Why I Came Here

As I’ve been thinking about what I took from Monday night’s “whirlwind” workshop, I realized I sort of relearned the things I keep forgetting; the things that are important to me. I hadn’t been able to take any kind of writing workshop in a while, and being a part of this poetry class has begun to bring back the mindset and inspiration I’ve been desperately needing.

I’m always surprised by what others find in my work. I was excited to hear what worked as I’d planned, and the effective parts I hadn’t planned. I was also grateful to finally get helpful suggestions on how to improve my poem. Reading through everybody’s comments has helped me build more confidence in my writing. It’s reminded me why I wanted to take these workshops: for the constructive criticism and support that make me a better writer.

As a side note, I want to ask something to everyone who read my poem, “My Sister’s Hands”. There was one idea that I haven’t been able to make clear enough in any draft I’ve written. In all your written comments, I think Bri was the only one who asked if the “fat, twinkling lights” were Christmas lights. At the beginning of the stanza, I wrote: “Her hands are scuffed with the forest green / of her house, the red / of bursting veins in her knuckles.” I broke the lines up, trying to put emphasis on the colors green and red. So, yes, they were Christmas lights. I was wondering if anyone might have suggestions on how to make this clearer without saying it directly. Should I change my method? Rephrase it? Or do you think being direct would be more effective?

2 Replies to “Why I Came Here”

  1. Hello Emma!
    I was one of those people who was confused by the house thing. What if the green was about pine needles or something? Idk about everyone else, but I needed more context clues that it was xmas time. The red knuckles I just read as “oh, she’s angry,” not “oooooh color work!” So yeah, add some more xmas detail if ya feel like it.

    Also, did the dad leave or die around xmas time? Is that what you were going for?

  2. Emma,

    I’m glad to hear that you’re getting so much out of workshop!

    For me, the line wasn’t quite working because the pivot back to your sister’s hands reorients the piece so that her hands become its foci and the lights an afterthought.

    In terms of the body, red carries so much meaning that, mentally, it’s hard to get myself to relate it to Christmas rather than a cut or bruise.

    Maybe you could try and introduce some other Christmas imagery? It doesn’t have to be subtle — it doesn’t have to be anything. I’d suggest just messing around with this stanza and, more importantly, don’t worry too much about taking risks.

    Best of luck with revisions!

    Sincerely,
    Jasmine

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