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P.H.Delarran
12-15-2005, 06:09 AM
OK..it's obvious when someone actually asks for a critique, that that is what they want. But if they don't specify a critique, what is the expectation when one shares a piece? I've seen people say, what do you think? ...so I know they want feedback. But should I play editor and let them know about every little grammar or spelling mistake or assume they will take care of that and they just want to know about the content or theme? If I can't offer a solution, is it still ok to comment that I see a need for repair?
I have seen some very helpful and gentle critiques from others, but many times I have canceled my own replies before posting, because either I can't be nice, or don't feel I am qualified, due to lack of expertise. But as a reader and a writer myself, I sometimes see where improvements can be made. What about those works that just have little quality at all, what would be the best way to critique them? Where is the line between helpfulness and cruelty?
This really goes beyond just the poetry forum, it can be a little more obvious there, but say someone shares the first few pages of a story or something, and it is crawling with mistakes, how to comment on the content when I can't even see past the errors? Should I assume those will be handled?
..

William Haskins
12-15-2005, 06:18 AM
well i've given crits on this forum that run the gamut from a brief observational opinion to total deconstruction.

tone-wise, i've been gentle and encouraging, and brutally mean-spirited.

so, i guess the answer to your question would be to take each poem you choose to comment on as an individual case, and say your piece.

oneovu
12-15-2005, 07:02 PM
In general, here and elsewhere, when poems or pages are posted, I usually assume comments/critiques are - at the least- welcome, unless stated otherwise.

Paint
12-15-2005, 08:12 PM
When I first started here at AW, the critique was the most important part of the forum. I try to return that for the new people. I love to get comments, otherwise why post??
Sometimes I just don't have anything to say, I just want to read.
I am glad this is here for me and everyone.
Paint

henriette
12-19-2005, 08:50 PM
in theatre school, we had a whole class based on critique. the rule that always stuck with me was this:

instead of saying, "that scene didn't work"

say

"i am not sure if you made the right CHOICE with a certain character in that scene..."

by using the word choice, you are giving the artist a chance to consider his/her other options without feeling insulted. this method has been used by me and on me and i can honestly say that simple word can avoid a lot of misunderstandings.

mkcbunny
12-20-2005, 10:43 AM
Excellent question. Thanks for asking it. And to those who answer(ed).

poetinahat
11-19-2006, 05:09 PM
Just found this thread. It needed a good bumpin'. Thanks, p.h.

P.H.Delarran
11-19-2006, 08:46 PM
you really did some digging!

Billytwice
11-25-2006, 01:56 AM
What makes a good critique?
I just deleted a critique I did on a fellow poets work.
Why?
Because, I had spent about 2 hours offering amendments and suggestions and then realised I had rewritten the poem to suit my own style.
When I'd finished, I posted the critique, read it one final time to make sure I was happy with it and then thought, 'wait a minute, who am I to make such alterations to another's pride and joy?'
I realised that what I'd done was presumptuous and ignorant.
So I promptly deleted it.
Who was it that said ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions?’
So, back to my original question:

What makes a good critique?

rekirts
11-25-2006, 02:47 AM
What makes a good critique?That is the question isn't it? I've had people basically rewrite my stuff in their own style, and you are correct that it isn't really helpful. I rarely critique poetry, but for prose I usually just point out spelling and grammatical errors, draw attention to things that are superfluous and could be dropped, or passages that aren't clear. I never rewrite passages because it annoys me if people do that to my stuff. Tell me what's wrong. Tell me what works, but don't rewrite my work.

davids
11-25-2006, 03:50 AM
Perhaps one should just tell the poster how it makes one feel. I know there are other folks who crit grammar etc. style, such things as these. However, since I write poetry simply to get the juices flowing-started to do that here-and know little of technique and such stuff, I refrain from this type of critting which is better left to the qualified. If I can smell it-feel it-see it-hear it-get inside it-or stay outside and simply stand in wonder-these are the things that I might say when responding to a poem.

Stew21
11-25-2006, 04:58 AM
Really I provide any feedback I have at the moment and try to come back with more if the poem requires more thought. I don't give equal attention to all because not all poems require a Line by line. Some just need a "first impression".
Some just need praise.
Give what you think needs to be given or what you have to offer each time, and between each of us, everyone will get what they need.
Jmho.

Godfather
11-25-2006, 01:41 PM
i think you say what you gotta say for each poem.

sometimes you might just have a word or two, or like william said a total deconstruction. if you have something to say about the poem, say it.

