About workshops

Workshops on Neopoet are groups that meet for a certain period of time to focus on a certain aspect of poetry. Each workshop participant is asked to critique all the other poems submitted into a workshop. A workshop leader helps coordinate -- they set the agenda, give participants feedback on whether their submissions and critique are at they level expected of them, and after the workshop is over, give feedback to participants. 

To join a workshop, first find one that is of interest to you. Once you have found the right workshop (and verified that it is open -- you can find this out in the description below), you can apply to join the workshop.


Join the Neopoet online poetry workshop and community to improve as a writer, meet fellow poets, and showcase your work. Sign up, submit your poetry, and get started.

The Great, Big, All-Inclusive Critique Workshop

Program description/goal: 
Description:
 
A lot of folks who don't offer critique (who aren't doing so for selfish reasons) don't offer suggestions because they don't feel qualified. They don't have the terminology, the technical skills, the poetic know-how, or the formal education overall.
 
This workshop is intended to serve the needs of readers and writers who want a foundation for suggesting revisions and giving writing advice.
 
A new area of focus will be shared every week for six weeks, but participants will be able to follow the workshop at their own pace beyond the six weeks. 
 
Leader: swamp-witch
Moderator(s): weirdelf
 
Objectives:
 
By following my critique blogs and some additional scholarship, together we will explore different writing concerns for poetry. These writing concerns include content, flow, word efficiency, imagery, literary devices, syntax, and more. During this workshop we will learn how to identify, analyze, and discuss these features of writing for the benefit of our own poetry and the poetry of others. 
 
This is not a workshop for poets to workshop any of their own writing; it is an in-depth introduction to critique where we will explore “anonymous” poetry. 
 
Level of expertise: Open to all
 
Subject matter: Critique and Understanding Writing Concerns
 
To join this workshop, please express your interest in being a participant in the comment section below. Thank you!  
 
Length: 
42 days
Number of participants (limit): 
20 people
Date: 
Monday, June 18, 2018 to Thursday, August 30, 2018
Short description: 
Formal, self-paced workshop on critique and writing concerns

Comments

Good objectives of the workshop very much in sync with Neopoet guidelines as a workshop site. Wondering if you would be posting a sample poem and invite critique and/or suggestions from participants and then providing your inputs.

Raising my hand
...............................................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

You asked "would you be posting a sample poem and invite critique and/or suggestions from participants and then providing your inputs"

That's exactly what we'll do!

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

deleted
..........................................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

I want to make sure any questions asked are answered as clearly as possible for people who come later, so I will continue to follow that format of repeating the question and stating who asked it.

The comment sections of workshops tend to get very long, and sometimes confusing, so I am going to try to avoid that as best as possible.

Hope you'll join, even if you just want to watch what goes on. I know not everyone has time to participate.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

deleted

raj (sublime_ocean)

and that this is a volunteer site, raj.
Even during a workshop 2-3 days should be allowed before getting impatient, and this one doesn't start until the 18th!

cheers,
Jess
Everything changes bar one. Neopoet's 'Prime Directive'-
"Critique don't comment".
https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

My apologies to you both for being over enthusiastic....I am withdrawing my registration of interest which was premature...supposedly objectionable comments are now deleted...

having said that may i draw your kind attention to "To join this workshop, please express your interest in being a participant in the comment section below."

regards and best wishes for the workshop
.................................................................................

raj (sublime_ocean)

(unless I missed something) and there is no need to get hasty, any of us.

Let's start over.

Raj, welcome. Please stay if and only if you would like. I thought you meant your hand was up to ask the question. So I didn't want to assume that you were on board to participate. But you meant your hand was raised to participate. And it was raised for a long time. I got it now!

Everything is okay and we are here to learn and have a nice workshop. Misunderstanding-free and conflict-free. Have had too much of that in the "real world" the past few weeks.

Let's all stay calm, respect each other, and be patient with each other. Critique is the only tough stuff we need to have here.

