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a coven made of words

by PrincessInk

Author's Note: This poem was inspired by TheWeirdoFromBeyond's Poetic Madness prompt "Poisonous". It is a very short experimental poem--similar to a drabble, perhaps--so I want to know if this is too shorts, needs some expansion or clarity. As always, comments on flow/word choice/structure/etc. and interpretation of the poem itself are appreciated! I hope you enjoy~

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948 Reviews

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Thu Oct 25, 2018 9:57 pm
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alliyah wrote a review...

So I was impressed when I saw this poem in this week's Squills edition, and just wanted to stop by to say so.

I see the leaf-thing going on though, it might work better if "they" and "spoke" were vertical? There might be some more ways to play with this I guess, but I do like shape poems. Also my initial thought was perhaps it was supposed to look like a poisoned apple - or the forbidden fruit. :)

For a short poem word choice is everything, since you want the most word economy in every line that you can get. Ie. words that are specific, concrete, and emotive.

Niteowl did a great assessment of some of the word choice, I would say the biggest two words that didn't make an impact for me were "they" and "words". -- To say that someone "spoke in words" is redundant. So you don't really need both "spoke" and "words" in the same sentence. -- "chants" or "incantations" "spells" "magic" "dreams" might be more specific and expressive. Overall your word choice is really nice though!

I also think it might be interesting to label the "they" - using first person plural "we" or even "women" or some other clarifying word.

I thought the flow was fine, since the line breaks actually helped me take in each different line edition and detail.

This is a lovely spooky poem - and I'd love to see more poetry from you in the future PrincessInk!

Please let me know if there was some aspect I didn't cover that you wanted a comment on - my brain is on the fried side so I might have missed something but would be happy to comment if you had any questions.


p.s. you should consider posting this in the Spooktober Poetry Challenge

PrincessInk says...

Ooh, I didn't consider that it looked like forbidden fruit--that's an interesting interpretation! I think I'll have to try out making my first two words vertical.

Ahh, yes, I did have some difficulty figuring out what to do with "spoke a coven of words". Hmm, I'll have to let this stew in my mind for awhile. Thanks for pointing it out! Also, what would you say about the flow of the lines and thoughts? I would like to know the transitions felt off or something like that (sorry if I'm confusing, it's kind of hard to explain).

I'll give the challenge a try, once I edit! :)

Anyway, thanks a lot for your review! You've given me plenty of things to think about :D


PrincessInk says...

To think about it, perhaps I can add witchy tones to my poem for a Halloween touch :P

alliyah says...

The only flow thing, is that the line that begins with "it" doesn't flow as well after their preceding lines, because it begins a new sentence/thought. I think you could take "it" away in line 5 to "resting" for a bit better flow because it'd just be one flowing sentence/thought then - but that's pretty minor. The flow is also not great for the first two lines that have the single words, so the reader pauses at the line breaks, but not much that can be done there for the sake of formatting.

The meaning is a little bit hard to process all as a single image, but overall it's neat! The words are spooky/haunting for the reader, but the speaker seems to enjoy the wreath/touch or at least doesn't seem to be panicked. It's interesting! :)

PrincessInk says...

Thank you! I really appreciate the extra comments on the flow.

I'm not actually sure about the speaker's reaction. Is the speaker aware that the touch is kind of, err, poisonous? Or is the speaker pretending not to mind or even actually not minding? Plenty of food of thought for me, haha.

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Sat Oct 20, 2018 10:57 pm
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niteowl wrote a review...

Hi there PrincessInk! Niteowl here to review.

Short poems are deceptively tricky. Overall, I think you did a good job with this, using strong words and imagery to make a poem about poisonous words. So let's dive in.

"they" is not the strongest beginning, but I don't know if there's any value in trying to make it more specific and naming this "they". I think keeping it vague might be the better move because it lets the reader infer who "they" might be.

"spoke" I don't know if this needs to be its own line because it could be combined with "they". However, I think you're going for a shape, but I'm not 100% sure what that shape is. Is it like a pendant on a necklace? It seems vaguely heart-shaped too.

"a coven made of words" Coven is a strong word. It conjures up the image of a group of witches. Combined with "made of words", I'm getting that there is a group attacking the speaker, maybe some Mean Girls.

"strung like a wreath of ivy
it rests upon my neck"

So now I'm getting that the speaker is wearing these words, like someone taking what is said about them to heart. "Wreath" is another strong word that brings up the idea of decoration. Whether or not the speaker actually believes what the bullies are saying, it's forming part of her outer image, what people see when they look at her. "Ivy" makes me think immediately of poison ivy, but it can also be a form of decoration, like vines of ivy on the outside of a house. Also interesting: ivies are sometimes invasive species, per Wikipedia: Also, poison ivy isn't actually an ivy but is related to cashews: This probably doesn't have any implications for your poem but it's fun to think about haha.

Also, I don't know if the comma makes sense given that there isn't any other punctuation. Also, maybe "resting" would flow a little better than "it rests"

"which lies unshielded to
its threesome

Spellcheck is confirming that "unshielded" is not a word, plus it sounds awkward. Maybe "bare" or "vulnerable" or "uncovered" or "unprotected"?

Um, sorry, but "threesome" has a very not-YWS-friendly connotation, so I feel like it is the wrong word here. I assume you're alluding here to the three-leaf structure of poison ivy. Maybe "three-pronged" would be a better way to say this?

Overall, this is a powerful short piece about the impact of negative words that draws a strong comparison between mean words and poison ivy. Keep writing! :D

PrincessInk says...

Thanks so much for the review nite! <3

I was actually going for the shape of an ivy leaf bit of stem. But I'm not too sure if it looks that way. Do you think so? And thanks for the Wikipedia articles! What I learn there might be something interesting to consider when I edit my poem :)

My word processor actually marked "unshielded" as wrong but then I *thought* it was a word...Also I just googled what "threesome" meant and I'm so mortified. I thought it meant "group of three". So I think "three-pronged" would be better. If I'm not 100% certain what a word means, I probably should look it up.

Thank you again, anyway!


niteowl says...

It looks sort of like a leaf, but it feels too short and squat to me. Idk shape poems are hard.

I guess %u201Cunshielded%u201D is a word though it%u2019s mostly used to describe power cords. It still sounds awkward though, so I like the change to %u201Cbare%u201D. :)

PrincessInk says...

Yes, it's kind of short :p I think I'll have to explore my structure and word choice more to see if it can look more like a leaf.

Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here.
— Neil Gaiman