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~ Critique Series ~

poet Anonymous

Hello good people of the DUP.

To coincide with the beautiful critique guide that we have worked very hard to produce for the DUP Facebook page, we are creating this thread for discussion or any questions you may have on critique. We will do our very best to answer all of your queries on the subject, and discussion is very much encouraged.

The complete guide to critique will be published on Wednesday's for the next four weeks.

You can read the guide on Facebook here:

Week One - What Is Critique?

January is here, a time for so many new things. How many of your New Year's resolutions have you destroyed yet? Oh, it's all of them isn't it...

For the next four weeks we will be posting about a subject close to our hearts on Deep Underground Poetry - critique. "Why are we doing this?" I hear you cry... because it has come to our attention in the forums and in the Facebook group that there are a few people out there that don't understand what critique is, and we would like to change that, making this information readily available to you all, because we're nice people like that.

So what is critique? What exactly are we banging on about?

Did you know on Deep Underground Poetry that you can earn a trophy for being a top critiquer? That's how much we appreciate good critiquers on the site! We even award your trophy cabinet for being involved in our online community enough to help others along the way with feedback.

In terms of writing and definition, to critique simply means to evaluate. The best way to recieve good critique on your work is to be able to give it yourself. Did you know that whenever you leave critique on another poet's work, it links back to your profile advertising yourself as a writer? If you leave good, thought provoking feedback on a poem you are showing your skills to the world. Critiquing other people is a good way to showcase yourself. A good way of thinking about it is that interaction breeds interaction - what you put out in your words, will come back to you when other people see that that is the type of feedback that you would like to recieve.

Another comment we often hear is "I don't feel qualified enough to give honest critique".

A critique does not have to be an indepth grammatical analysis of a poem (though if you feel skilled enough to be able to do that, then that is perfectly acceptable also). Ask yourself when you read somebody elses poems - What are the strengths and weaknesses of a poem? What are the elements of the poem that you found good and enjoyable or perhaps didn't like as much as the rest? What are the parts of the poem that you would perhaps change to make it better? Using these three questions as a framework for a critique is a good start to leaving a thoughtful comment on other people's work. It really is as simple as that. Please do not feel that because you perhaps don't have a literature qualification that you are any less inferior in being able to leave a critique. Critique comes from the heart. It is you being able to be honest with the writer of the poem. It is you opening yourself to what you really thought of the poem. It is being able to help other writers develop by perhaps highlighting the good and not so good parts of their poem.

Deep Underground poetry is an online community above all things. Many people over the years have said how the site has helped them to grow as writers and this perhaps wouldn't have happened without the critique they have recieved allowing them to learn and grow as poets. If you too would like to grow as a writer, reading other people's work, and being able to leave your thoughts about it is an invaluable tool in helping you to accomplish that.

As writers, we never stop learning. Perhaps set yourself a New Year's resolution to keep our community one of the best poetry sites on the internet by having a go at critiquing other people's work.

Week One: https://www.facebook.com/DUpoetry/posts/10154821728028665





poet Anonymous

A topic close to my heart. Glad this has been thrown out there for all

poet Anonymous

Week Two: ~ The difference between honest critique and friendly feedback ~


A warm welcome to you all to the second week of our series on critique. How is everybody today? Are you feeling OK? Have you got yourself a nice cup of coffee and are settled in front of your screen? Then we shall begin.

Picture the scene... you have put your heart and soul into what you believe is a really good critique. You have spent a bit of time on your comment. You've taken a slice out of your day to contribute to somebody else's poetry. You did this because you want to be a good member of the DUP, to help other writers to grow. You may even feel really proud of yourself for contributing really great feedback. Then when you excitedly click on your "replies to comments" on your profile, your heart sinks when this is the text you see:

" F*** off you egotistical c***... who the hell do you think you are telling me that my poem is a piece of s***..."

