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Below you will see ALL of the Critiques that Karen Ragan has given on The Poetic Link.
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Click HERE to return to ThePoeticLink.com Database Page!Displaying Critiques 1 to 4 out of 4 Total Critiques.
|Poem Title||Poet Name||Critique Given by Karen Ragan||Critique Date|
|The Death of a Poet||G. Donald Cribbs||Hi Donald, First, let me say I'm sorry for your and especially your wife's deep loss. It is never easy to let go of those we love, no matter how prepared we think we are. I read this one several times before I attempted to write a crit. Probably, because the death of my father-in-law is still so painful. His death was truly like "a dream too terrible to remember" This piece is well crafted and ebbs and flows like a river, which is the term I often associate with death--river of death--crossing the river, etc. You have used a lake instead of a river here, which works well with the images in this piece. Sometimes I miss the mechanics in poetry, because I write mostly from my feelings and cannot tell you why I write as I do--it just comes and I write it down. What I do know of the mechanics of poetry I have basicly learned here at the Link from other writers, but I have never formally studied poetry. I had to be told that I used alliteration and assonance well (I didn't even know what the words meant, so I looked them up in the dictionary) and wrote in free form, because all I knew was what felt right for me. So forgive me if I don't mention mechanics much--I deal in feelings and emotions. In all your pieces I've read, I have noticed you are very skilful in the use of alliteration. In this piece, wonderful use of the "s" sound is what I heard most pronounced--giving the whole piece a sacred, hushed feeling. By day’s end we are spent, our lumbering through this living slumber to the last look light leaves us at the lakeshore, swan-like fierceness flickering under feathers white and tomb-like. Looking back at my life, it seems like 'but a day' since I was a child...'but a day' since I got married...'but a day' since my children were born. Life carries us along and much of the past seems like a blur--it all seems so dreamlike as we look back. Time never passes us, for we are carried unwillingly on its back. It will not wait on us nor stop for us. Our attempts at living are filled with clumsy movements, stumbling, and disorder-- "lumbering through this living slumber" Time is a steady constant, but we are not; yet, we are under its control completely. 'Last look, light, leaves' make me think of 'rapidly moving on'--bringing us to the shore of eternity--where finally, time will no longer control us. We will glide without fear into its waters. I read the line, "swan-like fierceness flickering" over and over. I love the way it sounds and feels on the tongue, but I envision a swan as gentle and graceful. 'Fierceness' seems like a harsh word, but perhaps you meant 'intense' instead of 'agressive in nature' when you used the word. Though I had a hard time grasping your full meaning here, it is a hauntingly, beautiful phrase. Words like flickering, feathers white, and tomb-like all work well together here to portray a picture of death. Life as we know it is a mixture of black and white and shades inbetween, but I believe at the moment of death it becomes either black or white. I believe we are purified or cursed by the deeds we have done on earth at the moment of death. The imagery you selected to represent your mother-in-law--a graceful, white swan--shows the respect and honor you must have held for her. How horribly the waters part beneath us, surround on all sides, grapple us with long ripples, bony strokes pressing us to the lowest point of the lake floor. There the dust settles from waters The image in these stanzas is no peaceful glide on the lake, but rough waters--a whirlpool--pulling the swan down and under, drowning it. The whirlpool--violently sucking the swan beneath the waters--not only under the water, but to the bottom. The use of words like horribly, grapple, pressing, and especially bony strokes give the reader a picture of a creature being completely and suddenly overwhelmed--struggling for last breath. The phrase, 'bony strokes' seems to give the waters a personality and dark purpose as I picture the watery hand of death pulling the swan down, down. stirred and cycling around us, laid with whispered prayers and dreams too terrible to remember by morning. How stunned and numbly we wake, shake off the watery shroud, Death never announces its intentions nor softens its blow, but is cycling around us silently until we stumble into its waiting whirlpool. When waters of tragedy sift and stir the dust of our life, our fears are temporarily laid to rest with whispered prayers. We shut our eyes tightly, ignoring the nightmare, longing for a fresh morning to help us forget the terrible dreams--our living nightmares. breathe wakefulness through lungs drowned by night’s dreams. We stumble down to lividity, hers, a dream unshaken by morning’s breath, desperate death where the heart stops and air escapes altogether. We never know when night will overwhelm us for the last time and we will not wake up from our last breath--stumbling into death's black void, slipping into our nightmare. We are all just one breath and one heartbeat away from desperate death. Skilful mages of death are illusively woven throughout, but the concrete evidence of this elusive enemy is completed--a dream unshaken by morning's breath, desperate death where the heart stops......life is no more as we knew it, as desperate death visits our darkest dreams. The rest of us stand on the shore, fearing the depths of the waters, watching helplessly, as the personality of the one