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MadHat11D6
J.R.
Artist | Literature
United States
I suppose I should be writing something here. I'll get back to you.
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August 31, 2014 - Black and White


With the appearance of social unrest tearing through cultures all over the world, it is important to explore different perspectives to paint the truest picture of the situation. The pieces featured here explore race, specifically looking at relations between black people and white people.  

Poetry



Identity"White reflects all colors on the light spectrum,"
                                    my teacher once said.
I wondered why it took a scientist to discover
a lesson that history has already taught us.
White doesn't carry home its dead
                                   with
                                   the
                          

Identity by TurboTracks

"I live with dispersed hues that run at the sight of me
because my science-history says it must be so."

This poem takes a white perspective on this issue, exploring the guilt of history as well as the daunting dream of cohesion. What makes this interesting is the rarely-explored idea of hope for white people - that this state of oneness can be possible despite history.

OvercomeOvercome
It is a moment without metaphor,
without the elegance of ambiguity.
What happens does not signify anything,
does not borrow the body of what it is
to create the soul of what it is;
it does not lend itself out to betoken
other things. These are seconds
without such generosity.
It is not a moment of young onions
grown tender for the harvest, or persimmons
frosted over by the sugars of age. There are
no solemn rail cars rusting into poignancy.
There is only a young black man
who is only a young black man
bullied by the sting of insult and indignity
too great, his proud mouth burnt by wrath
as he careens down the sidewalk
toward bedlam.
There is only a loose-tongued white man
who is only a loose-tongued white man,
older and leaning heavily on a cane as he turns,
a bag of something in his free hand, fretfully
silent now as he looks into the face
his epithets have spoken to life –
one ugliness begets another.
Cups of coffee leave the parking lot
behind me, where presumably all
 
Overcome by b1gfan

"It is not a moment of young onions
grown tender for the harvest, or persimmons
frosted over by the sugars of age. There are
no solemn rail cars rusting into poignancy."

Taking the perspective of an onlooker, the impact of this piece comes from it's blatant style. It is not layered with emotion or impression, rather, it presents the scene as it is. Whether intentional or not, the situation described in this poem speaks to a deeper issue; a black man, angry enough to be moved to violence from the words of a white man. There is something to overcome. 


Prose



colour blind.She saw him at the park once. He was the colour of dirt; with bird eyes and white, mapped palms. Her little forehead lined as she felt the bile force its way up until her saliva was acid. She counted her toes and bit the inside of her cheek, should she run? Are they fast runners? She figured this one must be if he kept himself out of jail. The dark man flashed a mouthful of pebbles and held out his hand- which would have swallowed hers.
'Don't touch me.'
Her hands were all knuckles and her baby eyes tore into his. He faltered and stepped away, a half mouthed sorry. He looked upset, a grin spread like fire between her dimples.
Suddenly she imagined force-feeding him barbed wire and then tearing it back out- the way a clown pulls coloured cloth from his sleeve. She imagined tying the left of his limbs to a heavy tree trunk and the right to a truck. Dragging and pulling until his joints sang high with dislocation and his arms snapped like twigs. The way she likes the crackle of dea

colour blind. by Pretty-As-A-Picture

"The bruised black boy sat two seats behind her one year. She'd hold her nose to stop the apocryphal smell as she tried instead to fill her lungs with the air that lingered under her shirt, at her chest."

This story is written from the perspective of a young girl raised to hate black people, not realizing the blackness that is a part of her. It presents the stark injustice of discrimination, at the same time dealing with identity and white passing. Both interesting and haunting (and at times difficult to read), this story is a quietly important addition to the racial dialogue. 

