It saddens me to have to remove the images from my profile, but an update was drastically needed.
I am a proud Hufflepuff, a former SBBC-er, and a member of the lovely group, SPEW. All of these can be found on the beta forums. I'm very proud of my participation and membership in all three and they've all helped me to expand as a writer.
I'm also exceedingly proud to share that I've won the QSQ for Best Reviewer. Well, I just don't have the proper words to express how much of an honor this is for me.
If you're here looking for something to review (which I invite you to do), I would like to request that you review some of my more recent work. While I appreciate reviews on everything that I've written, they're always twice as sweet on something that is rather new. That said, please don't review My Father's World (it is definitely on permanent hiatus) or Miss Myrtle (which exists only for sentimental reasons these days).
Other than that, please enjoy and explore my author page! Thank you!
Dear bobthemanatee --
That was a lovely and quite amusing poem!
It seemed so light and sweet and innocent. In fact, those words are just about the adjectives that I would apply to your Muggle who accidentally wandered onto the platform. The word choice and structure of this poem really suited the mood of wonder and amazement.
These lines in particular were, I thought, very representative of that mood of wonder and lightness:
Of all the creatures – short stubby elves,
So small they could fit in our local bookstore's shelves
(I also thought that the rhyming structure further added to that innocence of the poem).
It was actually rather amusing for me to think about how a Muggle might have wandered onto the platform. And, of course, if one wandered on, what would happen? I rather liked your interpretation of how the Muggle would have caught a glimpse of the magical world and then would have had his memory wiped. I think that Obliviation was absolutely something that would have happened at some point – and quickly, too. I also sort of think, however, that the entire thing would have been programmed to make it seem as though there was just a small crevice or recess if someone didn’t have any magical ability. But, I definitely like your interpretation of events.
One thing that I especially noticed in this poem was your use of punctuation. You, in a very short space, utilize two ellipses and quite a few exclamation marks (not to mention a few double punctuation marks). I think that you might want to be a little bit more judicious with your use of punctuation. Dramatic punctuation (exclamation marks and ellipses) are meant to add emphasis and you don’t want to overdo that. I also want to warn you about the double punctuation – using both the question mark and the exclamation mark together. While that does express a lot of emotion, in formal writing you want the words to express more than the punctuation. I thought that your word choice was very good and could have expressed the same emotions without the excess of punctuation.
I’m quite interested to see where you’re going to take this poem in future chapters. As you noted before the start of the poem, this chapter is from the point of view of a Muggle. Perhaps the next will be from the point of view of a wizard? Maybe the one who Obliviated the Muggle? I’m also interested to see if you simply repeat this moment from several points of view or if you continue the story with what happens afterwards.
A lovely read!
Oh, how this made me giggle! I always loved how Rita Skeeter brought comic relief to the series and I really enjoyed what you did with her character. You truly brought out her best (or perhaps worst) aspects.
I quite enjoyed your OC, Amanda Claybourne. She was a well-rounded, fairly feisty individual with lots of drive. Speaking of her ambition, I thought she was motivated almost to a point of excess to get where she wanted to be. In the scene where she accused Rita of not telling the truth (which I adored), my mouth dropped open. It was scandalous how a junior member of the staff treated the veteran! I very nearly expected the next little section of the story to be a “scoop” written by Rita about the rudeness of people who had just left Hogwarts. I thought it was surprising how much gumption Amanda had. It certainly isn’t a bad thing and it fits within the context of the story, but it did take me by surprise. Perhaps you could foreshadow these comments towards Rita a little more so that they aren’t quite so surprising. Maybe having the editor speak a little rudely to her? I liked that he told Amanda that Rita’s hard to work with, but I wanted to see someone else talking back to Rita to justify Amanda’s actions.
What I really liked about Amanda is her dedication. She entered journalism to get rid of people like Rita Skeeter and she sticks to that throughout the story. Although I hate to characterize someone by the House that they were in, I thought that she was an excellent example of a Hufflepuff. Absolutely loyal and dedicated to what she does. I’m afraid that in many cases, authors misinterpret Hufflepuffs and make them weak and/or whiny or don’t really develop their characters. Amanda, though, is a well-characterized Hufflepuff. You really applied the traditional Hufflepuff qualities to her character without overdoing them or making them seem ridiculous. I thought that you did a very good job at depicting her as someone who wanted to make the world a better place through what she can do – journalism.
I’m glad, though, that you did not make Amanda a static character who was simply motivated to get rid of Rita Skeeter. The “compromise” at the end really completed Amanda’s character and made her more rounded. I also thought that it demonstrated an excellent source of humor.