Kels

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Thanks for your words Kelsey which now make me feel less as a culprit. I will follow your workshop for sure though not as an active participant. With due respect requesting you to absent my name from the list.
I've already said before that you have come up with this great workshop at an appropriate time when Neopoet would like members to critique.

respectfully...
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raj (sublime_ocean)

Of course. Feel free to ask questions at any time.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Thanks Kelsey for understanding. I will be watchful now while asking questions so that I don't step on toes.

Regards..

raj (sublime_ocean)

If you don't mind

Happy to have you, always.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

would it be fair to expect that this workshop would focus on certain key factors, such as,

a) Why Critique [To generate interest on the aspect]
b) The process [the real substance of the workshop]
c) Critique v/s Suggestion
d) Etiquette
e) Benefits

I am asking this because in my opinion this is what a currently not critiquing participant may want to learn
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raj (sublime_ocean)

Yes, a little bit of all those factors you listed will be covered, but it will largely focus on the process. The "why", the "etiquette", the "benefits", and difference between critique and suggestion will be interwoven into the workshop, if that makes sense. The focus will still be on how to critique the different concerns mentioned in the syllabus: syntax, content, imagery, literary devices, flow, etc.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Oh yeah....most of it is covered in the syllabus. I stand corrected...
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raj (sublime_ocean)

The last time I was in an environment like the proposed workshop was my 12th grade writer's craft class, which I loved.

- JRS

“give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.” warsan shire

You're in!

Kels

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

I look forward to some learnin' :)

- JRS

“give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right.” warsan shire

OK?
Thanks,

MarkL

~ Submit to the expectation of a synergistic approach ~
~ keep writing ~

You're in!

Kels

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Thank ya,

MarkL

~ Submit to the expectation of a synergistic approach ~
~ keep writing ~

As a preparatory assignment I searched for the meaning of Critique which says thus

As a Noun:;- a detailed analysis and assessment of something, especially a literary, philosophical, or political theory.

As a verb:- evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way.

i thought that this would be a starting point to understand what this work shop would unveil..

eagerly

raj (sublime_ocean)

would it be fair to say

critique is to find
where the shoe hurts
it should be the best fit
for the terrain
if not. mend its ways
for the purpose they are meant
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raj (sublime_ocean)

Well, a person can let a poem lie for a period of time then come back and look at it with fresh eyes which often reveal problems. Or we can encourage others to be honest in posting and thus have multiple fresh eyes check it out in a few days. This is where Neopoet is unique . Here we can Expect honesty rather than just run across it once in a great while.

I appreciate you both taking the time to work ahead! These definitions do help us a lot with getting started. 
 
In recent years (since my MA, basically) I've taken on a new stance compared to when I first began hosting workshops when we first started having them. All I will say is that we will not be treating anything in this workshop as a "problem" to be "fixed". When we evaluate, it will not be to evaluate the merit of any work or any writer based on presence or lack of "errors". 
 
We will be totally honest, and we will do so with the latest, cutting-edge terminology of academic discourse. In other words, we will use what ways of critiquing and giving feedback (which I'll use interchangeably) writing scholars are starting to agree to be best way to help learners and writers most effectively (with the most progress for least amount of fuss).
 
If that sounds intimindating in any way, please be assured that these new ways are easier and less painful than they've ever been. LOL. 
 
Thanks, 
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

sounds interesting this "cutting edge terminology" and good to know that those edges would not be sharp to be intimidating but i guess more like a butter knife (used for application)
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raj (sublime_ocean)

"terminology of academic discourse"......are you Trying to make me withdraw?

Did you see my comment "If that sounds intimidating in any way, please be assured that these new ways are easier and less painful than they've ever been" ? 

 

The new ways that people are developing in education literally boil down to:

  • Do right by the people who are learning.
  • Make writing an enjoyable and worthwhile tool.
  • Encourage students. 

