Critiquing my own work

For the first time ever I am taking a poetry class, and honestly I hate it. I feel so much pressure to be creative, and I feel like nothing I write makes sense. Part of the course’s rules is to not rhyme, and not talk about love. SO WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?

I had to submit a poem for workshop, and 23 people had to critique my poem, live and in person. Their suggestions inspired me to critique my own poem, as well as explain certain lines that some people did not understand. So, here is my poem, “The Suburbs”


The Suburbs


The roofs may as well be one,

As they blanket the earth-

A quilt of colors,

Each stitched together with strings of

Pavement and grids of grass

Who’s seeds were mechanically

Planted and strands then groomed to

Mirror the shade of their neighbors.


Raindrops on sidewalk chalk,

Hopscotch and butterflies melt

Into streams of robin egg’s blues

And tickle me pinks

Chasing each other over scooter-

Ridden streets and into the gutter.


A young mother lowers her son into

His crib, inhaling the smell of a head

Who has yet to be polluted with

Talk of war or cancer.



Love leaps from her hands and  

Stains his porcelain skin.

Steel grey eyes,

Who will soon change

To match his father’s,

Reflect the mobile spinning

Above him.


Oh baby,

She pleads,

Dream beyond the suburbs.

In order to do this, I am going to answer some questions my classmates had for me. They were confused by the overall meaning of the poem. Why does she want her child to dream beyond the suburbs when it was so beautifully described? I answer that question by explaining the entire point of the poem is knowing what lives beyond the surface, beyond the beautiful homes and children playing. Growing up in the suburbs, I learned what goes on beyond closed doors. I purposefully chose to peacefully describe the poem at first, and then switch to a darker light. My line breaks were specific to this attempt. In the second stanza, the cute pictures drawn by the children are washed into the gutter. The gutter symbolizes reality, and how no child stays young forever. Students were also confused about the steel grey eyes. I wrote this part because when my brother was born, his eyes were grey, colorless. However, as he got older, the changed into a dark brown to match my fathers. It made me so nervous to realize that people did not understand some parts of my poem, but I think that is whats so cool about poetry, the fact that everyone has their own interpretation of words.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Beth says:

    First off – kudos to you for being brave enough to share your work and receive this kind of critique. I know it’s terrifying and awful and it takes a lot.

    Secondly, I think this is a great approach to viewing and understanding your own writing. I mean, as you say, poetry is so cool because of the various interpretations that it can inspire in others. Your explanations make perfect sense to me.

    Also, I really like some of these phrases that you use in the poem – the imagery that you employ is really strong in these times – nice job. 🙂


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