Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Accidental Workshops and a Poem in the Upcoming issue of Adroit Journal

I hardly ever workshop poems. I like the idea of spending a little time with other poets and hearing what kind of feedback and advice gets thrown around, but I'm often too close to the poem in question to embrace any drastic changes. I feel like constructive criticism will mostly benefit the future poems that I have yet to write.

On a related note, my poem "Reasons Critics Insist I Make a Terrible Poet and/or Husband" (which is a cento of reviews of my first chapbook) will be published in the next issue of The Adroit Journal. I mention this because sending them work was like getting an unexpected workshop experience. Each poem must be uploaded separately, so the responses come in sporadically.

They were very quick about it (within the first week) and they even included lots of comments from their staff.
Here are some of their comments on the poems they didn't want:

We are sad to tell that it got rejected by a narrow margin. I think this is what happened to most of the poems you sent: we half-loved them. Here are some comments by the staff members:

This makes me chuckle, but I don't think it's enough to warrant a 'yes.' I'm pretty ambivalent about it. It feels like the poet broke the structure because he liked the ending way too much the way it was, and that lack of true intentionality is what's mainly putting me off this piece. Also, for such a short piece some of the lines seem almost like a waste

I love the premise here, but the ending doesn't feel like an ending to me

I wish the end of this poem was the beginning of a different poem


This is cute. I really like this poet's style, voice, word choice, whatever, but the topic here is just too average for me. It's a nice little moment, but that's all it is at this point.

I think the concept is nice, but there are graceless moments in the language that really put me off. Also, I'm not a fan of how the short sentences in the last two stanzas start sounding halting. The piece needs a better ear, I think...

Again, conceptually, I enjoy this piece. I wish he'd just stick with the narrative though and keep it interesting and cute, rather than try to turn it into an emotional melodrama


The first stanza feels like a bunch of throwaway images with no anchor, and I'm not convinced. Overall, I think the poem relies too much on its images and its other abstract, non-imaginable expressions that just fall flat

I think the poet is obviously talented, but some of these phrases seem to veer into Lady Gaga Lyric territory

I agree, though I did like the last phrase; it was the only part of the poem that gave me some sense of the narrator's personality. Overall, this poem feels too detached

While the poem develops a nice flow, I'm not into the subject matter, and I can't quite overcome the sense that the poet has yet to find their voice. I really like the ending though


  1. Wow -- that's some feedback.
    You are a brave poet. : )

  2. Criticism isn't one of the things that bother me. If anything, it somehow validates it...like I appreciate that someone felt it was worth contemplating.

    In fact, that poem they ended up accepting is made up of a patchwork of many similar lines of criticism that was originally directed at my chapbook. So apparently I have always been comfortable with sharing those kinds of remarks.

  3. You should write a poem called "Lady Gaga Territory" :). It's wonderful...

    I think it's awesome you shared this. I still remember a comment a prof of mine made on an essay in grad school: "This paper is startlingly brilliant, but also maddeningly deficient." I ended up appreciating being called out on the deficiency...even though I heard the Debbie Downer trombone sound after reading it initially.

  4. No, YOU should write that poem!
    I have a feeling you would be much better at following through on those kinds of prompts, than I am.

    I forgot to include a little bit of the positive up there, so I will edit that in, now. I think it puts their feedback in a little different light, to know that some of these poems did have factions of support. So they really were trying to be helpful by sharing what some of the staff had problems with.

    I would just like to make it clear that I was happy to get their feedback.

    P.S. - the Debbie Downer trombone would be a killer ringtone.