Black and WhiteI met him in the sandbox.
It sits just past the streetlight mamma tells me is old fashioned because it looks more like candy than a stoplight. I don't agree, but I'd never tell her. (she only insults it in this manner after she forgets to look for it and runs a red light)
I was not building sandcastles, or playing house, or pretending to be princess of anything. I was building roadways and mountains and intersections for my little yellow jeep to purr its way over; ignorant of all traffic laws. (Did you know that if you purse your lips and blow, you can grrr just like one?)
He had green eyes to match his green tractor, and we built farms and dug trenches until our little arms were sore and then we planted pebbles while we chanted grow corn grow.
.
I think I remember her skirts, and the red of her hair, and the twisted rouge of her lips as she yanked him stumbling to his feet and sneered.
She had his green eyes.
I do remember what she said, Don’t play with her Michael. She

Black and White by TheAfterWhys

"I do remember what she said, Don’t play with her Michael. She’s dirty. I didn't know then, that the word dirty had nothing to do with hygiene."

This piece takes the perspective of a young black girl told she cannot play with a white boy. What makes this interesting is, unlike many stories within this point of view, the mother is unable to teach racism to her child. This creates the effect of highlighting the ridiculousness of the mother's ideals, but does this without taking away from the pain felt by the black girl and her mother. 

All of these pieces are interesting and thought provoking. Each of them provides a unique perspective on the relationship between black and white, each adding something to this important dialogue about race.   

Activity


They say they lost their lives
How many boys need to die
Before they’ll see it?
Chalk outlines on the pavement
Drawn around black bodies
And they paint us white
As we spill onto the pavement
Hollow
We are past it
We are past it
They say they lost their lives.
Countless
Unarmed
Black boys
Lost
Their
Lives.
I reject
The idea that their lives were lost
Like a sock in the dryer
Like a toy under the bed
Like a gun to his head
His life was taken.
On the darkened streets walking to home to his mother
His life was taken
When he called the police to stop a robbery
His life was taken
In his home his life was taken
In his home
His life was taken.
They say it’s not about race.
Because he has a gun.
Because he is attacking.
Hands held above his head
He does not run
He cannot move
But he has the face of the devil
“Don’t shoot”
He is a chalk outline on the pavement
“Don’t shoot”
We are chalk outlines on the pavement.
And they tell us it’s not about race.
We are past it
We must be past it –
It was a tragedy
And they didn’t mean for it to happen –
So tell me why
A fifteen year old black boy with a social disability and a pen knife
Is shot and killed in his home
Tell me why
A white man walks into a theater with a gun
Kills twelve people
And lives to tell the tale
Do not tell me
It’s not about race.
Eyes closed to your own hate
As you hang us from it
They’ll never listen if we’re screaming
We are past it
We are past it –
Listen.
We have reached the chorus
Of broken hearts
Centuries of our screaming
Coalescing
In the names of the fallen
And we hold them high
We will get past it.
But I will not live
By the politics of respectability.
The story is not over
After the march.
And one speech does not
Silence our voices.
Do not tell me this is over.
Do not tell me
This is not about race
When my race has become a victim
To this society.
Do not tell me
We cherish this victimhood
Do not tell me
That that valuing black lives
Is hating white lives.
Let me tell you something about hate.
Hate is the look in his eyes when he shot that black boy.
Hate is the look in their eyes when he shot that black boy.
Hate is the currency of our society.
We are all chalk outlines
In the ruins of brotherhood.
Chanting the verses they’ve taught us to speak
Lowering our faces and declaring
The war is over!
Racism is dead
Racism is dead –
We will not take it.
We will not let you tell us
These boys lost their lives.
Because their lives were taken from them.
The moment they came out of their mamas wombs
Singing into this society that hates them
Their lives were taken from them.
We want them back.
Racism is Dead
An updated version of a poem written in August of 2014 of the same title. This one was finished February 2015. Alternate title: Chalk Outlines
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Hello there! First and foremost, I've got to talk about grammar and formatting.

There is not enough space in this piece. When I see a piece that is just a long block of text, I don't want to read it because it's a huge strain on my eyes. In addition to that, it messes up the pacing of your piece by making it seem squished and quick. Novels have the advantage of the 'tab' key, as well as more space on the pages (dA space is about 1.15, you're average novel will be about 1.5) so what you have to do is create space. Space out each paragraph and each line of dialogue so there is space between - like I have formatted this critique - and your piece will be much more attractive and easier to read. It's a very important part of writing, and many writers forget it.