we loved escapes like a vapor into clouds we cannot rise to see. Now, words stick fast to the inner walls, my chest still grasping for air, stubbornly held by the dream’s delicious and delicate darkness, drifting in the swan’s scything path and death, which is a letting go. In the final wake of death, words seem puny and unimportant--nothing has really prepared us for the shock of its finality. It is finished, and there is nothing left to be said. The body we once embraced is now a tomb of nothingness. I was especially gripped by the lines, "stubbornly held by the dream's delicious and delicate darkness"--wonderful assonance and alliteration with the 's' and 'd' sounds interwoven so skilfully. Letting go is never easy, though we must face it from the cradle to the grave. A toddler 'lets go' to stumble into the arms of a parent and a parent 'lets go' as that child becomes an adult. This final 'letting go' at the moment of death is by far the most painful of all. You have layered the sad scything pain of the swan's death with the waking fears of the living, who are numbly realizing that they too must pass through the same waters and face the deadly whirlpool. It is the unknown that frightens us most, and we hope the waters are calm and ever peaceful on the other side of the whirlpool.||2004-05-24 01:49:11|
|The Scar the Wing Leaves||G. Donald Cribbs||Hi Donald, You have an interesting style. The images are elusive and could be viewed in different perspectives by different readers. Uncertainty seems to second guess itself--"I have lived in those moments, briefly, knowing myself - I hesitate to say completely." Here goes--my thoughts. I have worn my brother's shoes out so long in the night, felt the pavement beneath, air shuddering all around me. A universal thought--to understand a person's emotions and reactions you must walk a mile in their shoes, experiencing what they have experienced. Yet, can any of us ever really duplicate another's experience? Not really, but we do better understand our brother's pain or joy by experiencing similar circumstances. Pavement could symbolize the concrete, established; but the air is always moving and changing. 'Shuddering' adds even further unstability to this air. We feel its currents without ever seeing its substance. I have lived in those moments, briefly, knowing myself - I hesitate to say completely. Whether I have seen a flower bloom, wither, and die, for one never knows truly the face of God - this is what it means to submit. It is difficult to trust. This is serious. Words such as moments, briefly, hesitate, and flower bloom further the feeling of uncertainty--here today, gone tomorrow. I love flowers, but their beauty is so brief. What a perfect metaphor for life. We are always changing and life is always changing us. Thus our understanding or knowing--especially of ourself--is never finished, but always evolving. We see God in the nature of our spirit and the nature of this earth, but do we ever trully come to full knowing? So much change and uncertainess makes it so difficult to trust. Still, we must live in the moment, accepting and submiting to what it reveals to us. What do I leave in the shoes, as they stand in the space near the bed? I cannot explain what it feels like to fly, to one who is not yet overwhelmed Here your focus changes and the images become more elusive. What do you leave in the shoes? nothing but empty air, more uncertainty. I associate freedom with flight. I can only fly like a bird in my dreams. Our freedom from uncertainty remains in the clouds for now, but who knows when we might be overwhelmed by the clouds? Our dreams tell us it will someday be so. by clouds. It is not for me to say. We each have steps we are destined to tread upon. It is as if our footprints have been placed upon the ground, and we are only to feel the heat released to our souls, and move on. We are to say nothing of this. It is understood that we do not share these experiences with another. My favorite lines are found in these stanzas--"It is as if our footprints have been placed upon the ground, and we are only to feel the heat released to our souls, and move on." Free will denies the idea that destiny is concrete or already set for us; yet, I believe a path has been paved by destiny where our footprints are waiting for us to find. It is sometimes difficult to stare into a mirror. The surface is hard and unmoving, pavement I have tread upon daily. As I carry his shoes, I too know what binds me to the earth. Now you bring the reader back to the reality of the moment. I feel good about myself until I stare into a mirror. I see each blemish and see more that I would change than I am content with. We all experience many of the same feelings and emotions, but we are distinctly unique too. As we walk awhile in each other's shoes, we come to see our likeness more than our differences. In last lines you carry the shoes instead of wearing them. Without shoes to protect the feet, the pavement is especially hard and stones easily bruise the feet. As you carry his shoes, perhaps you share his load, feeling the same stones that have bruised his feet along the road of life. I've only given my thoughts and insights--no suggestions for change. I like it just as it is. Karen||2004-05-19 00:27:47|
