The following lines are excerpts from undergraduate creative writing critiques written by me about fellow students’ work. As part of our course credit, we were required to write multiple paragraphs of feedback each week for each poet. While I did not save the original poems, I recently discovered many of the critiques that I wrote, appropriately buried in my Documents folder on my old computer. These comments are taken out of context but are otherwise unchanged. Enjoy.
“Yesterday the moon smelled of / raw apples.” Wow.
The beginning line is great and really invites further reading.
What’s also working really well for me is the way you use repetition.
“delicate shoulder bones o delicate shoulder bones / How will this unfold?”
I love “green-agleam,”
I love the exclamation: “Sex & Christmas are coming!”
I love the idea of an accident “toe-tasting” the river, though perhaps I’m misreading.
I love that the entire poem is a sentence.
I love the drippy, intricate language of “Convolution.”
“Thursday” and “Friday” seem like departures from the other poems (I’m assuming they’re from the same series).
The old woman who “transparently nods her head,” and the old man who mysteriously “takes my palm” – I love them.
I’m still not completely clear about who the bishop is, or how Frank relates, but the names add to the intrigue, and the poem works as a suggestive homage.
I’m stuck trying to see what raw-meat-fabric might look like, let alone how it relates to the sky. On the other hand, “raw-meat sky” is haunting and vivid.
“carnivalesqueing announcement / then you place my arm on your shoulder;” the announcement becomes the simple placement of an arm, and the arm becomes “carnivalesque.”
“quicker than mustard weed, / keener than chords.” “It clings / to each lung and / I can’t chew.” Your line breaks are spot-on.
Your verbs are very active and sonorous: hums, settles, crawls, lulls, purrs, clings, chews, and buzz.
“Where you’ve already been” is a frightening poem.
The sensuality of this is complicated by the inclusion of the father.
The play between penal/penile is funny, but the connection doesn’t quite work because the bathroom doesn’t seem directly related to law or prisons. Maybe I’m missing something?
There are a couple of places where I suggest removing little words like “the.” Also I think capital letters are misused.
I like your image: the “most nowhere-in-particular.”
The unhappy cubicle workers, on the other hand, seem didactic in a way that is off-putting.
At the same time, there are a lot of “big” ideas in the poem that I just don’t get – deception, weariness, peace, stability, quickness of mind, desire, hope, vanity, distress, power.
As an example, the “two wicker lovers” of the third stanza are really effective and vivid. I see an older couple. Older people buy wicker.
I love the “green over autumn around my wrists.”
I love the sister, who in spite of or because of the danger, is miraculous – she flies. For me, her flight is related to the miracle of her pregnancy.
Other than that, the first stanza is so effective, especially the plants letting go of chaff. I’m not sure what chaff is, even after looking it up, but the sound of it suggests something very vivid and animated – these plants are lively – what kinds of plants do this?
“expressionless / hand prints” is better, right? (“imprinted” should be taken out – it is redundant).
But usually I think of handprints as expressive, not expressionless, since fingerprints are unique to the individual. What is a handprint, and how unique is it? Is it more anonymous, or special?
“Impressions” is really interesting – I see a play between soft and hard, wet and dry, stable and hazardous.
“intangible when considered / comprehendible.” That line states the exact trouble I’m having with it.
I love the juxtaposition of claws with cold thighs.
I suppose it all depends on what your vision was for the poem – was it a hopeful image, or more of an abrupt realization of death?
“I smiled” broke the rhythm for me. It’s almost too direct.
The ending of this poem is so beautiful, it’s like a sigh.
Posted May 3rd, 2010