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.

How To Help With Critique

Status: 
Program description/goal: 

Objectives: To practice giving constructive feedback.

Level of expertise: Open to all, especially newcomers learning to give constructive feedback.

Subject matter: This is widely regarded as one of the worst poems of all time. For this workshop simply pretend that it a Neopoet member's first poem and write a critique. Keep it reasonably short, we can't all write a thesis on everyone's poems.
We will then critique each others critiques.

This is posted to the Shark Pool only because it is a terrible poem and no matter what our level of experience we need to be able to deal with this.

Those who have dealt with this poem before, please try again, this is meant to help our new members.

The Tay Bridge Disaster
by William McGonagall

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

’Twas about seven o’clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-
“I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
“I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.
But not for the poetry.
It was crap

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.

Leader: Weirdelf

Objectives: To help improve a bad poem any way you can

Level of expertise: Open to all

Subject matter: Constructive feedback.

Length: 
30 days
Number of participants (limit): 
50 people
Date: 
Saturday, October 15, 2016 to Friday, December 15, 2017

Comments

thanks for having a go.
This post is just meant to help people give criticism to other real live poets.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

One must first look at our critique format by opening a submission form and knowing the listed points of an in-depth critique.

The title is the first point of critique.

The title of the above poem suggests a serious incident but does the reader understand it?
The Tay Bridge Disaster needs to be researched first (perhaps wikipedia or another respected resource). An understanding comes about regarding the horrific disaster where many lives were violently lost due to a rail bridge that was in deplorable condition. The idea of researching a title may be too complicated and not very relative to invite me into further reading. If your poem were not up for critique in such a forum I may have decided to put my time into another poets writings. However with a bit of research I am certainly interested and shall read on.

Welcome to Neopoet, William...

I shall return,

~
Mark L.
It's not the pace you race but the race you pace.
~
Please know our community guidelines:
https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

I really appreciate this piece a sorted reflection of one's inner soul & being.

Mario Vitale

I chose this piece because it is seriously flawed and the author won't be offended.
It is an exercise in helping honestly through critique, which is the purpose of Neopoet.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

A good choice re subject matter

It is just my opinion, but with an attempt to maintain rhyme I feel that the horror of this incident is lost
Repetition isn't effective
This write might've faired better if free form had been used

Or if rhyme is your 'thing' then maybe condensing it would help
Eg - with the first stanza -
'Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say (sounds insincere)
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.'

Perhaps?
'ninety lives have been taken away
by the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
The last Sabbath day of '79,
will be remember’d for a very long time.'

The subject matter is interesting and this write could be quite powerful with just a little editing.
I look forward to seeing any changes
Love judy
xxx

Love judy

'Each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,
shall draw the Thing as he sees It, for the God of Things as They are.'
(Rudyard Kipling)

Thank you.
Everyone please take note of great feedback.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

The chosen subject is dramatic and could have lent itself to a gripping dramatic poem, however, this was not accomplished.
The poem is extremely repetetive, but the repetitions of phrases like "Because ninety lives had been taken away, On the last Sabbath day of 1879," are not used as a stylistic measure to enhance the effect of the poem. There are a number of unnecessary lines; for example, the entire 5th stanza can be omitted without loss. A number of trite phrases can be cut; for example "Which will be remember’d for a very long time."is so obvious that they it does not require stating.
For a modern poem written by a contemporary poet, the archaic vocabulary ('twas, Alas!, o'er) seems out of place and contrived.
The poem rhymes, but some rhymes are forced (1879 and time), some lines seem to exist solely to provide a rhyme for the preceding one, and many rhymes are obvious and trite. There is no discernible meter.
In order to improve the poem, a major revision is necessary. I recommend cutting everything that is not essential, tightening the meter and searching for more original rhymes.

This is superb, brave critique. You have nailed the poems flaws and given excellent suggestions for improvement.

Welcome to Neopoet. I can see you will be a major asset to this community and I hope we can be of service to you.

I very much look forward to your first poetry postings. Please send me a message when you post-
Tools>Messages>Write new message>weirdelf
as I am unable to read every poem posted and I don't want to miss yours.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

I agree with Regentrude's critique of this poem. The poem certainly has a dramatic subject, but it's execution falls short. It feels as though you are just skimming the seriousness of the event. The roaring and angry god is given no depth of emotion, nor are the people riding the train. The meter is all wrong and the rhyme is forced. It's sad that the author didn't use meter correctly to punch up the emotion in this poem. The words he used are weak (fear, alarm, sorrow), when he could have used more expressive synonyms (terror, heart wrenching, thunderous). I liked the idea, but it didn't grab me the way I thought it should. It was a good effort, but definitely needs more work.

the truth doesn't hurt nearly as much as sweet lies,
especially for poets.
Going to check out your works.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

u have caught my full respect and intelligent mind..
a breath of fresh air \wonderwoods..
thank u thank u

mr wolf\\\\\\\\\1

I'm here to follow up on my previous comment and try to help out those who were at a loss as I was when first reading this poem. For me to grasp what in the hell is going on with this work I needed to RESEARCH everything I did not understand beginning with the title and the Tay Bridge Disaster. What I discovered was the seriousness of the accident, and by OTHERS CRITIQUE could tune into how it was turned into a silly kind of disrespectful poem (perceived by experts of that time) and how that truth carries on.

