PoeticWar's Workshop: Results

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somestrangebirds's Workshop: Results


December 9, 2007

A word from Writers-Workshop: Another excellent workshop. We seem to have a few regulars (if one can gauge that from two workshops) as well as a couple of new participants. Thank you for joining us!

somestrangebirds's workshop on ekphrasis was challenging: writers were expected to read quite a bit, choose their subjects carefully and also to choose the perfect form for their poem. We were excited to read poems of various kinds, ranging from free verse to villanelle to ballad.

Many thanks to somestrangebirds for having taken the time to read the entries and comment despite his busy schedule. :heart:

:star: Special Mentions: inspiredimperfection and J-Jammer for their thoughtful commments on other entries to the workshop. Erinamis also left a couple of excellents comments, even though they had not participated in the workshop. :thumbsup:

somestrangebirds's Top Picks:

Birth of a Muse by Amy-Louise

I was thrilled to see someone using Brancusi for this excercise, since his work has such a history of complicity with poetry (especially his "spheres"). I think the form here is brave, but it really does lead to the poem's downfall. You have a lot of forced rhyme ("gird" and "interred" in particular). The metre isn't bad for the most part, but does have a few jolts--"eventually" in the second stanza, for example. The constraints also seem to result in some stale phrasing: "anxious heart", "unfurling slow", "some concentration on his part" and so on. But the narrative here is nice enough and could work fairly well with some strong polishing.

She Dazzles Me... by batousaijin

A famously tricky form: the villanelle. An attempt at it is in itself praise-worthy. I liked the notion of blood distorting the speaker's sight, and therefore accounting for the sepia tones. The form causes problems, though, with some very stilted language: "challenge gives me fight", "whispered lovings(!)", "I love the plight / of she and me", and so on. "Sepia" is a bit of a tricky word in this metre, but you just about get away with it as a trochee. You have some creative rhyme choices ("Her smallest crust of bread can down my flight"), but lines like that do risk feeling as if their only justification for being is their ability to add another rhyme to the mix. In this rather poetic (over-poetic, really, in that the speaker sounds like someone who ought to have died when Keats did) poem, "id" really seems out of sorts.

Makeup by CrystalSeeker

Concrete poetry usually leaves me cold, but with the added element of ekphrasis, this is actually quite interesting. The poem is a fun little look at a character. Another glance at the punctuation wouldn't hurt. I like the sly rhymes a lot, though even here you have to be wary of forcing them. "That's no lie", for example, doesn't really do anything other than rhyme with the prior "high". There's also something curious (and probably the most serious flaw in the poem for me) going on with the sense of motion that ought to exist, especially in the second half, and the lack of interesting verbs. The rhyme and rhythm seem to be in conflict with the sense, which is an interesting trick but doesn't really help you out here.

Objectified Projection by inspiredimperfection

Probably my biggest qualm with this piece is to do with the narration. The narrator seems to hover simultaneously outside the painting, looking in and considering the woman in it, and also to be capable of making judgements from an interior position: "Resenting the attempts to iconify your soul" etc. In other words, there's too much telling going on rather than showing. Now, in ekphrasis telling is often what generates the most interesting tropes, because the painting already does a lot of showing of its own. But there has to be a balance, and that narration has to be consistent: is the on-looker wondering about what she is thinking, or ought the narrator be the woman herself, etc. There's also a bit of wordiness here (for lack of a better word - hah) and so things come off a little stilted. I think that is something to do with your lines, too: some enjambement might help. And some punctuation, please. I really liked "abused blues". Good stuff.

:star: Letter to Mondrian by dr3amup

My favourite! Very bold to take on such an abstract piece--and rather than succumb to its vagueties, the poem turns it into a clear narrative piece. I like the tongue-in-cheek tone of much of this (at least, that's how I read it): "I very much desire" on its own line like that, "And perhaps a code of pink", the "Happiness department squad" and so on. Where this flails a little bit is in digging a bit too far into the big abstracts towards the end, especially with the "worth of freedom" bit. More wry humour and less blatant profundity would only help. And: punctuate! You could have punctuation disappearing towards the end if you want that effect of imprisonment turning to greater freedom. But really, that's more than a little familiar. Better to just punctuate outright.


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Writers-Workshop would like to mention that Queen-of-Marigold's story Red Dress (submitted to GunShyMartyr's workshop on twisted stories) received a Daily Deviation on 26 November, 2007.

Congratulations, everyone! Look out for our news article and journal with StJoan's free-for-all workshop.

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Amy--Louise's avatar
Thank you for the critique, I value them highly. I am encouragd by the fact that my favorite also RickDanger's piece on Mondrian. I must have good taste :D