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Words by Windchimer

Writing by Chiyo-783

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Submitted on
December 6, 2013


281 (who?)
is not
a love poem:

this is not about
me and how i hate
the way realism tastes.

this is about you.

this is about how you
are one too many shades arrogant,
how nearly every night you
try to forget that time has
left you behind. this is
about your laugh and the way it
whispers "i can't remember
what i was like before i
became this." and,
if i'm being honest, this is about
how i will never see your too
cocky for your own damn good grin that
makes me go weak in the knees.

this is about you
and how you're not real and how i wish
to god that i wasn't either.
this is about how I need to stop making myself sad,
how I need to stop falling in love with boys who don't exist,
and how I don't think that's ever going to happen.
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Hello! I noticed that you asked for critique on this piece, so I thought I'd offer some of my thoughts on the reading. I think the best approach here will be to provide my overall thoughts; then, I will break down each section and tell you what I'm seeing for each of those.

As is standard, please note: Nothing in this critique is meant to be taken in a demeaning manner. All commentary is meant to help you improve the piece; however, if you do not agree or do not want to utilize anything I've said going forward, feel free to disregard! It is, as the saying goes, food for thought. :)

Overall Thoughts
The piece is in its rough, initial stages and, for me, leaves much to be desired. It has definite potential, but as the piece stands, it is not evoking a strong sense of any emotion from me.

I do enjoy the anaphora you use at the beginning of each strophe; it acts as a tether while offering some force behind the words, since you are not suggesting that this is the case. You are forcefully telling the reader: This is how it is. I admire that; it is one of the things I look for when I am reading and studying a work.

General things like not capitalizing the 'I' tend to take away from the subject matter as a whole; this is not to say that keeping 'I' lowercase can never be used as an effective poetic tool, but there must be a reason for it. Cummings (and others) successfully employed this, but he did so with purpose. Perhaps you were going for something in doing so, but it is not coming across for me as something that is enhancing the poem's message.

Another large thing this poem does is tell the reader everything without offering any evocative details as they pertain to the senses. I want to see (hear, smell, etc.) something concrete, but all I'm getting so far are some mixed messages throughout the stanzas and the very bare minimum as far as this person's image; what few details you have provided are very clichéd ones. There is no poignancy, and I am left not caring about the subject matter as much as I should because the poem is not moving me to feel such things.

Lines 1-3
Right off the bat, you give to the reader a simple statement, but I'm not sure why the piece has to start with such an overt denial of what is to follow, since, in its very essence, the poem is precisely a love poem. There are many different kinds of love; this poem seems to be, on the surface, a poem of longing, of unrequited love. Though the love can never be reciprocated (and this is exactly what is making the narrator lash out, so to speak), it is still about love. The strophe itself does not become juxtaposed with anything that follows it.

You may be going for some type of internalized denial on the narrator's part - perhaps you're showing that the narrator is trying to convince herself that what she feels cannot boil down to the love of this non-existent person, but if this is the case, I cannot understand why she needs to do so.

You end the piece with the narrator wishing for her own non-existence, but there is nothing throughout the piece that makes this payoff worthwhile. Is the mere thought of this idealistic entity that the narrator cannot come into contact with grounds for such drastic denial and such wishing? There is no relationship being intimated throughout the piece, so as a reader, I cannot suspend my disbelief.

From an imagery standpoint: universal things, including love, hate and pain, are abstract entities that do not give any tangibles to the reader. While it is not necessarily a bad thing to use one, as you have done here in line 3, there must be some type of payoff in the lines that follow; the reader needs to see why what follows is not a love poem, and this can be achieved by grounding what follows the first strophe in concrete details.

Lines 5-7
To me, this strophe is superfluous and can be cut completely, as it doesn't seem to be adding anything to the poem. Again my criticism deals with not being shown anything; I simply cannot relate to this unappealing taste of realism and the narrator's hatred - again, both abstract concepts - for it. My suspension of disbelief is very weak because I do not think that the mere concept in the narrator's mind is driving such disdain for her own existence.

I want to know: why would this be the case? Is it because she wishes she had someone who is strong (and with his strength comes, potentially, arrogance) to help her plant flowers? To help her with some other task whose completion is out of the narrator's ability alone? Showing, through some type of setting and action, how the bond between these two develops in her mind will allow the reader to develop sensual connections and, through these connections, ultimately develop empathy.

Line 9
I think this line is superfluous, too. What follows is the narrator's account of the non-existent, so the reader will clearly see that it is about this person.

Lines 11-23
There is a lot to be said of this section, as it is the crux of the poem, the place where a lot of the literary meat resides, so to speak. On the whole, there are some stale phrases throughout this strophe, including, but not limited to:

are one-too-many-shades arrogant
time has left you behind
too-cocky-for-your-own-damn-good grin
makes me go weak in the knees

and my commentary, once again, comes back to the adage that says, "Show, not tell." I want so much more here, specifically:

1. How does the narrator parse how many shades of arrogance is an acceptable amount for one to possess?
2. How has time left this non-existent behind?
3. How is this non-existent cognizant of the fact that he does not exist?
4. What does this grin look like exactly, and, more importantly, why does the narrator enjoy it so much?
5. How exactly does the narrator respond to this grin?

