Critiquing My Own High School Poems (This Should Be Fun)

A Day in Rome

We started the day off early -
                        eight thirty at the Coliseum,
                        seven a.m. on the bus to get there –
and wandered all around that ancient
house of death and murder.
We took hundreds of pictures,
laughed a lot and made plans for the afternoon.
Then we went to the Roman forum,
we explored that ancient governance of Rome
and discusses the lack of great architecture today.
We went to leave for lunch and discovered
that our plans for the afternoon has been broken
because you had found someone better.
But I found friends too,
we meandered through the streets –
                        got ripped off at lunch,
                        got lost, then found the
                        Spanish steps –
and there you were again.
Now I’m sitting at the Trevi fountain
the wind ruffling my hair and peace in the air,
thinking to myself about this day in Rome
and the questions I now have about
our friendship…
or this one-sided thing we’ve got going on…
Karis Rogerson
October 4th, 2010
Not the person this poem is about, just a cute friend from high school and beyond.

Not the person this poem is about, just a cute friend from high school and beyond.

Listen, I don't really know why I'm doing this. I was sitting here and realized that I didn't know what to blog about today, and I had the bright idea to, 'Oh! Share a poem you wrote in high school and critique it!" and now I'm doing it because, honestly...this is so bad.

So let's jump into critiquing it, shall we? 

It's a little derivative, if I'm being quite honest. (I don't know what that word actually means, if I'm being even more honest, but I've heard it used as a literary insult and it feels apropos right now.) It's just so on-the-nose, the language so bland, the images so...not-alive. I mean, the line(s): 

We took hundreds of pictures,
laughed a lot and made plans for the afternoon.

Are just plain boring. Come on, High School Karis, you can do better than that! What about:

We posed for our own cameras, 
snap, snap went the lens,
and giggles shook our bodies 
as we laid out afternoon plots

That's not my best work, but it's at least better than the one up there!

Of course, I'd totally forgotten about this poem after leaving high school. I honestly don't even know for sure who it's about; but it's clear that I was pissed at her (I know it's a her, because I didn't talk to boys in high school, but that's a story for another day). And I feel like this poem would be more powerful if I hadn't tightened my language, reined in a bit of my anger, and kept an air of mystery instead of so openly flailing about.

One thing I do like: the description of the Coliseum, "that ancient / house of death and murder." Not the most original descriptor, but it does its job fairly well, I think. 

In conclusion? I was not as good a high school poet as I thought!

Have you ever read your own early work? How did that work out for ya? Let me know in the comments!