~
Mark L.
It's not the pace you race but the race you pace.
~
Please know our community guidelines:
https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

We don't have to get it right the first time, almost never do, but by persistence and mindfulness we can come close to the truth.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

The poem needed to make up it's mind. The archaic language is appropriate, but needed to either fill the poem or be eliminated all together. It seemed to be multiple styles. Free verse or structured western needed to be used.

The repetition was fine by me, but was not used consistently. Meter or no meter should have been the goal. The changes throughout threw the poem out of whack. One or the other is my suggestion. Being a fan of structured poetry that is what I would have liked. The flip flop between the two gave the poem a confusing sense.

The repetition should have been consistent.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

Welcome back.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

unnecessary and unsensible meaningless contractions (they don't even change anything re syllable count) where meter is not that strict such as lov'd, happen'd, sav'd, seem'd, remember'd ....etc.

❤❤❤❤❤❤

Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words
........Robert Frost☺

I also find them archaic and pretentious.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

I really liked this, and I don't usually like rhyme. I think the versified approached makes it more chilling, more detached. However writing "But not for the poetry/It was crap" sort of takes away the mood.

Anything that could be improved?
That is the point of the exercise.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

assignment? I'm anxious to throw in my two pence.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

Helping him put his first workshop together?
Jane has joined the WS team Wes, she'll be putting something up soon.
Are you on Facebook? We've set up a Committee page there to facilitate quick communications.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

I'm going to run the workshop. Keith is too slow. I'm going to ask him to moderate. He needs the experience. I just need your go ahead. I'm going to run a basic meter shop. It's been two years (two years? (two years?). I'm ready and need this to get my mind working again. I will post the summary as soon as I hear from you.

As for workshops... I'm waiting for the next exercise in yours. I'm anxious to put forth my two cents.
I have PMed Keith several times and he seems willing, but won't get going. Therefore, I will. go ahead.
Tell me it's okay.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

get over it. You can use a fake name and if you stick to our private pages there your privacy is pretty secure. And it is an excellent program for group discussions, really excellent.

I'm closing my critique workshop so that everyone can focus on yours. I'm not a big fan of ongoing workshops, that's what the Stream is for and it's impossible to maintain group energy in sempiternality (sic?). [grins]

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

I will take that as a yes and prepare a syllabus. Any other thoughts about it?

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

onya and good going

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

I would like to participate in your meter workshop.
I'll be looking for the start up.

~
Mark L.
It's not the pace you race but the race you pace.
~
Please know our community guidelines:
https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

Just waiting for a word from Jess. At this point, he is the boss.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

Duly noted.
I know a bit about meter. Most important is the necessity to eventually move from counting syllables to feeling them in lines.
I've been in a meter workshop here some time ago and it was a benefit to me. I am a bit rusty in regards though.
Later,

~
Mark L.
It's not the pace you race but the race you pace.
~
Please know our community guidelines:
https://www.neopoet.com/community-guidelines

my wife plays with it all the time, but I can't figure it out. It's not that I haven't tried, but you know me and computers. Remember how long it took me to figure out Advanced Formatting?

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

Learn how, teach others.
The NeoPoet Mentor Program
http://www.neopoet.com/mentor/about

I think it's great Wesley is running a workshop, am very happy to moderate (I think) but please can either you or Jess explain what that entails.
Cheers Jx

------------
Some great workshops at the moment.
Do you still have your first poem?
Then sign up to the 'Poets first poems' workshop.
Share your first poem with us all.

We made it up as we went along.
But... I'm growing a heart using black market stem cells, so...
You see what the workshop is about then help with feedback and encouragement to the participating members.
In my experience, and this is not entirely my fault, there are a lot of disagreements and arguments in meter workshops because teaching poets a discipline is like trying to train cats.
I'm sure Wesley can add to that, my heart is barely embryonic.

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

But your style is so laconic.
Sent you a letter via pm re workshops. Get yourself a drink, it's a long one. Jx

------------
Some great workshops at the moment.
Do you still have your first poem?
Then sign up to the 'Poets first poems' workshop.
Share your first poem with us all.

embryonic
laconic
certainly not draconic
time for a gin and tonic

Cheers,
Jess
Neopoet Members Coordinator
Contact me or the AC with any queries or problems.

author comment

Ice and a slice please...... she says cheerfully. Jx

------------
Some great workshops at the moment.
Do you still have your first poem?
Then sign up to the 'Poets first poems' workshop.
Share your first poem with us all.

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