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Hello Nicki! I read "The Call of a Whale" and wanted to offer you this review:
What an impact!!! At the very first glance, this poem’s shape, an amazing image of a whale’s tail just above the waves, evokes emotions- “thalassic” thoughts.
The poem itself is a fantastic narrative piece that draws the reader to the ocean shore with the auditory imagery of “seagulls screeching,” the tactile and visual imagery of the sea breeze through the palm trees and a boy playing on a sandy beach. The feeling I got is one of freedom. But the narrator’s failure to appreciate the beauty of what he has takes him to a far away place, and there, I felt a great sense of loss, sadness, and feeling displaced. These emotions were drawn from these powerful, symbolic images:
Neath empty skies and
cacti's harsh embrace
The narrator’s return to the sea was represented so beautifully by using the metaphor of the whale—a creature, just like this man, who is in the sea’s “net of wonder forever,” to quote Jacques Cousteau. While reading the end of the poem, I felt a sense of “home.”
Effectiveness of Form:
This shape poem is artistic genius! It is truly AWESOME! I love it , and cannot say enough about it! I’m amazed at how much time it must have taken to arrange the lines and spaces and font sizes to achieve this wonderful whale tail shape. I love how it isn’t completely symmetrical, because it adds interest in that artistic way. I like how the shape of the whale corresponds to the metaphor within the poem. I LOVE the wave effect you achieved at the end of the piece by manipulating the font sizes. What’s really cool is that the waves, which are made up of the lines that conclude the poem, are also symbolic of the narrator’s return to a life by the sea. Just SO GREAT!!
The poem has a lovely rhythm; it flows perfectly in iambic pentameter- I counted 10 syllables per line with each foot unstressed, stressed. Perfect!
Your use of assonance added a wonderful lyrical flow. I especially liked palm fronds. Also, great use of alliteration and consonance – was the whale compelled w’s and l’s repeating sounds –
You have not stated it in your description, but this poem is actually a Heroic Couplet, which requires, traditionally, iambic pentameter and pairs of rhyming lines. Your poem does just this- with the exception of one pair (born/shore), each pair of lines ends in perfect rhymes, giving the poem an elegant flow! Write ON!
Punctuation and Grammar:
I found no punctuation or grammatical errors~! However, I have a thought regarding the punctuation of one line:
But I, unwilling student,
would not hear and dreamed instead of arid west frontier.
Because the poem is written in iambic pentameter, each line should have 10 syllables per line, as you know. I noticed you’ve marked the end of the poem’s lines by placing a period or comma or semicolon at the spots where the line would end in a non-shaped poem. There is no such punctuation separating the 2 ten syllable lines (between “hear” and “and”) in the line above. Because of this, I read the line without a pause, not quite matching the flow of the previous lines, and I found the pace was just slightly off because of it. Also, I could be wrong, but I am concerned these lines might not be considered iambic pentameter because they have 20 syllables combined without marking the line break.
I suggest placing a punctuation mark after “hear”- perhaps a dash or maybe a period, but that means you’d have to start the next sentence with “And,” which I’m not sure you’d want to do.
This is just a phenomenal piece of poetry, presented in a most artistically symbolic manner. I am placing this poem in my favorites so I can have easy access to a piece of writing that will continue to inspire me. Best of luck in the contest- I cannot imagine another competing poem impressing me more than this one has!