Furthermore, I found Amanda and Rita to be a really interesting juxtaposition. They’re just at completely opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to reporting. Rita’s very much into the human interest side of the story and Amanda’s very much into the facts and truth. Speaking as someone who reads the news, I would have to add that the middle ground between the two of them is really the most interesting. I agree with Rita – there has to be something gossipy – but I also agree with Amanda in that there should be the truth. It’s a bit of a grey area, I think. I’m glad, though, that Amanda eventually came around and didn’t stay quite so idealistic. She wouldn’t have been as strong a character if she had stayed with the facts-only presentation.
One thing that I truly adored was Rita’s characterization. She was extraordinarily similar to her canon counterpart. Her dialogue was really striking: flippant and saucy. This was one of my favorite examples:
“You silly girl!” She perched herself on the edge of Amanda’s desk. “We don’t sell papers to tell the truth. We give the people facts. It’s not the same thing at all.”
Just like the way I imagined Rita. She wouldn’t dare call herself a liar. She just takes facts and twists them until they’re nearly unrecognizable. And I loved how this is absolutely revolting to Amanda, whose moral standards are so much higher than Rita’s.
The structure of the piece really added to the story, I thought. I enjoyed how you divided up so that we saw snippets of the story over a progression of time. It almost made it seem as though someone were reporting specific incidents that were occurring at the news office. One thing that I’d almost wished for was for the last little segment to be slightly longer, with more of a description of exactly what Amanda had done. Did she interview Rita? Research her old articles and present the facts as they should have been? I was really quite curious about it, so I did want to see a little bit more detail at the end, even if it was just in passing and not an actual description of Amanda’s specific actions. Rather like adding this into your line, “Amanda sat at her desk, exhausted after spending half the night interviewing Rita, sending off an autographed copy of her first front-page byline to her grandmother.”
Anyway, I really enjoyed reading this story. It was amusing in all of the right places, Rita Skeeter was absolutely true to canon, and Amanda was a wonderful OC. Lovely, lovely job!
Author's Response: Hi Kelly! Thanks for the beautiful review! Responding to a few points: I think you might be right about the disrespectful interaction between Amanda and Rita, and it's probably the sort of thing that would bother me in other writers' fics. In my head, I saw Amanda as not respecting Rita from the start and then finally snapping. Again, though, I think you are right and I should have foreshadowed the interaction somehow, or better established an atmosphere in which this would happen. I deliberately did not write much in the last section, and in retrospect, I can see how that might be frustrating to a reader. I wanted to offset the article's title from all the surrounding story because it was the joke upon which the story hinged, but I think I may have overdone that. Also, the challenge had a tight word limit, and the last section may have been punished more severely by merit of being written, well, last. I'm glad you found my Rita true to canon. That was my top priority, and I admit I had to work very hard with the dialogue, especially. Thank you for reading and reviewing! I am so happy that you enjoyed my story. ~greenie
Dear Nitwit Blubber Oddment Tweak x,
That was a very touching poem. The sense of tragedy that you managed to encompass within the lines is quite moving. It makes the reader feel a lot of sympathy for Ariana and for Aberforth.
I was quite intrigued by the title, which is, of course, repeated throughout the poem. It is rather curious how the Dumbledore family seems to express a lot of emotion through their eyes. We know that Albus was always described by his eyes – they twinkled or did something that always seemed to express exactly how he was feeling. And, when we officially met Aberforth, he, too, was described by his eyes. With that in mind, I found it interesting that you chose to have Ariana describe her brother via his eyes and what they were doing. The reason that I find this interesting is that it seems to draw a parallel between Albus and Aberforth.
Throughout the series, we were given a lot of hints that, despite being brothers, they were extremely different. And, indeed, when we do meet Aberforth, he is different from his brother. However, the way you have Ariana describe him, with such deep respect and caring and with an emphasis on the eyes, I feel as though this is almost an alternate universe in which Aberforth was “the better brother”.And, of course, from Ariana’s view, he very might well have been.
I did want to commend you on writing from Ariana’s point of view. Not only is she truly a minor character, but she is also one with so many limits that it is exceedingly difficult to give her a mind while still making sure that she is not a “normal” witch in her thought process. I think that a poem was an excellent way to express her thoughts. That way, you can still have the emotional impact, without having to worry about things like dialogue or, really, anything that would impede the progress of her thoughts.
My world is growing dark
I’m really going to miss you, Aberforth
Your love - it made a mark
Even though that was a very painful passage to read, I really loved the allusion to the big, overarching theme in the HP series: the effects of love. The fact that Aberforth’s love “made a mark” on Ariana is so poignant with regards to the entire series. I mean, Harry’s scar is quite literally a mark of his mother’s love for him. So, having Ariana say this in the context of this universe, is just incredibly touching. It implies so much about Aberforth and how he must have sacrificed out of his love for Ariana, even though it was she who died and not him.
