City Life

New to poetry? Unsure about the quality of your work? Then why not post here to receive some gentle feedback.
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Vox
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City Life

Post by Vox » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:52 pm

Hi all

As I've mentioned in my introductory post, I'm new to the forum and poetry and therefore in the process of trying to educate myself via this forum and its members.

City Life

A sea of faces bustles past, as I stroll the avenue,
Newspapers blowing in the wind telling yesterday’s news.
Billboards scream; ‘a celebrity’s life exposed’
Buskers on the street corner sing ‘Everybody knows.’

At speakers’ corner there’s a preacher, spreading the word of God you see,
The drunks and junkies avoid him purposely.
Protesters marching down the road, waving banners in frustration,
Another politician caught trying to fool the nation.

Sirens wailing through the night, emergency vehicles rush on by,
Young men lay dead in the street and their Mama’s cry.
Neon lights glowing bright, an alluring sight for many,
Except for the worldly wise who wouldn’t waste a penny.

City life; it’s always a struggle,
The high rise buildings are a concrete jungle.
Slow down, slow down, why can’t you see,
Is this really how life’s meant to be?

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Luce
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Re: City Life

Post by Luce » Wed Nov 01, 2017 11:29 pm

Vox wrote:Hi all

As I've mentioned in my introductory post, I'm new to the forum and poetry and therefore in the process of trying to educate myself via this forum and its members.

Understood Vox. You seemed to have picked up some things already like this rhyme scheme. You stuck to your scheme which is pretty cool. Not easy to do. You can easily get trapped in your rhymes and can create some pretty strange lines.

I'm assuming you have some good reference books on writing poetry besides reading lots and lots of poems. Stick with the modern masters (Yeats, Elliot, Frost, Bishop, Hughes, etc, etc. etc.) for now.

Luce


City Life

A sea of faces bustles past, as I stroll the avenue,
Newspapers blowing in the wind telling yesterday’s news.
Billboards scream; ‘a celebrity’s life exposed’
Buskers on the street corner sing ‘Everybody knows.’

L1-4 -Try to keep in the present tense. If not, pick a tense and stick with it. Condense your lines a little. Avoid clichés. Think of fresh language for old imagery. Paint a picture with your images. Always think of injecting some soft sonics (assonance, alliteration etc.) when possible. Explore the use of imperfect rhyme to avoid your poem from sounding nursery rhyme like. You'll also find that imperfect rhyme gives you a wider range of expression. For example:

"A blur of faces rushes pass me down the avenue
as papers play in the wind, whispering yesterday's news".
Billboard's bare another actor's soul.
Buskers on the corners shout ‘Everybody knows.’


At speakers’ corner there’s a preacher, spreading the word of God you see,
The drunks and junkies avoid him purposely.
Protesters marching down the road, waving banners in frustration,
Another politician caught trying to fool the nation.

L5 -4 - I like this stanza but I'd put it in the present tense. I'd also try to fix line 5 so it is not obvious that you tagged on "you see" at the last minute. Maybe... "At speakers' corner there's a preacher, talking of Satan and the apple tree". I do like the rhyme of me/purposely. I like L7-8 but would make it in the present tense. "protesters march down the road, wave banners in frustration/another politician caught trying to fool the nation."

Sirens wailing through the night, emergency vehicles rush on by,
Young men lay dead in the street and their Mama’s cry.
Neon lights glowing bright, an alluring sight for many,
Except for the worldly wise who wouldn’t waste a penny.

L9- 11 - The stanza is full of stock cliché images including the dead young men. I do like L12 which gives me a glimpse of the N. He/She is not fooled by the bright lights - but perhaps - when the N was young - he/she was also fooled. /b]

City life; it’s always a struggle,
The high rise buildings are a concrete jungle.
Slow down, slow down, why can’t you see,
Is this really how life’s meant to be?

IMHO, you can delete this stanza. It's a bit preachy and cliché. Yes, we know it's a concrete jungle out there. It adds nothing to the poem. The stanza before this one has more substance and I would make that my closing stanza.


Don't get disheartened by the comments Vox. This is pretty good. It's not easy staying faithful to your rhyme scheme while keeping the action going. Not bad, not bad at all. :D

Luce
"She acts like summer, walks like rain." - Train

Macavity
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Re: City Life

Post by Macavity » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:22 am

Welcome Vox. Nice to find lines not totally weighted to rhyme. Nouns to begin a line helped that balance. The variety of verbs also a positive, rather than passive are/is, gave an energy to the write. The rhyme of struggle/jungle was an effective, purposeful coupling - reinforced the point. The use of familiar phrasing such as A sea of faces lacks a freshness and so you may want to revisit. Any workshop advice is, of course, subjective. My personal preference is not to focus sonics on end rhyme, especially not keen on 'e' sounds like see/purposely, but that is my reader preference! :)

Magazines are an option in terms of reading contemporary poetry...

http://www.antiphon.org.uk/index.php/archive

http://londongrip.co.uk/category/poetry/

And in terms of your theme, a more olde worlde offering...

http://www.englishverse.com/poems/leisure

best

mac

Vox
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Re: City Life

Post by Vox » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:58 pm

Luce

Many thanks for posting. I really welcome your feedback and no offence taken. This was my first attempt at writing something more meaningful. I have a lot to learn and therefore have taken onboard your advice. I will revise what I've written and will post an updated version in due course.

