Reviews for Songs from the River
TanteLiz chapter 4 . 2/3/2014
Let me start with an admission: these are not to my taste. That's not a criticism, just a fact. But you are a good writer trying out a specific style, and you do a very good job of it.
That being said, there is an interestingly gray area of surrealistic storytelling in between poetry and prose, and that's the flavor I get from these pieces. They strike me as mood swatches, swirly little intros to six separate stories. To turn them into poems, you could cut them closer to the bone, but I think they have greater potential as stage setters.
Of the six, this one, 'Void of Silence' is the one I like the best. In particular, your capstone line 'He is dead to me, yet he sits beside me at the dinner table', IS poetry. If you had opened with this line, much of the rest would have been unnecessary (which is what I mean by cutting closer - make every word count).
'I am not myself. Neither is he.' - spare, vivid, excellent.
Who is the 'he' that is dead? Who are the people they used to be, the ones on the other side of the line of gray hair? Don't tell me about the obvious changes - the wrinkles, the tensions; she is the widow of the man she loved, as surely as he seeks the ghost of his once-wife. Where's the grief?
augie.toaste chapter 6 . 2/3/2014
Out of all the poems, this has the best feel-good vibe about it. Feeling good is my preference for fiction, so even though some of the other poems in this collection are just as well if not better written, this has to be my favourite. Am I shallow? Do I have the emotional resonance of a piece of wet cardboard? Perhaps.

I think it's interesting that you've based a series of poems around a book. It's a great study into the moments of being human, and also a great way of capturing how you've related to the book. So it's good on two different levels.

Poems are really hard to critique because they've got a foot planted firmly in the visual arts realm, which is a whole other can of worms. It's like looking at a giant canvas of splattered paint and for some reason feel as though maybe you're looking at something wonderous (damn you, Jackson Pollock).

Thanks for writing this, Jaz. I can't say I've read too much poetry recently, but maybe I'll get back into it.

augie.toaste chapter 5 . 2/3/2014
Jaz, this is prose put in poem formatting. It's darn good stuff, by the way. If this was the start of a story, or a story in itself, it would be a kick-ass piece. So the formatting confuses me. :)

Great imagery here. I love watching the history of this character and her (?) thoughts and emotions march across the screen. Her choice at the end is interesting - I think she could have gone either way (pun not intended).
augie.toaste chapter 4 . 2/3/2014
Am I suppose to be reading each poem as separate or together? Because if it's together, this girl goes to an art gallery, then spends a night in the wilderness, gets married and totally regrets it at the end. :D

Sorry, I'm just being silly.

I think this is an interesting aspect to explore - how love can grow into disdain. Sometimes, all that you love about a person in the beginning turns into all that you hate about them later on... or so I hear. The 'he is dead to me yet' at the beginning kinda gives readers false hope.

In terms of critique, this one is very much tell and not show. I would have like to see you use the words to portray the whole 'he's dead to me' message. It would make the start and end line so much stronger.
augie.toaste chapter 3 . 2/3/2014
I see you've been dabbling with contrast in this poem. Both images that you paint are very strong and you use the juxtaposition well. It's a great example of internal conflict.

The last line made me think of Yoda. :)
augie.toaste chapter 2 . 2/3/2014
My favourite line: I wonder if the moon will search for me. That line is gold. Brilliant. It may lose some of the effect when you repeat it for the second time, just because there's already a lot of other themes you are playing with in the poem (i.e. animal noises, darkness, the aesthetics of the cave etc). Don't milk it. ;)

I've noticed a kinda trend in the poems now, Jaz, in that they could almost be better as prose rather than poetry. Each one so far has been a snapshot of a moment in time.
augie.toaste chapter 1 . 2/3/2014
I can't tell if it's suppose to be funny at the end or just very, very deep. ;) I like the way you've laid out this poem - almost like an art in itself. You capture the difference between opinion on art quite well - some people get really emotionally involved and into it, whereas others don't see the point.

If I were to critique, it would probably have to be the 'stare agaze' line. The way you've repeated it creates structure in the poem - which is good. But the two words together makes one of them redundant. It's like saying 'stare staringly'.
SuitedManatee chapter 6 . 2/1/2014
I'm really not any kind of judge of poetry and I don't think I can make 150 words of this review, but I'll see how far I can get. I guess this is what I feel poetry should be like. At the very least I liked it. I'm sure someone more cultured and knowledgeable of these things would probably say you did a really good job with this but all I really have to go on is that it's a lot better than my attempt at writing a poem. I think my favourite of these is Agaze, I like the way it shows that people can interpret an image or situation in different ways. Other than that all I can really think to say is that if poetry is your thing, I think you've probably got some talent for it and you should go for it.
Aureus Lux chapter 3 . 1/31/2014
Chills. That's it.

On the previous poem, I like the symbolism of the flame. In addition, the way you capitalized "Her" when referring to the moon made- well, "Her"- seem all the more powerful and goddess-like, almost pure.

For this one, I feel that the ending is a little vague- however, it works for the style you are writing with (I hope that makes sense).

For both, I like the way you broke off stanzas and lines, putting emphasis on repetition and breaks. That emphasis drew me to those phrases and words, of course, making them all the more outstanding and moving.

I will be honest- I'm not one for angst or tragedy fics or poems, but I know a well-written piece from a poorly-written one, and these fall under the former. Good job, and keep it up!
AlysonSerenaStone chapter 6 . 1/30/2014
Now, this was the prefect final poem! Each line was well written. While reading this, I could just picture in my head what the people in the poem were doing. That's not something I do to often here on fictionpress. I think you are a wonderful poet and should write more like this. You really do have something going for you here and it would a shame to stop. Nice work and congrats on winning the contest!
AlysonSerenaStone chapter 5 . 1/30/2014
I personally preferred the poems that you used smaller sentences for. Don't get me wrong, I really did enjoy reading this one, but it just wasn't one of my favourites. This poem is still very well written and very emotional.
AlysonSerenaStone chapter 4 . 1/30/2014
Whenever I read the first line, I thought this was gong to be about someone dying and a spouse willing to forgive each other, but it's not. I love stories about broken relationships for some reason and how no one wants to fix them. The last line of this was really powerful; it hit a mark for me for some reason.
AlysonSerenaStone chapter 3 . 1/30/2014
So far, this one is my favourite one. I love the whole bride and loss theme you have going on here. I loved you description of red; it was beautifully written. One thing I didn't like about this poem was how you wrote "4th." It's not incorrect to write it that way, but I would prefer it to be written out.
AlysonSerenaStone chapter 2 . 1/30/2014
Again, wonderful job with emotion. I think you have found your new genre: poetry! I just loved the way you wrote this. I just love your use of words for these poems. You are just leaving me speechless! Again, nice work!
AlysonSerenaStone chapter 1 . 1/30/2014
This first poem was really well done. You packed so much emotion into this. I did see one little slip one. In the line starting with "A forest," I don't think the "a" needs to be capitalized. I could be wrong, but I don't think you capitalize the first word after a semicolon. I really just enjoyed this poem. Smooth writing style and really nice diction!