I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed this poem and all of the very touching symbols and ideas throughout. Excellent work.
Author's Response: Kelly, I can't believe I never replied to this review before! I'm just... speechless. Honestly, I don't know how to reply to such a wonderful review! You picked up on everything and just... gah. Thank you so much :)
Oh Anna, I really don’t know how to begin. I’m just so in love with this story and your writing that it’s difficult to pick a thing to start with. Just so you know, though, I adored this story.
You are so good at incorporating imagery and other senses into your writing. As I was reading along, I could really get the sense of exactly how everything felt or seemed because you did such a good job describing them. For example: It was a warm smell, like sunlight on pine trees, and he savoured it. Those lines just made me feel as though I was there in the story with Charlie and Lucas. The “sunlight on pine trees” description just opens up so many senses. Of course, you have the olfactory, as it’s supposed to be describing a smell, but then it’s also visual. I could really see the sun hitting the pine trees and I could envision the rest of the scene that went with it. And that, of course, just adds so much depth to the story because the reader can associate so many things and can almost see multiple levels of images all through one description.
The opening of the story was also so well crafted. First off, the description was done brilliantly again. I could almost feel that “glow” while sitting here in my rather chilly room. However, what I really liked was the structure of the beginning. Everyone gets paired off with a significant other until Charlie and Lucas are left. It’s a nice bit of foreshadowing that really makes the reader believe that they should end up together, even if only to complete the symmetry of the situation.
Although this isn’t a particularly dialogue-heavy piece, I also adored the way you used dialogue in this. It all sounded so real. A lot of authors (myself included) fall into the trap of having their characters continually speak in proper grammar and with a much better vocabulary than they should have. I really liked how, then, you managed to keep everything grammatically correct and yet still have the characters sound like they were saying things that people might actually say in real life. These lines were just a beautiful example of this:
Charlie raised an eyebrow. “Okay, I’ll give it to you. A little bothersome.”
“Oh, I’m just glad to know that you’re not some all-powerful mind-reader, that’s all.”
“Again – why?” Lucas inquired, not understanding why that might have disturbed Charlie so.
Just, wow. These sounded like perfectly normal people speaking in real life. That’s so hard to capture in writing, so huge kudos to you. I’m just continually in awe of this.
Anyway, Anna, this story was absolutely amazing. It was so emotionally engaging because of your amazing writing skills. I could really feel what the characters were experiencing and I love it when a piece of writing can affect me like that.
This poem, I think, is quite realistic in terms of Severus and how he would have viewed the world after Lily’s death. I tend not to read a lot of stories with Severus reflecting upon Lily after her death; they can end up being quite clichéd and out of character for him. However, that said, I think that a poem is really more fitting for the state of mind that Severus must have been in at the time. If he was so affected by his feelings at that point, I don’t think that there would have been a terribly logical flow of ideas spouting from his head, which is what you need for a story. His thoughts would have been a little bit more disjointed and fairly narrowly focused, which is perfect for a poem. Excellent choice on the format for this situation.
If we take the idea that a younger Severus fell madly in love with Lily Evans and just never stopped, I could well imagine him questioning what love might actually be. He may have had a vague and fairly one-sided experience with it, but he had nothing tangible to hold on to really define the concept for him. Based on my interpretation Severus’ actions (which is by no means correct, of course), I think that he had a very one-sided affair with Lily Evans that turned into an obsession. It was as if he recognized the fact that he loved her and, when there was no reciprocation, he took that feeling and created an obsession around it.
That thought very interestingly fits in with your poem, here. You have Severus questioning what love actually is. Despite the fact that he’s had this obsessive infatuation with Lily for so many years, he really has no idea what love should be or what it should look like. That is, I think, a very painful and very realistic look at Severus and his psyche. There is really no way that he could have had a good understanding of love from simply carrying a flame around for one girl while he can easily see many more demonstrations of love all around him (i.e. Lily dying). That discrepancy between his actions and those of others would only create doubt in his mind, which would, of course, lead him to question what love is. So, with all that said, I think that you did a wonderful job at characterizing Severus, even though we don’t have as much time to see your characterization. You did a very good job at expressing his emotions through a minimum of very well selected words.
I quite liked that the entire poem was a series of questions. The format really contributed to Severus’ feelings of doubt and uncertainty about the nature of love. He never actually makes a statement of certainty about love in the entire poem. That consistency with the tone really solidified Snape’s characterization for me.
Was that love?
Will you find it again?
Will it find you again?
