Critiquing Poetry

Manuscript Preparation
The Structure of the Novel
Plotting the Mystery Novel
Categories of Mysteries
Romance Novels
Category Romance
Story Checklist
Glossary of Poetry Terms
Critiquing Poetry
Poetry Markets (UK)
Poetry Markets A
Poetry Markets B
Poetry Markets C
Poetry Markets D
Poetry Markets E
Poetry Markets F
Poetry Markets G
Poetry Markets H
Poetry Markets I
Poetry Markets J
Poetry Markets K
Poetry Markets L
Poetry Markets M
Poetry Markets N
Poetry Markets O
Poetry Markets P
Poetry Markets Q
Poetry Markets R
Poetry Markets S
Poetry Markets T
Poetry Markets U
Poetry Markets V
Poetry Markets W
Poetry Markets X
Poetry Markets Y
Poetry Markets Z

Good critiques make the experience of attending workshops or participating in critique groups worthwhile and they make you look positively brilliant. After all, no poet wants hear faint praise. They are there to learn and seek objective help with their writing.

The first step in evaluating a poem, even your own, is to read it over silently, then aloud. It helps to listen to poetry to fully appreciate it. When you are familiar enough with the poem to consider offering an opinion, do so in a supportive, tactful, friendly, but constructive and intelligent way:

Begin by acknowledging the good points: Tell the poet what impresses you about the poem. Many of the poems presented at workshops are still in draft form or the developmental stages. The poets want some feedback and ideas to help them revise their work. You can help by indicating the strong points which should be retained. They need to hear what you like about their poem and why.

The next step is to consider the meaning: Can you determine the premise or message the poet intended? Ask about any element you do not understand or you think is unclear. Your questions may help the poet focus his or her message.

Finally, offer suggestions for revision:

1. Point out obvious errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar.

2. Indicate where the poet can cut a line or word without losing the integrity of the poem. A well written poem is concise.

3. Suggest which ideas or images could be expanded or trimmed to better focus the poem's meaning.

4. If the form or syntax is archaic or unusual, you might question if it was written that way for a good purpose. If the form obscures the message, the poet might want to consider another approach.

5. If the arrangement of the poem is inappropriate, suggest how a rearrangement of lines or stanzas might help.

6. Point out any clichés. Some figures of speech are so familiar in everyday usage that a poet might not even notice a line lifted from Shakespeare or the Bible. Slang may render a poem trivial and should be avoided unless the purpose justifies it.

7. Consider the images used. Are they fresh or predictable? Is the imagery crisp and clear or overblown?

8. Are the poet's word choices appropriate? If the word selection misses the mark and fails to convey the intended meaning, make suggestions for alternatives. If the words are appropriate but do not sound right when the poem is read aloud, suggest words or phrases which might enhance the flow of the language.

9. If the poet has chosen to use a fixed form, such as a sonnet, sestina or villanelle, point out errors in meter or rhyme schemes which fail to comply with that form.

These suggestions may seem like a lot to consider, but they will make you a better poet and arm you with the skills you need to offer intellegent critiques which will endear you to your fellow poets and workshop facilitators

Visit the ticket2write online writers' group