Thank you so much for taking the time to look over my poetry. Even if you find that your friend wouldn't like it, it'd be nice to have some feedback from you. I'm always looking to get better. I have to admit, I have no idea what a publisher is looking for. I chose two poems to attach because I couldn't choose which one to include. I have an emotional connection to both of them because they're both poems I wrote after experiencing a miscarriage. I didn't know if it was too personal of a subject to pass along, but sometimes emotional subjects evoke the most feeling, and someone might be able to relate. If they suck, that's totally fine. Please be brutally honest. If nothing else, it was a good release for me in dealing with a tough situation. The first poem I think is the better one, but it also lacks structure. I struggle with rhythm sometimes. Thank you so much again, Les. You've been so helpful and it's been great to reconnect.
P.S. Did I mention that I'm pregnant? lol- I've yet to write a happy poem about it, but it'll come :)
First, I'm not aware of anyone publishing poetry that rhymes any more as in the first one. Other than maybe Hallmark Cards. Or in some Internet journals that publish anything. But not in legitimate and serious literary journals dedicated to quality. That's just kind of been over for many years, at least with serious poets. The chief reason being that when a poet has to come up with a word that rhymes, she sacrifices accuracy for the sake of the rhyme. The heart of all good writing--poetry or fiction--is truth, and if a rhyme is more important than the exact, perfect word, you're at a remove from that truth. Make sense?
The second thing is far more important. You said they're both about a miscarriage but I couldn't tell that from either poem. It could have been about anything sad. This is really crucial. This is what we usually encounter from beginning poets and writers. It's why we constantly preach, "Show, don't tell." What you're doing is writing about your emotion when as the reader, we haven't been privy to what created that emotion and that therefore makes it telling us instead of showing us. And, telling never impacts a person emotionally. Only by living through the event with the character as it unfolds will the reader ever be impacted emotionally. In effect, such poems are saying to the reader: Trust me. I've had a terrible experience (which I'm not going to share with you) and I'm going to tell you how bad it made me feel.
Doesn't work. Alas, will never work. You’re mostly describing an emotion you felt, but you’re leaving out the most important part—showing us the event that led to the emotion. That’s totally absent and it’s the most important part.
Here's what would work. If you wrote a poem about how you and your partner had wanted desperately to have a child and then, miraculously, you were pregnant. If you told us something about the anxious moments before you got pregnant and then took us along as the pregnancy progressed--how you bought a bassinet, baby clothes, painted a bedroom for the baby, tried to decide if you wanted to know the sex or not, considered names--in short, all the things couples do when they're pregnant. And, then, if you showed the actual miscarriage as it happened. How it came suddenly, how it happened, what went on in the home, in the hospital, how your partner reacted, how you reacted, the physical trauma you went through... in short, if you let us see the event as it transpired... then, and only then, we'd feel the emotion you wanted to communicate with the poem. You wouldn't even need to say how sad or desolate you felt. We'd know, just from living through the event with you.
And, that's what good poetry or good writing is. It's showing the event as it happens. If you give us the event, the reader will experience the emotion.
This is so common with beginning poets. I remember teaching in high school and the usual subjects appear in the students' work. Usually some theme on a boyfriend rejecting the writer or the like. Not putting that down at all--it's very real to the person it happens to and is legitimate. But, the mistake the writer makes is in writing about how she feels and that's simply telling. It doesn't impact the reader in the least. Oh, in a class where people know the person and may even know the circumstances, there may be at least some vocal display of commiseration, but we write poetry and fiction for strangers, not those in our inner circle. At least that's who we write for if we send it out to be published. And, strangers don't know the writer nor the circumstances nor the event, save for what they read on the page. And, to read mostly an account of how the person feels won't elicit emotion. Never, except in a very general and vague way, such as when we hear of a bad traffic accident. We all say: "Oh, my gosh. That's terrible." And then we switch the subject to the sale down at the mall. But we really don't feel much except in a surface, societal way. We certainly don't feel what the reader intended we feel.
It's so important to know this when writing. It's what we mean when we say, "Show, don't tell." Anything important in a poem or a story has to be written as a scene. Never by telling the reader after the fact how we “feel.”
Hope this makes sense! You have a gift with language and if you grasp this, your poetry will soar.
I'll bet good money that when I was laying out the actions in a miscarriage above, you felt emotion, and perhaps even intense emotion. If so, that's because you would have been reliving the events as they happened to you. That's what you need to do in your poem(s). Deliver the event. Not the emotion you felt after the event. That's not for you to furnish. The reader will furnish that if you but provide an account of the event.
Hope this helps!
I like your suggestion about the content of the second one. It does leave the reader in the dark about the situation that caused the sadness. I wrote that one for my students to study personification and other literary elements, so that one was vague on purpose because I didn't necessarily want to share something so personal with them. I see how it doesn't really work.
Again, thank you so much for helping me. It's hard to know how to get better when I don't know what publishers look for.
I'm so glad you took my comments in the spirit intended--with professionalism! You haven’t changed a bit since our days in the classroom, which is why you were one of the best students.
One thing you said—“I didn't necessarily want to share something so personal with them”--I want to comment on. Any writing--poetry or fiction--that isn't intensely personal--to be honest--isn't worth sharing, imo. And, it’s not poetry. Even with kids. Maybe especially with kids. If we don't expose them to things that are intensely personal, what kinds of models are we providing? In my mind, pretty much meaningless things. If we leave out passion, what is really left? And, not telling passion but showing where it comes from and how it was created.
K, I'd like to use our email exchanges on my blogpost if you'd consider giving me permission to do so. I wouldn't use your name at all. I think it would help a lot of other writers. If you don't want me to, no problem. I won't!
In response to your question, you can definitely use my poem on your blog. It's very humbling to have it on there for what not to do- haha. I'm just kidding. As a writer, I would welcome advice and examples like that in whatever medium I could get my hands on. So, if I can help with that, then I'd love to. You can share my email too.
Would it be ok to revise the first poem and send it to you again? It probably wouldn't be for awhile, but I want to see if I change it for the better.