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Thread: Critiquing Other Critiques: Yes or No?

  1. #51
    Why so serious? writeontime's Avatar
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    Hello all,

    This is an absolutely fascinating thread and I'm glad to have stumbled across it as I meander my way through the forum, familiarising myself with the etiquette here.

    I'm new here and I joined simply because I've been hunting for an active writer's forum, a place where I can offer and receive feedback, in the spirit of reciprocity.

    Now, I have to confess that when it comes to critiquing poetry (and other forms of writing), I'm relatively new to it, in an online forum anyway. I have a lot to learn when it comes to online critiques as I'm used to providing feedback face-to-face. But I'm sure that, whether online or face-to-face, there are certain criteria critters (have I got that phrase right?) and writers would want to adhere to, such as, for example, courtesy, understanding that the critique is about the material itself and not the person writing it, etc. I know how nerve-wracking it can be to be on the receiving end and yet, I also know from experience how delicate the issue can be if one is providing the feedback. Thinking back, for me, it comes down to a certain amount of self-reflexivity when it comes to providing the feedback because the last thing I'd wanted is to trigger a flood of tears in one of my students. Maybe I'm just a soft-hearted fool.

    I don't know if I made any sense here...
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  2. #52
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    Don't be afraid to dip a toe in. Even after years of providing crits and being well-known in a forum, every venture remains a gamble. Critting is a dangerous venture.

    A small consolation, for whatever it's worth, is that bad responses are a fairly reliable way to see you've triggered some reaction in an author. You may yourself be wrong, but on the other hand you may have had a hand in shaking not just a technician but a soul awake. If virtue is its own reward, there is something there to be savored even when it might seem the whole process is a waste of optimism.

    On the other hand, if you're simply a dick, disregard what I've said. And if you're not, expect to be occasionally treated exactly as if you're simply a dick.

    If you can't take that, it's not far from expected. Courage is expensive and consequently rare. If you can, welcome to the slim club of long-lasters. You'll be more appreciated than you know, but you might not know it.

  3. #53
    Mentoring Myself and Others Debbie V's Avatar
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    Also, consider that we post to be critiqued. We need your honesty to improve our work. The more and more varied the opinions, the better to help us see.

  4. #54
    Why so serious? writeontime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blarg View Post
    Don't be afraid to dip a toe in. Even after years of providing crits and being well-known in a forum, every venture remains a gamble. Critting is a dangerous venture.

    A small consolation, for whatever it's worth, is that bad responses are a fairly reliable way to see you've triggered some reaction in an author. You may yourself be wrong, but on the other hand you may have had a hand in shaking not just a technician but a soul awake. If virtue is its own reward, there is something there to be savored even when it might seem the whole process is a waste of optimism.


    I've been thinking about what you said for a couple of days now - critting is indeed a dangerous venture especially judging from the response I received when I provided a crit on a ms one of my students produced (this happened about a month or so ago) which made me re-think a lot of things, particularly my approach.

    However, a lot of those jig-saw pieces, which I've been mulling over, fell into place today as I've just heard from him - he has since polished his ms and submitted it. Got accepted on a writing course. Hearing this news positively warmed the cockles of my heart, more so than I can vocalise.

    As you intimated - nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thanks.


    “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
    - Ernest Hemingway


  5. #55
    Why so serious? writeontime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie V View Post
    Also, consider that we post to be critiqued. We need your honesty to improve our work. The more and more varied the opinions, the better to help us see.

    You've hit the nail on the head, Debbie. It's about the honesty and variety of critiques/feedback a writer receives, which is immeasurably helpful in helping a writer towards his/her goals...
    “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
    - Ernest Hemingway


  6. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by writeontime View Post


    I've been thinking about what you said for a couple of days now - critting is indeed a dangerous venture especially judging from the response I received when I provided a crit on a ms one of my students produced (this happened about a month or so ago) which made me re-think a lot of things, particularly my approach.

    However, a lot of those jig-saw pieces, which I've been mulling over, fell into place today as I've just heard from him - he has since polished his ms and submitted it. Got accepted on a writing course. Hearing this news positively warmed the cockles of my heart, more so than I can vocalise.

    As you intimated - nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thanks.


    Glad it worked out for you! It does take a thick skin, doesn't it? Anyone in the crit biz to win friends had better prepare for some surprises.

