The purpose of this community is to help us develop as poets through writing and critiquing. We will begin with first developing a community atmosphere of trust and involvement through the use of creative brainstorming exercises. We will not necessarily write poems so much as we will gather ideas, images, and such. This will also help everyone involved to learn about one another while sharing. Later we will share poems for critique. All criticisms will follow the critique guidelines. Nobody will enjoy every type or style of poetry so if you cannot find something positive to say, just don’t say anything at all. Needless to say, attacks on the author or the author’s work will not be tolerated. The idea is for everyone to feel safe while also being honest. (If you feel that someone has attacked you or your writing unfairly, please email me so that I can review the situation.)
If you feel ill-equipped to critique a poem please be aware that everyone will gradually learn what to look for to adequately critique a poem. You will know how to spot a cliché or poorly used metaphor, how to appreciate a form poem while also embracing free verse. You will be expected to move outside your comfort zone while still within the safety of the community both as a critic and writer. Sometimes the criticism may be harsh but it will never be abusive. Even the most harsh criticism will be useful, making the poem a better piece and the writer a better poet.
This community is moderated and all posts will be moderated. If you attempt to post an original work and do not make the post Friends Only it will be rejected without explanation. The reason we insist that all original work be friends only is to protect your publishing rights. If you post a poem where anyone can read it, you lose first rights and cannot hope to publish the poem elsewhere. However, if you use a cut then you are only sharing the poem with a small group of people and this reserves your right to have the work published at some future time.
Find the good points first Compliment the poet on things about the poem that you like. Most of the poems posted will be drafts to get ideas for revision so don’t hold back but don’t be attacking or abusive. If you can’t find any good points, find another poem to critique.
Find the meaning Be candid about any image or line you don't understand or find unclear. Point out obvious errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar. Say what you feel is happening in the poem. (Also, when posting, try to remember to spell-check before posting. Of course, we all will occasionally forget or not notice a blatant typo but as much as you can—proofread before posting, please.)
Offer suggestions for revision Where might the poet cut a line or word without losing the integrity of the poem? Which ideas or images may need expansion or compression in order to better focus the poem's meaning?
Revising (or evaluating) poetry
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to give you ideas for revising a poem:
If the form or syntax is unusual, is it for a good purpose? Should you rearrange the order? Are there any clichés? Are the images fresh instead of predictable? Does it go far enough? How does it sound to you when you read it aloud?
"I have a suggestion for workshops in general and that is to use the Edward de Bono (a mathematician and educator) method of criticism: 1) Say what you like about the work; 2) Ask clarifying questions; and 3) Tell how you think the work could be improved. This simple guideline is idealistic, but it's good for encouraging a constructive attitude and it's good when the criticism veers toward the killer mode or the frivolous mode."
I reserve the right to remove any posts and/or comments which violate the premise and guidelines of this community. If you are unsure about the appropriateness of a post, please email me and we can discuss things.