Macavity

Thank you for your post. Really appreciate your feedback and will take onboard your advice. Many thanks for the website links.

David Smedley
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Re: City Life

Post by David Smedley » Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:03 pm

A sea of faces bustles past, as I stroll the avenue,
Newspapers blowing in the wind telling yesterday’s news.
Billboards scream; ‘a celebrity’s life exposed’
Buskers on the street corner sing ‘Everybody knows.’

At speakers’ corner there’s a preacher, spreading the word of God you see,
The drunks and junkies avoid him purposely.
Protesters marching down the road, waving banners in frustration,
Another politician caught trying to fool the nation.

Sirens wailing through the night, emergency vehicles rush on by,
Young men lay dead in the street and their Mama’s cry.
Neon lights glowing bright, an alluring sight for many,
Except for the worldly wise who wouldn’t waste a penny.

City life; it’s always a struggle,
The high rise buildings are a concrete jungle.
Slow down, slow down, why can’t you see,
Is this really how life’s meant to be?
Hiya Vox, decent effort I thought.

Be careful when rhyming that you do not force the rhyme, when you do it sticks out like a sore thumb, as it does below for instance.

At speakers’ corner there’s a preacher, spreading the word of God you see,
The drunks and junkies avoid him purposely.


The forcing here was the addition of "you see" to rhyme with "purposely."

The whole lot is de rigueur for this type of scenario and needs a different slant to be effective for anyone who has been reading poetry for any length of time, I would like to see you keep the same title but give me something unexpected in its normality, (hope that makes sense) there are a million minute things going of in a city that can be brought into focus, give me some beauty with it and I will be a happy bunny.

Present tense gives a more effective experience for the reader I think.

David.


PS. Your opening brought Ezra Pound's poem, "In a Station of the Metro" to mind.

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
petals on a wet, black bough.

Pauline
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Re: City Life

Post by Pauline » Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:58 am

Hi Vox.
Welcome to PG. :)
We all offer different ways to help you perfect your offering.

I'm crap at offering line for line critique.
All I know is what I like.
What excites me and what stirs an emotion.
A fire in my belly.
A tear to my eye.

You have the basis of a great poem here.
However, ( don't ya just hate whe someone says that)
I do feel that you are holding back.
If you are living this, I'm sure you have seen and felt way more than you are portraying.
Spill your guts.
Bang it out there.
Keep it in the firsr person.
Say it how it is.
I had a little fiddle around with what you wrote.
It's not great but just another suggestion for you to think about.
You can toss or save it.
I won't be offended.


A busker sings “Everybody knows” on the corner
where newspapers blow and billboards scream
yesterday’s news. At Speakers corner, a wave
of banners protest another politician trying
to fool the Nation and sirens wail
emergency vehicles through to a mama’s cry.

Her boy lies dead in neon lights and the struggle
of high rise buildings. A life condemned to circumstance.


See what I mean. You could say much more.

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sleepystupid
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Re: City Life

Post by sleepystupid » Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:44 am

hi vox,

i too am new to this board and eager to hone my craft, so here's to a shared journey! your poem's title drew my attention immediately- i like the simplicity of it, but more specifically, i am currently struggling with an internal conflict regarding this very topic. my girlfriend would love for me to move to NYC, but i am NOT a city person. this poem really resonated with me as i share the opinion that city life is a "struggle"- an unnecessary and inconvenient one in addition to the vices and failures you write about.

that being said, apologies in advance if my comments are unhelpful. I am learning just as much about critiquing as i am writing at this stage. here are some thoughts:


- i agree with Luce's comment regarding the nursery rhyme effect. i've been writing lyrics for much longer than poetry and even though rhyming has a bit more function in songwriting, i still feel unsatisfied with my work sometimes because the rhyming feels too easy and therefore predictable. an exercise i went through recently was to try to convert my lyrics into poems, and the most rewarding challenge was replacing end rhymes with more effective poetic devices (lately loving alliteration :wink: )

- the poem has a strong and confident rhyme scheme. each stanza alone flows pretty well, but i found the inconsistency of meter and tense across stanzas a little jarring at times. i think this also makes the crowding of syllables in S2 L1 more noticeable. staying with the strong AABB rhyme scheme, maybe you can preserve the tense and meaning of this stanza with fewer words. here's a stab at it:

