Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Year 1, Week 14: Results!

Somehow, despite this:

Did you guys see the eclipse? It was pretty cool. 
and this:
Astrobiologists: YAY, WE'RE RELAVENT
The water must flow.
Si and I managed to write our reviews! We appreciated the numerous entries that flowed in before midnight (it was actually a pleasant surprise that we had more than two lonely entries without reminders earlier in the day XD. I found an application called Twuffer that I'm totally going to use. Or maybe I'll just never sleep. I like the sound of that second one), and we enjoyed all of your stories.

Honorable Mention

Denman Billy's The Man Trapped Inside Himself

Si: Interesting entry! I love the imagery in the poem, and the repetition of the hand and yellow eyes. The story the man told was pretty crazy but also sad--being forced to constantly move around, never finding a home. The last stanza is my favorite, and the most poignant. I really liked the lines:
“But something was twisted inside my heart,
Was bent out of shape, and unable to mend.
I was doomed to put my soul on the window,”
I would love for this tone to be carried through the poem more. I’m curious whether the stories the man tells are real or from his imagination? With a piece like this, it could go either way (metaphors or crazy real life?). Great poem!

Mars: This one took a lot of thinking to come up with any ideas of what was going on. On the first few read throughs, all I could say to myself was that I really liked the overall sound of the poem (it's close to iambic pentameter and it rhymes; I must be a sucker for classic, structured poetry). Then I considered the title--"The Man Trapped Inside Himself"--and wondered if perhaps the man is talking to himself, or a part of himself, anyways (another hint was '282 reflections'). I think my favorite repeating line was, "So quiet, so still, so carefully calm," and was disappointed when the last line didn't parallel this: "With no cure, no comfort, and no balm"--I would probably have changed 'and no' to a three-syallable word to reflect 'carefully.' It would have really brought the last line home. 

So, I know I said I like the overall sound, but there were some things that didn't work for me in the flow of the poem. "Blood red moon," "It doesn't help," "neurotic," "pneumonia monkey" -- all of these phrases and others nearly put my tongue in a jam when I tried to say them! I think that something that doesn't help here is that, while the poem resembles iambic pentameter quite a bit, the syllable structure is varied in an awkward way. If it were me, I'd probably try to stick to more 10-syllable lines for the first 10 lines (of each stanza), then maybe throw in a 9 and 11 at the end, or vice versa (11/9 front, 10 for rest). 

The meaning is still a little lost on me, but I like the emotion of the three stanzas: the first seems ponderous and humorous, while the second has a lost feeling, and the third was somber and sorrowful. The third was my favorite; it flowed the best. The poem, overall, seems like a story about trying to fit in, perhaps, and never quite figuring it out. (I don't get symbolism and metaphors very well, though, so this is a total guess.)

The meaning of a poem often varies from individual to individual; it's much harder to parse through than a story, for certain (and I know I've thrown lines into poetry simply because I like the sound of them. Troll!Poet). This piece certainly gives a reader a lot to think about!

First Runner-Up

Firdaus' The Window

Si: Wow, what an intense story! Great “show, not tell.” Great descriptions! The image of the child writing “Help Me” in a foggy window, then hearing the abuser speak behind him is chilling. THE ENDING. The whole story is very emotional without seeming like it’s trying to be, to put it badly. It shows a lot of intensity without over-describing or over-telling. There were a few things like: “My stepfather was on his knees and a policeman was towering over him.”--where I would double-check that the story was staying in the same POV (His vs My), and a few other small issues. I love that the woman remains mostly a figure--we don’t have much description about her, which keeps the focus on the boy. Great story!

Mars: The tension in this piece is great. There's a good bit of "show, not tell," going on here--until the end of the fourth paragraph, we don't know what's wrong. 'Has he been kidnapped?'; 'Is he stuck somewhere accidentally?'; 'Who's the woman?'; 'Why is he so scared?' These questions ran through my head as I read through it. 

The piece felt rushed in the middle, mostly when the stepfather appears, and it's revealed who's the abuser. ". . . as he was yanked from the window and thrown against the wall, before he blacked out" was the line that particularly stood out to me, and then him waking up the next line; compared to the first five paragraphs, it was a jarring transition to jump so quickly between thoughts. (Also, it was a nice bit of realism that he wet himself. I think I'd have trouble writing that.) 

My favorite line, the most gut-punching one, of course, was the last line. It also, sadly, mimicked a lot of real-life scenarios, and showed us how much danger the little boy was in, since we can infer that she didn't die of natural causes.

Without further ado, the moment you're dying for--

Y1W14 Winner:

Steph Ellis!

with Happy Ever After

Si: Love how there’s two layers to this story--the father-daughter relationship, and also the plot with the witch. Excellent writing! Not a word wasted, I love how we can see character development as well as a plot in such a short, tight piece of writing. The beginning is sinister, the middle is heartwarming, the ending is suspenseful. Beautiful weaving of several threads in this story. I might add a few more details hinting at the witch/king/princess plot earlier in the story, in a way that you don’t realize it until you reach the end. Great dialogue and handling of tension. Well done!

Mars: (Dangit, Steph, we're going to have to ban you from winning soon XD Stop writing so well!) This was both sweet and disturbing at the same time. Possibly more disturbing because it's sweet. It leaves me wondering if the father is a psycho or if the mother is an abuser (or both), with his repeated thoughts of fragility, and the references to the mother being witch-like. 

I would watch out for too many same-structured sentences clustered together; I notice a lot of the sentences start off with 'He' or 'She.' It would also be great to know what brings on this murderistic tendency in the father, but perhaps he's just like that. 

My favorite line was probably, "He turned out the light and made his way down the stairs, his crown weightless, his bearing regal." I'm not sure quite what it is about that line, but it just paints a very vivid, stately picture in my mind, and it sounds really nice. The most disturbing bit, in hindsight: "He bent down and kissed her forehead. 'And a king to kill the witch.'" The incongruity of what he's likely already planning to do and the sweetness of tucking a child in just don't click in the brain, and it's horrifying. 

Happy Ever After
He put his hand back on the window, the yellow eyes wide open on his palm. He spread his fingers, imagining how it would feel to clasp the small feline skull, twist it, crush it until it became nothing. 
“Daddy, Daddy.” 
He dropped his hand, brushed the top of his daughter’s head. So small, so fragile. 
“Let kitty in,” she demanded. 
“Sorry.” He smiled down at her. “Kitty has to stay out at night. You know the rules.” 
Annie pouted and folded her arms, annoyed at not getting her own way. Just like her mother. 
“Come on now, time for bed.” He scooped her up, felt the bird-like flutter of her heart against his chest. 
“Can’t I have a story?” she pleaded as he tucked her in. 
“Not tonight, kiddo,” he said. “Daddy’s got too much to do. But tomorrow night I’ll have a new story for you … I promise.” 
“A story with a wicked witch?” 
He laughed. “Yes, there’s a witch.” 
“And a beautiful princess?” 
“Yes, and a beautiful princess.” 
“And a king to kill the witch?” 
He bent down and kissed her forehead. “And a king to kill the witch.”

He turned out the light and made his way down the stairs, his crown weightless, his bearing regal. He returned to the window, watched as yellow headlights swung into the drive.

The witch was back.

He pressed his hand against the glass; covered her approaching face, felt the cold fragility beneath his fingers.

Write about what you know they said.

Advice he intended to follow. He adjusted his crown and went to the door.

Thanks for participating, everyone :D Also, Paul, that story was quite weird. Very reminiscent of the heart of Cracked Flash Fiction, I think!

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