turning letters into numbers

5 February, 2010

Today we got the marks back for last term’s poetry, which was edited and handed in as coursework at the beginning of this term. I was feeling pretty anxious about picking up the marks, especially as I knew I really hadn’t got there with quite a few of the pieces I handed in. Given that, I’m feeling quietly pleased with my percentage; according to the marking scheme, it means I’m at the upper end of ‘solid work, with evident lyric ability’. Of course, as one tutor reminded us earlier this week, at this stage it’s not about ranking: it’s about the progress we’re making. And as the other tutor said to me a couple of weeks ago, there’s no universal arbiter to these things. As if to underline this, the same poem was praised as being the best by one, while the other thought its tone was too contained.

All that sounds as though I’m not that happy… but I am. It’s a good mark and I know I have a long way to go. The written reports were very helpful and I do feel that I have a little bit more of an idea as to where I’m going with my writing in a broad sense, as well as a much greater idea of what I need to do to get the technical stuff right.

Here’s a really nice comment from one of the reports:

Your poems focus on the activation of metaphor in order to describe a subtle but profound adjustment in perception or realisation. They are moving, complex, intellectually ambitious and skilful in their deployment of form… Your tone is authoritative and you have a musical ear.

And here’s some excellent advice from both:

Make yourself dig deeper here and work through yourself. Trust the imperative that made you write the poem in the first place and trust your images – don’t explain them.

Stand back a little and let image and narrative do the work. The reader will go the extra mile if that is in place.

So, encouraging stuff. But I’m glad to have it out of the way. It’s not about brownie points, but when your work is being marked, it kind of is.

One Response to “turning letters into numbers”

  1. KB said

    Great comments! 🙂

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