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Don't Dish it Out, If You Can't Take It (1 Viewer)

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
I'm not fond of gratuitous compliments that are obviously placed to soften what is going to be said, and recognized from a mile away. True work shoppers shouldn't need them. As I've said often, I don't need them (so, skip with me). Guess I look at workshop as I did work. Get to it. Get it done. Try to get it right. One's efforts for others ARE the kindness.

That's why I prefer to post my poetry in the Workshop... just tell me why my piggin' poem sucks... I am here to learn. I don't like candy, have the hide of a hog and the patience of a gnat.
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Every time you "like" a poem of mine from now on I'm going to feel a knife slowly twisting in my back :grief:

Okk, well you missed the entire point of this thread, I was speaking of how I used to critique... then I got wise.. I learned from the critiques that inspired me, the ones that were honest, insightful, intelligent and respectful... and then I changes my POV, I am not doing anyone any favors if I pat them on the back and applaud a vapid, empty, ambiguous splatter of words on a screen... I want honesty, and I now give honesty... the point of my comment was that no one got upset with me when I told them what they wanted to hear, but blood was spilled if I gave my honest opinion, and lets not forget... that IS what a critique is... an opinion. Period, it is not a personal attack, until you make it one...

If you feel a knife in your back... it won't be mine, I will come for you face to face and plunge my knife in your chest... ;)
 

Chesters Daughter

Staff member
Global Moderator
I could kiss you for this bit of brilliance, Olly:

I see the point, and I probably would be less concientious when I am dealing with one of the 'Old Timers' I know, but with a new-comer or someone I don't know well I think it is worth the effort of phrasing things so they will be taken on board and considered. If it helps get the point over I don't see it as gratuitous, any more than taking the effort to show the reader in an interestesting way, rather than just telling him, getting on with it, and losing him.

Us Old Timers have skin that defies bazooka shells, so yes, if you know the OP is seasoned, skip the sugary shit and shoot from the hip. Please keep in mind that even we veterans sometimes get touchy, but we've been around the block enough to know how to conduct ourselves. What I'm begging everyone to do is to consider whose thread you're posting in, if it's a vet, straight for the jugular, but if the poster is new or unknown to you, speak honestly but try to temper your manner of delivery so that what you're saying can be absorbed and considered. Please realize that new folks don't know us as people, or how things run on the board. Those sticking a toe in the water for the first time only to find it bitten off by an alligator they do not know who's growling "this is wrong and that is wrong or what were you thinking" is enough to make anyone throw in the pen. It is possible to deliver pure honesty, tempered with any little bit of good you can find, even if it's proper grammar or a decent concept, so that the poster does not feel like a failure.

We all start at the beginning, and the beginners are ours to teach, and I can't tell you how many know nothings turned into big somethings since I've been here, but it is our duty to the craft itself to offer knowledge in a manner that is embraceable. Honesty doesn't have to feel like chastisement, it is a tool we should wield with respect and dignity. Skill level should be considered when it comes to critique, I'm not talking coddling, just consideration.

Lastly, if you know for a fact that someone merely wants pats on the back and prefers to remain mired in substandard muck of their own making, it doesn't take us too long to figure out who they are, don't waste your time and refrain from commenting at all. We should concentrate our efforts on those who appreciate it and we will be rewarded with watching them blossom before our eyes.
 

Articulate Lady

Senior Member
It was really difficult for me when I first came here. My first poem was a mess, and even though I thought it was a great poem written from the heart, it was really unorganized and hard to follow. I see that now after accepting the critique that was given to me.

I have to admit, Darkkin was the first person to critique my poem and I was devastated. I had no idea how bad it was, and I took it to heart. But even though i was hurt, I remained calm and was courteous to her and thanked her for her critique. Not once did I lash out at her for it.

I will say this, as a beginner, some people should take that into consideration, although if i was really afraid of critique, I wouldn't post in the main Poetry section and just stick to the workshop like PiP.

