He shucked her clean to the spine. Broke off the gold until nothing but the stalk remained; bare and broken open. The ribcage spilled her secrets and gushed her pain upon the sheets. She lay in the blood and wept, for the lie she had lost.
This is a very chilling piece. I think the line breaks really do work with this piece, as it emphasises the way that the attack has on the victim. I love the imagery in this piece, and I could really imagine the way that the victim would feel during and after this attack. It's something that everyone can understand and relate to, especially about something only few people can truly understand. The way the poem flowed, especially with the line breaks made this poem something that will stay with me for a while, a very thought provoking and sad piece that is beautiful in its own, dark way.
Dear Kathryn, I sincerely enjoyed your writing style, for it is deep yet straight to the point of what you wish to express. I also want to congratulate you for having such a defined writing style. Your choice of words showed deep emotions, while also portraying such a simple event as eating corn. (Or could it be more? It is up to the reader to interpret it, for only you know the true answer.) I also loved the emphasis placed on the words bare, broken, secrets, pain, blood and lie, because they are the ones that demonstrate the darker emotions related to the poem. This is definitely an original concept and it was executed with excellence.
I wait to read more from you, Joey
P.S. I took notice of your work via the unseen readers group. Keep up the good work!
I'm pretty adverse to poetry like this when it doesn't really express anything out of the ordinary or insightful about rape. Or whatever touchy subject such as self harm and suicide. It sort of just feels like a snuff film try to be artistic in written form. The kind of thing that might make you cringe and feel a bit of vicarious emotional pain, but it doesn't make you think or reflect. It doesn't quite leave you with anything. Although I really like the corn shucking euphemism, I just wish it was carried out until the end.
Gosh, I'm sorry you feel that way. That's not how I feel about this poem at all. This poem, much like 'Shiver' which I wrote a few months ago is written to read like its about sex but with the semantics of violence so that the reader feels unsettled by it. The reason for this is because I want people to think about the kind of rape that is less obvious, the 'not saying no, doesnt mean yes' kind. The kind I personally experienced.
In this poem it talks about breaking, its a very bodily poem talking about spines and stalks and ribcages and blood. Because rape is a psychological trauma but presenting things in a more concrete manner can provide some relatability, poems grounded in a sensory experience usually are.
This poem, it ends with 'she... wept for the lie she had lost'. Obviously that line could have been the life she had lost, that would be the obvious thought if it was read at speed, but for me talking about the lie lost, it means all those dreams I had of romance and love, of getting married one day and having kids... because its been 11 years since this happened to me and I still can't bare to be touched. It's about losing the opportunities of a normal life, from this one violent act.
The poems about this incident in my life have taken 11 years to write about because they are hard.. but I have to say I'm shocked to hear how strongly you took against it. I am proud of this poem, despite its simplicity and brevity because it uses such a simple image to show the brutality...
As for self harm and suicide, they may be 'touchy' subjects to you, but for some people they are every day subjects. I don't write about rape, self harm, suicide, mental health, death etc to be dark and mysterious, I write about them because life is traumatic and shit and poetry is a form of communication, so I use it to think about life being shit. Other times I use it to write about life not being shit, and the good stuff. My point is, some subjects are written about a lot... that doesn't mean those poems are irrelevant.