Those were wonderfully difficult lines to wrap my mind around. Severus seems almost vulnerable in those lines which, although he’s a very strong person, I think is absolutely in character for him at this point in his life. I like how that he’s so confused by what love is that he doesn’t know if he should seek it out or wait for it to fall into his lap and, when either happens, he isn’t sure if he would recognize the feeling. That is, I think, extremely profound and very much in character for him at the time.
You did a marvelous job with this poem!
Author's Response: Omigosh! Girl, you just made my year. Thank you so much! I think my head inflated a few inches just reading this. I am so glad you liked the poem. ~M_W
Lily is always trying to get away from James. He can never talk to her without getting yelled at or insulted. How much of this can he take before he is over her for good? James' POV
Dear ron lover,
This was a very interesting story to read. One doesn’t see many James/Lily stories in the Dark/Angsty category, which is really what drove me to read it. I liked what you did with James’ character, even though it technically falls under alternate universe. Although I am very fond of James/Lily, it’s always struck me as slightly implausible that James would pursue her relentlessly for so many years. Surely he would have had a period of doubt? This story seems so very realistic in that James does give up. So, lovely take on his character.
One thing that I did notice about this story is the writing style. You have a very distinctive style – lots of short and rather choppy sentences and very short paragraphs. Although writing with such short sentences is a very effective writing tool for making a specific point, it should be used in moderation. Just for the sake of keeping the writing fresh, I would suggest integrating sentences of different lengths so that the emotional impact of the abrupt and short sentences is greater. Although James is a very strong character now, I think that varying the sentence length would just give James (and his thoughts) a little bit more punch.
But, as I was saying, those short sentences really do convey James’ character very well. It brings out a good bit of sarcasm and dry humor, which are things that are extremely common in the teenage males of the human species. Take this, for example:
“Why do I do this Padfoot? That’s a good question. I hope you figure it out someday.”
That sounds extremely like a couple of teenagers having a disagreement. Perfectly characterized – you didn’t fall into the trap of writing a very mature James. While I’m sure that James did have his moments, he was still a very young man, and wouldn’t have perfect and polite behavior all the time. Especially around his friends. So I was very happy to see that you really nailed that part of his characterization properly.
Something else that I wanted to point out was your use of the past and present tense. You spent a good deal of time switching between the two tenses. Within the first few paragraphs you switch from: I sit down at the other end of the table to I made my way down the hall to where Lily and her friends were sitting.
This confused me as I was reading because I was never quite sure where the voice was coming from. In order to avoid this, I would suggest rereading the story very carefully and comparing the verbs to make sure that there aren’t a group of paragraphs in one tense and another group in another tense. Keeping the tense uniform really helps make the story clearer for the reader. (And I’m not saying that, should you write a story in present tense, that a few past tense verbs won’t sneak it. However, there shouldn’t be constant switching).
Oh, and how could I read this without commenting on your use of song lyrics? You did a wonderful job of incorporating the lyrics into the piece. The song you chose was very fitting for the themes and really leant itself to the title. Actually, speaking of the title, I thought that it was extremely clever. Not only did it convey James’ multiple tries to impress Lily, but it gave the reader a bit of foreshadowing to the ending. I’m always impressed by clever titles like that. So, wonderful job on making the title have a double meaning and having it refer to a song. Brilliant work with that.
I think that you, as a writer, have a very firm grip on characterization, plot, grammar, and story flow. Once you master some of the more stylistic parts of grammar, I could only imagine that your writing – which is already wonderful – would be superb. I truly enjoyed reading this story and I look forward to seeing what else you write in the future.
Author's Response: Thank you for the really really long review. I wasn't expecting one that long. I'm not good with verb tenses at all. I really need to word on that. Thanks for the compliment. The really made my day. Thank you so much for the review. I'll try to work on my tenses.
That was a very interesting poem to read. I found it particularly thought provoking about how someone must feel to be trapped in Azkaban. We as readers are, perhaps, fortunate to have been provided with a very good description of what a Dementor’s effects feel like through the actual books. However, we never were provided with exactly what Azkaban felt like. We were certainly able to make conjectures and we had vague hints and references, but we never really got to visit the actual place. Thus, your topic, which seems to be very near to what has been written in the actual books, is quite unique.
I think that writing this in a poem (as opposed to prose) was very fitting for the situation. If a prisoner was indeed being held within Azkaban, I don’t think that they would have been able to have had the clarity of thought to come up with something in prose form. A poem, though, tends to lend itself to expressing more emotion and feeling, which is really what you want to experience when you’re describing a particularly horrible place like Azkaban. So, excellent choice on the format.
