Critics rewriting your poem: Yes or no?

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poetinahat

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Sometimes, when people are offering crits, they rewrite the original poem as a way of offering suggestions.

How do you feel about receiving that sort of feedback?
 

poetinahat

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Me, I prefer not to get feedback that way. It feels like someone else trying to tell me they know me better than I know myself. But I'm a little thin-skinned, and it's easy enough to say "no rewrites, please".

Otherwise, I'm very happy for full candor. It pleases me that people will take the time to think about something I wrote, and it helps me to improve.

So, if you read a poem of mine, please -- fire away. Just don't do the rewrite for me!
 

Pat~

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Ooh, good point, Rob. I was guilty of doing that just this week. Trying to be helpful, of course, but probably not too welcome.

It's probably better just to say that for me "x" stanzas didn't work, and let it go at that.

Sometimes people have rewritten parts of mine, usually with the comment to take it or leave it. Sometimes the rewrite helped me think of a third solution better than both the first try and the crit's rewrite. I'd have to say that most often other people's rewrites didn't feel enough like "me" for me to adopt them--but I appreciated their effort, anyway, esp. if it helped me come up with a better solution.
 
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poetinahat

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My main concern with rewrites is that they can hijack the poem's initial meaning. It seems to happen now and then.
 

ddgryphon

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I've tried to back off from doing that--example lines, but not full rewrites, because I sometimes feel I'll inadequately state what I'm thinking and an example will sometimes help--but I've backed off from complete rewrites for a number of reasons.

As for complete rewrites for my works, they don't bother me, but the expectation shouldn't be that I use the rewrite, but rather look at the example of the rewrite as an instructional act. Rewrites like that are done on the fly and not always (at least when I do them) perfect examples. They are in the minute reactions as opposed to labored over poems. They are meant as signposts, not destinations.
 

skelly

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I'm usually a bit miffed when somebody thinks they can rewrite in minutes something that I have been working on for a substantial amount of time...sometimes years. But I am only talking about the crits that completely rewrite the poem. These kinds of critiques are useless because even if I like your rewrite I'm not going to use it...that would make it "our" poem, and that gives me the "icky" feeling. Word suggestions and rewriting/rearranging a few lines or stanzas by way of example doesn't bother me, though. Very helpful. I've done the rewrite type crit in the past, and I tried to make it very clear that I was only showing an example of what I was talking about in the main crit portion, but I wasn't comfortable with it.

Good topic, Rob.
 

JRH

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All I'm really looking for in a Critique/Review is a sense of whether I'm achieving my goals in each poem, but I don't mind people nitpicking over words or punctuation, or even total rewrites as what they come up with me tells me more about their training, their biases, and their ability to percieve my various meanings.

It's extremely unlikely, that any such will result in any major changes (or even minor ones) in any of my poems, but it does give me the chance to explain why I do things the way I do and why I think my ways are more appropriate, thus hopefully providing some insights into the nature of craftsmanship.

Just another proof that I'm out of step with the rest of the Poetic World.

Jim Hoye, (JRH)
 
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I hate rewrites. It ends up being someone else's work that way - no-one else could possibly write something in the way I could; they don't have my life experiences, they don't know what inspired the poem. That's not to say my poems are any better or worse than anyone else's - they just end up not being mine after a rewrite. Suggestions for improvement are just about okay, but I prefer critiques along the lines of, "I don't understand what you meant in line three," or "I liked the second verse because..."

I want to know what works and what doesn't, what's clear and what isn't, so I can clarify it in my way.

Can't you just tell I'm territorial? Get your damn hands off my sonnet! :D
 

seppuku05

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I am okay with people rewriting what I put on show, it demonstrates how you could execute their point, it's a helpful reference. It has its downsides, like some people may feel that it's rude and perhaps see it as negative feedback - for example it could be a statement - "This is how it should sound" with 'you are a beginner' connotations. But with my rewritten poem I was happy with the feedback, I've never had anyone criticise my work from a poet's point of view (I've had it analysed from the point of view with language), and it will set me in the direction for how poetry works.

I think if you're going to rewrite someone's poem, you need to be conscious of the other person, if you don't know what they're like with criticisms, approach with caution as LimeyDawg did with me, but generally if someone cannot handle your criticisms, they're not going to do well in the writing world. ;)
 

LimeyDawg

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I can tell you that, from a critting standpoint, it is sometimes easier to rewrite than explain all the things I want to point out. There are some valid points here, but it should always be taken as suggestion. I think the issue is when the rewrite hijacks the thread, taking focus away from the poets work. Still, as KTC points out, a poet should have a take it or leave it attitude towards this or any other crit point.
 

Norman D Gutter

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When I post a poem for critique, it is usually after much thought, editing, and revision of my own, and only when I can see no more to do with it. Yet I know it has flaws. Almost always the critters will hone in on those lines I already know are flawed. Hopefully they will offer a suggestion for better wording. I may not use their wording, but those suggestions may spur me on to yet another wording that meets my intent and works perfectly in the poem.

So I don't mind suggested alternate wordings, alternate line breaks, alternate stanza breaks, etc. I see it as integral to critique, and welcome it.

NDG
 

Perks

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I have to say that I've never read a rewrite that didn't rankle just a bit.

There's a fine line in critiquing between this-didn't-work-as-well-as-the-rest (which is helpful) and well-this-is-how-I-would-do-it (which is useless.) Poetry is, in my opinion, much much more difficult to critique than prose, precisely because the words are so few and, generally speaking by necessity, more carefully chosen.

But, I cannot argue that once it's out there, the poet/author should be - at least superficially - gracious. For decorum's sake.
 

