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I have a scene in a short I'm writing where a character reads a poem. The character is a housewife that recently started dabbling in poetry so it doesn't have to be good. But it would help if it wasn't utterly, stunningly terrible. So any feedback would be greatly appreciated. As a disclaimer, I personally have never written a poem till now and know nothing about poetry. And when I say nothing I mean literally nothing.
One last thing to set the scene, she's reading the poem to another woman who just retired and returned home from a long, traumatic military career. Okay, here goes...
Some things we cannot face Unspeakable truths we cannot bare Nightmares in daylight You faced them all
So we could shut our eyes Now you're home again Time to rest Time to shut your eyes tight
She's actually just dealing with PTSD and kind of coming undone since returning home. It's hard to explain the scene without explaining the whole plot. But as long as it didn't make you laugh out loud at how terrible it was I think it'll work.
Hmm well I like your version. It has a nice rhythm to it that makes it sound more like an actual poem. Whereas mine is more of a... well I dunno what it is. I'm gonna finish the script then come back and tinker with it. But I think I'll use at least some of this. So thanks a lot for the help.
I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, I think it's a little too generic and simplistic and could be applied to a broad number of situations interchangeably. I think it could use more distinct images than mere ideas and paint more of a picture, perhaps even a short scene or narrative, that gives it some specificity. In the context of a soldier with PTSD, it also might be a little on the nose.
On the other hand, all of the above comes from a writer's sensibilities, ones which an amateur poet, especially a hobbyist/dabbler, would not have. In that sense, it seems like the kind of poem such a character would write and is almost beyond criticism. Also, the other side to the soldier issue is that having not read the script, I can't say for sure whether it would be effective or not in context. The poem might not be great, but the act of reading a not-great poem could carry a lot of weight depending on the characters and situation.
The wannabe poet in this scene is a bland, mousy woman from a podunk little town so I was going for simplistic. Something more than completely inarticulate but definitely not eloquent. I fear trying anything more complex or even just of greater length would expose my own limitations. Her poetry writing skills about match mine, which is to say she has none.
You hit on the main goal which is to have this seemingly innocuous little speech hit the main character hard to the point where she's overcome with emotion. Whereas the other people in the room listening to it are unimpressed and one even makes a snide remark afterward. But yeah, without the actual script for context it's hard to give much feedback. I'll post it eventually but I've got a backlog of other scripts I gotta put up first.