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by writeontime View Post


    You've hit the nail on the head, Debbie. It's about the honesty and variety of critiques/feedback a writer receives, which is immeasurably helpful in helping a writer towards his/her goals...
    Agreed. Anyone at any time is capable of giving a good crit, and, simply by being another voice, can help to show which way a general or a very particular audience might tend to respond. It's all useful.

    Even opinions you think couldn't possibly be more wrong are useful, in that they alert you it's possible to take something you wrote in ways you disagree with or never anticipated. That information can be priceless and lead to productive changes. And it might have been impossible to get from someone who liked your work or knew what you were getting at right away. Just like you, a different way of seeing your work might never have occurred to them.

  8. #58
    Huh. kkbe's Avatar
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    Blarg: Critting is a dangerous venture.
    I don't write much poetry so perhaps I shouldn't comment here, but Blarg's statement triggered something.

    In the give and take, back-and-forth communication we engage in here, emotions run high sometimes. People say things. Even though we aren't face-to-face, it's no less real.
    Therefore, it would behoove us to be respectful and focused when critting others' work, and courteous and gracious, should we be lucky enough to find ourselves on the receiving end.
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  9. #59
    practical experience, FTW Gondomir's Avatar
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    Angry Critiquing the Critic

    It is important to remember, whether one offers or receives a critique, that the poet asked for it and the critic was nice enough to read the poem, analyze it, and offer advice, such as it may be, free of charge. Critiquing the critic is poor form. A gentle clarification for a critic who perhaps missed something is acceptable, but anything beyond that smacks of ingratitude and rudeness. I am always careful to at least thank my critics for their time even if I have no intention of taking their advice. I also am careful to abandon a poet who does not accept my criticism with courtesy.

  10. #60
    Has a few recurring issues kborsden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gondomir View Post
    It is important to remember, whether one offers or receives a critique, that the poet asked for it and the critic was nice enough to read the poem, analyze it, and offer advice, such as it may be, free of charge.
    This is the clincher for many critters. If I sit down to read a poem and take it to the extent that I have on occasion ( a day to read, an hour or so to write a post -- returning after an hour more to edit or add into my comment; return to post further comments after each revision), I'm not doing it to be an arse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gondomir View Post
    A gentle clarification for a critic who perhaps missed something is acceptable, but anything beyond that smacks of ingratitude and rudeness. I am always careful to at least thank my critics for their time even if I have no intention of taking their advice.
    I agree, if the poster feels they need to explain certain elements, or that the critter may have missed the point; it's not a problem to make a statement to that effect, or to ask for further clarification if the critique is unclear.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gondomir View Post
    I also am careful to abandon a poet who does not accept my criticism with courtesy.
    Another valid point, and a sentiment shared by many.
    Kieran Borsden
    "to be born Welsh, is to be born--not with a silver spoon in your mouth, but with song in your heart, and poetry in your soul"



    Got to write an Englyn or 2

  11. #61
    practical experience, FTW Wextd's Avatar
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    Crit the poem only

    I think that you should just critique the poem. You may want to comment on other's crits if ,for example, you feel that they have missed the point of the poem but I think feedback of the poem posted is more valuable to the person who posted the poem that getting into a squabble with another critique

  12. #62
    One of the most important people in the world kdnxdr's Avatar
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    Crits are always a very personal response to poems that are seeking feedback.

    I believe that there is so much more to poetry than just writing a poem. The poem is like the net that catches a butterfly. We ask, "what net did you use?" "Was it affective in catching what you were pursuing?" "Could you have used a different size net?" "Could the net been of another grade of netting?" "If you had done things differently, would you have captured more than one butterfly?" And, so on.

    By venturing a crit, we are in another dimension of poetry, as part of the voice of a responding audience, who is, in fact, part of the poetic experience, and an extension of the poem.

    When we (the audience of the crit) respond to the crit, we are, again, in yet another dimension of the poem.

    I once read a book that was written about the emergence of the Impressionists of the French art world. When the yearly gallery would take place in Paris, the submitted pieces would be hung according to how they were perceived by the board(?) of art critics. The audience would sometimes rebel against the critics and there would be brawls in the streets over one another's critiques.

    Critiques have their own motivations and purposes and are no where near being purely mechanical. If they are, aren't they lacking as critiques?
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