[emoPoetry] It & I killed myself again...


I’m trying to be a poet, but I’ve been told I’m good but have a lot to work on still. I can’t really find any interesting places online to get critiques… I thought critique meant “criticism: a serious examination and judgment of something,” but the places I went to had rules that you’re shouldn’t say anything negative about the author or their work…

So yeah, I’m posting here. If you like it, good, if you hate it, even better (as long as you say why). There’s a lot of typos in my poems as my muse is most active at night while I’m half-asleep. Feel free to say bad things. You don’t know me too well, and I have no clue where you’re located, so there’s no need to worry about revenge. And I’ll do my best not to be offended because I’m asking for it (and I know I’m still a novice, but if if people don’t push you down for your faults, you’ll never overcome them?).

Anyways, here they are

I’m thinking about removing

but I’m not too sure…

And here is the other one.

I’m trying to rephrase the part

, but I can’t think of anything.

I’m told most of my writing is depressing and stuff. It’s unintentional. I just like to think, what if my life were like … and then a poem comes forth.

The first poem is about anorexia (if you couldn’t tell). I guess you can substitute it as other addictions or cravings, but I was trying to share my thoughts on anorexia without giving it directly away in the poem. Me and my friends joke about me being anorexic (because I eat so much yet I lose weight somehow). A lady overheard us one day and started to lecture me. The funny part was that we met the lady 5 minutes after we left an all-you-can-eat buffet. Recently, someone pointed out that I looked like I lost weight and that I should eat more. That plus the memories brought forth a poem. I don’t think I need to eat more, I already spend too much on food as it is (we have a meal plan from the college, plus I speed $100 a week on junk food and cooking stuff).

The second poem is about depressing thoughts coming at night. I personally don’t dream those things. Most of my dreams are about elves, ninjas, or the animal-people type things (even weirder than death I guess). It’s about the fear of living, and the over acceptance of death. When I was little, I was always told not to be afraid of death, or be sad for those who died because they went to heaven (which is a paradise). I got into a conversation about the uncertainty of life, and the poem came from those 2 ideas.

Thanks for reading and any advice/help/comments/critiques.

B.t.W. Scrivener is really awesome for managing poetry. Thanks for the wonderful product.


I’m going to give it to you straight: this isn’t writing, it’s typing. No, it’s therapy, mostly, and if it does you some good, fine. But it’s never going to reach many readers, unless they share your preoccupation with anorexia and depression. Those are serious problems, and I hope you’re getting medical advice about them.

If you want to get better as a poet, look at the world and describe it, without a single first-person pronoun in your lines. Note the challenge: leave yourself OUT. Don’t write what you feel or think, write what you sense. As in a first art class, practice drawing an empty Coke bottle, until you get every element of its line, volume, and texture. Once you can handle those basics, you will have an eye for observational detail, which is where effective writing begins.

Beyond that point, think constantly about your readers, not yourself. That’s good therapy in itself. And don’t get discouraged. Your prose comments on the poems are lively and interesting, because they are more specific. Just don’t go vague all the time, with phrases like “junk food and cooking stuff.” Cooking WHAT?


I guess my intro came off wrong. I’m not focused on anorexia or depression. These 2 poems were just thoughts on those concepts.

Thanks for the advice. I’ll try that. I noticed that a lot of poets write like that (Poe “The Bells,” E.E. Cummings, W.B. Yeats, and etc). I really like their poetry, but I’m still a novice which is probably why I write like I do. Practice makes perfect, so I hope you and others are willing to critique my other attempts.

I’ll try harder to think about the reader. Most of what I write is written because it’s what comes to mind. I think the tip about removing the first-person singular is good. I do notice that it does seem to distance the user from the poem in some cases. Most of my poems contain “I” and the only poems that don’t are some stupid rhymes made to pass the time in class.

Do you think something like this is better? (it’s still rough though)

I think the rhythm is a bit off.

Thank you for your comments, and I’ll try my best to apply them.

Despite the general rule of thumb that very little good comes out of LiveJournal, there is a poetry critique community there that is stuffed with people that have a good ear for things and while they will not “be gentle” they are often very constructive in their criticism. It is not uncommon to get 30 or 40 articulate responses to what you have written. Since by their rules you have to write (and put it up for everyone to see) to be included in the discussion, you don’t get a lot of peanut gallery commentation wasting space.

