A Life in Four Pairs of Shoes
#1
Hi all. Hoping you'll give me some guidance on this. Written about a cousin of mine who died in a shitty, shitty accident. That said, spare no criticism in making it better!


There were her Converse sneakers
old, beloved, and loyal
which guided her around halls and classrooms
between AP Calc, drama, English
between friend drama and boys' crushes
and her crushes
She held onto those. They took her everywhere.

There were bulky Timberland boots
Sturdy, strong, and flexible
with which she pulled herself up mountains and around riverbeds
when she realized she had the strength to do it
and get good tired.

There were good old Nordstrom high heels
Suggestive and uplifting
which were slightly more strategic shoes
Helped in the office on important days. Elsewhere on important nights
Best with pantyhose.

There were the old pair of sneakers
She had on when the crash happened.

We brought a dress she loved to the funeral home
But the ask for shoes didn't make sense
It was almost disrespectful.
As if she was going to wake up and need to walk on
Linoleum, dirt, marble.
As if her toes needed protection from pleated coffin silk.
Let her go barefoot.

OP has broken rules 4, 7, and 8 more than once. This thread is now closed.  —Quix/admin.
#2
.
Hi Poet26389,
there's a very nice idea here, and an excellent end line, it just lacks a bit of focus, I think.
You could include more detail, both of the shoes (what colour were the Converse, for
instance) and of her.

Given that you've got four in the title, perhaps start each verse with a number, rather than

'there were' (which doesn't say that much).

Just a suggestion

First, her Converse, her best beloveds

- bought from x in/on y -
in which she navigated high school,
trod a path between AP Calc, English, drama
of friends and fallings out, boys and boys
and her crushes. She'd held on to them.
They took here everywhere.

Do you need 'sneakers' after 'Converse'?

I think it would be good to describe how she sounded in these shoes (and the rest).

Does she appear silently, or do they make a distinctive sound?

This is basic, so I'll leave it here, except to say in the final verse I'd recommend cutting lines

4-6 (they detract from the emotions in L2-3, and L7).


Enjoyed the read.


Best, Knot




.
#3
hi 26389. not a lot wrong with this. i enjoyed reading it a lot.
too good for basic crit but i'll try and keep it brief. i think you could use a few images throughout the piece. other than that not much i'd change, i stumbled a little withe [there] in each stanza but relized you didn't mean [they] by the third stanza and that the shoes were the triggers. a solid write.

(01-03-2020, 02:11 PM)Poet26389 Wrote:  Hi all. Hoping you'll give me some guidance on this. Written about a cousin of mine who died in a shitty, shitty accident. That said, spare no criticism in making it better!


There were her Converse sneakers
old, beloved, and loyal
which guided her around halls and classrooms
between AP Calc, drama, English
between friend drama and boys' crushes
and her crushes would it work better without [and] would it have more power with line spacing above and below?
She held onto those. They took her everywhere. the last part of the sentence feels a little week. overall i think you could use a strong image to round off the stanza.

There were bulky Timberland boots
Sturdy, strong, and flexible
with which she pulled herself up mountains and around riverbeds
when she realized she had the strength to do it
and get good tired. again this last line feels a little weak and the stanza is in need of at least one god image, be it simile or metaphor]

There were good old Nordstrom high heels
Suggestive and uplifting
which were slightly more strategic shoes
Helped in the office on important days. Elsewhere on important nights
Best with pantyhose.

There were the old pair of sneakers
She had on when the crash happened. i like this couplet being separated

We brought a dress she loved to the funeral home
But the ask for shoes didn't make sense
It was almost disrespectful.
As if she was going to wake up and need to walk on
Linoleum, dirt, marble.
As if her toes needed protection from pleated coffin silk.
Let her go barefoot. for me, this was the best stanza. the emotion in it is solid.
#4
(01-04-2020, 04:53 AM)Knot Wrote:  .
Hi Poet26389,
there's a very nice idea here, and an excellent end line, it just lacks a bit of focus, I think.
You could include more detail, both of the shoes (what colour were the Converse, for
instance) and of her.

