AW Poetry Contest "Space" Discussion Thread

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Kylabelle

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I'm for it, Sarita, if you or anyone has time and inclination to do that kind of commentary it would be wonderful. I say, post it right here.
 

Priene

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Personally, I want to know everything. Always. Who voted for whom, why, how many votes each poem got, all that. (Not that I expect to find out much of that.) Although I felt solid in my choices I would probably have a hard time saying why, beyond the "opened up a good sized space inside" criterion I already mentioned. But I could do it.

I could give the exact reason for I rejected / accepted every single poem, but I don't think that's fair to do here because they were submitted for a competition, not for critiquing.
 

CassandraW

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I could give the exact reason for I rejected / accepted every single poem, but I don't think that's fair to do here because they were submitted for a competition, not for critiquing.

You know, I find myself feeling the same way. Also, I don't have something particular to say about all of them. I had thought of suggesting that poets who are interested in a crit/specific comments post their poem in a thread, password-protected or not, as they choose, but then thought it might be a bit much. (Also that I might be alone in my feelngs on this). I've sent a couple of reps and PMs.
 
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Kylabelle

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I could give the exact reason for I rejected / accepted every single poem, but I don't think that's fair to do here because they were submitted for a competition, not for critiquing.

I would love to read your (and anyone's) comments about my entry, including negative comments and why you didn't choose it. I would not mind at all your sharing that in this thread. I could of course re-post the poem in crit but I observe many who participated in the contest and are posting here rarely if ever post in crit -- and may not read there.

So, what to do?

I feel sure some would not want their poems dissected here.

Anyway, number 12, Making Space, if anyone cares to go there.
 

Ambrosia

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I've had this grandiose plan that I would comment on each poem, much like WH did, providing details about what I liked, but I haven't had the time yet. What's the hive consensus? Would I post that here? Or somewhere else for the poets to see? I've had a few personal comments about my poem and I've sent a couple, but I'd like to be inclusive and take my time. And it would be nice to actually, you know, discuss the poems. Now that we can't influence votes. ;)

I don't think I would comment on all the poems, but I do believe in a thread about discussing poems that poems would be discussed. Now that we can't influence votes. ;)

I'm for it, Sarita, if you or anyone has time and inclination to do that kind of commentary it would be wonderful. I say, post it right here.

Yes. Me too.

I could give the exact reason for I rejected / accepted every single poem, but I don't think that's fair to do here because they were submitted for a competition, not for critiquing.

In my own mind, discussing and critiquing are not the same thing. For one, there is a depth in critiquing that wouldn't be appropriate in the main poetry forum. I would hope that no one would quote the entire poem of any entered in the contest and put it in the main section where all the internet could access it. It would be the same as publishing it, and publishing a piece should be left to the author, not anyone discussing the piece.

But comments about the poems, I think that would be a good thing.

I would love to read your (and anyone's) comments about my entry, including negative comments and why you didn't choose it.

I agree with this, Kyla. I would like to know why my poem was chosen by people and why others passed it over. I would like to learn how to improve my works in the future to reach the most people, which is what a contest is about in my mind--reaching the most people to "win". If I don't learn what I missed, I can't improve. If I don't know what I did "right", I won't know what to employ next time. I look on it as a learning experience. Does that make sense?

So, not quoting the entire piece but discussing it seems to me to be reasonable. That's my take. And I welcome any and all comments on my poem.
 

Kylabelle

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Ambrosia, I'll speak to your poem (#8) if I may. I enjoyed it, especially the first half up to the comment about the spacesuit: "and you're wearing it." Wry and sharp. Thereafter it weakened for me as it seemed unnecessarily to belabor the various things raw vacuum does to a biological creature -- but one would not experience those things in that way because death would already have occurred. I'd have preferred more of those tight comments about the inherent crazy contradictions in the relationship. As well, the title doesn't seem to go with the content. Give me space death? And of course, as is always possible, perhaps I missed something here.

The language is all entirely unblemished, though, no false notes there at all.

Hope that's of interest.

Your turn!
 

