Critique of poem “I’m Living in a Ghost Town”

Critique ImageIn I’m living in a ghost town. Joel Challenger, lecturer of the Dominica State College, tells a very personal story of his experience in Dominica and how society is today. The persona presents this story in the form of a poem in which the arguments and analysis as a citizen is shared.

Challenger begins the poem by setting a very disgruntled and sad mood with “I’m living in a ghost town; All my dreams are upside down, Smiles are frowns, friends act like clowns.”, these moods are carried all through the piece. This piece perfectly describes Dominica’s situation and also truly reflects what is going on in our society and many others worldwide.

The poem mirrors the stifling of talents in Dominica, the increase brain drain over the years, which sees all the intelligent and highly trained leave the country in search of better life, the fights between most likely friends, neighbors or family, the death’s, the drugs, poverty, the horrible and corrupt bosses and the constant rise of uneducated youth.

As describe above, the persona’s main purpose for writing this piece is to present, analyze and mirror the average Dominican citizen. It is also stated within the piece that this written in an attempt “To stand up to society” and expose the corruption. The piece is exploding with many literary device such as similes, personification and metaphors just to name a few.

The poem beautifully constructed in the form of a rant, using internal, perfect, and slant rhyme. With no fixed restriction besides the rhyme, kind of like rap without refrain. Similar to spoken word. It is also half rhyme, toying with rhyme and connecting one idea to another (flow/freestyling). However he’s writing is weakened by the presence of repetition and in some cases verbose language.

Joel Challenger: I’m living in a Ghost Town

“I’m living in a ghost town;
All my dreams are upside down,
Smiles are frowns, friends act like clowns.
And it’s only because
My brain’s in fuzz,
I can’t hear the buzz
Of all the trees;
But I feel the breeze.
It’s like everything ceases
To exist; quiet as a cemetery,
Let me take this opportunity
To stand up to society;
But no one answers back,
So I’ll run this track.
You better watch your back,
‘Cuz I’m living in a ghost town,
That’s how I get down,
Slide, glide, drive around
This city,
It ‘aint’ pretty,
So I pity
The faces which float pass
Under that hidden mask,
Filled with scars from the past.
No one sees me;
Frees me; it beats me;
So, please be
More understanding
And comprehending,
When dreams are mending
Each other.
They don’t even bother
To stutter,
When friends in battle fall.
It’s like all
Voices stall.
‘Cuz I’m living in a ghost town.
Victims from the ground,
Their screams echoing all around;
Yet no one sees the tears,
Hears the fears,
Feels the pain of their peers,
As more of their friends die.
Families cry,
Citizens fly,
Away from this country,
To another county,
Where there is plenty.
And we are left with
A death wish;
An empty dish
Of creativity,
And society
No longer cares about the nativity.
It’s not my imagination;
Its discrimination;
Look at the condition
Of houses,
And Spouses,
Is this what we want?
A flashy store front,
While bosses pull stunts
On humanity. Despise them,
Abuse them,
And use them
To do evil, give hugs,
Then sell drugs.
Should I blog
About the corruption
In this nation,
Or the condition
Of our schools?
No rules,
Kids choose
To neglect education;
No motivation,
To better their situation.
But run
To pick up guns
With tons
Of ammunition, no respect.
Then they choose to neglect
The opposite sex,
And gravitate
To humiliate
And degenerate
To the unthinkable,
Making grossness plausible.
You’d think such was impossible.
I don’t understand;
What’s going on in this land?
Not a man to stand
Up for morality;
We praise individuality,
And embrace animosity.
This can’t be real.
What’s the deal?
I can’t digest this meal.
I must be living in a ghost town.
Everything is upside down.
Yeah . . . I’m living in a ghost town!”

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  1. Donkey
    March 26, 2016

    I appreciate the creative writing and criticism in spirit very much, but–why do Dominicans seem to think that poems must rhyme? Have any of these writers and critics read other Caribbean poets, or any free-verse poetry at all? I consistently get the sense that these Dominicans on these columns mean well but are severely lacking in basic knowledge of the very thing they are speaking about. Imagine Derek Walcott reading this. Come on.

  2. Roger Burnett
    March 23, 2016

    May I suggest that Dominica State College students and tutors interested in poetry watch out for Shawna Johnson’s next poetry extravaganza “Lyrics under the Stars”. The show features Dominican poets at their best.

    At the first Dominica Literary Festival, Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott stated that Caribbean poets need to learn their craft. The same can be said of aspiring critics. Please proof read what you write.

    In the meantime I remain on the level of the poet Robert Service (1878 –1958) who wrote:

    To show you how low-brow I am
    I readily admit,
    When reading Mary and her Lamb
    I wish I’d written it.

  3. Imperial prince
    March 23, 2016

    I like this,I could rap this, that aside I think it pictures the reality of today nicely.

  4. Me
    March 23, 2016

    Wow.. Great poem.. great message. I can see school kids rapping this during a show! Excellent! Does the author have a book on poetry?

    • Me
      March 23, 2016

      Does this poet not author! Sorry :)

      Also good job to the critique. If it were not for this article I would not have seen the poem!

  5. smdh
    March 23, 2016

    Keep in mind that poems don’t need to always sound like nursery rhymes or a rap verse. the words in poems don’t always need to rhyme. poetry is expression through words that will enable to listener or reader to vividly see what is being spoken off while invoking thoughts and emotions. metaphors and similes, pun and adjectives etc. making every other sentence rhyme with the one before is ok but sometimes its like reading Dr Zeus or mother goose nursery rhymes. I think its a good poem and a nice try at it. Keep up the effort in hopes of improvement. cheers.

  6. Chakademus
    March 23, 2016

    Beautiful. I like. I feel it.

  7. Ti boug
    March 23, 2016

    Where can I read this poem.

  8. i am dominica...are you?
    March 23, 2016

    ummmm….where is the poem?

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