It is all about etiquette, and people on the internet have a habit of being unkind and unruly. It's just the nature of the beast, I guess.
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
Critique is an opinion. People who take it as an assault upon themselves really do not have an idea of what critique truly is. An impartial observation on the writing not the writer. The reader doesn't know the writer from Adam, so how is proper critique a personal attack? It isn't logical. The work is the direct object, not the author. Critique, stemming from the roots of critical technique, not criticism of the individual. Basic critical thinking skills, the crucial why behind an observation. Writing is blood, sweat, and savage edits.

And while I might have fewer years in my dish than many here, my shields are thick and armor hard won. (A lifetime of people telling me I cannot, am not able, and do not know how...Few bothered to ever provide a why and believe me, I made sure to ask. It is also a big part of the reason I think 'Because I said so' reasoning is a load of bullshit.) If a writer likes something, that is their right as the author, they don't have to change a thing, as critique is simply an opinion. If they don't have a why beyond the 'Well it sounds good', then chances are a) not much thought has gone into a piece or b) the writer is too emotionally attached to a piece and cannot address issues objectively.

I keep it on the work and only the work and I do not pull punches, but I also make sure I include the reason why something doesn't work. Math and science teachers chronically harp on the phrase: Show your work. The same needs to apply to critique. Show examples. The reasonings behind why A does not support B or why word X doesn't support context I. The equation needs to balance. Basic logic, it doesn't leave room for ego, but observant readers know enough to pay attention to their emotional reactions ellicted. The empathtic reactions, how they relate to a piece's tone. How well they connect with a wrtier's voice...

I'm horrorible excuse of a human because I stick to basic logic, but I also learn by critiquing. What people do with the observations its totally up to the individual...But as sterile as logic can seem, it forces writers to take a hard look at the writing itself, not the writer's process...As a reader, the writer's process needs to remain on the writer's side of the fourth wall, it has no bearing on the context of the content. If there is an issue, logic does not care it points out the issue. Technical aspects carry just as much weight as the content.

As a reader, a writer, I also know to practice what I preach. Things like reading aloud, running basic spell check, and making sure my context supports the whole. And being able to reply cogently to a reader's why. If I can't I know the issue needs to be addressed. Just like the shell of Turtle, the fourth wall is a shield. I'm merely a name on a screen, writing will stand or fall on its own merit, no matter the writer's emotional attachment to it. Logic maintains the intergrity of my fourth wall shell and diverts borrowed drama.

This is the internet, so skill levels of writers varied, but there is little point in pandering or pulling punches. True critique does neither. It is concise and to the point. Good writing has structural intergrity and when hit with a rubber mallet it will jiggle like Jello, but maintain its form. (Logic is my rubber mallet and weapon of choice. Useful and nonlethal. ;) ) If there are issues that need to be addressed, logic reveals fissures within the context. Many take the fissures in stride, but some assume that the cracks are reflections of the individual, not the writing. Sorry, but no. It is the writing not the writer. One small conjugation, but a whole world of meaning.

Should I be thanking people for not treating critique like a personal attack? :uncomfortableness: A little logic goes a long way, but means jack shit when the drama starts.
 
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Chesters Daughter

Staff member
Global Moderator
Darkkin, you are one of the most knowledgeable poets, and one of the best critters, here. You are in no way "a horrible excuse of a human being" for providing others with the benefit of your expertise. As I've seen no one label you as such publicly, if they have, even privately, please inform me immediately. Just as we expect those being critiqued not to take it personally, their initial upset at finding out their work needs adjustment should not be taken personally, either. Human egos are fragile, and for a beginner poet to find out they're not quite as good as they presumed is a serious blow. Being told they are not perfect will result in a reaction, and that reaction should not be taken personally, either. Please keep doing what you do so well, and please understand that the reactions that result from budding poets finding out they've much to learn isn't directed at you personally. It's the message they're having difficulty with, not the messenger, even though I know sometimes it may feel that way. You are a priceless asset to these boards. Keep doing you, you are irreplaceable.
 

Kevin

WF Veterans
It was really difficult for me when I first came here. My first poem was a mess, and even though I thought it was a great poem written from the heart, it was really unorganized and hard to follow. I see that now after accepting the critique that was given to me.

I have to admit, Darkkin was the first person to critique my poem and I was devastated. I had no idea how bad it was, and I took it to heart. But even though i was hurt, I remained calm and was courteous to her and thanked her for her critique. Not once did I lash out at her for it.

I will say this, as a beginner, some people should take that into consideration, although if i was really afraid of critique, I wouldn't post in the main Poetry section and just stick to the workshop like PiP.

It is all about etiquette, and people on the internet have a habit of being unkind and unruly. It's just the nature of the beast, I guess.
Sounds like sink or swim, dear, and, uh... you swam :).
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
It strikes me that it is quite logical that an emotion based human being should associate with their poetic creations and have personal feelings that they are being 'attacked' when they see 'negative' crit. If the crit is based on the writing does not matter, if they feel the writing is an extension of themselves it is logical for them to feel this way. It is not rational, but people (Some might say especially poets) are not rational, which makes it logical to expect an irrational reaction to these things, helping themtoa rational reaction can be as important as making a logical point, after all there is no logical point in making it if the irrational reaction prevents them appreciating it.

Well done Articulate Lady, you appear to be living up to your name and look like being a valuable addition to the forum, and whilst that comment may not be stricktly necessary, neither is it simply guff ;)
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
*** It is possible to deliver pure honesty, tempered with any little bit of good you can find, even if it's proper grammar or a decent concept, so that the poster does not feel like a failure.*****

We all start at the beginning,****** and the beginners are ours to teach******, and I can't tell you how many know nothings turned into big somethings since I've been here, but it is our duty to the craft itself to offer knowledge in a manner that is embraceable. Honesty doesn't have to feel like chastisement, it is a tool we should wield with respect and dignity. Skill level should be considered when it comes to critique, I'm not talking coddling, just consideration.

***We should concentrate our efforts on those who appreciate it and we will be rewarded with watching them blossom before our eyes.



This! This should be our CODE OF CONDUCT!!!! Mentors and members alike.... Anyone who is truly passionate about their craft wants to inspire that love in someone else, especially when you can see the willingness to LISTEN and LEARN....Anyone who loves writing and has had the benefit of a wonderful mentor owes a payback. PASS IT ON.... Be kind, supportive, respectful, honest and ALWAYS ENCOURAGING... But, if you cannot be any of these things, then stay out of the way of those who are trying to help, encourage and inspire... stop adding your negative comments , If you are not part of the solution, at least don't be part of the problem...please... let us work together, and make the fabulous poetry thread truly fabulous...
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
It was really difficult for me when I first came here. My first poem was a mess, and even though I thought it was a great poem written from the heart, it was really unorganized and hard to follow. I see that now after accepting the critique that was given to me.

I have to admit, Darkkin was the first person to critique my poem and I was devastated. I had no idea how bad it was, and I took it to heart. But even though i was hurt, I remained calm and was courteous to her and thanked her for her critique. Not once did I lash out at her for it.
There is absolutely NO REASON to lash out at DarKKin...her critique was about your work, not about you.. I know it hurts, but reading your work to your family is a BAD idea-- IF you want the truth... so, to hear that your poem needs a savage revision was not what you expected, but a few months from now, reread your poem and reread DarKKins critique... I promise you are going to thank her for her brutal honesty.. you have potential, a lot of potential, and you have passion... all you lack now is skill and finesse .... and knowledge, and knowledge comes from critique, researching, reading all things about your craft...

I will say this, as a beginner, some people should take that into consideration, although if i was really afraid of critique, I wouldn't post in the main Poetry section and just stick to the workshop like PiP.
I think you misunderstand... the workshop is even more intense....

It is all about etiquette, and people on the internet have a habit of being unkind and unruly. It's just the nature of the beast, I guess.

Hang in there, keep writing, posting your work, studying the critiques given, soon you will begin to understand what part of the critique works for your poem and what you are trying to express... No mentor wants to change your style or your voice, they only want it to be more powerful, memorable and beautiful... I am looking forward to reading more of your work... ;)

OOo, one more thing.... do not be afraid to question a critique... if you do not understand a comment, don't be afraid to ask questions, don't be afraid to voice your reasons for the words you used and why you feel the way you feel... open a respectful dialogue about the critique.... ask questions....
 
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Darkkin

WF Veterans
Critique takes techinque, or lack thereof, into account, the hated why...It pairs the linear processes of technique with emotion, message, imagery, and flow. Order within chaos, something nature does with ease, people have a harder time with because the creative process is messy and intangible. Many beginners don't take into account things like show v. tell or consider why poetry differs from prose. From the subatomic level there is structure, invisible and everchanging, but there.

I don't know how many times I've said I really like the idea, but execution needs to be addressed. Like any discipline writing takes practice, not just clicking the post button. Hey, I'm a writer! Yeah for taking the first steps, but the unseen structure and practical aspects suddenly come into play. How writers react establishes their foundations of their craft. Some build on it with tools given, while others keep tripping over the same stone. e.g. (basic legibility) Even if a reader finds the writing a tad dry, at least they understood the writer's intent. Those writers are much further along the path than those who do not take basic meaning into account. Sure it sounds fancy, but when asked what it means, often times the writer has no more idea of their meaning than the reader...At that point one knows they are really in the weeds. It is a process and there are going to be spills. Carry both salt and band-aids.

Visual aspects like formatting, basic grammar, and spelling go a long way in establishing a reader's impressions with a piece. e.g. Okay, they took time to run spell check and give it a once over. Big step in the right direction. A demonstration of time and some consideration. Believe it or not these are factors in determining a work's readability. Twelve misspelled/missued words in twenty-three line of poetry doesn't bode well. A couple of typos, those happen to everyone. Don't judge the cover, wise advice, but first impressions are a nearly subconscious reaction. The cover draws the attention, the content is what stands or falls.

Something to consider, as a reader, ask: What is it that made you pick up a book or click on a link and start reading? Does the (your) work have one or more of those elements? It is the difference between conscious writing and 'because I say it is' writing.
 
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Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
I don't know how many times I've said I really like the idea, but execution needs to be addressed. Like any discipline writing takes practice, not just clicking the post button. Hey, I'm a writer! Yeah for taking the first steps, but
the unseen **structure and practical aspects** suddenly come into play. How writers react** establishes their foundations of their craft.*** Some build on it with tools given, while others keep tripping over the same stone. .



LMAO... yeah... Maestro, AKA Rcallaci, tried to drum that into our thick skulls... He tried to teach us to know the basics, know the rules... BEFORE you break them... We must have driven him insane... ;)
 

clark

Staff member
Chief Mentor
Apologies to all if some of my remarks below have already been covered earlier in the thread.

If my memory serves--and it often doesn't, so be kind--Plato's 'training' for the fledgling Philosopher King stipulated 'ten years of Mathematics', NOT because he was to become a mathematician but because of the discipline in reasoning and logic implicit in studying mathematics. I write free verse poetry, so I'd damned well better know a LOT about the 'verse' I'm 'free' of, before I presume. Free-verse poetry demands that the poet re-invent Form with each and every poem. That's a heavy demand, and the poet should expect, and welcome, differing opinions on Form in the critiques offered by fellow poets. I received the following comment recently: "the rhythm throughout is iambic tetrameter, broken sharply in L7 and L13, so in those lines I would expect to see a reason in the CONTENT for the irregularity in the form, but I see no such reason. So are we dealing with formal errors here, or am I just missing something?" I would cheerfully kill a person of your choice for a critique like that! Every word is focused exclusively on the text of the poem; every word is designed to help me make a stronger poem. Even if I disagree totally with the critic.

Poets should post here to solicit the honest opinions of their colleagues. "Beautiful!" and "Great work!" and "I wept!" are as helpful as. . .the analogies that leap to mind are all obscene. . . . Skim over such 'opinions'. They may jump-start your ego momentarily, but if your poetry and your ego are inextricably wound together, you should take up long-distance trucking, accounting, or dog grooming--just a few possibilities--rather than poetry. Critics should post here to HELP. I can think of no other reason. And if you find yourself typing the word "you" anywhere in your critique, I hope you hear a sharp alarm bell clanging in your head, because you are probably turning from the POEM to the POET, about whom you know nothing. Finally, a reminder to those of our colleagues relatively new to this Art we all love: literary criticism is a generic term that encompasses positive as well as negative commentary. A critique glowing with praise is nonetheless still criticism.
 

Chesters Daughter

Staff member
Global Moderator
Please understand I am not promoting empty and useless "great job, you typed some words, broke them up a bit and called it a poem" here. What I'm trying to get across is that advanced terminology is lost on the beginners. They don't know enough to understand what you're saying if they haven't learned it yet, so they walk away with a feeling that they've failed, but aren't exactly sure why because the reasoning behind the unfavorable critique is expressed in concepts they know nothing about yet. So there they sit believing they've failed, not sure why, and thinking that they'll never get it. Even those with natural ability would end up being disheartened thinking they are way out of their league.

Imagine the apocalypse has come and gone and there's one surgeon left in town, and in a medical emergency you volunteer to assist because you have a wee bit of medical knowledge. So you gown and glove up, proud of yourself for even attempting to dip your toe, and he makes an incision and starts spouting directions and you haven't a clue what he's asking for or what needs to be done. You'd be flustered, perhaps enough to bolt, but one thing's for sure, without some schooling, you wouldn't volunteer again. Not to worry, this snippet has a happy ending, the surgeon is quite proficient and the patient survives.

Advanced terminology cannot be understood by those who haven't even mastered the rudimentary yet. What I'm asking is that if you post in a beginner's thread, please simplify your statements so that they may be embraced. When I arrived here, not only was I unable to understand the more advanced work, when I read the interaction between the advanced poets as they had a go at each other, I had no idea what they were talking about. Might as well have been a language other than English. I felt like an idiot and it didn't feel so good. When I received critique on my horrible efforts, a good deal went right over my head. Too proud to ask for clarification, I remained an idiot. I realized that without help, I would not improve, which I desired above all things, so I reached out to Baron and he tutored me via PM, bless his talented and kind soul. Eventually, I learned enough to hold my own. Like me, there are quite a few who won't ask for clarification, so it should be our goal to make things as simplified as possible for new poets. Those who wish to learn will surface.

The beginners are are the future of the craft we love so well. It won't do to chase them away with terminology that is overwhelming, incomprehensible and may lead to the belief that this thing we do with our words is beyond their grasp.
 
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Articulate Lady

Senior Member
Please understand I am not promoting empty and useless "great job, you typed some words, broke them up a bit and called it a poem" here. What I'm trying to get across is that advanced terminology is lost on the beginners. They don't know enough to understand what you're saying if they haven't learned it yet, so they walk away with a feeling that they've failed, but aren't exactly sure why because the reasoning behind the unfavorable critique is expressed in concepts they know nothing about yet. So there they sit believing they've failed, not sure why, and thinking that they'll never get it. Even those with natural ability would end up being disheartened thinking they are way out of their league.

Imagine the apocalypse has come and gone and there's one surgeon left in town, and in a medical emergency you volunteer to assist because you have a wee bit of medical knowledge. So you gown and glove up, proud of yourself for even attempting to dip your toe, and he makes an incision and starts spouting directions and you haven't a clue what he's asking for or what needs to be done. You'd be flustered, perhaps enough to bolt, but one thing's for sure, without some schooling, you wouldn't volunteer again. Not to worry, this snippet has a happy ending, the surgeon is quite proficient and the patient survives.