Ambrosia

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Thanks for your comments, Kyla. The title was what people often say in a relationship that is failing, "give me some space, damn it!" "I can't stand to be around you right now!" Etc. Perhaps I was too subtle? :D
 

Ambrosia

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Kyla, I loved the language in your poem and the metaphors you used were solid. I didn't choose it, however, because I tire of the "Fates" meme. You lost me when you included the spinner and the wheel. I'm sure there are many who voted for your poem who loved it, though. It was just a personal thing on my end. :)
 

Kylabelle

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Thanks for your comments, Kyla. The title was what people often say in a relationship that is failing, "give me some space, damn it!" "I can't stand to be around you right now!" Etc. Perhaps I was too subtle? :D

I did get that that was the meaning, but the space being deadly was a turn that struck me as wanting more verbal support -- and that's where I probably missed the key(s).

Kyla, I loved the language in your poem and the metaphors you used were solid. I didn't choose it, however, because I tire of the "Fates" meme. You lost me when you included the spinner and the wheel. I'm sure there are many who voted for your poem who loved it, though. It was just a personal thing on my end. :)

Thank you. I thought I might lose people because I had the spinner mention God.
 

Priene

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I would love to read your (and anyone's) comments about my entry, including negative comments and why you didn't choose it. I would not mind at all your sharing that in this thread. I could of course re-post the poem in crit but I observe many who participated in the contest and are posting here rarely if ever post in crit -- and may not read there.

Bearing in mind that there were 25+ entries and I needed to find three, I was mainly looking for weak spots in poems and not strengths. Your poem made it to the second cut but for me the second sentence was difficult to parse, which made for a weak beginning, there was too much alliteration, and when the spinner turned up it lost me.
 

Priene

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I agree with this, Kyla. I would like to know why my poem was chosen by people and why others passed it over. I would like to learn how to improve my works in the future to reach the most people, which is what a contest is about in my mind--reaching the most people to "win".

Your poem came close to making the third cut ('but there's only one spacesuit and you're wearing it' is a strong line) though 'endless expanse' was flabby and 'gravity to anchor' wasn't great. Mainly it was the cliche 'silent screams' that did for it.
 

Marlys

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Since you both asked, I'll give comments on Kylabelle's and Ambrosia's poems. Things I look for when critiquing a poem: can I figure out what the author is saying, and how successfully do they make the point? in what ways do they use language creatively, and again, are they successful? what bits do I particularly like, and what strike me as awkward?

Making Space

What I think it's about: A hot night in a crowded bed leads the narrator to muse on the creation of space.

Successful? The most successful part, to me, is the part in bed. I can feel the groggy narrator trying to navigate cat, partner, and covers. Vivid, and very well done.

Creative language: I'm there with hot days being soggy quilts--but then the metaphor stops working for me, as I don't see how the quilt connects to the dead space, and the "so" in between tells me it should follow.

Bits I particularly liked (could also fall under "creative language"): several very nice instances of alliteration, especially the covers, cat, companion, crowd part. Sweet.

Bits I didn't like as well: First line. I'm still not sure who it's addressed to, and I'm not sure you need the rest of the stanza at all. I wasn't keen on the spinner bit. There are poems that start with a concrete moment and soar up to the universal, like "Dover Beach," but this feels slightly forced, and you lose me instead of carrying me with you. I think I'd love the poem to death if you cut it down to the narrator in the hot bed, and maybe end with the observation that it's ludicrous that we manufacture the essential absence that is space.

A few of the word choices struck me as iffy, making me think perhaps you were trying just a little too hard: daytimes, money's brood. Sometimes, simpler is the better choice, but this might be a matter of taste.

Although there were parts of it I liked very much, it didn't make my top three.

Give Me Space

What I think it's about: one partner surprises the other with the news that he/she wants out. I imagine the title is what the leaving partner says that sparks the narrator's thoughts on space.

Successful? Yes, it's quite well done. It felt both true to life and creative.

Creative language: The whole poem is an extended metaphor, and it works.

Bits I particularly liked (could also fall under "creative language"): the 'only one space suit, and you're wearing it' is a great way to express how the narrator feels that his/her (ex)partner is the only one in control--or the only one who will survive this catastrophic event.

Bits I didn't like as well: "deadened eyes" doesn't quite work for me. If the eyes are dead, whose POV are we in for the endless expanse floating past? Maybe "dying eyes"? Or something else? I also have to admit that when I first read this, I almost passed it over as "oh, another relationship poem." It's a testament to its strength that I pushed past my initial prejudice. And ended up putting it in my top three.

Hope you both find something useful here. As with any crit, take what you like and leave the rest behind.
 

Kylabelle

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Thank you both. Intriguing that part of what Priene did not like -- the amount of alliteration -- Marlys saw as a strength. I will say that that beginning was tricky for me and not the most satisfactory thing I've ever written even to my ear (but yeah I entered it anyway. :D )

I hope others will comment about other poems too? (Don't want to be a thread hog here....)
 

skelly

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I don't think anyone is waiting on the edge of their seats to hear what I thought about the various "space poetry" contest entries. Still, I spent a few hours of my life with these poems so I would like to make a few comments about my favorite lines and stanzas from each poem. Not critiques, just pointing out things that I enjoyed about each poem. All in all this was quite an enjoyable experience.

Note: I copied everything over to notepad and then over to my WP of choice (PageFour, not that you asked) and then back to notepad then into a post here in the forum. The formatting of the quoted material loses some line spaces occasionally. Please don't shoot me.

1. Limited Space
shakeysix
Circle of blue flowers.
Endless, vexing hours.
Dust, sage, tickseed stars,
Rusted Santa Fe chain
Bounds my cramped domain.
Race you to the boxcars!


I could actually see and smell those boxcars, the dust and the sage.

2. Hunger
zarada
I swooped down to gorge upon the limbs,
the soft flesh of the underbelly,
stringy muscles between the shoulder blades.
I gulped it all, gluttonously, unadulterated,
raw as it was down to cartilage and sinew,
to brittle bones, to the end. and still
,

Visceral imagery like this is hard to pull off because a really richly detailed stanza like this can easily overwhelm the rest of the poem, make it look inferior by comparison. Not the case here, and the ending was solid as well.

4. Explorer’s End
thehairymob
Each jump spreads
the spiders web
.

An awesome line/stanza in the context of a fantastic SF poem. I was in an awful quandary regarding the poems in this contest that explored actual "outer space" space, or were otherwise obviously SF in nature because most of my own poetry fits into those categories. I had to make a conscious effort to remain objective and let every poem exist in its own "space."

5. Finding Ancestors on the Internet
Demeter

I'd have to quote the whole dang poem. Everything fits together seamlessly, line-by-line and stanza to stanza.

6. Untitled
jst5150
And then, we rise, our glances bump

I love the use of "bump" there, instead of "meet" or "cross" or some such. It perfectly conveys the feelings that the poem instills up to that point.

7. Appalachian Playlist: Mahler
lacygnette
Morning blue huddled
under the long green vista
repeats on distant mountains
.

This is another one where I could nearly quote the entire poem. The stanza I lifted out just forms such a beautiful image in my head...the entire poem employs some rich, beautiful language.

8. Give Me Space
Ambrosia
you say it's time
to abandon ship

but there's only one
spacesuit

and you're wearing it

This was one of my picks, I don't mind saying, and a lot of it came down to the amount of dramatic tension packed into those five short lines. I was delighted to learn that Ambrosia had written it.

9. Notification of Recall
kennyc
___This can result in unwarranted exponential
feedback causing a situation where
the endpoint of a given travel segment
is outside known space and time
.___

The whole poem was a lot of fun to read. This explanation for the recall put a grin on my face.

10. The Infinity of Minutes
William Haskins
Convinced that the world would cease to exist
precisely at six thirty-three,
she conjured her courage, balled up her fist
and knocked the sun into the sea
.

I don't know why I didn't guess that this was Haskins. It seems so obvious now that I know. I think it was because on the first read-through I had myself convinced that our Absolute Sage had penned another poem (not saying which one). Anyway, the poem was about as dismally and depressingly brilliant as we have come to expect from William. As a poet who consciously strives to pack the biggest amount of image and meaning into the fewest amount of concise, vivid, perfectly chosen words...my envy of William's talent for doing the same borders on outright jealous hatred.

11. The Wonders of Space
(anonymous)
Space doesn't suck, but a black hole does.
The moon's first visitor was a bro named Buzz.
To infinity and beyond into space
because that's what NASA does
.

"Space doesn't suck, but a black hole does." Need I say more? No, I think not.

12. Making Space
Kylabelle
And on she sings,
spinning the invisible
out of nothing
.

I'm a sucker for lines like this. The whole poem was richly illustrated with images sometimes gritty and sweaty, sometimes surreal. I suspected that it was Kylabelle's work but I was not 100% sure.

Perhaps that is how
it is done
.

Kay-belle, since you said that you don't mind people's thoughts about your poem, my thought is that I like the poem better if you cut that bit of fluff quoted above and let the poem rest on that bit of brilliance quoted even further above.

13. Goodbye
Cariad

Here again I'd have to quote the whole poem, but did you notice that the whole thing was formatted in such a way that the poem was sort of "shaped" like a staircase? Interesting, given the subject matter of the poem. A staircase leading up to what? Or is it leading down? I wonder if that was intended, or if I am just projecting.

14. Selene’s Respite
Sarita
___But the moon returns
like a torch to
usher in the balm
of night
(...)___

Gorgeous. That's what made judging all these poems so difficult. Every poem had something in it, some idea or beautifully penned line or stanza, that drew me back for further reading and consideration.

15. No Title
PoeticRendezvous

The contrast/comparison between an "8' X 2.5' hole" and a "cervical exit" was awesome.

16. To Vanquish Space
rhymegirl

I'll admit that it took me a few reads to warm up to this one. Not due to any lack of talent on the poet's part, but because I am instantly suspicious of any poem that has a conspicuous rhyme scheme. It is so easy to start forcing words into positions where they really don't belong for the sake of maintaining the "scheme." I very much like the way that the last stanza ties the whole poem together and brings it to a good, solid conclusion.

17. In Admiration of Chandra X
Magdalen
in telescoping visionary flashbacks
(simulating 60’s-style sensory
overload) while celestial swells pulse


I can't BELIEVE I didn't guess this was Mags! It is so obvious, now that I know. The psychedelic imagery here and throughout the poem is as much metaphor as it is description, imo.

18. Dear Sir
Katol
___I've 'eard the man's been put on ice
'til t'solution 'as been found.
Is his Rolls Royce goin' with him?
Is that why 'e needs more ground?___

And the winner is! The above stanza made me laugh.

19. Narcissus
C.bronco
he plain is lit behind us,
As always, the regret
Of not running faster before
.

This, and the last three lines of this poem, had this haunting echo of sadness, regret, and of things passed by or left behind.

20. strangers in ennui
_city_
but you’re tired
like always
and i’m hungry and not hungry
and it’s late
and i haven’t replaced the light bulb by the armchair
and you never wear eyeliner
and i could order in
but it won’t be caviar and strawberries and shrimp cocktail and omelets and chocolate and crème brûlée


For the first few reads I found the constant repetition of "and" very off-putting. Eventually I came to appreciate how the drone of that word/sound in my head underscores the ennui that the narrator feels. A plodding, tedious, restless desire for some unknown.

21. Personal Space
Bolen
___In any language, the phrase: “I’ll get to it
Later”, will earn a whipping;
A pretty bad whipping
.___

Not sure why the repetition in this stanza struck me, then a few reads later I realized that this was the point in the poem where I actually heard the "voice" of the poet in my mind...heard tones and inflections rather than just a dry recitation of words and images. Once I had that cadence/tone stuck in my head I went back to the beginning and reread the poem, and it took on much more depth and dimension.

22. Space
Stylo
I'd planned what to do with the newly spare room --
My enthusiasm was a lie
.

The simple raw truth in this stanza--as pertains to the poem's overall narrative--is refreshing. In a poem like this I would probably try too hard to come up with some fancy image to convey pathos and longing and totally miss the crisp perfection of the empty room.

