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    Heartbeats buzzing from inside

    My acid stomach declines to riot but I hear her call for more – she seeks the other halves which overfill with liquid hope, hot and white, spilling seed

    In the autumn soil that soak my feet, bounced cheques growing my hunger

    Further

    . . . Sinking.

    What we love about it

    Such original and bouncing word choice here! The flow grabs us from that first evocative line, and we know we are listening to a truly original voice, great job!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could you experiment with changing up the order of the lines and making the language more active? How would this work?

    Heartbeats buzz from inside
    Sights fade from the brain

    My acid stomach declines to riot, and I hear her call for more . . .

    Why Me?

    Why not my lousy neighbor with that stupid mower on his lawn
    Why not the annoying girl in class with her clicking heels and dear Chanel
    Why not that mumbling old man at that dusty stone-cold pharmacy

    What we love about it

    The opening of this poem is so original and really makes us want to keep reading! These details allow us to "see" these people and inhabit the world of the speaker, yes!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Do we need the "Why me?" repetition and do we need to know that bad things are actually happening? It might be more compelling to actually list more people that the speaker wishes bad things to happen to, and leave the actual bad things a bit more mysterious. Landing on "Why today? Why even bother?" is really nice, and it might even be more impactful if the reader was left wondering what this speaker wants to avoid or what pain he's trying to pass on.

    Please Be Patient

    In the last few months
    I have slept through first hour
    On multiple occasions.
    My list of completed assignments
    Is nothing compared to the list of missing ones.

    I understand that I need to do better
    I understand that I am walking a thin line
    I understand that I need to get my act together.

    But do you understand
    that I need you to be patient with me.
    Do you understand
    That my laziness is not my choice.
    Do you understand
    That I need help, not criticism.

    What we love about it

    This poem is so deeply relevant and important! It is full of passion and will be relatable to a wide audience. We've all been there and yes, we just need patience!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could you experiment with how we are getting into the poem? Could we try something like:

    My grades are shitty,
    My room is a mess,
    And my mind is a battlefield.

    I understand that I look lazy.
    I understand that to you
    I don’t meet your expectations.

    If we can "see" the messy battlefield of the speaker, we will be more invested in their struggle! Think about how do add in layers of description so we can see that room and feel what they are feeling.

    A Good Day?

    The truth that I believe

    Is the truth was there to see

    in every minute, every second, every moment

     

    We saw those moments spark a wave,

    for a future we must pave

    A cry to echo through time forever

    I don’t believe god brought this endeavour

    It was the people, who chose to speak

     

     

     

    What we love about it

    This is a powerful, sound-driven poem in honor of a hugely important event! Your choice of sparks and echos as ways to understand our place in these events is a good one and adds images and sound to these complex ideas.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While we get the sense that this narrator cares deeply about these events, it's also not immediately clear what is at stake for the speaker in this poem. You might consider incorporating some concrete imagery to help "anchor" the reader in the speaker's realization. What kind of day was this on a more literal level, and where are we when we are getting and thinking about this news?

    Malleable

    Must such a thing be our destiny?
    They say “life is what you make it” but who is “you”?
    I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them

    Maybe we’re far from crossing paths
    If this were a dream would you wake,
    Are we all but Alice in Wonderland
    Gone a little mad at the thought of reality’s complexity
    Deeper and Deeper it goes
    Spiraling out of control, but it’s ok

    Reality isn’t meant to be constant
    It’s not long term and it’s not without turbulence

    What we love about it

    This poem fearlessly tackles BIG ideas and allows the reader to think about these questions from multiple angles, even pulling in Alice in Wonderland which opens a wonderful box of associations and images. It's a deeply philosophical poem which rewards rereading and makes us want more.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Could this poem be longer? It's possible that the ideas you've opened up here need more room to stretch! Referencing Alice in Wonderland is great, but setting a specific scene and placing the speaker at the heart so that we can see what they taste, smell, feel, hear, see etc. would be great for grounding us in an occasion for this meditation!

    Oh Mary.

    Oh Mary.
    How and when, why and where.
    Seldom thoughts cross my mind.
    How I should elate this news to you,
    how I wrap my head around this time.

    I find you beautiful, and sweet,
    how precious and delicate,
    this is not just a blessing however;
    for you stay far away from my feet.

    How quiet you are, undisturbed,
    how rude it would be to interrupt your silence.

