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Of Critiquing and Where to Begin

Here's part one of the series I made about critiques when I was about 18 years old!
 
 
This is the first of three introductory posts I’ll be making about critique. I'd like to start off by mentioning that I recently discovered that an online artist friend takes even the politest of critique negatively. He goes so far as to explicitly state that he doesn't want any comments if they involve critique because he knows all the flaws in his work and doesn't need others pointing them out. Needless to say, my opinion of him was greatly degraded by that discovery. 
 
But, moving on! The one thing about critique that I cannot emphasize enough is that you have no reason to be afraid of it! This community is a workshop of poets. We should all be here to improve our writing and help others improve theirs. A good critique will tell you what you're doing well and what could be improved. None of us are perfect and even the work of master poets and artists could be tweaked and improved. More often than not, you're going to get polite, respectful suggestions. That’s what a critique should be. You'll know when someone is being sincere and took the time to write out their thoughts and wants to help you grow as a writer versus trying to belittle or attack you. 
 
Critiques will generally talk about the poem, not the poet. The commenter may mention how the poem sounds read aloud, how certain words look together or what the poem may be missing. An attack will not. Understand that critiques are not the same as attacks and critiques are not bad; they're a wonderful tool for all artists! "Everyone's a critic" is a favorite comeback of artists who take even polite critique negatively. Yes, I am a critic. No, that's not what you think it means. 
 
If you're still a bit uncomfortable accepting or providing critique, you're in the right the place. 
 
A good starter tool we have here on Neopoet is the "Review Requests" listed below the poem submit form. You can select some of those boxes as a way to ask your fellow Neopoets about your poem, or you can use them as a critique form. 
 
Here's what I mean:
 
You're just about to submit a new poem. You now have these Review Request options:
 
What did you think of my title?
How was my language use?
What did you think of the rhythm or pattern or pacing?
How does this theme appeal to you?
How was the beginning/ending of the poem?
Is the internal logic consistent? 
 
Look back at your poem. Would you like your readers to answer these questions about your poem? Could you use their feedback to edit the poem? If so, select them! Remember that it's okay if not everyone likes your poem and remember that not everyone will be able to answer all of the above questions for you or that some will offer suggestions not at all related to the Review Requests. They are a starting point and they're there to help! 
 
Alternatively, you've just read a poem. The poet has selected some of these Review Requests (or if they haven't, you have them in mind). Write a comment to the poet that answers some or all the above questions. Tell them what you liked about the poem and what the poet does well. Then tell them what doesn't work for you. Do your best to explain why something "doesn't work" or seems a bit "off". Remember that it's okay if the poet doesn't use your suggestions, if they're here for the workshop environment, they will still benefit from the effort you give them and they'll be thankful. 
 
That’s not so bad, right? That’s something we can all do and we’ll all benefit from, whether it’s improving our abilities with critique or our skills as poets! 
 
A recap:
-We’re all peers here and we’re all here to learn and grow!
-Try using the “Review Requests” as a starting point for giving and receiving critique.
-Critique is not the same as an attack! If you feel like you have been personally attacked, contact myself or another advocate in a Private Message.
 
 
 
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