Second: I believe I've said this before, you like to take a rather liberal approach to commas and general punctuation and if makes your pieces awkward to read. For example:

"They forgot why they came here in the first place, all they wanted, is to try out everything and see what the magicians are capable of." There is intrigue here, but you lost it with a run on sentence. Try something more like:

"They forgot why they came here in the first place. All they wanted was to try out everything and see what the magicians were capable of."

This leads me to my next point: You get your tense confused pretty early on in this piece, and you use just a few words incorrectly. You start the piece in the past tense, but by the second sentence you're switching back and forth between past and present. Pick just one that you're comfortable with, and make sure it stays consistent throughout the story.

Finally, your dialogue. In the first little chunk you use "" and then throughout the story you use dashes. You've got to pick one. I don't like dashes, but I'm getting used to them. If you want them, be careful how you use dashed throughout your writing. You may want to switch to commas or parenthesis, as not to confuse readers.

Now. For the actual content of the piece. It has a very whimsical and intriguing tone that makes it an enjoyable read. I would only really be careful about a couple of things:

1) Your descriptions are, at times, wonderful and they set the tone and make me happy. Other times, they seem lazy. You can give us just a bit more in some places. For example, "Dressed in traditional Chinese clothes." That does not paint a picture of this character. It's too vague, because traditional Chinese could mean any prominent fashion within thousands of years of Chinese history. I key in on this specifically as a cultural anthropology student who has spent some time in China - but as a writer it is your job to have some sense of what you're talking about. Research the kind of outfit you're thinking about, make sure you get some research in about the context in which that outfit would be worn, and then give some description of the outfit. Some of your readers won't know that 'traditional Chinese' doesn't describe one style, but others will. And those are the ones you're concerned about. Little details are more important than a lot of people think.

You should also work on given each character their own distinct voice. They're dialogue just sort of blends together to the point that it's hard to tell who's talking without the 'he said' 'she said' add ins. You did a very good job setting the scene and drawing me in, but there was trouble in holding my attention. So much of this is dialogue, and so much of the dialogue is not distinct. I recommend just sitting down and working with your characters a bit, and it will start to come naturally.

All in all, this is a good piece. It's intriguing and I'm interested in more. But you've got to work more on consistency in your writing. You've got the hook, you've just got to keep my attention. And do some research. Good work so far.
Hi. This was pretty fun to read, but it does have a few problems.

First and foremost, it's hard to read. You should really think about how to break up your paragraphs to add space to this piece. Normally, when I see a piece spaced out like you've space this piece out, I move on without reading it. Especially in the format of dA, there should be a full empty space between each paragraph. In addition to that, dialogue almost always starts a new paragraph. For example, part of your piece would look like:

'Mary appreciated the gesture sometimes, though she suspected it was more of a survival instinct rather than an act of good will.

"Mary. That action is detrimental to your health, and I need you alive to accomplish my mission."

If ever there was an appropriate time to roll her eyes...'

See how that works out? When you don't space it out like that, not only is is difficult to read, it totally destroys the pacing of the piece, making it awkwardly quick with each idea running right into another. I want to savor pieces like this.

Vision and Originality

This is a really interesting idea and execution. It's not something I can say I've seen before. The absurd narrator is nothing new, but in the context of the story it stands out. This is a strong and unique idea, and i really appreciate the creativity that had to have gone into it.

Technique

The general execution of the piece is not as strong as the idea. You do some things very well, such as reminding the reader what time frame Mary is from. I really like the part where she seems embarrassed seeing all the exposed legs, and it's cute when she wanders into the colonial museum. However, throughout the piece you lose my suspension of disbelief.

