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18 January 2008


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Ah, you've said this all well, with grace and openess. With clarity. And with terrific links.

Thank you! (And thanks for the nod to ReadWritePoem. You might check Christine's last Get the Lead Out at RWP with ammendments by Tiel in comments for a few additional prompt groups.)

I shall bookmark this and come back to it. Again. Again.


This is a really useful guide, Sharon, & it coincides with reflections I've been having recently about the function & utility of the various poetry forums. Like you, I'm a frequent user of a couple of them & I welcome the opportunity to read a variety of poems arising from one stimulus. And I like to express my appreciation when something strikes me as noteworthy.

However, I'm not sure how helpful is the near-universal approbation that we all tend to dole out. It's rewarding to have one's efforts appreciated, but the universality of the praise & its unstinting nature doesn't really stimulate the further growth of the poem. The other day I went through over 20 comments following a posted poem on one of the regular poet's blogs & only two of us had ventured any qualification in our praise of the (very fine) piece.

I tend not to gather very many responses from fellow contributors to poems that I post on the various forums & it's rare indeed that qualified comment is made on what I know to be unfinished work. I recognise that workshopping is not one of the functions of these sites, but increasingly I feel that real appreciation is manifest more in the kind of thorough scrutiny & measured criticism outlined above than in extravagant praise.

Maybe there's need for a halfway house between the pure celebration of poetry & the forensic precision of the poetry workshop. No time here, I'm afraid, for such a project. Anyone else up for the task?


Good comments, Dick. Susan (of Black-eyed Susan's) has started - with a partner I don't know - a prompt-post group open to critique. It's quite new. I don't want to add a bunch of links here and get stuck in the spam-filter, but you can find a link on my site in a recent post or look for "The Last Piaster" in Blogger.

Carolee and Jill have a private critique group at fertile ground (WordPress). They have another project that is critique-based, too; it's on their sidebar. Check stoney moss for those links, or SB likely has them around as well.


Yes, they are under POETRY LINKS on the sidebar.



Love your article. Everything you and Deb have expressed, I have read, felt and written about as well. Parker has written similar articles. Having been apart of communities for a decade now, I've learned the group of poets who want critique and value it is really small and while we may communicate we want it, my experience has been that it is rare that we'll receive a qualified critique in online communities.

And then there are my failings. It is so easy to forget to point out specifics when the norm is to praise or say nothing to avoid be accused of being critical which is not the same as offering a critique. The idea that a critique is an evaluation of the work and not the poet is often lost on a novice poet. And trying to explain the difference wore me out over time.

At my best, I try to say what I like and why though I've never been too technical. Over a few years, I learned more about reading poetry than actually writing it, and I haven't mastered either well enough to explain it with ease. I suppose you might say I'm still at stage two awareness.

Online manners. I have an overwhelming desire to encourage and be polite. I've learned that most poets want to be read and acknowledged. That's enough.

Lastly, when I read someone like you or Deb who value critique, I then feel you know more than I do so what can I add that you haven't considered?

I should have saved this last one for Confession Tuesday. Ah, I'll probably share it.

Thanks for the information. I've shared with others to check it out.


"...when I read someone like you or Deb who value critique, I then feel you know more than I do so what can I add that you haven't considered?"

But, we can't possibly have considered our poems from your point of view, can we? It is sometimes those different eyes that can shed light.


Hey Susan - I think you meant SB and *Dick's* expressions. (Though I'd love to be in the same category.)

I heartily agree with SB - different eyes - and voices - make a difference and help a poet understand words, and meanings.


I would love to have a button that says "Critique Welcome", It has just been over a year since I started posting poetry on my blogs, reading them was how I began and then writing happened somewhere in between..but what I noticed frustrating in these communities is real criticism, my poetry often makes me want to hear another's opinion, ways to improve, things to avoid..and I have had very few people who gave me an honest opinion. Is there a place I could sign up to -online- so I can get some REAL feedback. I love positive remarks, makes me want to write more, but I also know I am imperfect, and want to improve. This post conjured up all these thoughts, I loved the button, is there anyway I could use it?


Feel free to steal the button! Just right-click and save to your computer, then upload it to your blog.

Also, there is a critique group at fertile ground. I'm not participating in that (enough on my plate at the moment) but I'm sure it's worthwhile.


Blin ... really beautifully written! All this is so familiar ... and truthfully!

Magdalene Mwangi

Noted, thanks for sharing

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