Peer Review by yapyapxy (Singapore)

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I Say to Her

By: Norah

I speculate about change:
good and bad.
I look to the next year
the next decade.
After I’m gone,
I tell her:
After I’m gone you can find me in spring.
I always hated the winter.
I always hated how weather wasn’t normal anymore.
It was man made,
hammered out in factories
and assembled with human intent:
by us.
There was fault there, blame.
We are why the violets die.

My greatest fear is to be an emperor,
and die before things get better,
before the city is built 
before the war ends,
that my role would be to save people I could never meet.
Therefore I am afraid to be human.
Therefore I am afraid to go outside and face the sun,
to tell her why every part of me is killing someone else.

I speculate about the generations to come
how the stories I will tell them
of my grandmother 
and her grandmother
will make them see the difference 
between one world and the next.
I tell her that maybe we will have children 
and we will have to tell them why we left them with what we did.
That we killed the violets
to save ourselves. 

Message to Readers

Is there rhythm? How did you read it? Does it sound authentic? Constructive criticism welcome! :)

Peer Review

It paints a bleak depiction of our future, characterising humans as selfish. I am left with pity, sadness and shame for our actions, for the lesser world we leave our children with.

I felt that the comparison of an emperor is an interesting way to characterise the speaker as a coward who is not actively going against the injustice wrecked on earth, or righting out the wrongs (unlike a good governor). I'm a little concerned that second the stanza may come across as disjointed -- you may want to integrate a little better by alluding to the motif of violets dying somewhere, perhaps? It may lend your stanzas consistency.

As I read the poem, it seems as though there is only one type of people present in the poem: humans who destroy. I'm not sure if this is your original intent but it may make your portrayal of humans one-dimensional (which is not really the case in real life).

An idea for you to consider would be to start with a certain portrayal of violets at the start -- and end with the end of violets, so to speak. ;-)

"That we killed the violets/to save ourselves."

It answers the question lingering throughout the poem; why the speaker didn't do more, and why we humans allowed the world to be destroyed by our passivity. Definitely an impactful ending!

Your recurring idea of the death of the violets is an interesting (and poetic) way of alluding to the death of earth, so perhaps you can expand on that. The piece is potentially powerful though, and I look forward to seeing future drafts!

Reviewer Comments

Definitely an interesting read, but I was mostly confused as to who the "Her" in the title referred to -- there was a point where I thought it might have been the sun. My suggestion would be to reconsider the order of lines and ideas and stanzas, see if they can be arranged in a more cohesive manner that transits smoothly from one scene to the next. The ideas are there, but right now they're not very clear and I think this compromises the message gleaned from the piece.

Nonetheless, commendable writing and all the best for the competition!! Hope this review helped you in some way.

Xin Yi

P.S. I'm curious as to what influenced the title of the piece (or how you came up with the title), partially because it's difficult for me to decide on titles xD