Even though this is written from the point of view of an anonymous inmate, I couldn’t help but think that this could have been written from the point of view of Barty Crouch Jr’s mother. I think that the way you described death as a “silent peace” and the remarks about the “innocent prisoner” who lies there led to this. When she entered Azkaban, she was already very ill and expected to die. Furthermore, she hadn’t committed an actual crime. I have the impression that people who are imprisoned for the crimes that they commit (Sirius and Bellatrix leap to mind), it gives them something to think about. As there was no reference to some sort of crime in this poem and the person seems to be viewing the prison fairly objectively, I couldn’t help but think that this was Mrs. Crouch, awaiting her certain and upcoming death and remarking upon her surroundings.
On that note, I quite liked how death has been described as a “silent peace” here. It’s as if the inmate simultaneously fears and welcomes death. Death would certainly put him/her out of the misery within Azkaban, but it is still death, which is certainly something that all mortals fear. I thought that this phrase was particularly eloquent and appropriate for the poem and I liked how it served a dual purpose as the title of the work as well.
I quite enjoyed this lovely bit of poetry!
Sometimes the night calls to me. Sometimes the stars shine bright...
Severus reflects on himself, and what the night means to him.
My only friend will watch the stars... But is she seeing the same stars as me?
Dear Spire –
This was a very interesting poem. It was fascinating to see your interpretation of Severus’ thoughts. He’s such a complex character and I think that you have a good handle on his younger self.
I found it very interesting that you chose to use the night (with its moon and stars) as the central image of the poem. It’s a fairly popular theme in poetry with good reason. It’s definitely mysterious, slightly lonely, and beautiful. You can evoke so many images just by using the night. What I immediately thought of when I noticed that night was the central piece of this poem was romance. Of course, when you mention Lily as the “only friend” – something that is reinforced from the repetition – I was immediately reminded of the idea that Severus was apparently in love with Lily. So, although night is one of those common things in poetry, I thought that you used it well to evoke certain images and ideas without having to openly state them.
But I wish I had them in their entirety,
A full moon and a smattering of stars --
Every night, especially on the darkest…
So why aren’t they always there?
I thought that these lines were quite beautiful and really capture Severus’ character. You spent a stanza before these showing that Severus can’t have everything. He can’t have both the moon and the stars at the same time. The mention of Lily in a stanza before that draws a great parallel between being unable to have both Lily and his other friends (and things like Death Eater activities). I thought that this parallel was especially pretty and fairly heartbreaking. I felt terrible for Severus because he can’t really have both – he can’t have weak stars and a weak moon. Essentially, he can have one or the other and it’s fairly heartbreaking to think about everything in Severus’ life that he wants but can’t have.
These lines are also very telling as to Severus’ character. The last line, especially, demonstrates that he seems to have very little to comfort and support him. After all, he seems to be relying on the stars rather than on another human. We, as readers, know that other humans haven’t always been there for Severus. His father didn’t seem to care about him and his mother did, but wasn’t strong enough to counteract his father. Then, Lily essentially abandoned him and their friendship. Severus’ mindset at this point – I’m putting a guess in that this was very near to the “Lake Incident” – must have been one that just didn’t trust other human beings. It just makes it more tragic that he has to apply that mistrust of humans to nature, as the stars and moon and the light that they admit are no more constant that the people in his life.
I found the structure of this poem to be very interesting. In the first three stanzas, the first two lines open with “Sometimes”. Then, a later stanza has the first two lines begin with “Most of the time”. This seems to give quite a bit of uncertainty to Severus and his actions, although the first three stanzas are actually about nature (and, thus, kind of underscore the point about the inconsistency of nature that I made in the previous paragraph). However, the repeated use of words and phrases like that seem to me to say something about Severus’ character. He seems to be questioning his actions and what he does; almost as if he’s testing out different courses of action and seeing what suits him best. We can only imagine that his Hogwarts years were some of experimentation with various things before settling firmly with the Death Eaters. So even though most of these phrases tended towards describing nature, I thought that their repetition definitely highlighted that questioning part of Severus’ character. I do, however, think that the message might have been more strongly conveyed if you had used the same structure throughout the poem. Most of the stanzas begin with a few lines that open with the same phrase, but there are several that don’t. While this is a largely stylistic note from someone who tends to like symmetry, I think that the poem would have flowed a little more smoothly if the other stanzas had opened with the same repetition. Not the same words, per se, but with the same repeating structure.
So, I wanted to tell you that this was an absolutely lovely poem to read. I think that you really explored Severus’ character in a believable way and left very thought provoking questions for the reader. I really enjoyed this.
Author's Response: Thank you so much, Kelly! This is one of my favourite things I've written, so it's lovely to read this feedback! -hugs-
Dear the opaleye –
That was an extremely beautiful poem. It was wonderfully subtle and powerful – things that I cherish when I find them in poetry. I’m not so much of a fan of over-the-top imagery and symbols; a poem is so much more moving (for me, at least) when these things are subtle and underscore your poem, rather than dominating it. You did a lovely job with this.