Given that you've got four in the title, perhaps start each verse with a number, rather than

'there were' (which doesn't say that much).

Just a suggestion

First, her Converse, her best beloveds

- bought from x in/on y -
in which she navigated high school,
trod a path between AP Calc, English, drama
of friends and fallings out, boys and boys
and her crushes. She'd held on to them.
They took here everywhere.

Do you need 'sneakers' after 'Converse'?

I think it would be good to describe how she sounded in these shoes (and the rest).

Does she appear silently, or do they make a distinctive sound?

This is basic, so I'll leave it here, except to say in the final verse I'd recommend cutting lines

4-6 (they detract from the emotions in L2-3, and L7).


Enjoyed the read.


Best, Knot




.

Good ideas! I simplified a few things in the text. I liked the idea of first/second/third, and I'm thinking about how to incorporate sounds. You'll see in the final verse I held on to a form of line 6. I wanted to refer to her coffin as a symbol of the physical reality of her death and the use of shoes, symbols of activity and personality in the rest of the poem, as a form of denial. (I could use "feet" but "toes" is a stronger visual image.)

First, her loyal Converses
guiding her around halls and classrooms
between AP Calc, drama, English
between friend drama and boys' crushes on her
and hers on boys
She held onto those. They took her everywhere.

Second, her rough tanned Timberlands
Sturdy, strong, and flexible
with which she pulled herself up mountains
when she realized she had the strength
and made her good tired.

Third, good old Nordstrom high heels
which were slightly more strategic shoes
Helped in the office on important days and elsewhere on important nights
Best with pantyhose.

Finally the old pair of sneakers
She had on in the crash.

We brought a beloved sheath dress to the funeral home
But the ask for shoes didn't make sense
It was almost disrespectful
To keep her toes off coffin silk.
Let her go barefoot.
#5
(01-03-2020, 02:11 PM)Poet26389 Wrote:  Hi all. Hoping you'll give me some guidance on this. Written about a cousin of mine who died in a shitty, shitty accident. That said, spare no criticism in making it better!


There were her Converse sneakers
old, beloved, and loyal
which guided her around halls and classrooms
between AP Calc, drama, English (AP? What is that?)
between friend drama and boys' crushes
and her crushes
She held onto those. They took her everywhere.

There were bulky Timberland boots
Sturdy, strong, and flexible
with which she pulled herself up mountains and around riverbeds
when she realized she had the strength to do it
and get good tired.

There were good old Nordstrom high heels
Suggestive and uplifting
which were slightly more strategic shoes
Helped in the office on important days. Elsewhere on important nights
Best with pantyhose.

There were the old pair of sneakers
She had on when the crash happened.

We brought a dress she loved to the funeral home
But the ask for shoes didn't make sense
It was almost disrespectful.
As if she was going to wake up and need to walk on
Linoleum, dirt, marble.
As if her toes needed protection from pleated coffin silk. (What is coffin silk? Did you make that up?)
Let her go barefoot.
Love the concept of the poem, I don't see anything wrong with it, looks fine to me. Other than the questions I wanted to ask. Though the poem does need some focus though.
#6
Hi JaggedEdge,

To answer your questions, AP stands for Advanced Placement. In the US, it means you're in advanced classes a few grades early.

As for "coffin silk" coffins in which dead people are buried in are generally lined with nice fabric - in my cousin's case it was silk. Silk pillow for her head, silk lining for the rest of her body. This verse was kind of meant to direct readers to the idea that if you have no earthly responsibilities anymore feeling silk on your toes is much better than confining them in shoes for an eternity of zero purpose - even if you don't really feel it..
#7
.
Hi 26389.

No need to rush revisions Smile


Just some food for thought

First, her loyal Converses,
(her little clown shoes)
red and slapping corridors
between AP Calc and English,
Drama, and dramatic friends,
and boys. Those she held
on to, they took her everywhere.

(are these the same as the 'old sneakers'?)

