How to Critique poetry
edited: Tuesday, June 24, 2008
By ~ Chanti
Not "rated" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, February 08, 2005
Become a Fan
Some ideas about how to critique the work of others without causing offence. I hope this helps.
To kick this off, I put forward a few ideas and suggestions that will help you in the critique process. I chose the letter 'I' to do this to remind us all that poetry is subjective and so is a critique. What one person may love may leave another cold. I have posted a poem in a few different poetry forums and received rave reviews in some and have had my work ripped to shreds in others. Remember when you critique the work of others, always be constructive and positive. Rather than say something offensive and hurtful, say nothing at all. When you express how you feel about a person's work, be careful to state 'I feel...' and 'I think...' rather than to say 'This poem is...' etc. When you do make these statements, always substantiate your words e.g. 'I felt that this poem could have been more effectively rendered by...' or 'I would suggest that you...' Always ask yourself the question 'How have I added value with this critique?' Critique should always add value. Your intention should never be to hurt the feelings of the poet. It should be to encourage, to educate and to inspire.
When you examine a poem you could use this checklist to help you to critique and provide constructive feedback
(Please scroll down):
||A poem will often give us insight into a person's thoughts. What does this poem tell you about the poet?
||What was your interpretation of the poem? What do you believe the poet meant for you to interpret?
||How did the poem influence you? What impact did it have upon you? Describe from your own perspective remembering that this might not have been what the poet intended.
||Comment upon the ideas used. Was the poet original?
||How well did the poet or writer illustrate his / her points? If a poet used graphics to enhance his / her poem, how well did this fit? Did the illustration enhance or detract from the poem?
|| Poetry can be very inspirational. How were you inspired by the work?
||How much information was supplied? Was it enough? Was more information needed to make the poem more meaningful?
|Ignite, Inflame or incite
||This goes again to what kind of emotion was evoked when reading the poem. Sometimes poetry is intended to elicit a response. Sometimes the poet's intention is to incite rather than impact in a positive way.
||This is probably one of the most important factors to consider when reading poetry. When you read the words, what images do you see? How powerful and vivid were the mental images? Could the poet have painted a more vivid picture?
||It is important for a poet to use his or her imagination and to be innovative. Use of cliches and hackneyed expressions greatly detract from the poem. Originality is the key. How effective was the poet in this area?
||Was the poem in any way reminiscent of the poetry of another? Again this goes to originality. A poet should always strive to express naturally and should avoid copying the style of any other poet. We may be influenced by poets we admire but our work should always be our own. Careful never to plagiarize.
||How has the poet used patterns or stress and intonation in the poem? Has this been effective?
||Has the poet tended to exaggerate or slip into hyperbole? Sometimes this technique is used when writing comical poetry but it is important that the poet is careful not to 'over-ice the cake'.
||Check for use of idiomatic expression. Has this worked in the poem? Suggestions?
||Although it doesn't take great intelligence to write good poetry, a lot of thought should go into the writing or rather revision of a first draft. Sometimes when I write creatively, I let my creative mind have free rein but I will invariably go back and put a lot of thought into what my words are saying, how they will be read by others and also into how the technical aspects of the poem work (e.g. rhyme if applicable, meter etc.)
||Is the poet being introspective or does the poem cause you to become introspective? Poetry should always lead to reflection and this may lead to enlightenment.
||One of the faults of many poets is to leave an idea incomplete or unfinished. This can be effective but it is important that the poet completes his / her work. Could the poet have completed his or her ideas better? Were words missing? etc.
||The poet entices a reader with the opening line and leaves an impression with the closing line. Has the poem left you with a positive or lasting impression? The impact of some of the poetry I have read in my life has left an indelible impression upon me.
This list is by no means complete. You could probably add your own list. Sometimes it helps to have a list such as this on hand just to remind you about what to look for. You don't need to list all your responses in a review but this is a good guideline to poetry appreciation. I hope it helps.
Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by Conny Jasper
|Chanti presents a positive approach to constructive criticism. It is necessary for people to critiques one another in order for there to be growth and evolution. However, it is also necessary for us to do it with caring. This article also gives us much food for thought. Thank you.|
|Reviewed by Ch'erie de Perrot
|Thanks for the info here, but basically, I think someone's write's either do it for you, or they don't.
I personally don't try to find meaning/substance in others writings if it just dosent turn me on, that simple.
And i am sure others feel the same way about my work. Each to his own.
|Reviewed by Kristin Goodwin (Reader)
|You are sooo awesome! You have helped me so much, now I know what questions I should ask on my critique. Thanks alot!|
|Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G
|Thank YOU Chanti' for this Helpful and ONLy list to follow in Poetry I have ever seen. Makes me want to grab my book and start reading them now.. my poetry books... This is GREAT to know and Understand! I got in on the END of the commotion with the Steve SAge w/ S-- but, my feelings about Steve and the freinship he conveys, is felt in my heart and that is where it will stay.. including you too Chanti' -Glad we met and I wish the BEST of Health to you, sTeve and all who read-write--- Thank you for YOU VERY OPEn Heart Chanti- I am tired and I can't think of something creative to say- but, a BiG thank you 4 being a TRUe friend.. the only friends I believe in! and Am also to others- WE are want we want in our lives or around us! Warm HuGs2U- BE STRONG and STAy Wise!OXO - Steve, we keep in touch and you already know my feelings... 4Eva' as they will be!|
|Reviewed by Phyllis Du'Gas
|Very good info|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Reviewed by Gwen Dickerson
|Well done, Chanti! I've read your fine wine menu, an aka "How to Critique" list, and it contains many valueable guidelines! Thanks to you, I'm sure I will enjoy reading, creating and critiquing poety much better in the future!|
|Reviewed by ~ Chanti
|Thanks to all who have added reviews here. I wrote this checklist a while back to assist members of a creative group that I founded. I thought that members of AD may find it helpful. I agree that members of AD don't seem to provide critique per se but do offer one another encouragement and that is ok. If I wanted an in depth-critique, I would ask someone I think would give me an honest appraisal.
Jerry I laughed to read your comment about the checklist being longer than many poems. Yes it is! I don't think it is necessary to address all of the points raised but it could be used as a guideline. The list may help those who want to learn a better appreciation of poetry. Like wine tasting, it is an art. (wine tasting is an art I don't personally apply lol) If I have caused any of you to think a bit more then I'm happy.
|Reviewed by Regis Auffray
|These are guidelines that one can really put to use when critiquing one's own poetry as well, Chanti. You should be a professor in university or, at the very least, a senior English instructor in a high school; preferably in mine. LOVE. "moi"|
|Reviewed by Michelle Close Mills
|I think the one thing that I see in your list Chanti is that critiques should address the poem, and not the poet. I've heard several AD members say that someone or a series of someones have been very inflammatory with their reviews, and making them personal attacks. Your list is very informative. But most importantly it reminds us that we need to be professional. AD is not a free for all where people can brawl with one another. It is a forum for writers to express their work, and other writers as well as readers to express their opinions about that work...good or bad or otherwise. It's not a chat room where people just blurt out wherever they want. If those who make attacks on other members prefer that sort of format, this is not the place for it. Thank you for taking the time to remind us of why we are all here, and how we can improve as writers, as well as critics. Michelle|
|Reviewed by Felix Perry
|I think it was very thoughtful of you to take the time to provide this and I think it could help a lot of people myself included to do a better job of critiqing. Perhaps a copy should be permanently posted somewhere on the web for new members to see as well. Anyway great job Chanti.
|Reviewed by Jerry Bolton (Reader)
|Whew! The checklist is longer than the majority of the poems. I am not at critiquing. I tend to just like it and let them know. Here at AD most of us really don't do the critiquing as you suggest, maybe that is the reason you put this up, eh?|
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|A very thorough 'Critique Checklist,' Chanti. Thanks for sharing this.|