The underlying concern questions 1. and 4. address deals with the non-existent's vulnerability. You've told us that he is arrogant and that he likes to flaunt his arrogance, but you haven't given us any details that make him vulnerable and show that these qualities are weaknesses. As a result, he has not become three-dimensional.

This poem seems to be about more than the narrator's unfulfillable longing; it also, in essence, is about the tragedy of this non-existent not having the chance to experience life. That is a very potent topic, and I would love to see it fleshed out in detail that appeals to my senses. I am intrigued at the connection the narrator seems to have with this person, but you have to take me to the place in her mind where they are together. As of this initial draft, I haven't been taken there.

The underlying concern questions 2. and 3. address involves very convoluted concepts of modality and what exactly time is.

For 2.: It is not so much about time as it is about whether or not it is possible for this non-existent to exist; the possibility of his existence, which is what I want to take from the piece, is what makes this topic so potentially heartbreaking (and hopeful).

This possibility, when coupled with the narrator's realization that there is very little chance this person will ever come into her life, elicits an emotional response from me. For it to be effective, though, I need to care about the non-existent, so this is another reason for fleshing out his character.

Now, it could be impossible for this non-existent to exist, which is another route you can take with this, saying that the narrator is merely attracted, in some way, to this unattainable concept; however, I feel that this route is less potent and doesn't allow the audience to become as emotionally involved with the story being placed in front of it.

For 3.: There are a couple of potential issues I see in the lines mentioning how the non-existent's laugh whispers, "...i can't remember / what i was like before i / became this" (17-19).

The vague pronoun usage confuses me, as I do not know whether you mean for the laugh itself to be stating what is quoted, or if you mean for the non-existent to be stating it. If it is the latter, as I can't see why the laugh would be whispering this quote. I really like the line and I enjoy where you've chosen to employ enjambment, but here the use of 'I' can lead to the reader getting hung up; I'd recommend a rework of this part, if you decide to keep it in the penultimate draft.

If you did mean for the non-existent to whisper the quote above, a larger problem is encountered that deals with a contradiction based on the very concept of this entity's non-existence: if he does not exist, how can he be cognizant of this? The phrase "before i / became this" in lines 18 and 19 is extremely important because it involves a transformation of some sort. Did he die? Was this a real person who has passed?

If no, the quote is seemingly incomprehensible, as something that does not exist cannot acquire new attributes. If yes, the final strophe does not mesh with what is quoted, because you refer to the non-existent as "not real," allowing the reader to infer that he never was real. You also state in line 20 that the narrator "will never see" the smile. If he did die, using language to indicate a temporal shift (e.g. "no longer real," "never again see," etc.) could be helpful in relaying this to the reader.

Question 5. deals with the idiom "(make me go) weak in the knees." Idioms tend to be unhelpful when crafting a scene, as a lot of the time they are clichés. Line 23 really doesn't do anything as far as crafting an effective image in my mind; is it meant to be taken literally? If yes, how do the knees buckle? Does the narrator stagger in any way? If no, and it is meant to be taken figuratively, how? Why does the grin affect her in this manner? I am intrigued, but I want to experience and learn through her actions.

Lines 25-27
The close of the piece is too overt; to me, it almost feels like this is tacked on because the proposition (introduction of the question, argument or thought being brought into focus) has not been adequately established. Because of this, we're given a hasty and unrewarding resolution.

In reworking the aforementioned sections above, I think it is very possible to work in the statement you're trying to make at the end of the poem, that the narrator wishes that she could cease to be. Concrete imagery and action, you could effectively convey this desire through how the narrator behaves and acts upon and reacts to the environment around her.

I want to reiterate that all of my commentary is not meant to be taken in a demeaning way. I do enjoy some of what you have here, and I think that by focusing in on the underlying thesis and utilizing concrete images, you can really enhance the emotional payoff the reader experiences.

If you have any questions regarding anything I said, please do not hesitate to ask me! I'd be more than happy to discuss with you. :)

Thank you for allowing us all to read this!

- J.
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MsGeekNerd Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Falling in love with so,done who isn't real.... I hate it.... But I can't stop....
shehrozeameen Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:iconpoeticalcondition: critique

I understand the sentiment of this poem, and I personally love this work for its brevity and honesty. The best thing I like about this work, is that it carries its message from beginning till end fluently and fluidly without making any concessions anywhere. Its straightforward, honest, its very sincere to its content, and it clearly indicates a person who suffers from a vivid imagination that blurs reality from the imaginary.

Hope you get well soon. You deserve happiness.
Raclair Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Student Writer
This is amazing.. It really blew me away and gave me chills. 
kushamisaru Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
*hugs you*
PrussianPersephone Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I'm always thinking about it; the Gilget didn't really affect it so don't feel bad!
Pauper-Circumstance Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013
Extremely strong poem. :)

I like how you leave everything lowercase because it gives the reader a sense that the speaker isn't necessarily saying this, but rather more of thinking it. I like that.

My only suggestion is the maybe change or remove the opening line. I don't think it does anything for the poem. Besides that, great work!
PrussianPersephone Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you very much <3 the opening line is what made me write the poem so I'd rather keep it.
Pauper-Circumstance Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013
Sure thing. Great work regardless. :)
NanaThatha Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013  Student General Artist
very good detail! exactly explains the crush i foolishly liked for too long.
PrussianPersephone Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I think it explains a lot of people, real or not.
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