(About a 4 minute read)
Some days are lucky. Very lucky. Yesterday was just such a day for me.
Yesterday, I was surfing the blogosphere, looking for ways to get into trouble, when I landed on Kat’s blog. Kat is new to blogging, but seems to be doing exceptionally well at it. Indeed, I was so impressed with her posts, despite how few they were, that I stole several of them and will — unknown to her — soon be re-blogging them on Cafe Philos under my own name in order to dupe y’all into believing I’m getting better and better.
Just kidding, Kat. I’m above that sort of thing (but give me time).
One of the posts that struck me was a poem she had composed — a poem she says is one of her first ever attempts to compose poetry. So, naturally, I decided to body slam it with my fully armored and weaponized criticism — even before reading it, of course.
Thankfully, however, my decision didn’t last long because the poem was simply far too good. That is, it seemed obvious to me that Kat was new to the game — but what a start! So here’s her poem, followed by my real attempt to offer her an honest critique of it.
The Happy Book People, by Kat
Everyone likes a happy ending
A light at the end of the tunnel
A bow-topped present waiting to be opened
A swerve off the highway of doom
And a diversion from the inevitable
Everyone likes a predictable surprise
The last gift under the Christmas tree
The hidden dollar at the bottom of the purse
The nice summer rain to wash the pain away
A reason to smile at the rainbow in the sky
And to be held by the loving embrace of the wind
We are all searching for the new music
An event that evades the predictable marching of time
A glitch in the matrix of our numb brains
A quick burst of color that breaks the heavy fabric:
The fabric of years lived in obscurity and agony
Finally weighing on our heavy consciousness
Like an anchor when the buoyancy of youth is lost
When I was just a few years younger
Surprises found me at every corner
Strawberry smoothies at the diner
The dew on the grass in the chill of the morning
The star-speckled night sky
The smell of a brand new book
And the books were filled with happy people
And those people had been just like me
But they are not like me anymore
And happy endings just seem to laugh at my face
Their meaning dancing away into the horizon
Forever lost to my desolate mind
The happy book people are long gone
“We are all searching for the new music.”
To me, that one line so well captures an idea that — if you told me you had created the whole rest of the poem just to set that one line off, like a precious stone is set off by a less precious mounting — I’d think it was worth it. A blue diamond of a line!
Second, I love how you understated your feelings when instead of trying too hard to dramatize them, you chose to state them by contrast. Specifically, in contrast to the happy book people. I don’t know enough about poetry to confidently say that was brilliant, but I suspect that someone who did know, would say something like that.
I do have a criticism — one I hope will help and ultimate encourage you, rather than discourage you — for you seem to me to have some genuine talent that I would hate to discourage, even mildly discourage.
The poem deserves that more time and effort be taken in its composition than it seems to me was taken. Some elements appear dashed off without any further thought given to them. For instance, the first two stanzas: Full of dreary cliches, in my opinion.
Again, there were moments when you did just the opposite of what you did with “happy book people”: You bludgeoned us with exaggerated and false statements — or so they came across to me. For example, “years lived in obscurity and agony”. Obscurity I can see. That’s plausible to me. But “agony”? Is that really true? I doubt it, and if it is true, you’ve broken my heart, for you have suffered as most of us never really do. So I’m betting you could do better, much better.
Nevertheless, all in all, Kat, a poem I myself would be more than proud to have composed.
All the best,
PLEASE NOTE: You can find Kat’s remarkable poem, The Happy Book People, here, along with my critique, and her gracious response to it.
And you can find her even more remarkable blog here. I think if you will take a moment to check it out, you will be glad you did.