This is an absurd piece. Its success pretty much depends on my willingness to believe what you're telling me is true in the context of the story. When pacing and tension aren't functioning at full capacity, as a reader I begin to lose my willingness to believe. Thus, as a writer, you've lost my suspension of disbelieve. For me, a big part of it was Mary in the museum. If she's looking at a display, it wouldn't be dusty. And if anyone where watching, even if they believed she worked there, she would be stopped from going onto the display. Where are the other people who worked there? Is it closed? You either have to make these things clear, or make me believe that Mary would be allowed to walk on a dusty display in a very poorly staffed museum. To make me believe that, you've got to use pacing to create some kind of tension. It doesn't have to be the sort of tension where you're on the edge of your seat, just a feeling that we're leading to something.

Impact

You lose a lot of impact where you lose my suspension of disbelieve. However, the museum could have been forgiven is you played with the absurdity a bit more, perhaps even made me laugh. This would come primarily from the characters.

John Doe has cheesy dialogue. He seems like the kind of guy who doesn't have anything particularly clever to say, but there is a distinct difference between fun cheesy and distracting cheesy. Within the context of the story, the light tone of the narrator and all that, John's swearing seems totally out of context in a way that doesn't work. Because this story is so creative, it stands out as something that is lazy. You can express frustration without swearing. In a piece like this, it would be more amusing and raise the general impact of the story. It would bring a sort of cohesion that would make everything work just a bit more effectively.

And, of course, the narrator. A lot of the narrator's thoughts seem awkward and out of place, and some of them are funny and right where they should be. It gets the most awkward when you have one section that starts third person limited on Mary (i.e. focusing on what Mary is thinking or doing) and ends 1st person omnipotent with the narrator. It doesn't feel right. Again, this story is absurd. I think you can actually play with the narrator a bit more. But you've got to really consider it and how it fits within the pacing and the context of the story. Take it one step further without making it too cheesy, and it might just take your piece to the next level.

Overall, this is a pretty good piece. You've just really got to focus on your pacing and how you frame the characters to make it an excellent piece.

Critique from
PowerfulWriting
I really like the idea of this piece. Typically when one thinks of the roles of mermaids in literature, they are either dragging people under water against their will or saving humans by taking them to shore. I appreciate the direction you took with this.

To begin, I want to cover a few small grammar things.

- "My tail is different then hers" --> "My tail is different than hers" (kudos for that semicolon, though)
- "the young woman that I now knew was a princess" --> you've confused the tense here. You pretty consistently use present tense in this piece, so you'll want to still with that. So: "that I now know is a princess"
- "I be a peasant" --> "I am a peasant"

Okay. Now for the ratings.

Vision

You did a good job with the prompt. It is clear that the main character drowned and he is being saved by a mythical creature. You hit on all the basic points of the prompt - the point of view, theme and idea that we call 'vision' - and gave it just a bit of your spin. My suggestion for you, in future pieces, is to take it two steps further. If you are working with a prompt, give more than just a new idea. Give it meat - a theme or motif. You start the piece already with the idea of color - "sea green eyes"; follow that through! Choose a theme to reference and build a story around that theme. For example, if the theme was self discovery making drowning and becoming something new - literal events in this story - representations of what happens when you figuratively drown and become something new. Stuff like that. Play around with it.

Originality

Again, I really like the direction you took this piece. I mean, when you think of someone drowning and being rescued by a mythical creature the go-to ideas are typically 'fell of a boat' and 'saved by a mermaid'. So it was refreshing to get that new idea, 'becomes a mer-person and joins the culture because he was claimed by the sea'. You took an unoriginal and very much done idea and gave it a pretty unique spin. My advice to you is to start at unique. You've shown here that you have the capacity to make something different, so I think you could start at different. For example, instead of a cruise ship he could have been pulled out to sea by an undertow. Then he would be quite literally claimed by the sea - and this in turn would develop that idea you put forth in the story. My biggest critiques in this area, however, are that the mermaid he meets is a princess with red hair. because, you know, The Little Mermaid. Shy away from red hair unless most mermaids are ginger. And really, really shy away from the princess thing in general. There is a fancifulness to it, I admit, but it's the easy way out. Take a leap. Make her just a commoner, but her job is to find those who have drowned and bring them back. Or even, she is a commoner who discovers this magic and uses it in secret to save the main character. Both of these have the capacity to build a world and create or imply conflict beyond 'oh man she's pretty but darn she's a princess and I am but a commoner.'