Oh, and another little guideline that is generally true is to choose a subject you are familiar with. I’ve been through some of that stuff, and your descriptions are pretty… Well what is obvious or assumed as obvious from the external. Internally it is a lot different. You actually stop craving food past a certain level, and you never look in a mirror and feel happy or satisified with the current state.

Thank you for the link and the insight. I’ve never experienced anorexia myself, so it is mostly from the assumptions or from what I’ve heard. I knew that the mirror part would be wrong (wasn’t too sure about cravings), but I thought that if I didn’t include it, then the poem might be a bit too vague on what it was about, but I think accuracy should have come before that. I’ll try to write what I’m familiar with before taking a leap like that again. I hope I didn’t cause anything unpleasant.

Yes, I think the second poem is better, but it’s still at the level of generic statement, instead of making sharp, detailed, concrete observations that are highly suggestive. Here’s a recent example from John Updike, a writer who’s usually associated with fiction, not poetry.

After a Tucson movie, some man in
the men’s room mirror lunged toward me
with wild small eyes, white hair, and wattled neck –
who could he be, so hostile and so weird,
so due for disposal, like a popcorn bag
vile with its inner film of stale, used grease?
Where was the freckled boy who used to peek
into the front-hall mirror, off to school?

The poem is a small story with a beginning, middle, and end. It depicts one of those “spots of time” that Wordsworth calls the high moments of life, bits of experience that yield insight and stick in memory. Look at the economy of the lines: it’s “after a Tucson movie,” not “Last night I saw a movie in Tucson.” He begins with “After” because, well, that’s the entire meaning of the poem: the show is over, my life is gone, it’s all done. No more before, only after. He builds from there: the image in the mirror is no longer himself, but “some man” like a scary movie monster, like a used popcorn bag, stale and greasy. He ends with a memory of his youth, of the face that once looked back at him, a boy headed off to school, to learn, to live, to grow.

It’s not fair to ask a young poet to be that good; much of the power here is from the sad sense of loss that comes with age. (This is from Updike’s final book, when he knew he was dying.) But every line works because it has concrete nouns that also suggest images and ideas. That comes from constant observation, keeping notebooks, thinking about how things may also express mood and thought. Poets make us look anew at the world. An empty popcorn bag: how many have we tossed away?

Like Amber, I know something about anorexia. If I were to write about it, the poem would describe hands. Because hands feed us, but when they don’t, the fingers become talons. Press them together, and great spaces show against the light. Let a thumb and index finger touch, and you may encircle a wrist. They’re starving, and no one else notices or knows.

Her suggestion about sharing your work with other poets is excellent. Most of the folks here are working in prose, but they’re far from prosaic!

No harm done. Part of what happens is similar to any other brain response to discomfort. A person with a poorly set leg will eventually stop wincing with ever step, even though the condition of the leg has never fully healed. With hunger, low levels of starvation eventually become the normal condition, and while you always feel if you concentrate on it, for the most part it sinks into the background and ceases to exist, and that is where the second part comes in which is purely psychological. You want it to cease to exist because physical hunger is a contradiction. What druid mentions are the things that linger, the psychological aspects of measurement and watching yourself waste away—rationalising it constantly—even when your hair gets thin and brittle and you can encircle your waist with your own hands, and being worried when you cannot. Denial is probably the largest factor in the whole thing. It took me years to admit that I wasn’t eating enough. I had myself convinced I was eating too much, and that my symptoms were in part indicative of over-eating. This is really what sets the condition apart from forced starvation. When you no longer see that you are starving yourself, it’s a dangerous and potentially fatal cycle unless you get help.

The human mind can go to great lengths to obscure reality and deceive itself over underlying motivations, and some of the most potent displays of this misinformation war that the brain plays on itself are in problems like anorexia. There could be a lot of areas within that which could be explored in poetic form. Perhaps you’ve had experience with this kind of misinformation yourself, and could apply that to other areas of humanity.