"At speakers' corner, words of God are spread
by a preacher dismissed—all drunks and junkies instead.
Protests and marches, banners wave in frustration,
Politicians will try, but you can't fool a nation."



one final thought...if i had to pick the one beginner tip that's given me the most bang for the buck, it would be "less is more". i've been taught this in the past for things like formal writing (cover letters, business briefs, etc.) but i think in the context of poetry, it's meaning is more like: "give your words and thoughts space. if they're the right ones, the reader will fill in the blanks."

or something like that. still working on it (:

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the stranger
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Re: City Life

Post by the stranger » Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:52 pm

Hey Vox,

I like gritty poems and I also like poems with references, especially music related. As far as I can see you've got Leonard Cohen and Elvis in there, do I win?

So from that point of view I enjoyed it.

I would though agree with the general consensus, that rhyming poetry is very hard to do well. Ironically most "beginners" go down the rhyming route. I'd say (hopefully you'll agree) that the rhyme controlled the poem, more than the poem controlled the rhyme? That's the main mistake made, often.

I'd also say that some of the images were not that fresh. There's an awful, detrimental phrase that is often used to describe a poet's work, which is "Too telly" - Show Vs Tell.

For example:
A sea of faces bustles past, as I stroll the avenue,
I'd say that is "Too telly" you are "telling" us what is happening rather than engaging our senses with poetic techniques such as imagery and metaphor.

An example of "Showing" might be:

A crush of faces swell, the heat rises, I dwell
then move on...

Just an example, perhaps not appropriate, but hopefully you get the idea. That example "shows" that it might be crowded, it engages the senses by the use of heat, it ponders on what might be "I dwell"

Don't get me wrong "Telling" can be the more viable route, if for example there’s no value added to the poem by showing some mundane but complex metaphor, then tell away...

Anyhow hope that's taken in the manner it was intended, to help. It's great to see new poets making time old mistakes and being corrected by other poets who really don't know much better, "much" being the operative word. There is a fine line...

Cheers
TS

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JJWilliamson
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Re: City Life

Post by JJWilliamson » Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:10 am

Hi, Vox

Yes, not a bad effort at all. There's a lot going on in fact.

I've read this a few times, now, and it reads like a rap to me. I even rapped it out to myself and think it's pretty good.
As urban poetry I think it works very well, although you do use a lot of very common expressions. BUT!! This is how people speak
and so it reflects the "street". Still, a fresher image here and there would definitely give this a lift. Better still, a more unusual angle
would really catch the eye.

You've received some good advice so far so I won't reiterate the already stated, apart from to say I like where this is going.

A sea of faces bustles past, as I stroll the avenue,
Newspapers blowing in the wind telling yesterday’s news. ...Very "Streets of London" by Ralph McTell. This is the kind of image you could develop to make it your own.
Billboards scream; ‘a celebrity’s life exposed’
Buskers on the street corner sing ‘Everybody knows.’

At speakers’ corner there’s a preacher, spreading the word of God you see, ...Why not try to find a rhyme with 'God' or a half rhyme EG "hard" or "charged".
The drunks and junkies avoid him purposely.
Protesters marching down the road, waving banners in frustration,
Another politician caught trying to fool the nation. ...You could use words like "charm" instead of 'fool' if you wanted to introduce some irony.

Sirens wailing through the night, emergency vehicles rush on by,
Young men lay dead in the street and their Mama’s cry. ...Interesting use of language here. Sounds of "street" apparent.
Neon lights glowing bright, an alluring sight for many,
Except for the worldly wise who wouldn’t waste a penny. ...Doesn't really convey much but it's not a problem either.

City life; it’s always a struggle, ...There seems to be a deliberate toning down of the speed of delivery here, a reconciliation, of sorts.
The high rise buildings are a concrete jungle. ...This is very cliché. Examine what YOU see and use that. Are they eyesores, ugly, a concrete blight, shite etc
Slow down, slow down, why can’t you see,
Is this really how life’s meant to be? ...Good sentiment. Could it be strengthened and could the rhymes be more dynamic, to suit the theme? The rhyme of 'see' and 'be' is fine but the thought might carry more power if it's developed.
Vox Posts: 5Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:52 am

Worth pursuing as a poem. As a song lyric for a specific audience it's probably already there.

I hope you find some of this useful.

Best

JJ
Long time a child and still a child

Vox
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Re: City Life

Post by Vox » Sat Nov 04, 2017 3:18 pm

@ David Smedley, Pauline, Sleepystupid, The Stranger, JJWilliamson

Thank you very much for posting. You have given me great feedback.

I have so much to learn and experiment with. I will re-work my poem and post an updated version in due course.

Once again, thank you .

Vox

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