Tips for critiquing poetry

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Thread: Tips for critiquing poetry

  1. #1

    Tips for critiquing poetry

    Wrote this for a different forum, but it still applies here, so I figured I'd share. If anyone has anything to add, feel free.

    Tips for critiquing poetry:

    • Read the poem out loud. This might seem/sound silly, but you will probably understand a poem better by reading it this way instead of just skimming over it, which we are so prone to do when reading online. You will also notice more about a poem, such as its sounds and line breaks. The more observations you make about a poem (good or bad), the easier it will be for you to form a response to it.

    • When you're finished, ask yourself some questions. The first question most of us are probably inclined to ask is what does this mean, but I believe other questions should be answered first. Instead, try asking yourself what the emotion is behind it. Is it sad or happy or angry or something else? This is to help you identify the tone in the poem. Then ask yourself what is happening in the poem. Read it again. What are the images? What are the objects? What are they doing? And finally, what does this mean?

      If you don't know, then don't be discouraged. Ask this yourself this: why don't I know? What, in the poem, is unclear to me? Look for lines or images that are vague. Use this in critiquing the poem. If you don't understand a poem, that's not necessarily on you. It's important to remember that.

    • The above brings me to my next tip, which is to stop doubting yourself. Don't be afraid to simply let yourself react to the poem. If you have nothing bad to say about it, then it's okay to say that you like it, but do the writer the courtesy of explaining why. If you don't know why, you should read the poem again and look for lines/sounds/images you liked.

    • Read other poetry. The more you read, the more you will understand. I don't mean read poems that people post on the internet. I mean, read some current, contemporary poetry. It's hard sometimes to distinguish what is a good poem and what is a bad poem. Reading good poems will help you make that distinction. It's great to read classics as well, but if you're critiquing current poems, then you should probably also read current poems.

    • Remember that poetry is not prose. It's a different animal. You do not read it the same way. It is something that can and will take multiple reads and work to fully grasp. Even if you get the gist on the first read, accept that if you're critiquing it, you're probably going to have to give it a second and third.

    That's it for now. I have a few other notes, but I'll add those at a later time. The final thing I'll say is be gracious and respectful. That should go without saying, really. When you critique, remember that someone put time and effort into their work. It is important to respect that, even if you don't like a poem. When you get critiqued, remember that someone put time and effort into their reply. No one likes a defensive writer. The point of posting on a public forum, I think, is to receive honest feedback, not to get a pat on the back.

    Like I said, if anyone has anything to add, feel free!

  2. #2

  3. #3
    All good advice, Angel.

  4. #4
    WF Veteran apple's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    California to Pennsylvania
    Good tips for writing or critiquing poetry

    These tips will help you make an important transition as a poet:
    away from writing to celebrate, commemorate, or capture your own feelings (in which case you, the poet, are the center of the poem’s universe so you don’t need any tips from me)
    towards writing to generate feelings in your reader (in which case the poem exists entirely to serve the reader, and these tips will help you do that).

    1. Know Your Goal
    2. Avoid Clichés
    3. Avoid Sentimentality
    4. Use Images
    5. Use Metaphor and Simile
    6. Use Concrete Words Instead of Abstract Words
    7. Communicate Theme
    8. Subvert the Ordinary
    9. Rhyme with Extreme Caution
    10. Revise, Revise, Revise


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