|Right to Life||Rachel F. Spinoza||Hi Rachel, It's been a very long time since I commented on any of your work, but when I stop by TPL I look for your work. I'll be honest...I do find your work a bit pessimistic--but totally captivating. This is in no way a slam, because I admire your work--I just see so much pain rippling through the lines. Your style is unique and you force the reader to look at stark realities in life. So, this piece jumped out and wrapped itself around my heart as I saw more than a statistic--a tiny life caught in a web, echoing the hopeless despair of the mother and probably the father too. Coming off crack With nary a “pro-lifer” To bundle her in anything But platitudes, Cold and hungry, Sunshine screams Loudly Day and night Unwilling and unwanted...not asking for the vicious addiction that tears through her body...this tiny life screams for her place, her deserved love...but may never be heard by anyone who can rescue her. I am one of those pro-lifers, but it is true--I have little to offer but platitudes! Still I believe every life should have a chance to "be." Some of them are rescued and loved, turning out to be distinctive and compassionate leaders. Who can see the future or has the right to say which one should live and which one should not?Still, the 'rescued ones' are in the minority and most are lost in the mire of unwanted teenage pregnancies. 'Sunshine screams'...Loudly... Day and night...Through my tears, I see this scene of forced motherhood and hopelessness! The word 'sunshine' speaks to my heart as a mother, because each of my babies brought such joy into my life--such sunshine--yet this 'Sunshine' comes from darkness and despair and screams in its wretching pain of withdrawal. This unrepentant sinner Is already blossoming into Faithlessness She will soon be beyond Any hope of heaven If heaven demands Any belief at all in goodness So many of these children grow up in this mire of faithlessness and abuse, never to escape the quicksand...only to spawn other tiny lives...caught in the same mud. This infants only sin is being born of parents that are caught in their own sin--their own despair! She is a person who breathes Not a promise of one Not two cells joined Willy-nilly - in a violent rape Or the morning after result Of first teen - age tryst When he said he would pull out in time And she believed him These are heart-wrenching facts, but there are those that escape--that are rescued. I know one such woman. A hopeless heroine addict, she almost died in a crack house. Someone reached out in compassion, and she took hold of the hand. Today she is a minister who has held me spellbound many times with her wonderful ability to weave a story. She takes a Biblical story and brings it to life like no one else I know. She has climbed out with the help of God and others who cared...and now she is the one reaching to pull someone else out of the quicksand. She is not a statistic to me, she is a friend. Who but God has the right to decide who shall live and who shall not! Each life has a value and is precious. Sunshine is here and present Covered in bruises Covered in burns Screaming real screams Loudly I would rather focus on the one saved than to see the thousands of lost, but you have spoken such sad truth throughout this piece. There will be no time of innocence for this child because it was stolen by abuse. Rachel, this piece makes me want to reach out more and listen for the screams--the real screams of these children! They deserve to be loved. Turning to the poetic form...as usual it is perfect. You mix soft 's' sounds with the harshness of 'c' in such words as crack, cold, covered, and especially 'screams' which mixes the sounds in such harsh reality. In this piece the 's' sounds are not soft and are fittingly endings...used in words like platitudes, screams, burns, bruises, faithlessness. I see a sad 'ending' rather than a joyful 'beginning' to this soft infants life. Every word used paints a poignant picture for the reader...piercing this readers heart! Your use of the name 'Sunshine' evokes soft, beautiful images of life and light, which characterizes the birth of a baby--such a joyous occasion in my life. It furthers the deception and despair throughout the piece...rape, or he said he would pull out in time And she believed him. This life began in deception and violence rather than love, but she deserves to live and be loved! The question is, will anyone hear her in time?||2003-09-13 14:06:13|
|When Small Frogs Seem to Disappear||Joanne M Uppendahl||Hi Joanne, I'm not very active at the TPL anymore, but I still stop by and read, even though I seldom comment. You give so much to me in your crits that I feel guilty not giving something back. I'm just so slow at writing crits (perfectionist in me) that I don't take the time. I've noticed that some of your best work centers around nature and her many wonders! You have a way with words in describing her beauty and her many creatures. You've taken a seemingly simple event and turned it into a wondrous adventure...taking the reader on the adventure with you. As I dare to grasp his damp, wriggling body in my bare hand, he stabs a small insistent snout between my clasped fingers...."stabs a small insistent snout" what a perfectly delightful phrase and full of wonderful 's' sounds. Is this sticky gent a Prince I ought to kiss, perhaps still spellbound? How did this slight, (grass-green guy)love this phrase and the sounds. find his way into my bath today?....your imagination takes over here and you take the reader into your daydream in a fairytale fashion. Perhaps he's a silent scout, sent to announce Autumn's approach, the somber season when small frogs seem to disappear....it's a bit sad to see summer end and its creatures disappear in the chill, but autumn has a beauty and grace all its own. The 's' sounds scattered throughout this piece give it a soft kind of hush and wonder. The circle of life is seen so perfectly in the cycle of seasons...so the frogs will come again in spring to sing of its perfection!||2003-09-13 12:09:01|
|Poem Title||Poet Name||Critique Given by Karen Ragan||Critique Date|
Displaying Critiques 1 to 4 out of 4 Total Critiques.
If you would like to view all of Karen Ragan's Poetry just Click Here.
Click HERE to return to ThePoeticLink.com Database Page!