Second, her rough tan Timberlands,
weathered, worn, for lumbering,
clomping up those mountains,
she first climbed when she realized
she had the strength, the views,
she said, were worth it.

Third, good old Nordstrom two inch heels,
stiletto sharp and shiny-black, pointedly
her most strategic shoes, in the office
on important days and elsewhere
on important nights. Best with pantyhose
and candlelight.

Finally that old pair of sneakers
- no brand, but comfortable -
she had on in the crash.

(don't know what 'a beloved sheath dress' is.
'Her favourite' in the original made more sense, to me.)

I wanted to refer to her coffin as a symbol of the physical reality of her death and the use of shoes,

symbols of activity and personality in the rest of the poem, as a form of denial.
Fair enough. It was just that I was reading 'let her go barefoot' as - take her as she is, she is worthy
and needs no adornment. (The 'coffin' just seemed to detract/distract from that).

(You may not want to do it here, but I'd suggest changing the title to

[her name], in Four Pairs of Shoes.)


Best, Knot



.
#8
First, her loyal Converses
guiding her around halls and classrooms  I like the aspect of the Converse shoes guiding her. 
between AP Calc, drama, English
between friend drama and boys' crushes on her
and hers on boys  This and the preceding line are slightly awkward for me even after several readings.
She held onto those. They took her everywhere. The usage of "took" does a good job of bolstering the thought of "guiding" from line 2. 

Second, her rough tanned Timberlands
Sturdy, strong, and flexible
with which she pulled herself up mountains "pulled" makes me think of rock climbing shoes, and I do not think Timberland makes those.
when she realized she had the strength  This line does not add much to the poem.  Do you have to have this?
and made her good tired.  This is the weakest line of the poem for me. 

Third, good old Nordstrom high heels 
which were slightly more strategic shoes  I love that you focus on the "strategic" purpose of the high heels, and not their aesthetics. 
Helped in the office on important days and elsewhere on important nights   An adequate job of showing the purpose, but the line feels so long.  Can this be shortened, or expounded upon and broken up over two lines?
Best with pantyhose. I believe I like the thought of the line, just not the execution of it.  

Finally the old pair of sneakers (See below)
She had on in the crash.

We brought a beloved sheath dress to the funeral home  Slightly perplexed by "sheath".  Was she literally buried in a tight formfitting dress?
But the ask for shoes didn't make sense
It was almost disrespectful  Great line.  For me "disrespectful" applies to so much, and is perfectly timed.
To keep her toes off coffin silk.  Please keep "toes". 
Let her go barefoot.  This is your best line, and your best strophe.




I read this as simple, personal, and sweet.  You did a good job of taking simple objects and conveying meaning through them.  The shoes do illustrate activity and life to me, but instead of associating that with denial I end up linking them to a celebration of the life lived in them.  If the design of the poem was to touch on the denial aspect of grief then this reader unfortunately does not get there.  I think how you ended your poem was great, and it finishes strong.

Your fourth strophe is short and terse.  I am sure you have your reasons for this, maybe you are illustrating or alluding to a life cut short, maybe you are touching upon how quickly the accident occurred from departure, or maybe something else entirely.  I wonder if you could illuminate the sneakers as you have the other shoes, and still achieve the goals you have for this fine poem?  As an idea I wonder if you could show us how the shoes looked, and then in the final line of the strophe let us know that they looked this way as a result of the accident.   As a long hackneyed example for you to parse:

Finally the new pair of sneakers.
White gradually shading
to black with a splattering 
of red. Toes protruding
through holes, laces tattered,
and sole separating 
from attachments. 
A custom design, courtesy 
of oncoming traffic.


You are the author; you are the designer of this special piece.  Take some of the concepts here and adjust them to your purposes, or don't and let your beautiful work stand as it currently does-something to be immensely pleased with.
Joshua J. Smith
#9
Hi Josh,

I appreciate your commentary and I'm flattered that everyone is so into my little poem! Here's my rewrite, after considering your suggestions!