Annie O

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I'm happy for my work to be rewritten, although I am unlikely to change it. I think if people have taken the time to critique we should be grateful. If we can't stand criticism then we shouldn't post our poem in the first place. I think there is a danger of losing some of our fine critters if we complain too much.
 

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i so agree with LD ... it can take ages to try and tell what/how something could (NOT should) be changed ... i'm a hopeless critter (in technical terms) and sometimes need to try and show (NOT tell) what my instincts are saying about a piece. I would never imbue anything i suggest with any form of wisdom that must be adopted. Nor could/does a piece become "mine" because i say or do anything with it ...

Receiving comment of any kind beyond "cool write" is as much a learned skill as any other interaction ... maybe it's harder because we can't hear the voice on the other end and we're all too quick to beat ourselves up with insecurity anyway?
 

davids

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Don't care a hog's tit! I have had a few partially re written-usually miss the whole thing so I just take it or leave it. Me? Yah I have at least done a bit of that sort of thing-just in an effort when something is potentially terrific but maybe full of words that detract-well-then I might take a crack at showing how maybe it can just be cut a bit. Like solo I have no knowledge whatsoever of the technical aspects-as I once said to louis-I would not know a triolet from a Chevrolet-yah I know I probably should but hey right wrong or indifferent-ats a meeah
 

veinglory

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I love it.

A critic cannot rewrite "my" poem, only I can do that. But if they want to share their vision of it I want to see it--if they give me something I can use I appreciate it.
 

Mysti

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Ooh, good point, Rob. I was guilty of doing that just this week. Trying to be helpful, of course, but probably not too welcome.

It's probably better just to say that for me "x" stanzas didn't work, and let it go at that.

Pat, I have to comment here as the rewrites completed by yourself and Terri have helped me look at my story set to poetry in a completely different manner. It's been difficult as there are certain lines that have really stuck with me; and has brought me to challenge myself to match the flow and rhyming mechanisms present as well as modify the overall content of the story.

Sometimes, when people are offering crits, they rewrite the original poem as a way of offering suggestions.

How do you feel about receiving that sort of feedback?

For me, the rewrite has proved quite beneficial. I am an open person when it comes to critiques; understanding the intentions behind the critique and welcome all suggestions. I do not have to keep those suggestions, but having a different view of my works opens my eyes greatly.
 

Dylan

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I do it constantly (offer rewrites, I mean).
As LD says, it helps to illustrate how the suggested changes would improve the poem. I also don`t mind when my own work is critiqued in this manner-(think Louis has re-written everything I`ve submitted).
But as with any crit, only suggestions are offered-the final decision is with the writer.
 
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That's just it, though - the suggestion that a rewrite is an 'improvement'.

I've had critiques before that have almost said, "Write it this way, it's better...your rhyme-scheme's all over the place," and it was a bloody sonnet - I know the rhyme scheme of a sonnet FFS!

It always helps, if someone insists on rewriting, if they know the form you're using. Otherwise I think, "You've never heard of a <insert verse form here> so I'm going to ignore everything you say."
 

dobiwon

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If I get an extensive re-write, I tend to just skip over the whole critique the first time I see it. If someone changes most of what I wrote, well, I wrote it the way I did because I liked it like that.

But then I usually go back, because I'll probably find something useful. Like Norman, if I'm posting for critique, I know there are some flaws, and I'd like to hear opinions of others to identify, and quite possibly offer suggestions to correct, those flaws. (If I thought the whole thing was a flaw, I wouldn't post it.)

On the other hand, if someone says that a particular phrase or line doesn't work, then if they do suggest alternative wording, maybe I can see why. Or at least tell if they are getting the same thing out of it that I thought I put into it.

When I critique a poem, before I hit "Submit Reply" I read it over and ask myself if I were the poet, would I find the critique helpful? If not, Edit...Select All...Delete. And because poetry is so difficult to critique, this happens probably more times than not.
 

davids

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That's just it, though - the suggestion that a rewrite is an 'improvement'.

I've had critiques before that have almost said, "Write it this way, it's better...your rhyme-scheme's all over the place," and it was a bloody sonnet - I know the rhyme scheme of a sonnet FFS!

It always helps, if someone insists on rewriting, if they know the form you're using. Otherwise I think, "You've never heard of a <insert verse form here> so I'm going to ignore everything you say."


What was a sonnet again?
 

Dylan

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Well, any suggestion made by someone critiquing a poem could be construed as "offering improvement".
It is only one persons opinion -quite often a rewrite offers another insight into a poem.
 

Magdalen

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I've had my poems and my prose "rewritten" and at first I thought it was absurd. Now I understand that it might be a "method" or "style" of a critter. So I read that type of crit with my Kosher Salt nearby.

I agree with skellly up to a point.

These kinds of critiques are useless because even if I like your rewrite I'm not going to use it...that would make it "our" poem, and that gives me the "icky" feeling.

Some critters are able to use this method with some skill.

When I give a crit, it is because I liked the poem, was struck by it somehow, or because I really don't like it (I have to work harder on those) or because it's a newbie and I want to play the game with them. I am still very hesitant to crit on some of the "Establishment" here. No matter what, though, I always read the poem at least 3 times before I comment.
 

pconsidine

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One of the definite pluses of having gone to art school is having had the experience of sitting in a studio for 9 hours, giving and receiving critiques. Granted, that didn't involve someone getting up with a paint brush and adding a few dabs here and there, but the effect can be very similar. One of the best things that I learned from that is that even a jackass can have a good point.

That said, I don't really know how I would react to someone actively rewriting my work, poetry or otherwise. It hasn't happened yet, to my knowledge. I do a fair amount of freelance writing, which has definitely trained me in the art of writing to suit someone else's opinions (they are paying for it, after all), but no one has ever truly touched my work.

I guess I'll have to post another poem and see what happens, huh?
 
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