    What we love about it

    The voice of this poem is so beautifully strange and strong! Original phrases like "elate this news to you" are striking and allow for this speaker to really stand out.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    At thirteen lines, fourteen if we count the title, we are playing with the sonnet form and it would be great to really lean into this and experiment with pushing it further in this direction. Where would you want the poem to "turn" and do we need to know more about what Mary thinks about this attention?

    Red Sky at Night (Trigger Warning: rape)

    Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors warning

    I wish I could hate him, she said

    Or I wish he could say he is sorry, she said, and like a fish could come swimming as soon as that bait hit the water.

    I wish I could hate him, she said;

    Or I wish I would have told somebody sooner, and instead like a sailor; I would be watching the lunar landscape in the night with the red sky and feeling delight.

    What we love about it

    Strong images and circling around repeated phrases really get to the heart of how a mind mulls over trauma and points blame both inward and outward. This brave poem does an incredible job of analyzing the effects of abuse and acts as a beacon for those who need to read it.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    We might begin on those more original images and phrases, before going into the "Red Sky at Night" saying, especially because it's used in the title. A great strength of the poem is the fact that it weaves in and out of these wonderful sea metaphors, and you might add in even more of these and allow the speaker to really have a foot in both worlds.

    One of THOSE days

    It’s easy, laying there

    Thinking you have time when every passing minute I seem to be losing you all over again. 

    It wasn’t your fault before and it wouldn’t be your fault now, if you left. 

    It was always me, I knew that, which is why I was so confused when you came back

    You came back, and the fog lifted 

    I’m happy.

    You came back, but eventually so does the fog.

    What we love about it

    There is such a great narrative drive to this poem and a real arc where we can see the bones of how this relationship has evolved! The voice feels clear and real, and the interior monologue is one we want to follow.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    There is a lot of repetition to let us know it's one of "those days," but we might also want to know more concretely what kind of day this reflection is taking place on and more of a 360 view of where we are. Can we get into the five senses and "see" what this bed feels like and what the room looks like? How could the form of the poem contribute to feeling claustrophobic or spacious and how would stanzas affect the pacing of the poem?

    He Was A Friend (Trigger Warning: rape)

    TW rape

     

    He’s a friend
    As his hands gripped my arms tighter, holding my shoulders down like the handlebars of
    a bicycle
    He’s a friend
    As I yelled internally to block the sounds of his demands
    He’s a friend

    What we love about it

    The poem expertly uses a shift in tense, going from "he is" to "he was" to show the transformation of a friendship after betrayal. The speaker comparing themselves to a bicycle is especially effective as it shows how abuse can reduce a person to feeling like a thing, adding layers to this narrative. Brave work!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The title gives away that shift tense, rather than allowing it to be revealed in the last line, so a new title might be experimented with a bit more. The bicycle moment is also really powerful, and you could try making each line so evocative, almost like this speaker is transforming into other things trying to escape this horrible experience.

    "Ugly" and "Sunset"

    Can you see that bright light?

    You can see it at night

    But it’s not the same light

    Only in the day, it shines so bright

    And you will see the daylight

    What we love about it

    These beautifully designed posters highlight two poems which are wonderfully sound-driven and share important messages to help us appreciate key moments and ideas.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Rhyme is a great way to pull in readers' attention as they work to anticipate that next sound pairing, but too much can take over the poem and make it difficult to make sense of the work's true meaning. Poems for specific events and posters can be tricky as you want them to grab people's attention, but you might strip these pieces back to one image and see if adding in more visual cues can balance more selective rhymes.

    An old friend.

    Dim lights shine
    in the dark i hear and feel the quiet sting and dull ache of it
    its always there, since you left its all that remains.
    piercing my heart like a knife to butter

    What we love about it

    Long lines increase the pacing of a poem, and this work makes excellent use of longer lines so that we are almost breathless with this inner dialogue. Moments of metaphorical and magical thinking do a great job of zooming us in and out of the complicated feelings of lost love.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    More familiar phrases like "pure bliss" and "drop the ball" could be pressed on to give the reader a more surprising turn. The rhythm of the opening with "the quiet sting and dull ache of it" is so great, and this unique energy could be spread throughout the poem! Don't be afraid to go big and bold here; experiment with how literal you can make these metaphors and try dropping "like" from your comparisons!