I don't think it makes a poem good to be graphic or aesthetically descriptive, especially with gore or rape. It's cheap and bad, in my opinion unless it express something strikingly (different than the generic situations) personal or adds something clever and insightful to the topic of the poem. Yours just seems like a generic graphic rape poem. Poetry exists in many fields now. It used to be mostly about the literature and clever social or insightful aspect, and now it is a lot more expressive. I value the insightful and clever aspects of poetry more than the expression. Many people obviously value this poem for it's expressive qualities, but I am criticizing it based on how insightful and productive it is to enhancing the public sphere. I don't personally find rape to be touchy, and I wasn't considering how you felt about it, I was just referring to how society views rape, which is touchy. Just like I wasn't considering your past. I don't think you should have to give context to defend a poem. I think the text in the poem should defend itself, and all context should be able to be inferred by a clever mind in the text if it is important to the message of the poem. The understanding that you were raped in a "not saying no, doesn't mean yes" way and that it caused problems where you were too insecure to have serious physical relationships with anyone else were not adequately expressed enough in the poem itself to the point where a clever reader would decipher that information rather than have to guess. I just don't think using a simple image to show the brutality of rape is powerful enough to automatically make it a good poem, and I don't think the remaining content of the poem added anything interesting. This poem seems very emotional and expressive but not insightful or interesting. I don't value just the presence of emotion and expression in a poem like many do. My point is some subjects are written about a lot, and in the realm of good literature and poetry starting with writers like Chaucer and Shakespeare, value in the written work and the merit of an author came from their ability to express new, profound, and insightful views or expressions on already tiredly explored subjects, yet now it seems like that is no longer the case. Now it seems like someone only needs to be expressive and emotional while using some descriptive language for vivid imagery and it's an automatic good poem. In my opinion, this poem doesn't do enough, and your context isn't valid as support for the poem expressing what I find valuable in poetry. Personally I want to express more insightful notions rather than life is shit, life is traumatic and shit, and sometimes life is not shit and the good stuff. I want there to be something new to think about after someone reads the poem, rather than being satisfied with having achieved some form of communication.
I agree that a poem should stand alone, without context, and tell its story and if it hasnt then it is meaningless. My reply wasnt to defend the poem, if you dont respond to it then you dont, thats just life ^_^ it was more to explain why I wrote it - as I dont personally feel like I write generic poetry and thought I'd explain why I felt that. You are fully entitled to your opinions, on my poetry and me personally. I am proud of this poem, I'm sad you don't think it offers you anything new, and I appreciate you taking the time to let me know that the poem doesn't communicate, to you, what it was intended to. As thats important feedback. So thanks!
I'm glad there is some common ground. I'm sorry then. I thought you were defending the poem, but I see now you were just trying to state that you felt differently. I'm used to people taking criticism poorly, and I'm glad you could respond reasonably despite us having differences as people. Hopefully we both have new things to think about as people now, from this discussion, and maybe it made us grow a bit or maybe shed some ignorance. Outside of poetry and when just conversing, that is what I value. Again, I think it's great that you responded well to the criticism.
I find critique difficult, because I haven't yet worked out how to achieve distance from a piece. I can see what your saying about this poem not being clear enough on its intentions, but unless I had a spark of inspiration I'd be unlikely to change it, and more likely to write a new poem using elements of this one and try to make that one clearer, but new in its own way. Less editing more evolving. That way I get to keep poems. but because I know editing and polishing works is my biggest weakness I started a creative writing degree this year as a mature student. So I could hopefully learn how to listen to critique better. Glad its paying off XD
I do see what youve said about this poem. I need to think about it some more. This subjects really difficult for me to write about and I think the mental and emotional confusion around it has meant that the direction of the piece is also unclear. But I'm not sure how to remedy that at this time.
I only write for myself, and I don't think what I write is good in the way that I have standards for poetry. I would never feel compelled to change anything based on what someone could say about it, and for similar reasons. I just want to write poetry I think is interesting in some way I can recognize, and its no good at being interpreted or publicized to anyone else. I'm worse off on not providing the context necessary for the poems I write. If I were to release half the things i've written to be intentionally viewed and judged by the public, it would need a commentary audio track of me providing context for it to be any good at all. For the most part, as long as someone is reasonable and I could bend to see what they are criticizing in my work, I would probably just agree with them. I also am stubborn and cynical about writing and my own capabilities so I wouldn't bother with any aspirations about improvement or knowing how to take criticism in the right way, anyways. I am damn happy to criticize someone else's work, though. I understand where you're coming from. Besides, we can't all be insightful diviners of human nature and understanding in every poem we write when we are mostly turned on to poetry for its fun, loose, and expressive outlet for our time and thoughts. Its no good if it becomes a chore, but there is always room for improvement that will make us and our work more interesting to ourselves. The more you work at stuff like that, the more it could become the easier free flowing fun of our more immature pasts. If you care enough.