Rivana
11-26-2006, 05:26 AM
I agree with the godfather -what kind of feedback or critique I offer up depends on the poem. If I have something to say -I'll say it. If it just wasn't my cup of tea either way I'll move on quietly. How involved the feedback becomes really depends, there's no 'one solution fits all' for me though I always tend to a)go with my gut and b)try to avoid being hurtful. Also, as I said I don't offer feedback or critique on work that meant nothing to me. It doesn't make any difference if I can with my 'writer's spectacles' see that it's a great piece of work or utter crap, if it means nothing to me, I just won't comment. It's a matter of integrity in some weird Rivana way... *shrugs*

P.H.Delarran
11-30-2006, 04:47 AM
When I first asked this, I was new to stepping out here and had not yet offered much feedback. The first responses here and observing the feedback of others helped me gain some courage to wet my feet.
Now I can answer my own question.
I go with what strikes me. I think anyone who is prompted to respond to a poem has an initial validation in that they are a reader who was somehow affected by the work. So as a Poet I appretiate any response, it helps me know how and where my poem hit it's audience, and maybe who the audience is.
So I take the inverse approach when commenting on the work of others. I guess I'd call myself more of a beta-reader than a crit, as I am not capable of pulling the piece apart academically or technically. I love that there are those here that can and do, it's a vital part of the process. I can only offer my reaction to how the piece goes down and how it sits once it lands. Kinda like wine tasting.
I've also learned not to be sensitive, (whether giving or receiving,) that there is an unwritten rule here to take all comments and use 'em or not.
I also don't have qualms about not responding to everything I read. If it doesn't even get past my pallet, how can I comment on it?


The division of the Chapbook and Crit sections has helped as well. It's nice sometimes to read a finished poem and just say 'Nice Job'.

randomaster
12-01-2006, 11:52 PM
What makes a good critique... a question everyone asks at some point and few can always answer (I am not one of them but I do have a toe-hold on the lion-sized subject, lol)

The purpose of a critique is to deeply analyze the workings of the poem. Sometimes it calls for a massive re-write of the said poem (not often though), and at others it just requires those small tweaks where certain devices and phrases aren't used to their fullest.

If you are able/knowledgeable enough to academically break down the work then by all means do so, even if you think you are just modifying the poem to fit your style (critiquing is PART personal preference). The writer can then use the outside view of his usage to then decide whether or not to modify the existing poem or use the advice in a future work.

What makes a full critique good is the level of depth that the criticism reaches both for the good and the bad (remember you are looking at both sides while critiquing) and the constructive advise offered.

"Ok, so what if I can't do any of that?" Then, by all means feel free to just say how the poem made you feel, and find out if that was the purpose or not. If so then say it; if not, then ask what the writer was aiming for. Maybe you would get enough information then to better critique the work, or maybe someone else reading the same info will benefit from it. Either way it never hurts to share your opinion politely.

I always ask for opinions, and always accept whatever level of criticism with a smile (even if they tore the work to pieces and stomped on each one carefully, lol). Share away, fellow writers, share away!

dahmnait
12-05-2006, 06:54 AM
Interesting thread. It caught my eye because I recently started a thread (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48086) regarding crits. I don't know that there is much I can add to this thread though.

MargueriteMing
12-15-2006, 03:45 AM
There are three things I like to learn from a critique of my work.

1. Did the reader really get it? Poetry is often allusive and symbolic, sometimes (or many times) the reader just misses the point. Or sometimes they understand part but not all of the work. When I see a critique that says "I liked this" or "I hated that" or whatever, I'm left wondering how much of it they actually understood.

2. How did the poem make the reader feel? Did I have the emotional impact I was looking for?

3. Did the structure and language work? I generally see more of this type of thing, and less of numbers 1 and 2. Generally I don't want a line by line critique of my language. Only if the poem is working for you, but there are one or two points that would make it stronger is this really helpful. However if you aren't getting the poem in general, or it's not having any emotional impact then doing part 3 is pretty meaningless.

LimeyDawg
12-16-2006, 10:48 AM
The first thing I look for when critting is whether or not the poem makes sense. Then I go for technical aspects, such as showing versus telling, development of abstractions for clarity and so forth.
I think what is important is that any crit be directed at the poem only, not the author. I also believe it to be disrespectful of the critics time if the crit receives a pithy reply because the author disliked the crit.