On that topic (and this is just my opinion) I feel that poetry should be a personal exultation. The ability to roam outside of one’s own mind, and into the spaces of others, is something that I think all writers crave to some degree. This ability is best expressed in long-form, though; in novels and biographies. In poetry, every word is so important because of the compact and potent format, and the reader acquires a heightened sense of visualisation within the space of the poem. If anything in that space rings false or “shallow” then it disturbs the entire piece and renders it ineffective. So for poetry, and especially if one is just starting out, speaking of the moments in your life which are most profound, unique, and personal to you will reveal your best work. Again, in my opinion, the purpose of poetry is not to extend yourself into areas where you do not exist, but to bring the readers into your world. When I read Updike’s poem above, I for a moment know the world from which it was written it. The best poetry doesn’t preach to the choir, but makes a new choir wherever it lights upon the mind of a reader.

I’m not saying it is impossible to leave your mind ever, but that it is technically and informationally more difficult, and until you have a voice and a strong command of how to find eloquence in language, it’s an added complexity. It’s trying to learn the piano by starting with Prokofiev. I think druid is good to provide a short example. Short poetry in the five to six line length with one or two clauses will promote good habits in compacting meaning down into powerful word choices. Study the classical forms so you can see where modern poetry came from.

Thanks for the advice.

I’ve only read John Updike’s “Dog’s Death” (before of his own work) and noticed the careful choice of words and the overall impact. I’m hoping to read a lot more poetry this summer so I can learn from being exposed to it.

I’ve already ordered some books and borrowed some books for this summer. I’ll stick with what I know now, and if I do try to write about other people’s shoes, I’ll be sure to do more research instead of what I hear from those who probably haven’t had those experiences either.

Hey, emoKid! I just want to add that I think the spirit in which you ask for, and accept, advice, is wonderful. A quick question: do you write your poems by hand, or online? If online, try writing them by hand, and try, once you’ve got a draft written, looking hard at it and crossing out words, and whole lines, that don’t seem vivid or don’t add to the whole.

As the others have been telling you, poetry is a concrete form,and all your words should, if possible, do double duty. Also try playing around with the “simple” forms you learned in elementary school - haiku, quintains, and so on. Try to focus on a concrete reality you’re attempting to get across and use as few words as possible to convey it. But please don’t look on any of this as assignments or exercises! Be playful, and have fun with it.

I still consider myself a beginner, in poetry especially. I got out a book (will try to find the title for you) that led me to write poems again after a gap of more than a decade. One of the exercises in it was called the five-line exercise. It went something like this. You freewrite, not worrying about grammar or spelling, three sentences on five lines. Then cross out five words. Look at what you have left and rewrite the three sentences. leaving spaces between them. Now circle five words that speak to you. Rewrite the three sentences based only on those words (you can, of course, add others!). Look again at what you have and circle one word. Now write a poem or story based on/about that one word.

What I got from this ( roughly remembered) exercise was this: It is okay to discard a lot of what you have written, because you WILL retain and/or come back to what you really want to say. It’s okay to be playful. It’s okay to say the same thing in different ways. It’s okay to spend time discovering what is really interesting you at the moment. And, more than this -

This exercise tends to take you (or me, at least) from the general to the particular. You want to get to the particular. Don’t worry if the word or words you’re left with seem banal. You’ll have circled the word or words that speak to you; you have something to say about them. Go ahead and say it.

And please ignore all this if it’s not helpful! I found that exercise very helpful to me; it got me to a new place in my writing. Will try to get the title of that book, if you’re interested.

Just for the heck of it, here is one of mine (I came from livejournal!)


Thanks for the advice.

I usually write in on the computer, but I recently bought some note books to write in (because I find myself printing it out and wasting paper).

I also bought some books with writing tips and exercises. I also bought a book with “words every writer should know,” in hopes of using words that better express what needs (or wants) to be said.

I’m currently looking at the different forms of poetry, not necessarily the simple ones though. I really want to try writing a villanelle, but don’t think I’ll do that any time soon. I might try the shorter forms, since I’m really bad at picking words.

I’ve signed up on liveJournal to post stuff there. I’m miles_w.

And just to clarify, so did I. My account has long been deleted, however. :slight_smile: