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View Full Version : What do you seek from your poem's critique?



William Haskins
07-21-2015, 04:12 AM
inspired and with full acknowledgement of poetinahat's excellent compilation thread (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?68106-Threads-on-Critiquing) (pw = citrus) of critique discussions, but now with all the whorish flashiness of a poll, plus the added bonus of being out here in public view for novelists and other assorted weirdos to see.

so for poets posting for critiques, what's in it for you?

Ambrosia
07-21-2015, 04:27 AM
Your poll doesn't allow for multiple choice, William.

Sometimes what I am after when I post for critique is that the poem "works". Sometimes I am struggling and need some direction cause I can't see where the words fit for the poem or the form I am using and I know it is a simple matter that is just eluding me. Being too close to the project I know an objective eye can point out those places I can't "see". There are many reasons, and it changes from poem to poem.

Magdalen
07-21-2015, 04:40 AM
...
so for poets posting for critiques, what's in it for you?

It's always good to know when a poem does or does not work. I especially appreciate it when non-poets comment because it makes me think the work appeals to a broader audience than just other poets.

Kylabelle
07-21-2015, 04:58 AM
Right. I mainly want to know if the poem connects. Does it convey what I meant it to or anything close to that? And agree with Mags, when non-poets chime in, it is very helpful.

Secondarily I appreciate suggestions for improvement in areas where the poem fails to connect and convey value.

William Haskins
07-21-2015, 05:19 AM
thank you all for contributing.

poetinahat
07-23-2015, 04:42 AM
I'm glad you've started this thread, William - it seems so obvious and necessary, it's a little startling to find it wasn't here earlier.

If I'm completely candid about it, I have to say that validation of talent is right up there. I want to be read and responded to, and I hope to hear that other people enjoy my poems as much as I do.

I read my own poems over and over, and mostly, I'm very happy with them. I like my voice, and I think I've gotten better over the years here. And, I like to be liked.

But I'd much rather find out where I'm swinging and missing in others' eyes. So, here we go.

What I look for in critiques, and what I take from them, aren't necessarily the same.

I look for:



Impressions: a poem's overall effect, not in magnitude, but in its nature. I like to know whether the intended nuances came through, and whether something else happens that I hadn't foreseen.
Rough spots: where things stick out enough for a reader to say "this bothered me", or "this didn't work". It could be an idea, a misplaced metric foot, a clumsy adjective, a line break, a misspelling, too much rhyme or rhythm, anything.


I also get:



Education: In passing, people might mention other poets, other poems, other techniques, history, things I haven't experienced, and I can go after them.
Critique Technique: If something strikes me particularly well in a crit, I might try to apply it the next time I write one myself. I imagine that this happens a lot.
Confirmation of my doubts: There's usually a passage or two that I think is not quite what I want. Almost always, someone will pick it up. It reminds me that everything matters, and it gratifies me that people read well enough to notice.
Listening practice: I'm always impressed by how diverse our viewpoints are, and the things we each pick up. As thorough as I think I am, the next poet or reader always finds things I hadn't noticed at all. That's humbling and exciting.


There's probably more. This is long enough.

kuwisdelu
07-23-2015, 05:13 AM
The holy grail.

poetinahat
07-23-2015, 05:19 AM
comin' right up (http://www.phileasfoggs.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/holy-grail.jpg)

skelly
07-23-2015, 06:03 AM
I went with the general assessment thing. I love pats on the back as much as anyone else, and I almost clicked that. But really I just want to know if my poem is reaching anyone, either positively or negatively. Either is fine with me. Flat indifference or total confusion as to what my poem is supposed to be speaks volumes more than any line-by-line crit. Excellent topic William.

Perks
07-23-2015, 06:16 AM
I haven't posted a poem in a long time. When I do, it's usually a tentative extension to see if I've, yet again, been incoherent. The poetry I love showcases an interesting way to say something - interesting in rhythm or alliteration or imagery. It's sort of putting language through a bit of a workout. But, for me, my poetry is only fun if someone other than me gets what I was going for. Too often I fall well short of it.

When I post for critique, there's a lot of breath holding.

ETA -

This thread made me look at some poetry I'd written. There's a file from haikus done maybe nine years ago on a thread here at AW. This one made me laugh:

mildly amusing
she of the middling talent
but good attitude

Filigree
07-23-2015, 06:22 AM
I'm terrible. I have to admit I write poetry for money. About the only non-AW poetry I create now is meant for book arts sculptures. Same with poems merged into paintings on canvas. I'm a lackluster poet on my own, but my writing seems better with art.

Ken
07-23-2015, 02:35 PM
I especially appreciate it when non-poets comment because it makes me think the work appeals to a broader audience than just other poets.


And agree with Mags, when non-poets chime in, it is very helpful.



And just to state the obvious, a good number of non-poets do read poems that are put here. You can tell that by the number of "views." So appreciation of the poems extends beyond the replies they receive. Just something to consider. Kind of a subtle, "good going!"

ps Thnx Maryn, for explaining how to multiquote in that other thread. Very useful !

kborsden
08-03-2015, 11:44 AM
Ken makes an interesting point. My poems, and I think everyone's generally get a higher view count than comment count... but I think they are independent of each other. I don't think the ticker counts unique visits. So if I revisit the thread to edit my post, re-read what I've written, read comment, post a comment, these will all be counted as 'views'. Most likely the most views will have come from the poet rather than any number of readers. Considering the view count as equating to reader appreciation is a false economy in this sense.

But that wasn't the point of this thread, was it? What I look for when I post... like anyone who puts time and effort into something, I enjoy a pat on the back, I like praise--but I don't post for that. I can get praise and ego stroking from my missus (if I'm nice first :)), friends etc if I really need it. I post my poetry, because as a poet I can sometimes be a little blind to the flaws in my work. There are many skilled craftsmen (and women) on this forum, and they all have a different take on things. I like it when what I have written is challenged, or when those flaws are pulled out, where my own concerns are confirmed. Over the years I have become a better poet for this place, and for the input of others. I have been able to share what I know, as well as what I've learnt from being critiqued.

As Filigree posted earlier on, I also write poetry from time to time for money. I need to be the best poet I can be for that to be a reality, and raw talent (if I may be a little less humble :s) will only go so far. Polish is only ever a bad thing when there's so much of it, it becomes a health hazard--crits can tell you this too :)

Lillith1991
08-03-2015, 12:27 PM
Well, praise of course! I want to know the poem is good, if it is connecting with people and doing its job.

But I also want serious feedback from those it doesn't work for. To be told why it isn't working for someone makes editing easier for me as the writer. I get something to mull over and decide whether it is applicable or not, sometimes I get insights I hadn't thought about. Got one of those recently and I'm still trying to figure out whether to take the Splatterpunk feel of the poem and go with it, or to soften it up some when smoothing it out.

zarada
08-09-2015, 12:31 AM
i'm probably the odd one out, as i usually write for myself, more than with the intent of being read and/or accepted as a poet by others. i've always written poems, since about eight, think; always was a spontaneous endeavor, just because the moment called for being recorded in a poemy kind of way. at the time, lecture by others brought negative comments, as they apparently couldn't connect the poems to what they knew me as, hence i was occasionally accused of plagiarism, even though the 'original' work remained unnamed.

so then, given my mistrust of critics, why do i post in Poetry Critique? could it be for the sake of the free couch sessions? maybe. it's also interesting to see how others understand (or not) a particular piece. let's face it, not a great many of us will ever see a volume of their poetry in actual print. AW's Poetry Critique is the ideal placebo.

CassandraW
08-09-2015, 12:47 AM
i'm probably the odd one out, as i usually write for myself, more than with the intent of being read and/or accepted as a poet by others.

You are not alone. I also write poetry primarily for myself and rarely share it.

When I do share it, I am very happy when someone connects with it.

Norman D Gutter
08-10-2015, 03:15 AM
Here's to the Emily Dickinsons among us.

shakeysix
08-10-2015, 04:04 AM
balls--of the testicular variety. --s6

poetinahat
08-10-2015, 04:39 AM
This is why I give so few crits. There's only so much one has to offer.

Perks
08-10-2015, 06:38 AM
This is why I give so few crits. There's only so much one has to offer.I am terrible at critiquing poetry. Come to think of it, I'm not all that great at critiquing prose. I know what I like and I can occasionally articulate how something struck me particularly well. But I don't seem to have much fire to put into words what doesn't work for me. I don't enjoy doing it. It doesn't feel good. And I am lazy when it comes to unpleasant things.

But that's not to say - at all - that people shouldn't negatively critique or that I'm accusing those who do take their time to explain what they don't like about something of enjoying taking strips off people. It rarely seems that way to me. I know, from my own experience, that negative critique can be very valuable. So, I don't discourage it. I just don't have a lot of juice for it myself.

Perks
08-10-2015, 04:52 PM
You are not alone. I also write poetry primarily for myself and rarely share it.

This is interesting and I've been thinking about it. I've heard some writers say this for as long as I've been hanging out with writers (virtually or otherwise) and it's one of those things where I understand the sentence, but not the sentiment. And there's no value judgment here. I believe anyone who says that they write for themselves, without the intent to have others read it. There can't be anything wrong with that. I just don't know what it would feel like.

I have lots of elaborate conversations with myself that are just for my own entertainment. Sometimes there are poetic observances that don't ever bloom into an actual poem. I mean, I don't know how it is for everyone else, but I practically have a sidecar life of narration and character play that I will likely never write down. But if I do write it, it's always for other people to see.

If I put it down on paper, or on the screen, and if I can manage to get to The End and not want to burn it with fire, I only ever would go through that to see if, ultimately, it has a pointy enough point to sink into a target.

It's hard for me to imagine what it would feel like to work on it, then put it away.

thehairymob
08-10-2015, 05:47 PM
I like as much help as I can get. When giving comment on others work I like to be brief while at the same time hope to encourage the artist. :)

CassandraW
08-10-2015, 06:43 PM
It's hard for me to imagine what it would feel like to work on it, then put it away.

And I've been doing that for years.

I'm not like that with my other writing. Nor am I like that in general, as you will have gathered if you've seen me in action in, say, P&CE, where I'm basically impervious to anything you want to throw at me. But my poems are rarely just an intellectual exercise in craft. They tend to feel very personal to me, and I suppose that is what makes me weird about sharing them. The same emotion that made me write a poem to begin with makes me reluctant to share it.

When I don't share them, I get a certain contentment out of poems that I feel captured exactly what I wanted them to say. I really don't need any participation in that feeling, any more than I need participation to appreciate reading a good poem or book. I suppose this is the introvert in me. Also, I tend to torment myself getting every word in my poems to say what I want it to say, so getting to that peaceful feeling at the end is important to me.

When I do share them, I admit I get real joy out of comments that indicate someone connected with what I wrote. That includes criticism and suggestions that shows the reader connected with at least some aspect of the work. Yes, it feels better than putting them in a drawer. Yes, it feels like they get some extra life.

But alas, I also get a letdown when I feel that people don't get it. And though I've tried to get over it, so far I can't get past feeling a bit anxious whenever I share something, and so even when I get a good reaction, I still have that anxious period beforehand.

Basically, I roll the dice and hold my breath whenever I venture to share something. And much of the time, I choose sticking with the peaceful "Yes, I think I've got it at last." It's pathetic, I know.

Perks
08-10-2015, 06:47 PM
But alas, I also get a letdown when I feel that people don't get it. Oh lordy, CassW, welcome to my world. Lol!

Actually, since I only write poetry and prose for launching, I think you've rather hit it on all points as to why I'm inhibited to write poetry. Too often, I've not been able to be clear - and I hate that feeling. So, I don't do it. And that's nothing to be proud of.

Thank you for that thoughtful explanation. I do see what you mean.

CassandraW
08-10-2015, 07:08 PM
Whereas I'm not inhibited from writing it -- I just tend to put it in a box. However, since joining this forum, I've at least been typing it into my computer and keeping it in a somewhat more organized fashion.* I've even begun the process of doing that with some of the old stuff in the box.



*derail/

I often write poetry on paper. I think through my fingers. I find that my initial struggling words simply look stupid on the screen, and I want to delete them and forget the whole thing. When they're on paper, I just strike them out and move along until I get where I want to go. So I end up with a big pile of scribbles, but the end product that goes on the screen does not make me cringe. (Much of my stuff has never made it to a screen at all, which is why it exists only in a box.) Again, I'm not usually like this on prose, though I sometimes am when I'm working with a particularly difficult passage. And in all cases, I must read it on paper in order to assess it -- things jump out at me that I miss on the screen.

Anyone else like this or am I, as I suspect, a throwback freak? Though I suppose most writers are freaks in some way or another.

/end derail

Perks
08-10-2015, 07:33 PM
I often write poetry on paper. I think through my fingers. I find that my initial struggling words simply look stupid on the screen, and I want to delete them and forget the whole thing. When they're on paper, I just strike them out and move along until I get where I want to go.

That's wild. Until the EMP, I write all my prose on the machine, but it seems I can only write poetry on paper.

CassandraW
08-10-2015, 07:42 PM
Thank you. I feel a notch less freakish now.

Magdalen
08-10-2015, 07:43 PM
Hi Perks & Cass! Thought I'd add in my weird little ways: I like to have some words fomenting in my headspace, whenever possible, and for awhile I tried to have a prose-only (blocking a few neural pathways?) zone, but I had to give that up as it really wasn't getting me anywhere. I have jotted down poem fragments and also have a strong tradition of getting up in the middle of the night to write it down on paper at the kitchen table, and I've had some success just typing out words on a glowing screen (I made a tech transition) but that is my least favorite way to write one. For my creative needs, it's more about having the time & space to myself - I'm making small improvements!!

Stew21
08-11-2015, 01:49 AM
I'm only capable of writing poetry on paper. Can't do it on a keyboard. I can edit it on a screen, but not write it. So... add me to that club.

CassandraW
08-11-2015, 02:10 AM
I am pleased. We must start an actual club. With a treehouse. And snacks.

zarada
08-12-2015, 01:15 AM
I often write poetry on paper. I think through my fingers. I find that my initial struggling words simply look stupid on the screen, and I want to delete them and forget the whole thing. When they're on paper, I just strike them out and move along until I get where I want to go.

ditto. but that only makes sense for me, as i spend very little time at the screen lately; and very little time writing (not too proud of that). inspiration is bound to come during the other 23 hours of the day spent in so many other ways and places (including dreaming, i suppose, although i haven't, so far, returned from the dream with my little notepad and pen).

although there was time when all my poems took flight from the keyboard with just as much ease. things do change, i guess.

Lillith1991
08-12-2015, 07:42 AM
I write poetry on paper, or if not on paper, using a notepad app on my phone. But I have a really really strong preference for paper and tend to only write things half as long when on my notpad app. I don't write poetry on my NOOK or a computer ever though. Makes me antsy to not be able to physically cross things out and start over if need be.

Sarita
08-12-2015, 06:34 PM
Yep. I only write poetry on paper. And when I'm trying to hash out a difficult scene in fiction, I turn to the notebook to write it.

Kylabelle
08-12-2015, 07:20 PM
I compose almost entirely on the computer unless I am away from it. (I try always to have a pad and pen available.) I find composing on paper is painfully slow, and uses too much paper! I get frustrated with it these days, though in the past I filled countless 8 1/2 x 11 yellow legal pads.

My handwriting is execrable and that doesn't help things.

I resisted this development for years and meant never to own such a thing as a computer. Now I am tied to the damn thing.

poetinahat
08-13-2015, 06:50 AM
I like paper, and I prefer a pencil, sharp or mechanical - or fountain pen. I carry a little notebook to write in.

But I don't think that's the important thing. Nearly everything I write on the run, or in spare moments, is ideas that I might use later - when I sit down and write a poem. The spare lines I write on the run have never ended up anywhere, except as idea kindling.

To write a poem, I need to sit down and be fully present. Not necessarily concentrating, but there, with nothing else happening but the poem. Writing poems isn't candidate for multi-tasking, in my world.

A poem almost always takes more than one session, and I'll go back days and weeks later, to change single words or lines.

Sarita
08-13-2015, 07:46 AM
To write a poem, I need to sit down and be fully present. Not necessarily concentrating, but there, with nothing else happening but the poem. Writing poems isn't candidate for multi-tasking, in my world.

A poem almost always takes more than one session, and I'll go back days and weeks later, to change single words or lines. So interesting how processes vary. Poems sit in my head for a very long time, bouncing around and polishing themselves before I ever jot a single word. Once it's ready, it all comes tumbling out. I might change a word or two to tighten and improve the flow, but not usually. Almost all of my editing happens internally.

poetinahat
08-13-2015, 08:23 AM
That's fascinating -- I think if I could do that, I would.

My way isn't really the process I intend, but it's just what happens. I would write a poem on the run if I could, but they never come out for me. So, what looks like my process is just my observation of the events that lead to a poem. My process is probably more like this:

- Try to write a poem, leave a fragment
- get distracted or called away
- look at it again, reject as terrible
- sit down and start over
. . .

---

Perhaps our processes are really the result of the conception of a poem to start with. I quite often don't start with the topic or the idea. I start with a form, or a phrase, or a rhyme. The idea finds itself as I write.

Basically, I start with wanting to write a poem, but not any idea of what it will be about.

This explains why I don't do well with themed contests, for example, but I seem more at home with the poetry game threads, where I've got, say, a form and a word to start with. Then, while I'm fitting words together, ideas start to condense around them.

Eventually, the thing takes on a shape: once it starts to move, I start to see where I'd like it to go.

I'm sure there are others who approach things like me, but it's probably the direct opposite of what many others do.

shakeysix
08-13-2015, 04:50 PM
The last four lines of mine had been going through my head for months--long before the contest was announced. What with retirement concerns and end of school, I did not write them down but I didn't need to. Once I had the time --not much, grand daughters coming for the summer--I made notes on observation sheets. This is an idea generating ex. I found in the Bedford Guide for College Writers back when I was teaching Comp.

You take a blank page of notebook paper and crease it down the center. One side is headed Objective and the other is Subjective. On the objective side you record what you actually see--for example --black pony, red moon, olives in my saddlebags, city and tower. On the subjective side you jot your thoughts down on each item observed-- black pony-death; red moon-bloody ambush; dark tower--fate, death; olives --I'm guessing isolation or death, with Lorca you know an olive is not going to be a snack food.

Anyway that is how the exercise works. Later--when things are quiet and the hand written notes have had a chance to ferment, I can write from the notes--draw arrows, cross out and then type it on a screen. I had something like four pages of notes on this one. I finished it up in the public library because the Cartoon Network blaring 24/7 is not conducive to ponderous thought.

Speaking of toast, I am having my favorite summer breakfast. It sounds awful but it was served in a fancy-schmancy hotel that I used to stay at while on business, usually in August or early September when the onions are mildest. Toasted bagel topped with dab of cream cheese and a paper thin scrap of red onion. It was the cheapest thing on the menu but also the best. Try it--s6

Sarita
08-13-2015, 06:37 PM
Basically, I start with wanting to write a poem, but not any idea of what it will be about. Wow! I have a snapshot in mind when composing, something that I need to say about something seen, heard, or experienced. Very rarely, a simple line or turn of verse will strike me and I'll click it into my notes app on my phone, unsure of what to do with it. Typically, they just stay stuck there. I used to be a poetic tinkerer. I have a notebook filled with drafts and lines excised from said drafts, but I think that speaks more to my confidence as a writer than my approach. I always knew what I wanted to say, I just didn't have as easy a time saying it. Academic writing has changed me immensely.

I'm really fascinated by your approach, PIAT. I'm wondering what would happen if I tried it. Probably crud. Ha!

Kylabelle
08-13-2015, 06:45 PM
I'm more like Shakey, in that I often will have a phrase or an image that keeps repeating itself to me -- but I do nothing that organized with it, no notes or anything like that. More like the phrase or image is a baited hook and sometimes it catches fish. I do have to clean and cook the fish.

zarada
08-13-2015, 11:28 PM
More like the phrase or image is a baited hook and sometimes it catches fish. I do have to clean and cook the fish.

ditto. it starts as a brief and completely spontaneous undercurrent, a shivering, a mood that focuses my attention on an object, a word, sound, smell, action, feature, colour, whatever. i get a string of words, a phrase, a concept. if i'm lucky enough to take five or ten minutes to write it down, the skeleton of a poem will be put together right then, and the rest can be worked out when there's peace and quiet.

often these firestarters don't get recorded on time, and the poem doesn't get a chance.

something i find rather odd -- when i write prose, especially when up to my ears drafting or editing a novel, i cannot, cannot write, read or even think poetry. does this happen to anyone else?