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Forum Home » High Critique » Please look at my The Essence of Nightmares poem!

For poets who want unrestricted constructive criticism. This is NOT a vanity workshop. If you do not want your poem seriously critiqued, do not post here. Constructive criticism only. PLEASE Only Post One Poem a Day!!!
3/5/2020 9:05:59 PM

Sarah Lange
Posts: 1
I want serious critiques. I may only be in 7th grade but I want to be as good a an adult poet so treat me like one. I will not get offended!
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3/6/2020 12:01:48 AM

Jack Webster
Posts: 227
I think the title offers a worthy topic of poetic investigation: what is the essential quality of a nightmare?



It is a question that can be explored in terms of sensory detail; it can be explored situationally, being trapped in sleep unable to wake; it can be explored existentially, trapped by the utter comviction of the reality of the horror; and, other ways.




You briefly touch on each possibility; in the first stanza, all three; in the second all but the former.




Here is an excerpt from Edgar Allen Poe’s essay “The Poetic Principle”, which is readily available online and easily obtained through a Google search. The excerpt comes after a section critisizing poems of great length (such as Paradise Lost, the Illiad, and others), which he feels are so cumbersome in length they break the state of poetic elevation which he declares is the fundamental essential quality of a poem. The excerpt addresses the other possibility, a poem that is too brief:




“On the other hand, it is clear that a poem may be improperly brief. Undue brevity degenerates into mere epigrammatism. A very short poem, while now and then producing a brilliant or vivid, never produces a profound or enduring effect. There must be the steady pressing down of the stamp upon the wax.”




Your use of the refrain “Wake up! Wake up!” and the first line of the second stanza, I think attest that your instinct is that the reader shpuld come away from each stanza feeling as though they themselves had been lost in a dream, immersed in the images, happenings, and reactions, that when the refrain “Wake up! Wake up!” comes, there is a sense of being cut lose from the stanza, and the dream.




I think it is an excellent artistic goal, but it calls for longer stanzas that offer the opportunity for the reader to invest themselves. As they are now, they are so brief it is like closing one’s eyes and being shook awake before sleep takes hold.




The emmersive quality of a poem can be obtained through various methods, that command the attention of the reader - (intellectual) rhetorical speculation/examination, riddle, (sensual) beauty, ugliness (prosodic) artful use of sound. But, all rely on the fundamental quality of clarity.




“The entice of gunshots”, “... the common reminiscence”, “...the test of slumber.” are all instances where the comcept was not clear to me as a reader. Entice is a verb, so especially using it as a noun “the entice” is grammatically confusing to me; conceptually, I’m not sure how gunshots are enticing. The common reminiscence is just a blank for me. The test of slumber is an exciting idea, so i hope you will develop it more and give it more clarity: how does sleep test something, in what ways are peace and perile subjects of such a test, and what is the consequence of either passing or failing the test of slumber.




You get a trophy for the word ‘parlous’; had to look that one up. I think it would be better to use the word perile instead, both because it is more commonly understood and it is also a noun, the way peace is (parlous is an adjective).




Also, passing the test of slumber is sort of a seperate question from: what is the essential quality of a nightmare. If perile and peace are competing in the test of slumber, we need to have at least one stanza devoted to each, peace, and perile (you must treat them like characters that require their own exposition).




It is possible your poem is actually two seperate poems: what is the essence of nightmares, the battle between peace and perile in sleep. The first invites immersing the reader; the latter asks the reader to bear witness, and maybe decide a battle. They are different artistic goals, ultimately, thpugh perhaps possible to blend.




Overall I think ot’s a promising start. I think your main focus on the next draft should be making stanzas one and two much longer with a rich flow of dream imagery/ situations - dont get too wild, there still needs to be a sense of orientation and groundedness within the dreams to be frightened by them - if it just turns into a kaleidoscope of random details, it might begin to lose power because there is no momentum between the images.




Think of your poem as it is now as a keyhole that lets you look into where you are going. Time to open the door and make it real.




Good luck! Hope something was helpful.
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3/11/2020 10:52:19 AM

Solomon Emmanuel
Posts: 1
Hi am new here. Can someone teach me how to navigate?
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3/11/2020 12:01:02 PM

Jack Webster
Posts: 227
Solo Man wrote:
Hi am new here. Can someone teach me how to navigate?


Normally the poster is supposed to include their poem in the post so people dont have to hunt for it.

Unfortunately there is no direct path to the poem from this page. If you are using a desktop, you can click on the poster’s handle that will you take you to a page with their name. Then you have to use the search bar to find them on the site. Once you find them, then you have to look for the poem through their list of poems —- this is why posters normally put the poem in the critique request post, so people dont have to do this.

If ypu’re using a cellphone, like me, you actually have to request the desktop version of the site because the cellphone version doesnt even get you to the point you have the author’s name to search for. Requestingthe desktop version is like an extra two steps, unless ypu have to look up how to do it...
edited by superlativedeleted on 3/11/2020
edited by superlativedeleted on 3/11/2020
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