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

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
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.


Lisa, you were one of the most patient, kind, generous mentors I had, when I arrived here, shy, scared... and desperate to be heard... I am only giving back what was so kindly given to me....
it is because of you and Gumby, rcallaci and many more, that I am the mentor that I am... I learned from the best...

Lynn, my mentoring door is always open, and I would be honored if I could help you in any way... poetry is my passion and I can see that you are passionate about your work... we have so much in common.. ;)
 

Articulate Lady

Senior Member
Lynn, my mentoring door is always open, and I would be honored if I could help you in any way... poetry is my passion and I can see that you are passionate about your work... we have so much in common.. ;)

Thank you so much Fire! I really appreciate that. I just put my second poem out there, which I think was a great improvement from the last one. I hope it is well received. I will wait a bit and see how others comment, but if I really get stuck and can't apply their feedback to improve my work I will definitely reach out!

You are most kind, like everyone I have met on this site so far. I am really enjoying being here. Thank you so much!
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
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.


You keep asking until you understand ... period. What good is wisdom and knowledge given, if it is not understood? It is worthless... Be bold, don't be shy, if someone critiques your work... they damn well better be able to answer EVERY question you have...
 

Articulate Lady

Senior Member
You keep asking until you understand ... period. What good is wisdom and knowledge given, if it is not understood? It is worthless... Be bold, don't be shy, if someone critiques your work... they damn well better be able to answer EVERY question you have...

This is a very true point. I will try again with my next piece. I think my first one couldn't be helped, unless I totally re-wrote it, since it had all the repetitions like someone mentioned. But you're right, I shouldn't be afraid to ask.
 

Firemajic

Poetry Mentor
Staff member
Senior Mentor
Thank you so much Fire! I really appreciate that. I just put my second poem out there, which I think was a great improvement from the last one. I hope it is well received. I will wait a bit and see how others comment, but if I really get stuck and can't apply their feedback to improve my work I will definitely reach out!

You are most kind, like everyone I have met on this site so far. I am really enjoying being here. Thank you so much!

No, thank you... poets like you are my inspiration, and why I still love mentoring... ;)
 

H.Brown

WF Veterans
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.

To be fair I would if I didn't understand any of the critique offered, it is sometimes the only way to learn and it also allows others to see what type of help you are needing, I use this approach when dealing with critiques I recieve on my work and especially in my basic poetry.
 

clark

Staff member
Chief Mentor
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.

That's okay! Remember the old saw, "give someone a fish, you feed them for a day; teach them how to fish, you feed them for a lifetime." When I started teaching, an older hand reviewed a bunch of my graded papers. He said, "your comments remind me of a tennis coach I had once. He watched me serve a number of times, then said to me, clearly a little annoyed, 'you're serving the ball into the net. Stop serving the ball into the net.' then he glared at me." I protested vehemently that I was NOT doing that. The older hand pointed out that I'd circled 4 examples of subject/verb disagreement and in my summary of errors I wrote "review subj/verb agr." I blushed and mumbled "stop serving the ball into the net. . ." How could the writer RE-view something he hadn't yet "viewed"? I got it. I referred the student to a specific section of the text and told him I didn't want to see such errors in future papers. I didn't. Returning to our context: if a new poet has, say, written a metaphor, the parts of which simply do not work together, simply don't make sense, I don't mind commenting on "every last detail" of that issue, but with a view to using those details as a springboard into Metaphor-At-Large. Or, if available, I might be able to refer the poet to an extant thread that discusses Metaphor. Or if in doubt, I might ASK how comfortable the new poet is with metaphor? Maybe not at all. Maybe we can get a conversation going? I guess what I'm getting at, from one angle, is if you are a neophyte eager for basic guidance on basic stuff, just say so. You might even preamble a particular poem with specific concerns you'd like help on. And please don't think because you're new to the Art that your opinion in 'less than'. NOT SO. Poetry is an Art of feeling, emotion, intuition, and imagination. You bring all of that to bear on every poem you read, and just because you may at this stage lack a 'technical' vocabulary, does not mean you don't have insights of value to the poet. We're all in the same boat, trying to find the right paddle. . . .
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Excellent post, clark. One point I would disagree slightly,

'You might even preamble a particular poem with specific concerns you'd like help on.'

