Reviews for This Highway Dark
berley chapter 1 . 12/11/2012
I’m not sure what the other reviewer was talking about, this poem isn’t in iambic pentameter, but that’s okay because villanelles don’t require iambic pentameter. (Look at me Patrick, knowing shit about poetry now.)

The first thing I think about when it comes to form poetry, and something I ask myself and other writers when attempting it is: What parts of the poem is the form fitting to your poem, and when do you find yourself changing your poem so that it’s fitting with the form? For the most part, you’ve done a really good job of making the rhyme scheme and lines feel natural, which is awesome, but one line where I think you had to force it to make it fit was “It aches to travel on as others park.” Compared to the rest of the poem, it sounds a little out of place, like you used it because park fit with your rhyme scheme.

Speaking of the rhyme scheme, I liked it. I would suggest playing around with slant rhymes (soft rhymes, half rhymes, whatever you call it) just because that will open up a lot more words for you to use for the places where you might have been forcing the poem to work.

I wanted to compliment you on your line breaks. Whenever I try writing villanelles I always end up with a lot of end-stop lines, and the fact that you’ve worked in enjambment lines in this piece makes it flow really well. Specifically, I really enjoyed the line break in “The rain and flame demanded I embark/a banished man, the solitary spark;” Very nice, mister. Very nice.

I really enjoyed this piece. The refrains were great and versatile, and I enjoyed the imagery of the sky. It’s unfortunate that I can’t do hard copy edits on FP. That’s what I’m used to doing for poetry, but hopefully this helps!
The Autumn Queen chapter 1 . 12/7/2012
First of all, I could never write something like this. :) The voice in it is simply unique, and that's something I rarely see so strongly. Something about it just screams...something.

FLOW: I find it rather ironic that the flow itself seems somewhat stagnant while the initial words speak in contradiction thereof. I think some of those images, eg. [I'm fleeing, disarrayed] could have been made stronger by a less flowing meter, but other images like [a banished man, the solitary spark] really suit the structure you've built around it. It's sort of like a river flowing through rocks as opposed to around them I guess. I hope I'm making sense here.

STRUCTURE: I think, overall, this might benefit from a more malleable approach. As I said before, it suits some parts but in other places it diminishes the images. The psuedo-rhyme structure that seems to recur with dark seems to be strong though - I think varying the way you worded a few things eg. "I drive" is a stronger image than "I am drying" and I think the extra syllables drag a little.

WORD PLAY: the thing that really caught my attention was the use of "highway dark" - it really put a strong ending onto your stanzas, especially the first, and ending with the hard sound really emphasised the other hard sounds you've got in this, and your synonyms bring that out as well. There are a few, lie "aches" which I think you could have come up with a better alternative for, but overall they were really well done.

ENJOYMENT: overall, I really enjoyed this poem. It stood out as a unique voice and there were a lot of clever word usage in there that really flipped images around - made them flicker almost. And the different ways this can be interpreted as well were really attention-grabbing.
Twyla Cole chapter 1 . 10/25/2012
When I saw the title I expected the the gi-tar to start up the second I clicked the link. But it did not...I was pleasantly surprised by this poem. I thought you said you didn't like rhyme schemes but that seems to be your main vehicle here.
A couple of things I like and a couple of things that are confusing to me.

First and foremost are the confusing bits - maybe its just the dichotomy you were going for. The two lines you continually repeat are different in nature. "driving down a highway dark" and "until upon this journey i embark." These two ideas - one is of movement, of driving. While the other one feels anticipatory, and stagnant "until upon this journey I embark" like you're waiting for it to begin. But I also get the sense that you are not the one who gets to initiate the journey - like you are waiting for it to begin of its own accord. I suppose that in comparing these two you could say that "driving down the highway dark" is a blind action - driving through the dark aimlessly. But at the end this aimless driving becomes the journey. When you put these two lines together in the last stanza I just couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. It reads to me that you are stalling, waiting for something to start your journey - but all that it takes is driving - the blind action that seemed just as good as waiting.

I could be off the mark on that. but those two concepts are at war in my mind right now.

But what this poem does to for me...the structure reminds me very much of Sylvia Plath's Doomsday: "the idiot bird leaps out and drunken leans" "the clock strikes in lunatic thirteens." she repeats these lines over and over again and it dictates the rhythm of the piece. So I love the rhythm. It actually feels essentially distraught, hurt, broken. You were on the money with the "ark" sound. It is full, hollow and harsh. It is painful. That was very clever.
And of course as always your images are lovely. I love the opening stanza. The world was so clear to me, the dark grey sky and the vibrant neon green of road signs.

You touch on a theme of direction - lost - abandonment. even when you are talking about the scar. I imagine a mark on your face that is almost alive, continually travelling and overtaking the body until you can begin a renewal of yourself, the journey. Your love flies away...just such great movement.

I like it. nicely done.

I hope you are well.

Truly,
Twyla
AppleCrumble chapter 1 . 10/11/2012
I liked it. You used a lot of very effective techniques. I like the descriptions, there were beautiful. I loved the line 'A banished man, for home I howl and bark'. Really clever ideas.
Great poem :-D
Complex Variable chapter 1 . 10/3/2012
Your iambic pentameter is good, but it could be be a little more flowing and natural. Kudos to you for even being able to complete a work in IP (I could NEVER do it XD).

The one thing that I find odd, though, is that you don't exploit more of imagery/symbolism latent in the setting (a dark highway). I would try to connect the narrator's internal reflections with external, highway-related things (sights/sounds/impressions/etc.), to give the piece a greater sense of internal cohesion. For example:

—The words/paint/lines on the road; the names of the streets; the presence/absence of intersections and crossroads.
—the way that the reflectors (on the road, and on those little side posts at the edges of the road) glow in the light of the car's headlights.
—the shape of the highway: does it wind and curve, or is it straight and true? Is it a big free-way (many lanes) or is it a lonely road, far from civilization?
—Other cars that pass by (especially if they come from the opposite direction; the ghostly appearance of their headlights; the darkness they leave in their fading wake, etc.
—The stuff off the side of the road: is it the sea, a forest, a plain, a desert, a city, a village—or just darkness?

Just a few suggestions.