I found a vintage denim jacket in the bottom of my mother's closet, underneath a black-and-white montage of shoebox photographs with burned edges. Like she had been trying to asphyxiate the memory of my father but kept coming up for air.
1. Too short? Just right? Would you like more story?
2. I broke this into two sentences; would it have been more effective as one? That is to say, should the period at the end of line four be a comma instead? How would that shiftthe balance of the piece?
Personally, I feel like this poem is the perfect length. The brevity lends each word a sense of urgency that would not be present otherwise. With what you’ve got, the story allows itself to organically grow in the reader’s mind rather than being drawn out and forced. The story is short, concise, and permeates emotion.
As far as the formatting of units is concerned, I think that taking out the period would be more effective. As it is, the period makes me stop and then continue the same thought which gets a little confusing. Another way you may be able to do break it this into smaller syntactic units or removing the word like and keeping the period. The elimination of the comparison makes the image more concrete.
This is a wonderful and heartfelt piece. Very well done.
I like it short. Like a little thought, but with a niggling feeling of nostalgia and something else. Love the second sentence, it really brought the question into mind: 'Who kept coming up for the air? The mother, the father, or was it the narrator??' It felt like there is a hint of regret in this poem. Like this mother or the narrator has been trying to bury the memories of the father and allowing it to be cut off from their lives: "bottom" and "burned edges".
Its great how you made it so lightly bitter-sweet, like how nostalgia would feel. Not only does the shortness add to the charm, but its tone just downright makes the reader love it.
If you want to focus on the balance shift thing, then I have to say it did kind of felt it lacked a little something-something, anything to separate the two sweet sentences more. It felt like it was too straightforward without one and my thought process just ends up fuzzled (maybe because I'm dopey)... BUT either way, I like it like this.
Just right, by all means: I really like how tight and straight to the point this simple imagery is, the way it hints at the "more story" gently and leaving the rest to the reader's imagination. I feel like it makes every word matter more - found the jacket, so it must have been hidden away; black and white photos, old memories; the burned edges, ah well, it couldn't get any more evident, but once again, in a subtle and non-cheesy way; the full stop between the sentences, it just feels right to have a stark and strong pause there: it strikes me as pensive, if that makes any sense, that pause when you stop to look at what you've just found and the reader can follow the thought in the very moment it's formed. The only extremely tiny nitpick I'd give is a little thing in the final verse: if you leave kept coming up for air without a pronoun, at first glance it might not clear whether the subject of the sentence is she, as it's supposed to be, or the memory. Then again, repeating the pronoun might be just as grating or I might just be missing the point of a deliberate ambiguity, so feel free to disregard this doubt entirely.
You hit on quite a lot, especially with the found - I don't think anyone else noticed that bit yet I think the jacket ties into the memory that she's trying to suffocate; putting the jacket and photos at the back of the closet is easily read as a metaphor for putting something to the back of your mind (at least, it made sense to me ).
I personally like the ambiguity, but I can see why some might not
That's very much what the metaphor made me think of, and now this is what I call high level show-don't-tell, for which I'm quite a big sucker ;D
Come think of it, it may be just that I'm not a native English speaker and, back in class, the teachers drummed into our brains that English sentences must always, always have a subject pronoun; of course, reading poetry wasn't exactly considered a valid tool for teaching grammar
Well, to be fair I probably should have one in the name of making sense, but I like this far more And adding in another "she" would sound wonky to my ears; one of the things I learned in my first poetry course was to try to avoid unnecessary repetition (unless you're using a form that requires it, or can somehow make it work for you).
I see your point. In all honesty, if there's a thing that's been bothering me since I started taking writing in English with an ounce of seriousness, it's the ease with which you end up repeating pronoun over pronoun D: So yeah, if your inner ear prefers the verse to stay like this, by all means it'll be fine
Even though you had more stanzas, I think that your simplicity in keeping it this short was perfect. I love it. Don't extend it. Secondly I think you placed the period appropriately, it does not need to be changed. It was nice to have a pause so that the sentence did not run on. I particularly enjoyed your third line, with the "black-and-white montage" I thought that was a genuine work of uniqueness. Very, very well done.
1. I like the length. It seems fitting that it's short because the poem is like a fleeting memory; as if it too is a one still-frame or photograph like those described in the poem. I'm not sure if that was intended, but from a reader's perspective it comes across subtly, but effectively. I also think that in keeping the poem short, the reader is drawn to re-read it. There's so much mystery in this poem that it drives the reader crazy because they cannot answer the questions it raises about the significance of her mother's belongings, or the relationship between her mother and her father etc. You've achieved a very delicate balance between having enough substance so that the reader has a starting point from which to think, and leaving enough unsaid so that the mystery of the poem consumes the reader - and all without causing the reader to be frustrated in the process. 2. I'm pretty torn about this question. The full-stop creates a separation in the poem, but arguably a necessary separation: lines 1-4 make use of aesthetics to create a kind of nostalgia, whereas lines 5-7 are somewhat darker and do not make use of physical descriptions. Perhaps the use of a comma would not have strongly divided the two very different parts of the poem, and so their significance may have been lost. However, the full stop does make a bit of a break, a stomp in the poem that arguably contradicts the connection I described in question 1 between the photographs in the poem and the idea that the poem is a quick, incomplete snapshot. The use of a comma would have prevented such a harsh break in the poem, on the other hand. Overall, I did enjoy this poem - I still am no further forward in being able to truly understand it, but the delicate handling of such a mysterious piece keeps me guessing nonetheless.
I like your take on the length - in retrospect, it was more or less what I was trying to accomplish, even if I couldn't verbalize the intention
The more people comment, the more I lean towards keeping the full stop. Grammatically, I think it would flow better with something like a semi-colon, but aesthetically I think that separation between the first part of the scene and the second part needs to be there.
I'm glad to hear, I love it when people who read my poems are able to describe exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it - it makes me feel like I truly conveyed a moment, which you have clearly done!
I think I agree with you here. I was more neutral on the matter when I wrote the comment, but now I think the separation is probably the key aspect. Hope this helped!
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`anmari has been spreading her infectious positivity throughout our community for over 6 years. Throughout this time Ana has been at the core of all things devious, passionately developing an eclectic gallery, helping organise devmeets, participating in chat events and also recently completed dedicating her time as a Community Volunteer. We are absolutely delighted to bestow the Deviousness Award for May 2013 to `anmari, congratulations! Read More