On that extremely general note, I would like to zoom in on some specifics. One of the things that I found to really add depth to this poem was how you began every stanza with a different description of “night”. Your first five stanzas have descriptions that are fairly negative/scary – words like “empty” and “loneliness”. The last two stanzas, though, when Cho is actually at Cedric’s grave are much more positive – “comforting” and “windless”. The shift in the description of the night from something scary and almost threatening in some cases to one that is almost embracing is, I think, extremely powerful. This more than just about anything else demonstrates the love between Cho and Cedric. She’s depressed, scared, and lonely, but once she reaches where he died she’s calmer, a little more reflective, and at peace with her surroundings. It’s as if the reminder of the love that they shared tempered her natural surroundings to a point where she could deal with them, rather than be overwhelmed by their negativity.
Furthermore, I really like that this poem takes place entirely at night. The night is very ambiguous and can be interpreted in so many ways: calm, mysterious, stormy, romantic, etc. Having this poem – this goodbye – take place at night rather than in the daylight makes it feel softer, somehow, rather than harshly exposed by the bright sunlight. Cho has obviously kept this ache within her for years and having her say her goodbye at night, when she can be nearly hidden and protected by the dark, I feel is more realistic (or, at least, prettier in the mind’s eye) than if she had done so in the daylight. The darkness makes things more private whereas daylight exposes things and this is an extremely private moment in Cho’s life that you are allowing the reader to get a glimpse of.
I wanted to point out these lines as being extremely powerful because they really resonated wit me:
I stand where you stood
I fall where you fell
I weep where you died
I speak to you at last,
And I know you are near.
This was a very touching insight to Cho’s healing process. We know that she went through a lot of suffering and grief when Cedric died. It made me feel more hopeful for the mental well-being of her person to see her reenact his movements and take comfort in it. This is, though still grieving, a large departure from when she would burst into tears whenever Cedric’s name was mentioned. The fact that she can even stand where he died is a huge step forward in the process of healing. It gave me one of those little sad smiles to see that she is starting to come to terms with the fact that while he is dead, Cedric is still with her. You described this process very beautifully and very poignantly and I think that it’s through this passage especially that the reader can see just how well you understand Cho’s character and her way of thinking.
I also liked the image of Cho telling Cedric’s grave all about the Final Battle. Not only is that touching that she goes through those motions, but it’s a further step in her healing process. She can now rationalize that, while his death was a horrible tragedy, it wasn’t in vain. Voldemort didn’t win and her explanation of this to Cedric is a further step in her acceptance of the fact that he is gone, yet still present.
To bring my thoughts to some sort of conclusion, I think that you did a marvelous job with this poem. Through your characterization, your word choice, and your structure, you presented a very private portrait of grief and an eventual acceptance of loss. As a casual reader of poetry, I think that you have quite a gift for writing in this style. Wonderful job.
Author's Response: Hi Kelly! Thank you so much for this wonderful review. It's so nice to see that my poetry brings pleasure to others as much as it brings pleasure to me when I write it. I really wanted to give Cho a proper ending, I suppose as I felt her story was never wrapped up within the books. So thank you for reading and reviewing. You've made my day :) Julia
Dear Secret shadows –
This was a very interesting poem to read. I was particularly interested in your summary, where you stated that this poem was originally about government but then was applied to the Death Eaters. As a reader, I’m very curious as to whether or not this was edited in order for it to be applied. Or is this, perhaps, the original version? This is actually one of the things that I love most about poetry; the same words can be interpreted in so many different ways. If this is indeed the original version, being told what the current subject is and what the first subject was gives a very interesting and very different interpretation than if you’d simply stated that this was about Voldemort.
Also, on a rather related note, you say that this poem was originally about “government”. This poem actually seems to be more about politicians than actual government, although this is my personal interpretation. If this original poem had been about the government itself, I think that it would have been more easily transferred to the HP universe as a poem about the corrupt Ministry of Magic, rather than the Death Eaters themselves. Although, of course, it is important to realize at the same time that it was the Death Eaters running the MoM. But, on the other hand, it is the politicians who would have been running the government. Also, your title seems to suggest that this is about a group of people and the individuals therein contained rather than the group as a whole. What I wanted to do with this little explanation was really to explain why I started reading this poem. I was rather intrigued by the comparison you drew because it wasn’t quite what my mind expected – it isn’t wrong by any means – but it was unexpected and very thought provoking.