    Just a color

    red and blue, yellow and pink, blue and green
    and more waiting to be seen
    hiding in the most obvious places
    the sky, the grass, the flowers, the vases
    all different but all part of the pack
    all colors, and someone’s favorite at that

    What we love about it

    This poem makes excellent use of an extended metaphor to open up about such a crucial movement in our modern world and brings a beautiful sense of urgency to the conversation.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While the ideas of the poem are really clear, they overshadow the poetic devices that will make the work more memorable and allow it to really get into reader's hearts and minds. Could you press on moments of description so we can see what colors are in "the sky, the grass, the flowers, the vases?" Can you name a specific flower or tell us what these vases are made of? Can you drop us more concretely in this moment?

    Don’t Worry. Nothing’s Urgent.

    Once the box is full of water,
    And I’m adapting to the change,
    My wife, with a smile,
    Pulls a chair up to my prison
    And begins to idle chat
    About the daily details of our lives.

    I can tell that she expects me to engage
    As though the conversation she is having
    Is of regular importance
    As though I am not locked in
    And entirely submerged.

    What we love about it

    This poem does a beautiful job of allowing us to inhabit its own surreal world which is eerily familiar to us without explaining away too much, feeling like an exciting hybrid of narrative and poem!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Revision might come in the form of really attending to the music and images of the lines so that the reader can more fully inhabit this scene. We get great bursts of rhyme, but reading the poem aloud with an ear for music and what we can experience with all the senses will deepen our understanding.

    Love of the realization

    Grain draws that place the mind in a trance

    The pooling eyes of a misty meadow

    When can we rest again

    And take away from the rougher world

    Why is there so much on the line

    It’s such a simple moment

    Others draw but they fall away

    Realizing the weave of interactions

    Looking for nothing

    in what already is everything

    There may be a pull on a rope

    And there may be no anchor

    But better to pull at the possibilities

    Than to falter and regress

    What we love about it

    This poem makes lovely use of detail and metaphoric language, especially in "the pull of the rope" and "the anchor."

    Suggestions to strengthen

    It's not becoming immediately clear what is at stake for the speaker in this poem. You might consider incorporating some concrete imagery to help "anchor" the reader in the speaker's realization.

    Let's Dream Again

    play with my bra strap when we’re in the dark

    lay me down and touch me so sweetly

    I wonder if everything else is a dream

    when your green eyes catch on my face

    I wonder if you’re the dream

     

    when your dad gets home you push me into the closet

    slam the door in my face

    tug your tiny tank top down again

    covering up miles of your skin and my sweet, sweet kisses

    and don’t let me out for hours and hours

    when your dad falls asleep you sneak me out

    say tomorrow is when everything will change

    What we love about it

    What a stunning poem! Beautiful use of concrete details and vivid language! "Miles of your skin"--holy smokes!!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    This poem just needs a little nudge. You might consider making familiar phrases like "sweet kisses" and "I wonder if you're a dream" new with fresh language, perhaps alluding to the fugitive nature of the relationship.

    The problem solver

    On a sunny spring day

    as we sat to decorate

    our little patch of green

    my baby crawled away

    to select a pinwheel.

     

    She carefully crawled

    all the way to me.

    I painfully adjusted

    the glittering pink wheel

    to the current of air

    filling the space

    with joy and color.

    What we love about it

    This poem describes a beautifully sweet moment of parenthood and will have broad appeal.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Although the situation the poem describes is sweet, what is at stake in this poem? You might further explore the relationship between a child's blooming agency and her parent's authority.

    One in Eight

    Then there was the quiet 

    The silence after you left

    The emptiness of you gone 

     

    Wishing that I’d looked closer 

    Wishing I’d noticed 

    Wishing forever

     

    It’s so different now

    Forever foggy 

    Forever missing you

    What we love about it

    This poem walks heart forward, and the speaker's pain is beautifully evident.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I'd love to have something concrete to hold onto--an image, a description, a metaphor. What, for example, does the speaker wish they had looked closer at, noticed, or wished for?

    Long time ago I was born onto this world

    Long time ago I was born onto this world,

    Spitted out of my mother’s womb unquestionably, without a mercy putted on earth,

    Cursed to walk on the broken glass, smile to monsters and dance with the dragons,

    Weep inside, die and die all over again

    Than there was something else I don’t quite remember name of the word, but I remember the feeling, it was euphoric, sad but lifegiving, thing that kept me going through the fire, what made me enjoy all the flames and burns.

    No it was not love, I never tasted love nor did I understood the foolish victims of it,

    But I feared them, those people would destroy there whole life, set the sky on fire only if it meant keeping the one there loved one safe and happy.