My experience is that such requests are better placed after the piece of work. There are a certain number of people who will be put off by it and never get past to the poem, but more, it is a good idea to let people form their opinion first before asking questions which may influence their reading.
 

clark

Staff member
Chief Mentor
A timely caution, Olly. I agree--position specific concerns after the piece itself. Makes more sense.
 

Chinspinner

Senior Member
An interesting topic. There was a slightly grey area in your argument that I want to resolve; am I allowed to beat people around the head with their own manuscripts?
 

Darkkin

WF Veterans
Maybe something to add to a suggestion thread: A protected area for members not ready to swim in the ocean of full on critique. Reply posts requiring two positive attributes per one negative attributed noted. Sandwich critique method only...Admittence to said area approved by mentors and mods only. Cage diving so to speak, sharks and orcas at a safe distance.

Allow a place for safe, warm water wading...Pretty, pristine, and fragile, much like a reef. But it is the deep, fierce cold water currents that is the foundation of the oceans' abundance and diversity. From algae blooms to the blue whale. A tough enivornment, much like the reality of writing.

Critique is a tool, always has been and will be. Opinion, not holy writ. A hammer can slip from one's hands and land painfully on a toe...But what the writer does with the hammer is entirely up to them. Swear, hop about a bit, and return to the job. Take some time to ice the toe. Or walk away swearing to never take up a tool again because tools are now equated with toil and pain.
 
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Pete_C

WF Veterans
A small percentage of successful writing is the original idea. The real work lies in honing it, trimming off the rough edges, polishing it and then reassessing. It's not over at that point, and often needs further work. Trim too much, polish too far and you need to start again.

it's a process we all have to go through, and if someone doesn't want to follow that process they won't get far. I don't think hiding that helps anyone, nor does giving them a false sense of achievement. Sometimes the best advice is 'bin it and move on'; if that has to be accompanied by two doses of false praise you will actually be cheating the writer of an honest critique.
 
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Pete_C

WF Veterans
Apologies for a second post on this, but thinking about it there is another side to this issue.

I haven't seen many (or any recent) cases where someone posts a 'throwaway' negative or strong critique. There are some very good people in WF, and those that spend time and effort are rarely wrong in their observations. They must think something is worthwhile to spend that time and effort. I don't see 'this sucks' or 'it's crap'. If I really think that and have nothing to add, I just pass it by, and I'm sure others do.

Where there are many 'throwaway' critiques are the 'this is great' or 'love this' comments, which do abound. Often these will follow posted poems that have clear and obvious flaws (I'm not talking personal taste here, but genuine flaws that could easily be corrected). The result is that you see new poets posting numerous poems all with the same issues, and a gaggle of comments telling them how lovely their work is.

What then happens is someone identifies the flaws, and they get snapped at. The poster is hurt by the comments because everyone else - their peers - told them it was great. The outcome is that the person offering an in-depth critique decides to not bother with that poster again, and the original writer goes on to post work with the same issues and never develops.

Interestingly I was looking back at some old posts (trying to remember who was around when I first joined) and saw a few pieces with the same issues that writer has today. Interestingly, they have developed an aggressive attitude to crits and so only gets the 'love this' comments. Has that writer been helped? I would argue not.

Whilst not talking directly about the member that Olly raised, there are some brilliant writers (on here and elsewhere) who rarely post or publish their work. They have their reasons for that. There are also numerous talented writers who have walked away from writing. Again, they have their reasons. If their reasons include not liking crits or honest appraisal of their work, then they probably aren't cut out for writing for public consumption.

In the case Olly referred to, I think she was overwhelmed by receiving critiques and instead of thinking about it and working through the comments and the reasons they were made, and seeing which (if any) worked for her, she tried to change everything at once and the poem was lost and no longer hers. We've all done it and had to learn from it.