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

didn't carry over I guess. But there Have been times where some academics have really pissed me off via nit picking things

I need an LOL or something of that nature to help me catch sarcasm.

There will be no nit-picking here, promise!

Kels

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

workshops are for learning and would most likely involve the 3 Rs...reading writing and reproducing...so Stan we should be prepared for that....the methodologies may change but I believe the essence of learning process remains the same..mathematics when taught as mathemagic becomes fun...
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raj (sublime_ocean)

As this will be newish ground for me having not kept up with the latest in academic discourse.

So I have taken the liberty of adding myself as participant in addition to my role as moderator.

cheers,
Jess
Everything changes bar one. Neopoet's 'Prime Directive'-
"Critique don't comment".
https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

.

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

The terminology for writing concerns differs depending on the type of writing, but composition scholars and educators often create hierarchies of the concerns that are pertinent to their type of writing. These hierarchies help teach writers how to prioritize the revision, editing, and feedback process.

Focus, structure (organization), and audience are some of the highest concerns for essay writing. Word choice and spelling are some of the lowest concerns. Why is that? Because dictionaries and automatic spell checkers can go far and in a long piece of non-fiction prose like an essay, a few typos are much less critical to the overall understanding of the piece than a clear focus and well-defined topic.

We can fit poetic writing concerns into a hierarchy just like these, but the order of our concerns will be different. For the poet, every single word should be very important. In free verse, structure may hold little concern, but for haiku and sonnets structure is a top priority.

During each section of the workshop, we will first spend time discussing and learning about these writing concerns, then with the tools at our disposal we will apply our learning to a poem.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Learning at my own pace means reading and reading ...etc...etc I am a slow or perhaps average learner. Kelsey I read your where to begin 3 part series but need to re-read several times. I hope that I don't fall too far behind.
Thanks,

MarkL

~ Submit to the expectation of a synergistic approach ~
~ keep writing ~

No worries at all. This workshop is intended to be self-paced. I'll post the main topic once a week for six weeks, but will keep the workshop open much longer than that and can return to any week for any input/feedback at any time. There will also be document versions available soon for anyone who wants to print and read/take notes at their leisure.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

I will preface this work by saying that critiquing, giving feedback, constructive criticism, whatever we call it, is not about tallying errors. This is true in poetry and any other form of writing. Writing and composition scholars are still debating this stance since it became prominent in the 1980s. However, since completing my Master’s degree I have fully adopted the stance that writing is not about correctness, properness, or that the best writing has the least amount or least frequency of “errors”. 
 
Judging the merit of a writer by frequency of errors is still the standard in education, but scholars are trying to change that. The stance that there is no such thing as a good or bad writer, that everyone can develop their writing skills, is still somewhat controversial because elitists like to gate-keep. But this workshop will operate with the beliefs that anyone can be a writer and everyone, no matter how they write or talk or read, deserves a fair chance as a poet. 
 
In this workshop, we will not tally errors or judge the merit of the poem or poet based on syntax, use of dialect, or other writing concerns. We will only suggest changes that make sense for the poem and poet’s intentions. 
 
Recap: Knowledge of more or less spelling, vocabulary, grammar, literary devices, or other writing concerns does not determine the value of the poet or the value of the reader.
 
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

As an extension of this "Tallying Errors" post above and the discussion of variation in syntax on our syntax sample poem, here is some further academic reading for those who are interested:
 
The most effective academic writing clearly presents the stance of the essay and contributes to the field’s discourse in whatever form the writer deems important for their purpose and audience. In poetry, the most effective poem moves the reader, paints a picture, or tells a story in whatever form the poet deems important for their purpose (and perhaps audience).
 
Different forms, different dialects, etc., are just that: different, not correct or incorrect, despite what you were likely taught in school grammar class. 
 