Sadly, this is the start of a real comment I have received as a member of the site in the past, and a reason I was so passionate to want to write this series for the benefit of everybody. The person in question went a little south of wild, but had set their poem commenting preferences to "honest feedback". I took my time with my 'honest feedback' critique; I wasn't rude. Neither was I personally offensive. I simply fixed a few spelling mistakes, explored the structure of the poem and offered ways I might have done little things differently. I used the three questions mentioned in week one: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the poem? What are the elements of the poem that you found good and enjoyable or perhaps didn't like as much as the rest? What are the parts of the poem that you would perhaps change to make it better? All of this is honest feedback.

So what is the difference between honest critique and friendly feedback?

If you have set your commenting preferences to honest critique, please do not do this if you would not like to hear the answers to the three questions mentioned above. Set this commenting preference if you would like to grow as a writer on the site. If you would like honest feedback on your work in terms of your content and imagery, grammatically and structurally, then this is the preference to choose. Having answers to these three questions are the best kind of feedback to allow you to develop all of your skills as a poet.

If perhaps you are not ready for this kind of honesty, then considering the friendly feedback choice is best. If you perhaps have written something that you do not wish to develop, if you cannot take the criticism of others and are looking for a friendly, positive affirmation rather than an in-depth analysis of your words, then this is the critiquing option choice for you. Of course, it is also worth mentioning at this stage that you can in fact choose to have no comments on your work at all, simply choose the "no comments" option in your commenting preferences when you publish your poem. This will mean that nobody can comment on your poem.

Please remember that people often take time out of their days to write in-depth reviews of people's work. To be sworn at, is not acceptable. If you wouldn't tolerate being sworn at for trying to help somebody in real life, why is it acceptable to tolerate swearing from somebody from the anonymity of a screen and an avatar? Being courteous to other people is a common human decency. Remember - You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time. If you do not agree with a critique, simply say "thank you" and move on. We are human beings, and of course we are not always going to agree with what somebody says 100% of the time. Simply being courteous is a sure fire way to keep on receiving feedback in the future.

This week when you submit your poem to DUP, ask yourself the three questions when considering your commenting choice - Do I want to know what the strengths and weaknesses of my poem are? Do I want to know what the elements of my poem are that the reader found good and enjoyable, or perhaps didn't like as much as the rest? Do I want to know what parts of my poem the reader would perhaps want to change to make it better?

Reply here or visit our facebook page and start/join in a discussion:

Week Two: https://www.facebook.com/DUpoetry/photos/a.10154508509648665.1073741826.148635498664/10154852974258665/?type=3&theater

poet Anonymous

Week Three: ~ Critique Etiquette ~

A very warm welcome to you on our much anticipated critique series, now in it's third week. Take a moment to grab yourself a cup of coffee and settle down with us. Maybe a sandwich or a cigarette (if that's your thing) Aaah... that's better.

So how exactly is the best way to comment on a poem?

1) Always be polite: A person has poured their heart and soul into writing a poem. It is good old fashioned common decency to be polite when you are addressing somebody else's poetry. It's not all doom and gloom of course - I have had plenty of people leave comments on my work that joke around, throw a little humor into the workings, and it's important to remember that that is a totally acceptable response also. Humor is the footnote of personality, and we are all individuals; all with different quirks and eccentricities. Humor is one thing - comments that become personally offensive are not. It is important to understand the difference.

2) Take notice of commenting preferences: Always look at what the author is looking for in terms of critique. Are they looking for honest critique or friendly feedback? (See week two for an explanation of these two things.) Always try to respect that a person looking for friendly feedback may not want an in-depth review of their work.

3) Try to avoid three word reviews: I don't know about you, but my heart genuinely sinks when I open a page and receive the dreaded comment "it was good". We are poets, and our comments advertise us as writers. Our comments link back to our work. Would you want to read somebody who can only be bothered to comment "it was good" or are you more likely to visit somebody who has taken the time to write a short few sentences on why they liked the poem and what they perhaps would change about the piece? I truly believe that effort breeds effort. This is something to consider when reviewing other people's work.

In week two, we introduced you to the sinking feeling you may have faced at some point in your Deep underground Poetry membership when faced with a rude comment on one of your poems.

In terms of etiquette, how is the best way to react to a comment that is rude or that you simply don't agree with?

1) Say 'thank you': It really is that simple. If you find yourself faced with a comment that you perhaps don't agree with, do not be confrontational. Simply say thank you and move on. Remember the saying discussed in week two that states "You can please some people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time" ? That, I feel, is very true when it comes to critique. We are all individuals. Everybody's writing skills are different, and their themes are varied. Inevitably, somebody else's views may not be the same as yours. If you do not agree, the best way is to just be polite and move on with your life. This is a guaranteed way of not having any drama come your way! (and let's face it, who wants drama? We're all there to write, right?)

2) If a comment is abusive or personally insulting, report it: On every comment, there are three buttons - the 'reply' button, the 'thumbs up' button allowing you to 'like' a comment (much in the same way as Facebook) and a little exclamation mark that allows you to report a comment. When you report a comment, this will be looked into by a moderator and then dealt with accordingly. It is much better to report an abusive and/or rude post rather than try and tackle it yourself. The moderator team can then take the appropriate action.

Deep Underground Poetry is an international community, made up of hundreds of different people of different ethnicity, different cultures, different age groups, different ways and viewpoints. It is made up of our ever growing population of newer members, older members, and some members that have been there since the dawn of time. It is important to remember that this is what makes our community unique. Be polite, be respectful, and be aware of our human differences. You won't go far wrong on a comment with common decency for all.

Reply here or visit our facebook page and start/join in a discussion!

Week Three: https://www.facebook.com/DUpoetry/photos/a.10154508509648665.1073741826.148635498664/10154852978803665/?type=3&theater

poet Anonymous

Week Four: ~ Critique Etiquette Part 2 ~

Greetings and welcome on our much-anticipated critique series, now in its fourth week. Take a moment to get comfortable, gather your thoughts, grab yourself some refreshments or a smoke before settle down with us. Ready? Here we go…

In Part I of Critique Etiquette, we touched on the best way to comment and respond to negative comments on a poem. This week we’d like to expand on that and go a little deeper by outlining the power of a critique to inspire the writer in an encouraging way to improve; or, discourage them from writing altogether.

So who should be critiqued?

1) Since Deep Underground Poetry is an all-age inclusive site, it’s important to recognize your audience, and perhaps the level in which s/he is writing. Most professors and high school teachers who’ve taught poetry to school children caution against in depth critiquing, as it’s an effective tool that attempts to improve the quality of the writer’s work.

2) In depth critique simply has no place at the early stages, when encouragement to explore poets and write lots of poetry is paramount to keep them engaged. It can prove highly discouraging to start critiquing their work when they’ve discovered the nerve to write telling the writer what you particularly like. This is a time for broad encouragement, not criticism.

3) Critique is useful when the writer has relaxed into the initial stages of introduction, e.g. – writing, sharing, exchanging positive feedback. The writer should then be consistent in quantity. This consistency typically leads to an attention shift from production toward how to improve their work. The writer will begin to question themselves as to how to attain the recognition of a master poet or mentor who inspires them. Or, perhaps they feel they have, and are confused as to why others don’t see this.

When a writer begins to question how to improve or get others to recognize what they themselves feel they know, they are ready for critiquing. Please note in the case of the latter example, you can tactfully help a writer who thinks he's perfect (as long as he wants more acceptance).

4) There’s a difference in teaching and critiquing that should run parallel to the stage of the writer. This distinction should not be ignored or writers who are critiqued too early may lose hope and forgo writing altogether. Also, they could doubt themselves to the point of revising work endlessly to achieve a perfect poem, and end up abandoning it. When a poem works (delivers the message), it's good enough and can always be improved.

I’ve written many poems that I’ve gone back and revised years after the fact. There's no time limit on revisions. As Paul Valery once said, "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." A writer who endlessly revises hasn't learned to decide the piece is done. The difference in a professional and novice is completion of the poem. While I reserve the right to return at some later date to revise, I don’t wait for the poem to reach some impossible standard because of a critique I received too early.

So how do I critique a novice?

1) While it can it feel like navigating a war-zone (blindfolded) when trying to critique a young writer, it can be done gracefully and tactfully. Recognizing the different levels of writers assists in determining their actual needs vs. what they feel they need and thus request, e.g. – honest critique or friendly feedback.

2) Remember, many young writers feel they’ve already mastered a level of writing and are seeking validation. We should never compromise our integrity by lying. While genuine attention to the strong points of a poem is a polite way to lead into a critique, never praise “strong” if you think it’s really weak just to have something to say. It’s better to not respond than compromise your truthful observation.

3) One of the most common lies I observe daily is when a flat-line poem is praised as moving. Of course, when the writer is expressing their sorrow regarding a death, it takes courageous tact to critique on the poem’s areas of improvement. This could be a case where the writer is too close to the poem and it may be best to say nothing rather than compromising your integrity to comfort them through the poem.

Remember that your decision to critique or encourage could be a determining factor of a future writer's failure or success! Imagine their success with you as a contributor to that goal by the mere words you choose.

~

We will be taking a break next week from the series to feature our February’s Poem of the Month, but will return the week after with some examples of solid critique from two DUP members who have honored us by agreeing to provide them.

We’re very excited about that so stay tuned!

If you’d like to initiate and/or join in the discussion please feel free to comment here, or visit our facebook page and join there!

Week Four Part 2
https://www.facebook.com/DUpoetry/photos/a.10154508509648665.1073741826.148635498664/10154904045043665/?type=3&theater

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JohnnyBlaze
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TheThreePoeteers said:Remember that your decision to critique or encourage could be a determining factor of a future writer's failure or success! Imagine their success with you as a contributor to that goal by the mere words you choose.

I respectfully disagree in regards to certain writers who believe that whatever guts spill out on the page is nothing short of poetry. Because that's what poetry is to them, be it "woe is me" emotional venting or stream of consciousness pissed.

They will most likely take offense at any critique shattering the illusion of already having successfully written what could only have been written in that particular moment by them and no one else.

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Ahavati
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JohnnyBlaze said:

I respectfully disagree in regards to certain writers who believe that whatever guts spill out on the page is nothing short of poetry. Because that's what poetry is to them, be it "woe is me" emotional venting or stream of consciousness pissed.

They will most likely take offense at any critique shattering the illusion of already having successfully written what could only have been written in that particular moment by them and no one else.


I agree with what you've said completely. However, I didn't say "every writer".  Even if there's only one out of ten that become successful because of an encouraging (yet honest) critque, it will have been worth the effort, imho.

Really looking forward (and am grateful) to your participation in this series.

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JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:
Really looking forward (and am grateful) to your participation in this series.


Perhaps a seasoned member or two could volunteer a poem they are struggling with or are insistent can't be improved upon. I would gladly savage them.

I meant to say, provide in depth critiques.

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Ahavati
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I agree and will talk to the facebook team. I know we're going to have a critique comp after the series ends this week. That's going to be exciting!

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JohnnyBlaze
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My moostache is waxed.

I am ready.

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Ahavati
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Okay, folks! Here we go! We'll begin below with two HONEST critques as examples.

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Ahavati
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I've always wanted to return and edit this one because I never felt its form was right.  I tried numerous times but never knew which way to go with it.  I wrote it years ago.

Christmas in Vietnam
1964 - Second Tour  
 
Christmas lights in Vietnam  
were automatic weapon fire  
 
blinking within the perimeter  
while back home in America  
 
I broke the leg of my first Barbie  
bending it too far back, my cow-
 
licked pixie at morning attention
transmitting code-aviation across
 
a cracked oatmeal bowl, a crippled
doll, a divided country, an ocean,  
 
a continent, a gulf, a peninsula,  
and Cambodian border to intercept
 
and slit the throats of ricocheted  
bullets fiercely craning their necks
 
for my father, who was looking out  
over a munition's crate desk  
 
from his makeshift tent while writing  
me about duty and love, feet  
 
rotting from jungle and words
trailing with irony at the beauty  
 
of sparklers hopping toward him  
like a warm holiday memory,  

or childhood nightmare of captured  
fireflies: forgotten POW's dying  

in a foreign country of glass jar  
beneath dirty clothes on his bedroom floor.  
 