First, her loyal Converses
guiding her around halls and classrooms
between AP Calc, drama, English
between friend drama and boys' crushes on her and hers on boys.
She held onto those. They took her everywhere.

Second, her rough tanned Timberlands
Sturdy, strong, and flexible
with which she lifted herself up mountains.
whenever she realized had the strength to tire herself out.

Third, good old Nordstrom high heels
which were slightly more strategic shoes
They helped in the office on important days and important nights.
Effective with pantyhose.

Finally the old pair of sneakers
She had on in the crash.

We brought a beloved knee dress to the funeral home
But the ask for shoes didn't make sense
It was almost disrespectful to keep her toes off of coffin silk.
Let her go barefoot.

In strophe #1 I kind of combined HS crushes male and female into the same verse - they are kind of the same thing crush-wise, if you're straight. Strophe #2 and #3 needed minor modifications. I don't really know what her sneakers looked like after the crash - only that she was wearing them - so they kind of form a symbol of death, not life, so not so descriptive. strophe #4, the sneakers aren't meant to be a symbol of life but of death, so they stay. Strophe $5 got tightened uo.
#10
Hi, I really loved this poem. The last line, "Let her go barefoot", really struck me because it evokes a sense of freedom and that she no longer has a need for shoes, she is beyond the use of anything to carry her. 

A few ideas I had while reading: 
I liked how you specified "her" Converse, the sense of personal ownership was powerful, and I would keep that consistent throughout ("her Timberlands, her old pair of sneakers, etc)
I think Line 4 would flow better if it simply said "between drama with friends and crushes on boys" 

Overall, I was moved by how this portrays the meaning between everyday objects- what do they mean when we are here, and what will they mean when we are gone? Thank you for sharing.
#11
First, let me express my sorrow for your lost. Then I'll tell you that you've created such a moving tribute to your cousin. I first read your poem a month ago, and I was moved to tears when I hit the final lines. When a poem can extract that kind of emotion, a poet couldn't have done better.

You have received significant feedback since you first posted. I don't have anything to add regarding most suggested changes, but there is one with which I disagree. I think enumerating the different shoes with First, Second, etc gives a stacatto nature to the poem that dilutes the deep emotion evident in your first draft. Keep the original "There were ..." lines, but add dramatic impact with a rewrite of the last one, such as:
                                  "Then ... There were the old pair of sneakers"

You must have had a deep connection to your cousin. You could explicitly establish that with the following.

1 -  Add a verse leading into those about the shoes. Something like:

    I knew her well
    We grew up together
    and I now think of all the times
    when her life was defined by her shoes
        ( You should write your own. I'm not sure I like the above, and you shouldn't either. )

2 -  Consider changing the poem's last line to something like:

      I knew her well ... Just let her go barefoot.
#12
Hiya! Wow this was a wonderful concept and I think with a few simple line changes could really enhance the poem. below I did a few line changes and took away filler words and structured it a little to its more cohesive. 

Hope you enjoy! 

Converse sneakers
old, beloved, and loyal
which guided her around halls and classrooms
between AP Calc, Drama, English 
teenage angst, boy crushes, and her infatuations
 
She loved her shoes. 

beige bulky Timberland boots
Sturdy, strong, and flexible
she pulled herself up mountains and around riverbeds
she had the strength to do it, though she doubted every climb
limping home tired and exhilarated.

good old Nordstrom high heels
Suggestive, uplifting, and safe
striding from cubical to cubical, strutting to close deals,
entertaining guests on holidays and late nights
with pantyhose runs hidden by personality.

the old pair of sneakers
She drove in when the crash happened.

We brought the dress she loved 
But the shoes didn't make sense
It was almost disrespectful.
she wasn't going to wake up and need to walk on
Linoleum, dirt, and marble.
her toes needed no protection from pleated coffin silk.

a lifeless pair of feet, toes painted pink and finally free.
#13
I love this poem, I just think it could use some focus. The concepts are very inspiring, but I think some vocabulary color would clarify it. Describe so I can see it.




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