Advanced terminology cannot be understood by those who haven't even mastered the rudimentary yet. What I'm asking is that if you post in a beginner's thread, please simplify your statements so that they may be embraced. When I arrived here, not only was I unable to understand the more advanced work, when I read the interaction between the advanced poets as they had a go at each other, I had no idea what they were talking about. Might as well have been a language other than English. I felt like an idiot and it didn't feel so good. When I received critique on my horrible efforts, a good deal went right over my head. Too proud to ask for clarification, I remained an idiot. I realized that without help, I would not improve, which I desired above all things, so I reached out to Baron and he tutored me via PM, bless his talented and kind soul. Eventually, I learned enough to hold my own. Like me, there are quite a few who won't ask for clarification, so it should be our goal to make things as simplified as possible for new poets. Those who wish to learn will surface.

The beginners are are the future of the craft we love so well. It won't do to chase them away with terminology that is overwhelming, incomprehensible and may lead to the belief that this thing we do with our words is beyond their grasp.

What is said here is EXACTLY how I feel. I am more than a beginner, I am a novice when it comes to poetry in every sense of the word. And truth be told, if this wonderful woman (Chester's Daughter), didn't comment on my poetry thread, I would have left it feeling belittled and broken with no desire to even attempt to write poetry again. I appreciate critique, but I am at the stage where I just don't understand it. I know nothing of "correct" poetry, and when I am staring at a blank page now, I am so unsure of how to proceed. I feel like my imagination is being stifled, if I can be so bold to say.

But as a beginner, I understand that people are here to give their opinions and are just trying to be helpful. Beginners should keep in mind that these are people that have been writing poetry a long time (or even some who haven't), but they are just trying to improve our work not tear us down. It's a slippery slope, and it does leave one discouraged. The lesson here is to keep trying and maybe find a mentor, someone to help with your poetry, or like others have told me, read, read, and read some more.
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
What is said here is EXACTLY how I feel. I am more than a beginner, I am a novice when it comes to poetry in every sense of the word. And truth be told, if this wonderful woman (Chester's Daughter), didn't comment on my poetry thread, I would have left it feeling belittled and broken with no desire to even attempt to write poetry again. I appreciate critique, but I am at the stage where I just don't understand it. I know nothing of "correct" poetry, and when I am staring at a blank page now, I am so unsure of how to proceed. I feel like my imagination is being stifled, if I can be so bold to say.

But as a beginner, I understand that people are here to give their opinions and are just trying to be helpful. Beginners should keep in mind that these are people that have been writing poetry a long time (or even some who haven't), but they are just trying to improve our work not tear us down. It's a slippery slope, and it does leave one discouraged. The lesson here is to keep trying and maybe find a mentor, someone to help with your poetry, or like others have told me, read, read, and read some more.


Hahaa, Rcallaci used to say that a poet needs thick skin... what does that even mean? And how do we do that? Well, it means that we do exactly like you are doing, writing, posting our work for critique, and when that critique stings, you rub on some salve and get busy improving... and little by little, you realize that the critiques are tools ... little by little your attitude about critiques will mature.. and then one day... you realize your skin has thickened, your skills are awesome, your confidence strong and your poetry is powerful... ;)
 

Chesters Daughter

Staff member
Global Moderator
I love you, Jul. You're a master at offering critique that is skill level appropriate, and are able to teach even the greenest of the green. When I recently told you how much I value your contributions, I should have told you you are my right hand instead of just alluding to it. So here goes, you, Jul, are my right hand. Thank you for all you do, my darling.

Thank you, Lynn, pink cheeks here thanks to your very kind words. You've read my post and now know that I, too, came here knowing nothing. I guess that's why I'm on this particular mission, loath to lose folks like you. I'm thrilled that you're staying, before you know it, you'll be teaching the green, too.
 

Articulate Lady

Senior Member
Remember guys we can also ask for any part of a critique to be explained to us as sometimes this helps a beginner to undestand and therefore move forward with their skills. :)

Sometimes you don't even know what to ask, because you can't understand any of it all. Unless you want the person to explain every last detail to you.
 

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