~

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JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:I've always wanted to return and edit this one because I never felt its form was right.  I tried numerous times but never knew which way to go with it.  I wrote it years ago.

Christmas in Vietnam
1964 - Second Tour  
 
Christmas lights in Vietnam  
were automatic weapon fire  
 
blinking within the perimeter  
while back home in America  
 
I broke the leg of my first Barbie  
bending it too far back, my cow-
 
licked pixie at morning attention
transmitting code-aviation across
 
a cracked oatmeal bowl, a crippled
doll, a divided country, an ocean,  
 
a continent, a gulf, a peninsula,  
and Cambodian border to intercept
 
and slit the throats of ricocheted  
bullets fiercely craning their necks
 
for my father, who was looking out  
over a munition's crate desk  
 
from his makeshift tent while writing  
me about duty and love, feet  
 
rotting from jungle and words
trailing with irony at the beauty  
 
of sparklers hopping toward him  
like a warm holiday memory,  

or childhood nightmare of captured  
fireflies: forgotten POW's dying  

in a foreign country of glass jar  
beneath dirty clothes on his bedroom floor.  
 
~


I feel this part needs medical attention.

to intercept
 
and slit the throats of ricocheted  
bullets fiercely craning their necks
 
for my father


First, the idea that a bullet could have a throat to slit is asking a bit too much of the reader.

Next, you are not allowing the reader to pause and catch his mental breath with such a long run on sentence train of thought. I understand that the narrator is reliving childhood memories and children have a capacity to ramble nonstop, which gives the poem an authenticity - but sometimes it is necessary to bite the bullet and give the reader a chance to process what is being read as it is being read in "real time".

I think you are needlessly shoe horning the entire piece into two line stanzas that are of no benefit to the reading; except in regards to

bending it too far back, my cow-
 
licked pixie at morning attention


which leaves me with the humorous impression that the narrator was literally licked by a cow.

As for the rest, I suggest removing the spaces and then looking for opportunities to insert pauses where it feels most natural. Forms are not necessary and should only be used to enhance the reader's experience.

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Ahavati
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Thank you! I have always known something was not right about this one. When I originally wrote it I was thinking transmission of Morse code (dot dot dash...), and I think I wanted to convey the erratic nature in this write. But you're absolutely right, by the time you finish you're out of breath, and more happy to breathe than reflect on what was just written.

LOL @ bullets having a neck to slit - it's definitely how I felt about them, and wanted to do to them from a child's perspective. But maybe it's too abstract an idea, even for a child. Down in the deep south (not sure about elsewhere) it's called a cow-lick and literally does refer to being licked by a cow!

I appreciate this greatly, Johnny. This one is a special memory for me - and I'd like it to be right in honor of that memory. I'm going to revise per your suggestions and then garner additional feedback if you're okay with that?

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JohnnyBlaze
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Ahavati said:Thank you! I have always known something was not right about this one. When I originally wrote it I was thinking transmission of Morse code (dot dot dash...), and I think I wanted to convey the erratic nature in this write. But you're absolutely right, by the time you finish you're out of breath, and more happy to breathe than reflect on what was just written.

LOL @ bullets having a neck to slit - it's definitely how I felt about them, and wanted to do to them from a child's perspective. But maybe it's too abstract an idea, even for a child. Down in the deep south (not sure about elsewhere) it's called a cow-lick and literally does refer to being licked by a cow!

I appreciate this greatly, Johnny. This one is a special memory for me - and I'd like it to be right in honor of that memory. I'm going to revise per your suggestions and then garner additional feedback if you're okay with that?


Sounds good to me.

Just keep in mind that the end of the day, it is your poem. If you feel strongly about bullets with necks, then keep them in.

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