I really liked the way you used the concept of wearing masks in this poem. The Death Eaters, of course, wear literal masks, but it’s a nice parallel to suggest that they also wear figurative masks. It almost suggests a “Lucius-Malfoy-model” of the Death Eaters in which they’re not inherently evil, but have merely assumed the role and are hiding behind it. This is rather different from the way that I initially read the books, where I saw what seemed to be a clear divide between “good” and “evil”. I like this interpretation, though, as it makes them more human. It’s almost physically impossible to have such a sharp divide between the Death Eaters and other people; there has to be some sort of grey area.
That is not to say that what I drew from this poem was that Death Eaters were lovely, sweet, and caring people once they stepped out from behind their masks. Based on many of your lines – especially “Deep down we go into the abyss” and “We’ve lost ourselves to promise and pain” – it seems as though the Death Eaters have absorbed a part of their character that they assume behind their masks into their personalities. Or, perhaps, that human beings all have that evil somewhere within and the hiding behind those masks merely brought that piece of their nature into prominence.
Structurally, I find it very interesting that you open with a description of the Death Eaters: who they are, what they do, how they behave, etc. And then, half way through the poem, you switch to a cautionary tone and seem to offer a warning to others to not follow this path. I thought that this was a particularly powerful structural choice. The first half of the poem is fairly disturbing and I think is meant to be so. It makes the warning at the end of the poem just that much more meaningful. And, on that subject, the repetition of the first two lines paired with a new couplet in the last stanza was my absolute favorite part of this poem. It brought the poem in a full circle with the repetition, but managed to express a certain feel of regret on the part of the Death Eaters. In the first part of the poem, they seem to perversely enjoy what they do, but after the warning to others not do act as they have, they express this regret over the fact that they’ve been lost to this other world and it’s impossible to return again. I think that this impossibility of return exists on two levels. The first is that it may be physically impossible to rejoin the world after being a Death Eater because of the negative stigma attached or the fact that they may very well be imprisoned for life. The second is that that they’re mentally unable to rejoin the world because of all the things that they’ve done and witnessed. It would be impossible, I think, to put that completely behind them.
I wanted to quote a few lines:
Run, run, run
Out of the darkness,
Into the sun.
This would have been the first stanza in the “warning” part of your poem. I thought that the words themselves were particularly well-chosen. The concept of darkness is an excellent choice for describing any follower of the Dark Lord. I did wonder why you chose the word “Tiger”. It didn’t really appear anywhere else in the poem. Is this a reference to William Blake’s poem, The Tyger? Was it a purely stylistic choice? It generally fits in the poem and I liked it, but as a reader, I’m curious as to where it comes from.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this poem. It was extraordinarily complex – much more so than many poems that one finds here on this site. That complexity really lends itself to making the poem extremely thought provoking. I think you did a marvelous job in your portrayal of the Death Eaters. You characterize them extremely well, while managing to put a very interesting twist on their behavior. I hope that you continue to write and post poetry like this because this was a really enjoyable piece to read.
Author's Response: To my lovely reviewer indigoenigma, I greatly appreciate your time to read my latest Harry Potter related creation. Quite honestly, I just threw the summary together, but now looking back on it I realize that the vagueness of it, using only a comparison between government and death eaters, allows the reader to become intrigued by the concept on which this poem was written. This is indeed the original, although the only reasons it wasn’t accepted in the first place was A. I accidentally listed two categories instead of just poetry, and B. they suggested I use commas AND periods, not one or the other. Well yes, it does refer more to the politicians, but what I meant about government is how said politicians corrupt the whole ideal rather than just themselves being corrupt. It’s difficult to erase certain mistakes past leaders may or may not have made. I particularly enjoy the use of metaphors, similes, and symbolism because of this fact, that poetry is interpreted by the reader in many ways, as well as the fact it draws people in. Lucius Malfoy was a major inspiration actually for this particular piece of work. Personally, I would think if he wasn’t a Death Eater, his elegance might lead him towards being a white-collared criminal rather than the brute he became under Voldemort. I ADORE how you discovered the grey areas; that all humans have that bit of evil inside of them. It is a major point in this poem, and several of my others. I find it rather odd that of all the poems I enter to mugglenet, the dark ones are the ones that get accepted. I always seem to associate my darker poems with either more metaphors or literacy for some reason. You’ll come to find most all of my poems have what many call that ‘circle effect’ which brings the beginning to the end and relates as well as ties the poem together. Honestly again, tiger was just a stroke of luck from my muse. It intrigues the reader towards its meaning, not because it doesn’t fit, but because the initial choice is unknown. I myself do not know it, but isn’t that the beauty of poetry? You can relate it to most anything if you change the way you view other things. Thank you so much for your kind words, and I assure you I will be posting more often for dedicated viewers such as yourself! ~Secret Shadows
Dear Virgil –
I definitely enjoyed reading this poem. Severus is one of my very favorite characters and I do love seeing people explore the possibilities within his story.