Mom'sWrite
12-19-2006, 09:35 AM
This has been bothering me since I arrived at AW. I love wandering about in the Writing Poetry Studio, looking at all the stunning art work here, but I am so conflicted on critiques. I see a poem as a painting, complete or at least, representing the artist's vision completely. Who am I to say the artist's vision is wrong or incomplete or not my cup of tea even? That feels like arrogance to me.

In terms of the mechanics of poetry, I'm tabula rasa. I can't comment on technique because of an enfeebled knowledge base. So there again, I have to remain mute.

I could go through and say how much I enjoyed the small journey that the poet has taken me on, but after fifty or a hundred times of "I loved this! It caused me to climax right there in front of my computer!", well, it starts to sound a bit shallow (even if it was true.)

Maybe I should just rep the poet and say "Thanks" and leave my relative moisture level out of it.

Yeah, that's what I'll do...

poetinahat
12-19-2006, 09:41 AM
Me, I approach critiques the same as I do poetry. I know little, but try to learn from what I see. I'm under-qualified to do either, but one has to start somewhere.

So I offer what I can -- what occurs to me, and what I think will help, whether it's a pat on the back or a deconstruction -- and let others decide if I have any clue what I'm talking about.

As with anything else, things work best for me if I combine doing and learning. I may cringe at what I've said in the past, but you have to start somewhere. Otherwise, there's nothing on which to look back.

poetinahat
12-19-2006, 09:48 AM
Thank you for this post, screenmom; you've opened up an important issue here, in my view the most important one in the Poetry Forum right now.

I speak only for myself, but I don't think I'm alone -- if I've posted a poem, and you've read it, I want your feedback!

I'll be grateful for whatever comment you have. Feel free to leave the barometric reading out of it, but anything from "Did nothing for me" on up (or down) is helpful. The worst result is no comment at all.


This has been bothering me since I arrived at AW. I love wandering about in the Writing Poetry Studio, looking at all the stunning art work here, but I am so conflicted on critiques. I see a poem as a painting, complete or at least, representing the artist's vision completely. Who am I to say the artist's vision is wrong or incomplete or not my cup of tea even? That feels like arrogance to me.

In terms of the mechanics of poetry, I'm tabula rasa. I can't comment on technique because of an enfeebled knowledge base. So there again, I have to remain mute.

I could go through and say how much I enjoyed the small journey that the poet has taken me on, but after fifty or a hundred times of "I loved this! It caused me to climax right there in front of my computer!", well, it starts to sound a bit shallow (even if it was true.)

Maybe I should just rep the poet and say "Thanks" and leave my relative moisture level out of it.

Yeah, that's what I'll do...

P.H.Delarran
12-19-2006, 10:17 AM
Screenmom and Poet both bring up a very good point. I just did that tonight. I read a poem I liked very much, but had nothing to say other than that, so I didn't respond at all. That surely explains those who have several views on a poem but little response. Am I short-changing the poet then by doing this? Maybe it's a slight on myself as a writer that I cannot even articulate a simple response describing why I like a piece. I have to use the wine/food analagy again. (my favorite things!) Some food just goes down nice. Can't really describe it. It's easier to describe what's wrong with it when I don't like it. But if it's really good, all I can say is, mmmmm.
Same with poetry.

LimeyDawg
12-19-2006, 06:22 PM
Hah. Now this thread is going somewhere...


Who am I to say the artist's vision is wrong or incomplete or not my cup of tea even? That feels like arrogance to me.
Who are you? You are the most important person in the poets world: you are the audience.

Poetry and, indeed, all art is communication. A poet seeks to tell a story through the use of poetic devices and language. Artists try to communicate through the interaction of the pallette and the subject matter. Sculpters communicate by bringing out the form within the material (truth to materials technique.) Every single one of them is doing it for an audience. Perhaps not everybody out there, but at a minimum, they are trying to communicate their vision to somebody. If a poet, for example, says "Oh, I just wrote this for myself," or "I'm the only one who understands it" then it IS NOT poetry. It is a diary or a journal entry and has no place in a critical forum.

Communication requires a few basic elements. It requires a sender (our poet), a clear message (the poem), a medium of communication (here, the www), and a receiver (you.) Take any single element out of that equation and it fails.
Two of those elements are fixed. They don't change for the message. These are the poet and the medium. I say the poet because once the poem is written, there is nothing the poet does to change the message once it is posted (okay, he can revise but for the sake of argument, lets say its about the first version of the poem.)
The poem and the receiver are not fixed for these reasons: The poem, although the same in form with regards to the order of words on the page, is not received the same way by everyone who reads it. The receiver is perhaps the most variable because a poem will be received a myriad ways based on the receiver's experience, background, whether the subject matter is interesting, etcetera, etcetera.

So (finally) this leads us to the poet's obligation. The poet has to be clear. This does not mean that we throw out all the poetic language, metaphor and simile. No, what it means is that when a poet uses these things, at some point he clears up his meaning for the reader if it begins, say, as too abstract.

Your obligation, in a critical forum, is to tell the poet why you feel he needs work, why you liked the poem and how it affected you or made you feel. You don't have to do all of these. The most critical thing is for you to explain why. Doesn't require a set word count to do so; just throw it out there. Something as simple as "I like the way you address the emotion through the broken glass metaphor" might suffice. Of course, if you can offer more in-depth crits then by all means do so. It is important that anything you add helps the poet improve, even if it is merely a suggestion. As you learn, you'll be able to offer more on the mechanics of poetry, but at least start with whether or not the poem resonates with you and why.

Finally (I promise) there is an obligation on both parties, but moreso on the poet with regards to crits. First, always thank the critic for the time they spent, even if they felt the poem suuuuuuucked. All feedback is valid. All feedback is valid. All feedback is valid. Secondly, never address the poet, only the poem. Third, never address another critic's crit. It's rude. It's none of your damned business what someone else thinks about a particular work. Forthly, as a poet, never get pissy if you get a crit you don't like. Its rude and ungrateful in the very least.

Mom'sWrite
12-20-2006, 09:07 AM
Your obligation, in a critical forum, is to tell the poet why you feel he needs work, why you liked the poem and how it affected you or made you feel. You don't have to do all of these. The most critical thing is for you to explain why. Doesn't require a set word count to do so; just throw it out there. Something as simple as "I like the way you address the emotion through the broken glass metaphor" might suffice. Of course, if you can offer more in-depth crits then by all means do so. It is important that anything you add helps the poet improve, even if it is merely a suggestion. As you learn, you'll be able to offer more on the mechanics of poetry, but at least start with whether or not the poem resonates with you and why.

Finally (I promise) there is an obligation on both parties, but moreso on the poet with regards to crits. First, always thank the critic for the time they spent, even if they felt the poem suuuuuuucked. All feedback is valid. All feedback is valid. All feedback is valid. Secondly, never address the poet, only the poem. Third, never address another critic's crit. It's rude. It's none of your damned business what someone else thinks about a particular work. Forthly, as a poet, never get pissy if you get a crit you don't like. Its rude and ungrateful in the very least.


Limeydawg, whoever you are, this post is a great gift to the likes of me. Previously I've never felt either adequate or invited to comment on a creation to the creator, but here you say that the impressions of a lone reader have merit. What wonderful madness this is. Thanks.

LimeyDawg
12-20-2006, 12:06 PM
I do what I can...

Dee
12-26-2006, 10:38 PM
Actually, Limey, I disagree with you on a few counts... and since this is a discussion thread, I feel free to discuss...

"If a poet, for example, says "Oh, I just wrote this for myself," or "I'm the only one who understands it" then it IS NOT poetry."

I totally disagree with this statement. Totally. Just because one person doesn't understand it, doesn't mean it's not poetry. It just means there are people out there that don't, can't or won't understand it. That is perfectly fine and has been the root of great debate on some very well known poetry.

"So (finally) this leads us to the poet's obligation. The poet has to be clear."

Not necessarily... see my previous comments.

"Third, never address another critic's crit. It's rude. It's none of your damned business what someone else thinks about a particular work."

I disagree here as well...
Sometimes a good discussion between readers is an excellent way to get to the root of the poem. I do mean, of course, a discussion that is respectful and not catty. Some of the critiques need to be discussed... more of them than are. I would welcome discussion on my poetry... it may enlighten me... maybe even inspire me.

LimeyDawg
12-26-2006, 10:54 PM
Actually, Limey, I disagree with you on a few counts... and since this is a discussion thread, I feel free to discuss...You don't say...


"If a poet, for example, says "Oh, I just wrote this for myself," or "I'm the only one who understands it" then it IS NOT poetry."