    What we love about it

    This poem employs several beautiful turns of phrase, like "spit out of my mother's womb unquestionably" and "cursed to walk on the broken glass." These are specific and tellingly concrete.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Much of the poem centers on generalities and abstract ideas. You might consider using more concrete details to bring the poem "down to earth" and to allow the reader to hold the poem's ideas in the imagination.

    wind and grace

    nature feeling like an escape to the moon

    while i hold onto your hands til noon

    as tears run down my face

    and i’m wondering, will you ever be replaced?

     

    the wind and dirt bring the chase

    as if they separate us from this place

    while i hope that you’ll be blessed with grace

    once you’re somewhere in the space

    What we love about it

    This poem's sonics are stunning. The rhythm and rhyme pull the reader pleasingly along.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    That said, the "wind" and abstract airiness in this poem make it difficult to hold in the imagination. You might try adding some concrete details and images--where are these people sitting? where is the other person going? what does grace look like?--to bring the poem down to earth and to the reader's eye level.

    Charlie

    I long for your company to fill the void,

    Brutish actions and silent debate.

    Our memories are pictures from a polaroid,

    But your ink was becoming desolate.

    What we love about it

    This poem's use of similes in the second half of the poem is stunning and vivid!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    It feels like you might have more to explore in this poem! You've introduced a complex relationship on earth, but then you jump to the stars. I'm curious what happens in between!

    The Feelings of Orange

    Orange is the feeling you get

    When looking out into the distance

    Feeling the warmth of the sun,

    The comfort of others.

     

    Orange is the feeling of

    Biting into a fresh piece of fruit

    Under the comforting shade

    Of a tree in summer.

    What we love about it

    This poem pays thoughtful homage to a single color, and the meditative attention on the hue is beautiful.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The poem might benefit from the inclusion of more visual elements and concrete details. Where is orange felt in the body? What is its temperature? How does the fruit feel on the tongue? Including more details like these will help the poem pop.

    I keep your secret

    I keep your secret

    I keep it locked away

    I let it out with friends and family and strangers, wrapped in a blanket of humor

    A laugh about a man and a lie

    They laugh, I laugh, I hide

    I let it out to my therapist

    I may never trust men again

    That wasn’t all you

    You’re just the most recent one.

     

    I keep your secret from the only person who really matters

    I scroll through her page and see the photos

    You’re happy with her

    Happy.

    With her.

    I never really existed to you.

    I can handle that.

    Can she handle that I did exist?

    What we love about it

    This poem's honesty is electrifying and brave!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    Part of poetry's power comes from its ability to compare unlike things, and, in this comparison, to discover something new about each "half" of the metaphor. You might consider adding more metaphoric language to reveal something unique about secrets--keeping them, being one, etc. What does it feel like in the body? To what other thing/situation in the world could you compare it to?

    The Affair(s)

    i silently search your eyes

    Climb into your brain

    Try to gauge your thoughts

    Try to see if you know im in pain

    Pain you discovered and fostered as your own

    Pain that rains down

    Showering

    Covering

    Smothering

    Cascading through my hair

    Splashing against sagging shoulders

    Rolling down a withered, weathered spine

    Half the force it used to be.

     

    Broken backs need more than just a Brace

    What we love about it

    The poem's pacing and phrasing mimic the spiraling feelings of heartbreak in a gorgeous way. And the second half of the poem does excellent work of showing rather than telling.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    While the second half of the poem includes very specific, visual details, the first half doesn't exhibit the same concreteness. What, for example, is this pain the other figure discovered in the speaker? What is it made of? Does it have a color or scent? How can you make the first half of the poem as clear and vivid and the second?

    I try again

    I try again

    Forgetting the pain

    I try to stand

    Dusting off imaginary sand

    Try to move forward

    Knowing I’m a coward

    I try to run

    Instead I burn

    Fall back down like an asteroid

    I crash, I’m paranoid

    What we love about it

    The near-rhymes at the end of each line mimic the rising and falling motion I imagine the speaker undertakes in this poem, but without the cloying sound of perfect rhyme. Excellent work!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The inclusion of some concrete details (where are these figures? what is the quality of the light on them? what time of day is it?) would help ground the reader in a poem that, at the moment, feels a bit abstract.