23. What Lies Out There
TheCthulist

The stars are oblivious, Planets care less.
Living and dying, Exist in excess.
And still they march, Ten million strong.
As billions more, Stretch on and on
.

I thought this section served the poem well, given that the point was to show the unrelenting vastness of space.

24. The Journey Back
Steppe
Once in our house there were old photographs,
some well-read books,
and a warm lamp
.

In knew when I read this opening stanza it had to be Steppe, or maybe Texas Poet. I suspected the latter, oddly enough, because the overall poem seemed a bit lengthy and wordy for a Steppe poem. Good to see him stretch his artistic muscle a little bit.

25. The Party’s Over
kborsden
I guess the party's over now, glasses
clink as they're collected--adding song
to background chatter while a dying Summer
turns it's back too soon
.

I guessed the poet correctly on this one almost before I finished the first read. Kie's fingerprints are all over this delightfully achy piece, from the deft use of season metaphor right down to the artful inclusion of cigarettes to inject a certain jaded cynicism.

26. Galilee
rwhegwood
There was no place in the home system
For simple folk with simple ways.
We would not change to suit their vision.
We could not yield to Anarch's sway
.

"There was no place in the home system" stands out in that it is apparently the "space" tie-in.
 
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kennyc

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9. Notification of Recall
kennyc
___This can result in unwarranted exponential
feedback causing a situation where
the endpoint of a given travel segment
is outside known space and time
.___

The whole poem was a lot of fun to read. This explanation for the recall put a grin on my face.
.....

Thanks Scott. That puts a smile on my face. :D
 

Kylabelle

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Great comments, Scott, thank you for taking the time and care to do that.

And yes, very much appreciated the specifics in response to my entry including the crit. All good information.

(Kenny, I also really dug that part of your poem quoted above. :greenie )
 

Ambrosia

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Your poem came close to making the third cut ('but there's only one spacesuit and you're wearing it' is a strong line) though 'endless expanse' was flabby and 'gravity to anchor' wasn't great. Mainly it was the cliche 'silent screams' that did for it.
Thanks, Priene. I appreciate your comments.

I used "silent screams" because I actually have been there before, where I screamed until I couldn't scream any more and all that was coming out was air with no sound attached. Could you tell me what "flabby" means? Is it "too much" or "overdone" or?

Bits I didn't like as well: "deadened eyes" doesn't quite work for me. If the eyes are dead, whose POV are we in for the endless expanse floating past? Maybe "dying eyes"? Or something else? I also have to admit that when I first read this, I almost passed it over as "oh, another relationship poem." It's a testament to its strength that I pushed past my initial prejudice. And ended up putting it in my top three.

Thank you very much Marlys. I am glad my poem was strong enough you chose it despite its failings. That makes me happy. :D

I don't equate "deadened" with totally "dead". To me it is a word that denotes heading toward death as opposed to being dead. That glassy eyed, staring straight ahead and not seeing anything place that people sometimes reach during emotional trauma. That was what I was trying to convey with those words. I'm not sure how I could have done it better in that line, but I will think on it. Thank you.

8. Give Me Space
Ambrosia
you say it's time
to abandon ship

but there's only one
spacesuit

and you're wearing it

This was one of my picks, I don't mind saying, and a lot of it came down to the amount of dramatic tension packed into those five short lines. I was delighted to learn that Ambrosia had written it.

Thank you very much, Scott. I am delighted you read and enjoyed it. :)
 

Priene

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Thanks, Priene. I appreciate your comments.

I used "silent screams" because I actually have been there before, where I screamed until I couldn't scream any more and all that was coming out was air with no sound attached. Could you tell me what "flabby" means? Is it "too much" or "overdone" or?

I used to read a lot of comics and SF, and screams were very often silent in those books, so it came over to me as rather overused. I use flabby in 'endless expanse' to mean 'one word isn't adding much to the meaning of the other'. Expanses are quite close to being endless, in a way. I'd probably have gone just with 'expanse', which has a strong flavour on its own. If it needed an adjective, then one like - I'm pulling words out of my head purely as examples - stark or frigid or calm would have added more.

Just my opinion, obviously.
 

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