I totally disagree with this statement. Totally. Just because one person doesn't understand it, doesn't mean it's not poetry. It just means there are people out there that don't, can't or won't understand it. That is perfectly fine and has been the root of great debate on some very well known poetry.If you had read the entire statement...if...if...you might have understood that what I was saying is that a poem for oneself communicates nothing. There is a huge difference between a single person not getting a poem and a poem that only the author gets. Poetry is communication. Argue that. If you are writing for yourself you are communicating to yourself only which is not communication ergo not poetry. I'm not saying those words can't be poetic to YOU. What I'm saying is that if YOU are the only one to understand it, it doesn't communicate, it isn't poetry.


"So (finally) this leads us to the poet's obligation. The poet has to be clear."

Not necessarily... see my previous comments.ditto


"Third, never address another critic's crit. It's rude. It's none of your damned business what someone else thinks about a particular work."

I disagree here as well...
Sometimes a good discussion between readers is an excellent way to get to the root of the poem. I do mean, of course, a discussion that is respectful and not catty. Some of the critiques need to be discussed... more of them than are. I would welcome discussion on my poetry... it may enlighten me... maybe even inspire me.No, no, no and never, no. If YOU ask for a crit and get one you don't like and respond in a pithy manner it is the most base, rudest smack in the face. The crit forum is for crits unless otherwise noted, not discussions about whether or not the crit is valid. All crits are valid, whether or not you like them. I sometimes spend an hour or more reading then critting. At work I make roughly $50 an hour, so that is the value (for me) of an hour of my time. I donate that time here because I think I might have something to offer if I see something in the postings that needs work. Or, I used to. If your work is beyond the aid of critics, so good that critics simply don't get it due to their lack of understanding of poetry, to the fact that they don't have the capacity to see what you are saying, then you ought to skip it and go straight to the publishers.

Dee
12-26-2006, 11:46 PM
Limey,

I read the entire statement... and I understood it. I am not dense. I am simply disagreeing with you, that's all.

As for commenting on another's crit... I meant commenting on another's crit... not replying in a pithy manner to a crit someone made on your own work. For example (just to be clear), let's just say you posted a crit on Poet's work (sorry, Poet... just using you for example here) and I disagree with something you said... I should be free to comment that I disagree with you. This could lead to a discussion that others may join and Poet may get something out of the discussion. That is what I'm saying.
I totally agree that if someone takes the time (regardless of their per hour value) to crit a poem, the author of said poem should not be pithy.

Dee
12-26-2006, 11:48 PM
And just for the record, I never said my poetry was beyond critique.

LimeyDawg
12-26-2006, 11:55 PM
Limey,
For example (just to be clear), let's just say you posted a crit on Poet's work (sorry, Poet... just using you for example here) and I disagree with something you said... I should be free to comment that I disagree with you.No. The idea for a crit is to comment on the poem. You can disagree, of course, but NEVER in the vein of "...I disagree with that crit...". It should come across as something like, "I happen to understand what you are saying with that particular metaphor" for example. Never address the crit. The forum is for the benefit of the poem being critiqued, not so you can voice your opinion on another person's opinion.

Dee
12-27-2006, 12:02 AM
You know what? I think we are at an impasse. I think we are all adults here and can handle someone disagreeing with our opinions. I am, of course (as previously stated), referring to responding in a respectful manner, one that can be learned from as the discussion goes along. If you choose to address the matter differently, then that is your right.

Sezzy
01-07-2007, 02:20 PM
I have to ask being a newby here, getting no replies is not necessarily a bad then or mabye just one reply? lots of views so why no replies . being able to handle constructive criticism well , I need all the help with form i can get . I am trying to figure out why the poems around me atre getting fast and huge replies and me zilch? is it that bad? or good or indifferent . I like my work but is it readible ? or clich"e

if someone is brave and put there work out here thinking they might attemp to publish one day they want to know a few readers thoughts.
Don't we all want some one to comment even one word? except "shit"

kborsden
01-07-2007, 08:24 PM
I have to ask being a newby here, getting no replies is not necessarily a bad then or mabye just one reply? lots of views so why no replies . being able to handle constructive criticism well , I need all the help with form i can get . I am trying to figure out why the poems around me atre getting fast and huge replies and me zilch? is it that bad? or good or indifferent . I like my work but is it readible ? or clich"e

if someone is brave and put there work out here thinking they might attemp to publish one day they want to know a few readers thoughts.
Don't we all want some one to comment even one word? except "shit"

Hi sezzy! welcome to the boards!