    Sleeping with You

    The best part about sleeping with you

    Not sleeping like having sex

    Sleeping like two kids laying innocently in a bed together

    When we are both in our claimed corners

    Our bodies completely separate

    Somehow you reach your arm over

    It finds the shape of my waist perfectly

    What we love about it

    This poem pays beautiful homage to an intimate moment in time and does an excellent job of employing concrete details to show how these two bodies exist in relationship.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    How might you push this poem a little further to dig a little deeper into the idea you present here? Give the reader some more details about this situation and the dynamic. When you push past your area of comfort in a poem, you open yourself up to ideas that truly resonate.

    Orchestrated Silence

    It’s that point.

    That numbing silence…

    When all else fades,

    And there is nothing.

     

    It is that.. Orchestrated silence.

    That low ambient hum.

    What we love about it

    The phrase "orchestrated silence" is dazzling, and I love how the poem enlarges silence's seemingly small presence.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I would actually love to "hear" more in this poem. You might bring in some imagery from orchestras or bands, or you might even let the words themselves make some noise--you could play with "sh" and "s" sounds or "m" and "o" sounds . . . I think bringing more texture and sound into the poem will allow the reader to "hear" this profound silence even more clearly!

    One of THOSE days

    It’s one of those days 

    Those days where you’re thinking I’m ignoring you

    Those days where I can’t find it in me to put on a smile for you 

    For you it’s one of “those days” but what do you think it means for me

    I lay there still

    I lay there with meaningless tears in my eyes 

    I lay there and I think about you

    How you’re thriving and being good to you FOR you

    I lay there and think about how to you I’m nothing but lazy 

    how unattractive it might seem for someone to have no motivation, no drive.

    I’m proud of you for doing so much, but I’m also proud of me for doing so little.

    You’re right, it is “one of those days”

    What we love about it

    This poem approaches difficult feelings with beautiful focus and will have broad appeal.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    You might experiment with adding some color, texture, sound, and image to help anchor the reader in this scene. Where are the figures in this poem? What do the speaker's tears feel like in their eyes? The inclusion of specific, sensory details will help the poem jump off the page.

    Red Sky at Night

    Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky in the morning, sailors warning

    I wish I could hate him, she said

    Or I wish he could say he is sorry, she said, and like a fish could come swimming as soon as that bait hit the water.

    I wish I could hate him, she said;

    Or I wish I would have told somebody sooner, and instead like a sailor; I would be watching the lunar landscape in the night with the red sky and feeling delight.

    Instead I chose warnings that turned into endless nights of mourning

    I wish I could see the forewarnings my twelve year old self would encounter,

    I wish I could hate him, she said;

    What we love about it

    This poem courageously tackles trauma, employs stunning metaphors, and makes brilliant use of a nautical aphorism.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    In some stanzas, the speaker takes on more of a "telling/explaining" tone rather than the "showing" tone that would lend more power to a poem. For example, when the speaker says, "Knowing, I will get better and that although I did not speak up sooner I helped a lot of people along the way. I healed the wrong way, but I learned to forgive and feel pride of who I am," what if instead, you replaced this explanation of healing with symbols or images of healing? How could you show pride? What does speaking up look like? You might think about which sensory details and concrete images might show the reader what these thoughts and feelings look like.

    Unexpected

    The house you love. Imagine that. The one you love filled with people who terrify. If you create the tether, you must want it. All things we want we gamble for. Heat snarls around my back while I read about The Temple of lightness. Pain is a flower, I know because I read it. When did I become so desperate? The man I turned to in the kitchen, the one who kissed like he was giving me things back.

    What we love about it

    I was shocked by some of the language in here, particularly the use of the word "snarls"! Great work.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    I wonder about the form here. Is the prose form the best possible option for a poem like this? What would happen if you attempted to work with couplets? I also wonder about where the poem stops. Is it possible there's more to this poem than we can see?

    Rainbow

    Me and my friend are not friendly

    because she does not talk to me

    and I have not seen her in 5 years.

    What if she hates me?

    What we love about it

    The opening surprised us!

    Suggestions to strengthen

    The poems seems a bit undone. What if you worked on expanding the poem by writing 5 or 6 more stanzas?

    Blue Man

    Alone he walks in the dark blue streets.
    In the coldness and fear of the dark blue nights.
    The blue man alone always reaches,
    The old blue river where he will be affright.

    He stands there and think about all the old nights,
    When he thought of ending things for the final time.
    He always knew it would end by the river,
    But he never thought it will end tonight.

    What we love about it

    This poem does a great job of creating a moody atmosphere, and the language pairs well with the dark vision that's created.

    Suggestions to strengthen

    What were those lonely nights? Could the title do a bit more of the heavy lifting by providing more context to what this blue man's life was like?

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