Technique

This piece reads like a dream, and not necessarily in a good way. There isn't really a natural flow to this piece. There are other little issues, but I thin the flow is really the first thing you need to start working on. You only need to connect your ideas, and you do that by showing the situation rather than telling factually what it happening. And you need to do this with an awareness of the point of view you are writing in.

This is where character comes in. Writing in first person can be difficult because you have to know the intricacies of how this character thinks, even if they've only been created for the purposes of a small story. But to produce flow and imagery you need to know:

- How much does this character notice? Are they like Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower - quietly observant, noticing more than people expect? Are they more like Bella from Twilight - doesn't notice much but knows how things make her feel? You've got to be aware of what kind of character you're writing. When you can move on to the next point.
- What stands out to this character? I don't know if you really realize how odd this is, but you've written a character that noticed the color of this girl's eyes before noticing she had a tail or wondering what in the holy heck she was doing under the water like that. There was no thought of 'am I dead?' or 'lol wut mermaid.' It was very simply 'oh, hey, green eyes.' And that's really something you can run with. Because that means he notices minute details, but not the big picture. That is something you can really develop. When they get to the city, he can notice the sea shell outlines decorating the buildings, but totally miss some giant magic glowing thing floating right above the city. Stuff like that.

Find the character, find out how they think, and make sure you craft a story that reflects that. If you don't, it will probably come out bland and choppy.

Impact

Impact is pretty much aspects of all of the other points clumped together. To create a high impact story, you need to capitalize on your characters, you need to capitalize on the development of theme, and you need to capitalize on emotions and pacing.

The pacing of this piece isn't bad, but it could be stronger. It lacks an emotional beat. As in, the main character just drowned and they don't seem to care at all. He doesn't seem to mind that he won't see anyone he's ever cared for every again. he won't have any of his old stuff. Maybe he had a dog that he won't get a change to see again. Even though he's still alive, he's lost everything. Reference stuff like that, really dig in, but don't do it all at once. In this piece, you leave all of the 'i drowned I don't want to think about it' bit in one place. I in reality, when something traumatic happens random little things with remind people of the trauma. It's a fairly constant thought that needs to be crush repeatedly. At least, at the start. Or, alternately, you could take the stance that it hasn't hit him yet. But, again, that's something that needs to be developed within the story. Maybe he'll have a thought about his dog and that'll be what crushes him. Stuff like that.

Overall, this is a pretty solid piece of work. It is, more than anything else, a very good idea. Nice work.

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:iconmintchocolate188:
MintChocolate188 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2015  Student General Artist
Oh my dear, I miss you so much. How has life been treating you?
Reply
:iconmadhat11d6:
MadHat11D6 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2015   Writer
Good. I miss you too! =] I have an internship at king's books right now, which is fun. How are things going for you?
Reply
:iconmintchocolate188:
MintChocolate188 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015  Student General Artist
:D an internship? Awesome! is king's that antique book shop downtown?

I'm good. guitar lessons, snowboarding lessons, book/guitar club, and my online life with my bf are kinda hectic, but i'm managing~ I was nominated for the sweetheart dance princess, so that's... interesting...

But I miss sota so much! like, i can't go downtown without remembering so much and getting all teary T.T
Reply
:iconmadhat11d6:
MadHat11D6 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015   Writer
It's on St. Helens, right down the street from Stadium. Used and new books. =]

Wow, that's a lot. What in the holy hell is a sweetheart dance princess?

sota misses you to, dearie. =] I'm starting to get antsy because this is my last semester them I'm out in August. Then I'll be in Vermont for at least the next four years, likely the next six. So that's happening.  
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(1 Reply)
:icondelta-13:
Delta-13 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I can't believe we weren't already watching each other. Anyway, thanks for the watch. Hug 
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