I like your description of Severus as a servant. This really reminds me of the “most loyal servant” descriptions that can be found throughout the series. In this context, though, you’ve managed to change the connotation. Whereas in the series, it’s negative (being the “best” Death Eater”) you’ve made it positive by making the “servant” one to someone beloved. Also, on this note, I really like the title. It seems to really fit with Severus’ personality. An essential part of his character is the delivery of short (sometimes sarcastic) and powerful lines. I really think that the title represents his character and his personality well.
Although I think that you did a very good job with capturing Severus’ character, some of the lines feel as though they’re a little bit too simple to really belong to him. I think the line that really stood out for me with regards to this was “Even as your body rots…”. I sort of feel that the word “rots” is a little bit too blunt and slightly too simplistic to be Severus’. I’ve always been struck by the fact that he likes to use his vocabulary and I don’t really think that he would have been quite so graphic in describing Lily’s remains. He always romanticized and idealized her and I think that he would have continued to do that after her death, even when describing her dead body. So, in order to remain stylistically accurate to the character, I would try to make your phrases fairly concise and (especially when talking about Lily) to use rather more romanticized phrases rather than more graphic/accurate descriptions.
My favorite stanza was definitely the third stanza. I think that using a question in this instance rather than just a statement (“I wonder if you’d be dead.”) makes the sentiments more poignant. Also, the reflection on the past is wonderfully characteristic of Severus. We know that he constantly thinks about the past and having him wonder about theoretical changes here in the middle of his poem really puts an emphasis on that aspect of his personality.
Again, I think that you captured the nature of Severus extremely well in this poem, though some of the word choices were just slightly off. Obviously, things like word choice are of far greater importance in a poem because the reader doesn’t have all of the background to the story that they would get in a piece of prose. However, I think that it’s quite wonderful that you have such a grasp of Severus’ behavior and generally can write him well. For fanfiction authors, I think that he is one of the more difficult characters to write, so well done on that.
And, of course, well done on crafting a very touching and enjoyable poem!
Author's Response: What a great review! I enjoy the constructive critism, and I agree with you completely. The whole essence of the character is difficult to capture. (While I wrote this, I was being... ahem... distracted by a science teacher blabbing about something having to do with Charles Darwin) You definitely read into my words, and I really appreciate it. Thank you! ~Virgil~
Dear clabbert2101 –
That was a very interesting piece of poetry to read. I’m quite intrigued by the fact that you wrote it from the point of view of the victim. And not just a regular victim, but one that dies at the end. It’s a very interesting perspective to have for a poem because it’s almost as though they were writing the poem as they went along (because it is written in the first person present tense) and then they die, but the writing seems to continue normally. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this perspective, but it does make for a very interesting (and somewhat unsettling) realization at the end of the poem when one realizes that the narrator was just eaten.
Structurally, you have a very clipped-feeling set-up. Each stanza is two lines and each pair of lines is a sentence. This gives the poem a very start-stop sort of feel. Personally, I am quite fond of this type of structure, but I don’t know if it meshes well with the poem overall. Since it’s being narrated in the first person present tense, I almost feel that the structure ought to contain more of that panic and fear that the narrator says that they feel. Psychologically speaking, when people are frightened, they think a rather continuous and repeating set of thoughts, which is usually only broken by sudden realizations about their surroundings or situation. What I would have wanted to see out of the structure (in order to convey that) would be either a less rigid structure with more than two lines per stanza or longer sentences that spanned several of these short stanzas. I think that another structure might add more depth to your poem due to the tense that it’s narrated in.
Generally speaking, I thought that your word choice was excellent. These lines actually stood out to me: Pain like fire, excruciating, /Consuming all that I could be. This is the only time that you deviate from present tense and I think that it was an excellent choice on your part. Instead of saying, “…consuming all that I am” I really liked how you switched to future tense. The realization that your narrator’s entire life is ending and that they no longer have a potential future is made very clear with your sudden switch to future tense. It makes the poem feel a little bit more tragic. Your word choice also did a wonderful job of creating a rather gruesome feel with the “ripping, shredding, pulling” line about flesh. I could really envision that scene and it made the poem feel quite a bit more dramatic.
Overall, I enjoyed the poem. It’s definitely unique – I’ve never seen another one written from this perspective before – and I think that you did a good job with it, though there are always little things to improve upon. Keep writing poetry!
Author's Response: Kelly, That is the most in depth and wonderful review I've ever recieved. Thank you for putting the time and effort into writing it, all to help me improve my writing and show your appreciation for my poem. You are awesome, even if I took forever to respond. That's not a reflection on your awesomeness, I'm just slow and/or lazy. :D ~Bella