poetry critical

online poetry workshop

Anatomy of a Woman

I was born this day.  
So draw a map on my skin. Show me how
to venture through the valley
of shadow and death – to emerge unscathed
and fall into your arms.  A white bride
ready to be explored and to bear the scent
of love – earthy and pungent, like cinnamon.
Leave me with a calendar to mark the days
that must pass until I find you.
Like sifting through sand - I will find you.
A desert stands stark, stretching to the horizon.
Leave me to sift.

29 Jun 06

Rated 9.2 (8.1) by 12 users.
Active (12): 4, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10
Inactive (7): 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 8, 10

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INCREDIBLE.  This is the best poem I have read on the site.  It reminds me of a poem by Michael Ondaatje called "The Cinnamon Peeler."  Check it out-- he's great.  This is a favorite and a 10, but I still have a few suggestions:  line five needs a "the" between over and curve... I can understand why you would omit it because, quite frankly, little words like "the" suck and serve almost no purpose, but it would still make the poem better.  I love the third stanza the best, but it's all stellar.  I don't like the repetitivity with the "until I find you" in line 16 and "I will find you" in line 17.  You could easily solve this problem by replacing the word "find" with a different verb in one of the lines.  I think line 19 might do well standing on its own, as a final word.  I feel terrible telling you to correct things because I can't even dream of writing a poem this magnificent, but I love to comment, and this poem deserves a lot of attention.  Thank you so much for this excellent read.
 — OwlGirl

 — OwlGirl

You don't really need the first verse.  The second and third can stand easily on their own.  Beautiful writing.
 — Isabelle5

I think if you put a comma or a - after find you in line 16 and made it emphatic that I WILL FIND YOU (not caps but something firm, definitive), it will be even better.

I just don't think that first stanza fits the flowing mood of the rest of it.  And it isn't as well written, actually.
 — Isabelle5


sasha, I am your biggest fan.  please don't forget me when you become rich and famous and can afford to be a full-time writer.


(and she's a spectacular human being)
 — OwlGirl

oh and don't cut the first stanza-- rather, you could turn what is now one poem into two separate poems.  The last two stanzas can easily work well on their own and the first stanza would do alright on its own as well.

oh, and isabelle, we keep running into each other!  and we keep contradicting each other! oops! well goodbye until we meet again! xoxo
 — OwlGirl

Skye and Isabelle, thanks so much for your critiques! skye, you are the funniest girl I know, all the best!
 — poppy_seed

Revised and so good.  (Is Skye OwlGirl?  My parakeet is named Skye, the sweetest bird ever.)
 — Isabelle5

Yup, Skye is OwlGirl!
 — poppy_seed

What an exellent name for a girl and bird.

"Leave me to sift" is such a good line.
 — Isabelle5

"through the valley / of shadow and death"

Cliche to nth degree. The slants, the caves, your eyes, all crumble.

"this day" or "today" or "myday" or "nowday" or "timeday"

You have many choices, the former cannot be a ladder, with the rungs, and climbing places. And something to reach for.

"love" do not mention love, you don't deserve to talk about it, just stick with the sensation you provided.

You do not add, you just multiply.

Plus, you are not smart enough to differentiate this anatomy from the anatomy of a man. I think you think you thought the world you thought was thoughtful. Think again, without the thought.

You have dropped, but I met someone in a dream, a while back. Made me come here today. I still haven't anwsered that dream, it still sounds off, like Napoleon's concentrated cannons or the dark light that hits the anchor and says, "no more." Oceans always feel calm at the bottom.
 — pra3torian

i'd love to make my poem better... but i frankly don't wish to unravel your critique.  stop mocking me please.
 — poppy_seed

i'm sorry pra3torian... that was harsh of me. i was just in a really bad mood. i'm not entirely sure what you are trying to explain to me in your post. i'd be totally willing to make changes in this poem for the better.
 — poppy_seed

No need to apologize, I don't take this world seriously. You should laugh more, if you want your poetry to be better, just laugh more. An easy change....perhaps.

To the title of your work, "Anatomy of a Woman."

I believe the first thing you need to do is research. Writing involves research, at least, good writing. For some reason, people think the author should know the whole world at the moments when the world should be known. That is why much writing is simplistic beyond rulers and protractors. I suggest, in this research project, you go through some deep introspection as to what is the difference between man and woman. Pregnancy is one difference, huge but very superficial in all respects of the word. Therefore I don't think you should go to pregnancy. The more you think, the more you will reach one conclusion, That conclusion is yours to make, and your job to build....

...I have felt the longing reach for another hand, just the feeling to deflate into a smile and caress. I have seen my love in my dream, us sitting in an attic like two trusses supporting a house. I have wished, more than a firefly on the moon, to melt away in that dream forever. I have felt her dump me, in another dream, a few months past, thinking, what a dream, my own creation is killing me.....and I know I am a Man.... I hope you see the house...

"I was born this day."

Your creation, your existence is marked here, at the beginning of the poem it seems.
And with creation, there are many aspects, the crying confusion, the blindness, the seperation from the safe womb. Or perhaps there are other forms of birth, spontaneous existence, I think the blindness and confusion would still apply. But as we grow old, we learn to see birth as a good thing, something that propels the species and allows us a sweet fruit life. But newborns are aptfully ignorant, there is no convincing them, all you can do is rip them apart and MAKE them see it your way. Who knew which was smarter, I seem to think the baby being pulled from the softness that was his mother,  that softness uncomparable, life just tries to replace that feeling....a poor persuasion.

That was the 5 seconds of thought filling my mind when I read your first line. I now expect your poetic dominance to propel me forward, to make me want to believe you because you bring the softness, in this case, a mixture of intelligence, creativity, an apt eye, and love (this abstraction will never be understood).