I don't know why people sometimes skim over certain poems in the critique forum. I think it's mainly because of some friendly politics, by critting someone's work that you don't know, the reaction can sometimes be unexpected. With you, however, you openly ask for feedback and opinions, whatever they may be. This is good, it allows people to see what they are expected to say on behalf of the poem and how it could be improved. So I don't really know why, it happens to me too!

I try my best to crit poems, first off, that don't have crits already, especially those of newbies. It is my way of welcoming someone. As for how I crit, hmm, that's a strange process. When I write poetry, it usually writes itsself, it just occurs in my head, it just happens. When I read poetry the same thing occurs, or should I say re-occurs? The poem is rewritten most of the time as I read it, no matter how good it is, I'm not saying here that any poem is bad, just that there is always room for improvement, even in my own work. Not being fully able to explain this process, and ill-fated enough to have to do it, I can hardly ever explain exactly what it is that can be improved upon. This is why I will usually do a rewrite as it occured in my head. Sometimes this is taken gladly, other times with resentment. Nobody seems to understand properly that it is not that I'm sayin, "I can do it better," it's just that I see it different to most people. That is just the way my 'poetry machine' mind works. I am forever scribbling in my notebook and placing words down. I do the same to my own work as I do to that of others.

Now I don't even know what it is I'm trying to say anymore...oh well, a little confused.

kie.

GPatten
01-07-2007, 09:25 PM
When I post my works, I sometimes neglect to mention what I want. I want it all. If my work is crap, I want someone to tell me that. I would hope they would point out the spelling and possibly grammatical errors, and then punctuation too. Rip it apart, if you have time. I am one of the few on AW who needs all the help one can get.

That’s a lot of work for some of the published writers on here who are busy with their own timeline requirements to submit.

I’ve critiqued some, but I’ve mentioned a few time, I feel I’m really am not qualified to do too much more that a spell check, point out run-on sentences, point out incomplete sentences and passive sentences.

I’ve noticed a few query letters posted that don’t meet the average criteria of query letters.

A query letter has three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. It should be only one page; one page only.

Paragraph One—The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in. The best way to understand how to write a hook is to read the loglines of the titles sold by agents in our database.

Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where you get to distill your entire 300 page novel into one paragraph.

Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio.

Your Closing: First, thank the agent for her time and consideration. Second, if it’s nonfiction, tell them that you’ve included an outline, table of contents, and sample chapters for their review. If it’s fiction, alert the agent that the full manuscript is available upon request. And in case you still don’t believe us, we want to reiterate: don’t query agents until you’ve finished your full fiction manuscript. Agents will want to read the whole novel before they offer representation to you and your book.

How to Write a Query: http://agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx

Oh, and don’t forget to thank those who have given their time to your work.

P.H.Delarran
01-07-2007, 11:35 PM
I'm glad to see input from the other forums.

...
I’ve critiqued some, but I’ve mentioned a few time, I feel I’m really am not qualified to do too much more that a spell check, point out run-on sentences, point out incomplete sentences and passive sentences.
Thanks for re-addressing this question. It looks to me (I think? -anyone?)that most here feel the question of whether or not to point out simple writerly mistakes is the perogative of the reader, unless specific critique is requested by the author. If those mistakes are the thing that impressed them the most (or least) about the piece, then it is important for the writer to know that.


I’ve noticed a few query letters posted that don’t meet the average criteria of query letters.

A query letter has three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. It should be only one page; one page only.



How to Write a Query: http://agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx (http://agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx)
I think it would be helpful to have an inidividualized basic standard like this posted for the poetry forum critique boards. Just a simple list of what things one might look for when reading a piece. Just as reference for those who might use it. I know we've had some discussion, especially in the Poetry Wish List thread.



Oh, and don’t forget to thank those who have given their time to your work.
Thank you Gerry, for adding to this discussion.
:)

janetbellinger
01-07-2007, 11:44 PM
That's exactly why I don't critique more. I don't like to criticise and I also don't like to lie and say I think something is good when I do not. And yet if I do critique, I would try to keep it gentle, for I don't think it's helpful to give a bitter and hurtful critique, no matter how much the piece in question might grate my nerves. Generally, I have found that not just in this forum but in others, that many people don't really appreciate critiques that may suggest changes.

GPatten
01-08-2007, 12:02 AM
I hear you Janet; me too.