To learn more about this topic, see the following:
 
If you have to choose any one of those to peruse, I recommend Bad Ideas about Writing (entire free book) Tyler Branson’s essay “First-Year Writing Prepares Students for Academic Writing” in this book gives a good overview of the turn away from tallying errors and the history of tallying errors in writing education. Here is an excerpt:
 
“...more and more men and women started attending college [in the 1800s]. At the time, first-year writing instructors decided that the best way to provide this new influx of middle-class professionals with the tools to succeed in written communication was to focus on correctness and efficiency. Writing instruction back then taught that good writing was correct writing, and that you can measure good writing by counting errors. 
 
However, people in the field of composition have come to learn a lot about how writing works ... researchers have known since the 1970s that teaching grammar and mechanics does not improve student writing. Andrea Lunsford and Karen Lunsford even recreated a famous study of errors in Freshman Composition essays and found that “the rate of student error is not increasing precipitously but, in fact, has stayed stable for nearly 100 years.” What they mean is that errors in writing are a fact of life. As writing teachers, the idea that errors are a fact of life has been quite helpful because it has allowed them to prioritize higher order issues in writing ...Writing isn’t a set of formulas that you plug in to get different kinds of texts. Writing is a process of brainstorming, composing, revising, having your work read by others, and then revising again. This is a complex, in-depth process that goes way beyond correctness.” (page 18-19)
 
The discourse (as briefly described by the above links and excerpt) basically all boils down to the western world’s history of using “proper” grammar, speech, and reading/writing ability to exclude people from education, from voting, and from their human rights if they could not read/write/speak in “proper” English. This is not the legacy of writing that I want to contribute to or perpetuate. 
 
Pointing out obvious typos or simple misspellings is different that judging the merit, correctness, properness, skill, or validity of a poem based on using slang, shorthand, profanity, dialect, or non-standard grammar.
 
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

for providing resources and excerpt. Honestly [in the context of critique workshop] it is not telling me if syntax errors should / should not be a target of critique. If I may put my query in perspective, is it that a person holding fork in his right hand instead of the traditional left, be overlooked?
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raj (sublime_ocean)

Keep in mind the final paragraph of that post:
 
Pointing out obvious typos or simple misspellings is different that judging the merit, correctness, properness, skill, or validity of a poem/poet based on using slang, shorthand, profanity, dialect, or non-standard grammar.
 
Recognizing the difference between a typo and slang, dialect, and non-standard grammar may not be easy for anyone who isn't a native speaker of English. And yes, of course, you can always target any part of a poem and make a suggestion about any part of a poem, without negatively judging the merit of the poem or intelligence of the poet. 
 
Variations in syntax (or just typos and misspellings) do not make a poem bad. They do not make the poet a bad or dumb person or a bad writer. Does that make sense? That's literally the gist of it.
 
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Thanks Kelsey for highlighting the points..
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raj (sublime_ocean)

So, we will start by learning some of the terminology and skills needed to critique syntax. Please start by reading the section on syntax (last section) in my blog post here: https://www.neopoet.com/swamp-witch/blog/wed-2018-06-06-1306

Syntax Terminology

Note: I am using syntax as a catch-all term for mechanics, word choice (diction), grammar, and sentence structure in a poem. Sometimes the term syntax is not used this way. Syntax Definition: https://literarydevices.net/syntax/

For critiquing syntax, the reader may address grammar, spelling, punctuation, mechanics, word choice, and sentence structure (or maybe “thought structure” if the poem doesn’t use complete sentences). The pertinent “Review Request” on Neopoet’s poem submission page is “How was my language use?” In terms of those hierarchies of concerns that we talked about before, in writing essays these are considered lower order concerns. Nonetheless, for the poet, with our limited writing space and sometimes restrictive forms, every word is important so syntax becomes a higher order concern. Critiquing syntax should include more than proofreading/spell-checking.

