By Ishita Shah and Nithya Ramcharan
It’s Friday evening, and you’re spending the night at home. There are no after-school commitments or social activities to distract you, so you curl into your armchair and prepare for yet another night of Netflix and binge-eating. You’re bored, fiddling with some Silly Putty that no one knows you still have, when that dreaded email notification tone rings in full volume. A graded assignment? More trash-headed college spam? No, you receive an email from Polyphony Lit, alerting you that you have been forwarded a poem titled “Requiem.” Well, that sounds fancy. A quick Wikipedia search reveals that a requiem is a musical composition or mass conducted for “the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons,” etc. You open the poem — it’s a long one, almost 50 lines — and figure that since there isn’t anything else requiring your immediate attention, you should give your all into this poem.
You start reading, and you are moved by the powerful language in the first stanza, which paints a clever yet subtle contrast between nature and the artificial world, describing captivating images of lush forests and towering skyscrapers. This is worth a compliment.
I really like this subtle division between nature and cities and stuff.
But wait. That sounds too informal. You certainly don’t want to be demoted. You need to sound…smarter. No, not smarter. Intellectual…er. You enter “Thesaurus.com”, a handy tool for such situations, into your browser. Just minutes later, your first comment has undergone a MAJOR glow-up:
I derive utmost pleasure from this subdued juxtaposition of the environment against artificiality, etcetera, etcetera.
Whoa there, scholar. Take it easy. Or I should say, obtain it relaxedly.
You also want to tip your hat to the imagery. Every instinct in your body urges you to type, I like your nature-related imagery of the trees, bushes, and water. It all sounds very nice. Your love for nature is evident.
Shut up, instinct. You override your screaming thoughts and instead type: I acquire extreme contentment from your references to vegetation and abiotic elements. Every element appears extremely splendid. Your admiration for the environment is incontrovertibly...um... ginormous.
No. You used “extreme” once before. Repetition is sin.
Everything appears tremendously splendid.
Ah, there it is.
You then stumble upon a part that confuses you. The poet repeated a line three times, and you’re not sure why.
I see you used the line “Death’s gnarled root pierces the soil of my flesh” multiple times. Why?
But the “gnarled root” of insecurity pierces you in turn. For such a gripping poetic line, how can your response be so simplistic? You want the poet to value your feedback; how will they do that if they view your own writing as inferior?
It is quite distinctly apparent that this phrase,“Death’s gnarled root pierces the soil of my flesh,” has been repeatedly entwined into your work.
Better. But now, you must ask a question.
Dare I ask, for what unfathomable intention did you implement this sentence so?
Hm...amidst that moment of erudition, you feel that something is missing. Perhaps you should find a synonym for “why?” that encapsulates the question in a more pretentious way.
It is quite distinctly apparent that this phrase, “Death’s gnarled root pierces the soil of my flesh,” has been repeatedly entwined into your work. Dare I ask of your unfathomable intentions, pourquoi?
So what if the last word is in French? It makes you sound SO elite. As they say: “French is basically fancy, know-it-all English.” Or more fittingly, “French is the crème de la crème of English.”
Convinced that you’ve unleashed your inner Shakespeare, you proceed with a mild grin, now reassured that this poet will be blown away by the sheer maturity of your comments.
And then you come face-to-face with your greatest foe: Metaphors. You, personally, just aren’t a fan. When employed correctly, they occasionally fulfill their purpose of deviating from an idea just far enough so that those who, for some reason, would rather comprehend from a totally unrelated example instead of a direct statement can grasp a concept. When your poet, however, decides to compare birds to government drones, you resist the urge to splat your Silly Putty onto the screen in front of you.
The correspondence between a winged soul and an arcane governmental contrivance is too rickety for me to endorse. Please employ a more suitable analogy.
Now, they’ll definitely think you know what you’re talking about.
You make it to the end of the piece, which is quite nice. It is missing one thing, however: A variety in sentence structures. You decide to leave one more comment upon reaching the conclusion.
I would hold in high regard the general insertion of a reorganization of words within solitary sentences, which would allow for the proliferated implementation of heterogeneity in the structuring of sentences.
As you finish up your commentary, you notice that the poet forgot to fix the formatting at the bottom of the page. You leave a note:
Hark back to the arrangement of this work, and rectify the deviation pinpointed at the culmination of your composition.
To top it all off, you must provide some general commentary:
I offer my utmost gratitude to you for submitting to Polyphony Lit! I vehemently compliment your propensity for this masterful rhythmical composition—truly an hors concours! Your “requiem” doubtlessly conveys your despondency regarding the nature of humanoid invasion in the verdurous biosphere. However, I postulate that several of your metaphorical allegorical symbolic allusions are obfuscated by your resplendent lexicon. With the assistance of thorough proofreading, your composition will supersede all else. For example, as an alternative to “avian,” which could be construed as esoteric, you could employ “birds,” or utilize a similar locution. Mayhap Thesaurus.com could assist you?
Excellent language, use of literary devices, etcetera, etcetera. As Shakespeare once so sagaciously uttered, “Beware the Ides of March.” I optimistically await additional submissions.
You sigh, truly pleased with your finished work. And before logging off for the day, you send a reply to Polyphony Lit, which includes a copy of your feedback and a brief message:
Rationale for Accept:
Hey y’all, I got it done! No cap, this piece slaps. It do be kinda poetic doe.
Hmu if there’s more!
Ishita Shah is a First Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.
Nithya Ramcharan is a Second Reader at Polyphony Lit and and a blogger at Voices.