No body likes to suggest making changes, let the author make the decision to change it, tell the authors a certain portion needs clarifying.

Just point out the spelling and possibly grammatical errors, and then punctuation too. Every little bit helps the struggling writer. They’re looking for it.

Norman D Gutter
01-09-2007, 06:11 PM
I guess it all depends on what the purpose of the poet is in writing and posting poems for critique, and also what the purpose of the critique board is. Does the poet intend to improve the poem with an eye toward publication? Do they intend reading it at an open mic? Is the forum purpose primarily education of our membership? Is it improvement of poets in general? Is it preparation of specific poems for their ultimate destination, be it publication, performance, or a desk draw for discovery by our posterity? Or is it really fellowship among poets?

My poetry goal is to become as good as Robert Frost. No, I’m not joking. While the likelihood of that ever happening is miniscule, and the chances of duplicating his commercial success unmeasurable, I’d rather have that lofty goal than something lower. As someone once said, “I’d rather shoot at a star and miss than shoot at a toad in the road and hit it.” Reaching that goal is only going to come with incredible amounts of talent, study, and work; and I can only control two of those. Part of that is critique by other poets, as well as comments by non-poets on the effectiveness of the poem at communicating.

So for myself, I say bring on the harsh critique. Let me have it straight. Don’t hold anything back. Tell me what you took away as a reader. Tell me if I am communicating. Tell me if you want to read the poem over and over—or not. Comment on the subject matter, on the appropriateness of the form, on the word choices, on the effectiveness of the line breaks, on the choice and use of various poetic devices—or lack thereof. Tell me if you think this would enhance or detract from the quality of the poetry magazines you read.

So, I would not agree with the concept it is not helpful to give a straight-forward critique. In fact, it would be most helpful. What would not be helpful is for the critter to mince words, to refuse to call crap crap, to gloss over faults and failures.

Of course, straight-forward does not have to be harsh and bitter, but it should be honest, and the critter should not have to worry about a poet lashing out at the critter in anger. Whey would anyone post a poem for critique if they don’t want the faults pointed out? Yet they do. If you critique a poem and point out the faults, and the poet gets all angry and says something like, “If you don’t have anything constructive to say…”, then the critter is usually mortified. I try to just write that poet off as non-serious, or not ready for honest critique, and go on to the next poet. Pointing out faults and successes is the purpose of critique. But pointing out faults does not require critique to be harsh and bitter. A critter who cannot point out the faults in a kind, straight-forward manner should find another line of work. I’m not saying it is easy to critique a poem and point out what you feel doesn’t work in it with words that are at the same time both gentle and straight-forward. A critter has to work at it and develop critiquing skills, and sometimes has to use word-smithing skills equal to a poem. And, pointing out “faults” requires that the critter be well-versed in the craft, for how embarrassing is it to call something a fault that it turns out the critter was wrong about.

Poetry critique is a thankless job. Since so many people feel that poetry is an overflow of emotion spilled onto a page (screen) without revision, and that poetry—unlike prose—requires no period of study, no understanding of the art or practice of the craft, any critique based on those concepts will likely not be well received.

IMnsHO, the worst thing a critter can do for a poet who has posted a poem to a critique forum, thereby stating they want to improve a specific poem, and possibly their overall poetry skills, is to fail to provide straight-forward, knowledgeable critique.

Best Regards,
NDG

Lady Ice
09-03-2011, 01:32 AM
Poetry is tough to critique. Although all writing is personal, poetry is very personal. What sounds cliche to me might be the poet trying to tell the reader what he feels. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between pretentious aestheticism and heartfelt honesty.

kborsden
09-03-2011, 01:58 AM
Poetry is tough to critique.

I disagree - it would sooner be that critique is harder to receive for poetry.



What sounds cliche to me might be the poet trying to tell the reader what he feels.

If it feels cliché (seen/heard before) - it is. Something becomes cliché through familiarity - familiarity occurs because something becomes the standard way of expressing something - in turn a development as a result of the ease in remembering and presenting - ease, remember that, ease. Clichés are easy, simply - some would say lazy. How hard is it to actually compose your own phrase, metaphor etc? Simply repeating existing sayings and the rest is not poetry, it's being familiar. Spicing up your language to speak to your reader on a more elevated level through clever device and thought out word play, phrase formulation, rhythm etc -- that's poetry.


It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between pretentious aestheticism and heartfelt honesty.

First reaction is generally correct.