How to critique syntax:

 

  1. The first step should also be to read the poem multiple times.
  2. As you read, you can take written or mental notes about what you notice (having these notes in writing is often called annotation and you can learn a bit about it in my video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hv8wlwu9IY4&t=34s or here: http://davidrickert.com/2015/09/18/dont-hate-annotate-how-to-really-annotate-a-poem/ or here: http://www.mcguiremarks.com/uploads/3/9/7/9/39793909/annotating_poetry.pdf)
  3. Then ask yourself about what you were noticing. Did it seem like a typo? Was there some unexpected capitalization or punctuation or line breaks (and was it unexpected in a good way or a confusing way)? Does the verb tense of the poem change, if so, is it consistent (such as a flashback or hope for the future) or not? Were thoughts incomplete (keep in mind that a poem may consistent of many brief phrases that make up one complete thought, or every line could be a complete thought, or any other combination)? Were there any grammatical “errors”?
  4. If you answered yes to any of these questions, try to determine if they were purposeful or not. Do they create meaning in the poem (such as through the invention of new words)? Do they represent the narrator or persona of the poem, such as through dialog or internal monologue? Or do they make the poem more difficult to read or understand? Do they make the reader stumble or confuse the reader? Or do they entice the reader to want to know more?
  5. Whether these syntax concerns were purposeful or not should shape your critique. If you are unsure, just ask the poet. If it is unclear whether or not the choices were purposeful is just as much a part of the critique as actually talking about the syntax concerns themselves.

     

    Some sample phrases for critiquing syntax:

     

    • These words ______ made me stumble because ______.
    • You have a typo ______ on line _______.
    • The use of punctuation ______ on line _____ seemed useful/interesting or unnecessary/out of place to me because _____.
    • Did you mean to spell ______ as ______?
    • I think the syntax/spelling/word choice/etc. in this poem could be made clearer/more memorable/etc. by _______.
    • The poem seems wordy or needing more words to me because ______.
    • The poem is clear or unclear to me because _______.
    • The mechanics of this poem could be polished by ______.
    • This thought does not seem complete because ____ (there is not a clear subject/action or the thought trails off without concluding).

     

    If you need to learn more about syntax before proceeding, check out the following resources:

     

 

Please ask any questions you may have at any time. The critique activity will be posted tomorrow, Wednesday the 20th, but questions are welcome at any time during the workshop.

 

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

Short version (exactly what is posted to Neopoet):

http://kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com/uploads/1/4/2/9/14295182/neopoet_copy...

Long version (lots more reading and free academic resources):
http://kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com/uploads/1/4/2/9/14295182/the_great_bi...

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

It's a good information resource provided by you in these opening sessions. Also liked few examples provided for critiquing where the poet has made a review request about language use

Thanks Kelsey....
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raj (sublime_ocean)

Thanks everyone for bearing with me during technical difficulties. Finally, our first poem for critique has been posted to the workshop here: https://www.neopoet.com/workshop/poems/syntax-sample-poem-critique-workshop
 
For this poem, focus on syntax only: word choice, spelling, spacing, punctuation, capitalization, grammar.
 
Don’t comment on imagery, rhyme, meter, literary devices, content, theme or other features of the poem.  
 
Also, don’t make judgements about the merit of the syntax, just identify what stands out to you about the syntax and state why. Identify both what you like about the syntax and what you think could be different about the syntax (not necessarily better or improved, just different). These will be your suggestions and your praise.
 
When mentioning what could be different, try to keep in mind that the poet will likely want to maintain the existing meaning so try to make suggestions that don’t heavily alter meaning or bigger picture (if the meaning and bigger picture are already clear). 
 
Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment

I would like to join

T

The most powerful reaction
of mind on mind
is transference of sight

Welcome aboard! There is no rush, please feel free to work through the material at your own pace and ask questions whenever you need.

Kelsey

Advocates Coordinator

Critique, don't comment.

To see our learning resources, click the "Curated Resources" link under the Resources tab in the top menu bar.

www.kelsey-burroughs.weebly.com

author comment
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