If I went to doctor and he said, 'Your finger is infected, it needs cutting off' I think it would be more helpful that, 'you're very handsome, you might have one too many fingers, and I love the way you bake a pig's head pie'.

This place has Mods and Mentors and members aplenty to step in if someone is getting a rough ride, but I don't see that. I do see new writers being given hollow praise they don't need (or often deserve) which doesn't help them to develop. We all need a cuddle every now and again, but is a critique group the right place for it?

It could be argued that removing the 'love this' type comments that include no reasoning or identification of weaknesses would benefit the new writers more than some softly softly platitudes.
 

Cran

Da Boss Emeritus
Patron
>>Pete_C - You might find that many of the throwaway Like/Love/Great comments came from (then) New Members looking to race through their ten post requirements so that they could then post their own creative genius for similar feedback.

We have, at times, tried to curb this type of posting, but for every one we caught, three more turned up.
 

PiP

Staff member
Co-Owner
>>Pete_C - You might find that many of the throwaway Like/Love/Great comments came from (then) New Members looking to race through their ten post requirements so that they could then post their own creative genius for similar feedback.

Sadly, I've seen several meaningless one-liner comments to serious discussions.
 
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Ariel

WF Veterans
Apologies for a second post on this, but thinking about it there is another side to this issue.

I haven't seen many (or any recent) cases where someone posts a 'throwaway' negative or strong critique. There are some very good people in WF, and those that spend time and effort are rarely wrong in their observations. They must think something is worthwhile to spend that time and effort. I don't see 'this sucks' or 'it's crap'. If I really think that and have nothing to add, I just pass it by, and I'm sure others do.

Where there are many 'throwaway' critiques are the 'this is great' or 'love this' comments, which do abound. Often these will follow posted poems that have clear and obvious flaws (I'm not talking personal taste here, but genuine flaws that could easily be corrected). The result is that you see new poets posting numerous poems all with the same issues, and a gaggle of comments telling them how lovely their work is.

What then happens is someone identifies the flaws, and they get snapped at. The poster is hurt by the comments because everyone else - their peers - told them it was great. The outcome is that the person offering an in-depth critique decides to not bother with that poster again, and the original writer goes on to post work with the same issues and never develops.

Interestingly I was looking back at some old posts (trying to remember who was around when I first joined) and saw a few pieces with the same issues that writer has today. Interestingly, they have developed an aggressive attitude to crits and so only gets the 'love this' comments. Has that writer been helped? I would argue not.

Whilst not talking directly about the member that Olly raised, there are some brilliant writers (on here and elsewhere) who rarely post or publish their work. They have their reasons for that. There are also numerous talented writers who have walked away from writing. Again, they have their reasons. If their reasons include not liking crits or honest appraisal of their work, then they probably aren't cut out for writing for public consumption.

In the case Olly referred to, I think she was overwhelmed by receiving critiques and instead of thinking about it and working through the comments and the reasons they were made, and seeing which (if any) worked for her, she tried to change everything at once and the poem was lost and no longer hers. We've all done it and had to learn from it.

If I went to doctor and he said, 'Your finger is infected, it needs cutting off' I think it would be more helpful that, 'you're very handsome, you might have one too many fingers, and I love the way you bake a pig's head pie'.

This place has Mods and Mentors and members aplenty to step in if someone is getting a rough ride, but I don't see that. I do see new writers being given hollow praise they don't need (or often deserve) which doesn't help them to develop. We all need a cuddle every now and again, but is a critique group the right place for it?

It could be argued that removing the 'love this' type comments that include no reasoning or identification of weaknesses would benefit the new writers more than some softly softly platitudes.

I absolutely agree with this. I find that very often it's certain established poets and writers that receive this kind of critique with exactly that kind of attitude developing from such treatment. It's a large reason why I chose not to be a mentor and a larger part of the reason why I don't critique, post, or comment much.
 

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