry update

Ok, for those of you following along, I put out a call to some poets for some work to review a couple days ago (“Poets”).  My goal was to provide constructive feedback in a way that I don’t usually see on poetry posts.  I think constructive criticism is a vital part of the writing process and wanted to show some examples.

Thankfully, two poets submitted pieces for public review.

I have finished my feedback on the first piece and sent the draft post to the writer.  I wanted her to have a chance to look it over before I posted it to make sure there wasn’t anything in there that might reflect poorly on her or something that might bother her.  I want this to be a positive experience, maybe exchange some ideas, not hurt anyone’s feelings.  I was going to post that review today but haven’t heard back from her yet.  It is a holiday here and a work day everywhere else, so I’m going to wait another day to look it over before I put it up.  And if she doesn’t respond I might start to think she’s avoiding me.

I am working on the second review, I want it to be thorough and constructive.  I’ll send it to the writer before I put it up, which should be hopefully right after I post the first review.

Thank you to the writers that submitted pieces and I appreciate everyone else’s patience.  Hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.


I’m continually amazed at the number of poets on WordPress.  More specifically, I’m amazed by how many terrible poets there are here.

poet s

When I got to college, like most young and dumb writers, I thought I was a hell of a poet.  It was a tough road to realize that I wasn’t.

My Junior level Creative Writing course was taught by a bitchy woman who hated poets, so I took everything she said with a heaping spoonful of salt.  I think she was a woman who’s writing career failed early and had to start teaching to pay the bills.  She was all sorts of pent up, angry, bitchy, and depressing.  She had a lot to say but I didn’t learn much there, I just put my head down and powered through it.

The Senior level course was totally the opposite.  It was taught by a fantastic, bubbly, published poet… but she was hard on my writing too.  The two teachers said a lot of the same things but, unlike the previous one, I actually listened to the Senior teacher.   And realized… Gasp, that I was a terrible poet. Continue reading

Ann pt 2

Ann pt 1 – Ann St Vincent and I live thousands of miles apart.  Until Ann and I met, we were writing about each other using pseudonyms, Ann’s was Julie.  Then, we flew to a central location and spent five days together.

long comic

Each of the rooms at the hotel had a different style. Ours was an “old mariner” style room, sailboats and knots on the wall paper. There was even a life preserver hanging on the wall with “Welcome Aboard” painted on it. Oddly appropriate, I think.

There’s always a little bit of awkwardness with a new lover.  It takes some time to find what the other person’s body likes, wants, and how it works with yours.  There was some of that awkwardness with Ann but we got past it pretty quickly.  And enthusiastically. Continue reading

Ode to the Coffee Shop Girl

The other day I was talking about poetry with a friend.  In college I took a few creative writing classes, poetry is one of the hardest forms of writing because there are so few words to work with.  That means that those words, the format, the punctuation, the sounds, all need to be carefully considered.  The really good poetry is amazing at getting complex thoughts, feelings across in the fewest words.  Bad poetry can be really bad.  The purpose of the class was to use constructive criticism to help poets improve their art.  Too many didn’t.  I’m notoriously hard on poets.

Well, the conversation seemed to have shaken something loose in the back of my head.  So, when I was struck with sudden inspiration I decided to go with it and see what came out.  I’ll let you judge the results.


Ode to the Coffee Shop Girl Continue reading