"So draw a map on my skin."

You were born in the confusion, and now you want peace, or, the easy way out, a map.

To go through the "valley of shadow and death."

I am afraid this line is used by the bible already. Yeah, God has all the good stuff, perhaps you should bring that up in the next BaJesus Meeting. Perhaps even scarier, is the fact that you had to rest upon the buttress of Biblical thoughts and not those bubbles pluming over an iridescient volcano. I know you have the power to transcend beyond borders, use your intellect, tell me, tell us, exactly where you want to go. Exactly where the map moves, each river crossed, the bridge, rusting rocks, sedimentary faces. But don't take my suggestion literally, don't be like "dur, turn left at rock that looks like goat, move past goat beard, left at starbucks," We don't need that bland world.

I suggest you make the map the center piece of this poem. That is, where the map starts and ends, is where the poem starts and ends. To the point, the map should also be contained within the poem, exist by itself in essence. The suggestion here is not an easy one and it isn't something I suggest if you are afraid. I do suggest, however, that you simply think about that concept of the map and the suggestion I provided. Let the thoughts that unravel from it unravel in your mind, like honey on a string. The thoughts, I know, will not be a waste, and will make it in your poem, one way or another, if you just give it a chance.

If you want the easy answer, make the map more than an image. Make it a metaphor. Have him trace along the map, along each of your new born body parts, and have each traced path along each body part some correlation into the real world.

He traces figure eight obstacles on your arm, you follow him to the river bed kiss....

Something like that. Do the rest for whichever body part you feel needs the tracing...but don't get carried away and stuck in your own rut, that is the ditch of the gimmick.

Or just think.

You have the poetic techniques, you just need the glue,

a good line

"bear the scent / of love - earthy and pungent, like cinnamon."

I can really feel that, really, I can. Love, though, is where you falter. As absurd as I might sound right now, I am not absurd. Love cannot be tamed into a poem, thrown in to be thrown in. Replace the word "love," with whatever your mind thinks is the best anwser. Don't settle on love, settle in the river bed, and let the rest of the world settle over you....Love is somewhere there, just waiting for you to open...

There is not much I can say about your poetic techiniques, they are sparse but where they stand they stand fine. I just find your thoughts less-than-enthralling.

You cannot allow yourself to think of the third stanza. YOU CANNOT. Don't ever let yourself think of the third stanza. Don't, let. Yourself. Think,,, of the. THIRD Stanza.

Why? Because I have heard that thought too many times. I have seen that thought in movies, in porn, on tv, in hell.

It is regurgitation, that counting, that waiting. You have to go beyond, maybe then you will laugh, at everything. Go beyond what you are thinking in the third stanza, think, and laugh. Use your poetry, not in words, but in thought as well.

Poetic thought is what makes poetry, not poetic words.

On the matters of "addition" and "multiplication," those are my theories on poetry, and I don't think I need to bore you with them. So, just forget about them.

Good luck, and if you want further help, you know my email.
 — pra3torian

There is one thing I forgot to mention

the idea of "I was born this day."

should be changed with a word of your creation.

"this day" or "today" or "myday" or "nowday" or "timeday"

"I was born today."
"I was born myday."
"I was born nowaday"
"I was born timeday."

If words will not suffice, build them.

My examples are shit, real dark shit. Be don't be afraid, manunkind.
 — pra3torian

beautiful... I like line 11.
 — unknown

There is much beauty here, yet still editing to go. You've mixed complete and incomplete, fragments with full sentences. You've worked with a cliche, though not worked it over enough to make it fresh and new. Changes follow.

I was born this day,

so draw a map on my skin. Show me how
to venture through a valley
of shadows -– to emerge unscathed
and fall into your arms.  A white bride
ready to be explored and to bear the scent
of love: I am earthy and pungent, like cinnamon.

Leave me with a calendar to mark the days
that must pass until I find you --
sifting through sand, I will find you.
A desert stretches stark to the horizon,

leave me to sift.
 — DianaTrees

thanks so much for your critiques.
 — poppy_seed

What an absolutely classy poem
 — larrylark

thanks larrylark!
 — poppy_seed

This is some powerful shit.  Awesome!  
 — starr

you know what I say to you......... HAMBURGER!!  YAY!!
 — unknown

 — listen


 — unknown

Very nice. I tend to agree with Dianatree...line 4 could be stonger "of shadow and death" is a bit too easy. The line breaks could be adjusted to emphasize the critical thoughts like bride, scent. Only other comment maybe strengthening the first line.
Otherwise I like this alot. Well done.
 — Cocoa

i love lines 8 and 9. god, that is so so moving.

 — unknown

this is...wow, this is really quite extraordinary. line 5-7 make me tingle; so wonderfully descriptive. and the end, its just...

 — GreenDreams

beautiful and bold. i love lines 5-7.
 — SteelAngel

I loved this the first time I read it and I love it still.  Good to see it back in the top rated list.  Congrats, poppy_seed.
 — starr

I’d like to see you drop the “So” in line 1.

In line 5, you use an interesting enjambment, but the promised sentence, beginning with “A white bride/” is never completed and I can see no reason to leave it incomplete.  
You could change ready to readies.

I’d rather you allude to love rather than saying it.  Or just say sex in line 7.  I like the cinnamon, but not the earthy and pungent so much.

“Like sifting through sand—I will find you.” does not really make much sense, and thereby leaves the repetition unfounded.  Try combining the thoughts in lines 8-11.

Leave me with a calendar to mark the days
like sifting through sand.  A desert stark (a telling vs. showing word)

Nice end line, except for… to whom is the poem speaking?  If you’re looking for the same “you” who has been addressed for the entire poem, and you are sifting through sand, longing to find that person, why would you tell him to leave you to sift?
 — wily

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