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> critting: what is expected, an invitation to discuss
Guest_Toumai_*
post Feb 23 05, 11:52
Post #1





Guest






Hi everyone,

I have been reading with great interest the comments on what type of critique various members would ideally like to receive, which gives valuable insight for all of us learning this process.

QUOTE
Critting work is almost as much of an art form as writing.

One important lesson I have learnt, is that a crit does not necessarily mean offering suggestions for improvement.  What I enjoy most when critting work is when I can offer my own interpretations of what I have read.  Sometimes I grasp the meaning and sometimes I do not, especially If the poem is very abstract.

Extract from NINA's comments.


As a 'newbie' to all of this I doubt very much if I can crit as any poet - or prose writer - would ideally like, and I often feel I should beg indulgence for my ineptitude as I stumble along the path of learning.

However, I also wonder if it is ever fair to say to a critter 'this is how I wish to be critted' as the critter is the one doing the work at this stage. If a piece of work is in an open crit forum it may be interpreted in many different ways, seen in many different lights.

So what if it is a form piece that will only be published in such a journal eventually - perhaps a new insight will arise from review by those more used to free verse. So what if it is a means to a message - a discussion of rhythm may improve it's flow.

With love to all - and appreciation for all the wonderful crits I have received here on MM - thank you.

Fran
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Feb 23 05, 12:36
Post #2





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Fran, these are excellent points which you raise...

Partly, it's why I use "please" a couple of times on my version. I am humbled by any crit and appreciate people's efforts, thought, skill and time. Basically I'd take almost anything but, instead, I am very lucky to be here and receive such high quality crits.

I think your point about "cross-fertilization" is also excellent. And, indeed, I shall continue to crit form poems unless that particular writer only wishes for response concerning the form. In which case, I'm not qualified (because I'm ignorant, unrhythmic and disinterested). But if I can help with other aspects of the poem and that's wished, I will endeavour so to do.

However, I do think there is another side to this...

I actually think it is helpful if the writer defines the parameters which they need help with. If someone crits my rhythm I shalln't be rude and tell them I've put up "no rhythm crits thanks." But, for those who do read what I put up, they can save themselves much effort which would be wasted on me.

Don't take this wrongly, I don't think that there is a single member of MM whose crit I wouldn't appreciate. However, pure formists know that they can help me best, and avoid wasted time, by helping me with other aspects. These are aspects all writers have to work at and are very well within their capability to comment upon.

So, as a critter, I find it useful to know that X is a form poem, written by a form poet but, in any case, they would like to know if all the words seem to work etc. I can then help. On t'other hand, I also appreciate others saving me the time of agonizing over a difficult crit for ages if it's not what they are looking for.

>>As a 'newbie' to all of this I doubt very much if I can crit as any poet - or prose writer - would ideally like, and I often feel I should beg indulgence for my ineptitude as I stumble along the path of learning.

Stop being so self-critical. You have provided some excellent crits. Only today, you enabled me to finish a poem with a far better ending than I had thought of. So you’re wrong. You did crit as I ideally liked and, via Alan, Nina and yourself, I’m delighted with the outcome - at least so far and I cannot see many more major changes ahead

>>If a piece of work is in an open crit forum it may be interpreted in many different ways, seen in many different lights.

Interpretation is wonderful. Grace apologised to me twice for “wrong interpretations” of my work. Today’s she’s been back declaring a different interpretation and I’m delighted. Who puts work up simply for clone-like rubber-stamping? So I hope Grace, nor anyone, will never again apologise for reading and thinking about the work and deciding on their “take.” But I don’t think asking for particular types of crit does that, does it? I suppose one could frame a crit request anywhichway... “I only want to know if I use more than four “W”s in a work. Nothing else matters. But, in general, the writers are asking critters to pay particular attention to certain areas and don’t bother with others, please.

>>So what if it is a means to a message - a discussion of rhythm may improve it's flow

I agree! For others but, personally, since I simply cannot see a rhythm / flow to virtually any poem I simply find it very frustrating - almost upsetting - to be told several times it would be better if I used this word... I simply can take almost none of that (presumably good) advice because no one has yet been able to explain to me what they mean. I need an intellectual explanation. Recourse to written rhythm or music is hopeless - I can never keep time to music and never see a rhythm. I can see TS Eliot’s “Skimbleshanks,” railway cat and Queen’s “Death on Two Legs” rhythms of a train and a snake - but they are so very obvious. So, until someone can leave sound and emotion behind in explaining rhythm, I’m lost. I agree it might be helpful if I could use it but we’re all wasting our time if I cannot. I’ve realised this because of Alan’s kind and heroic attempts to ba-dum me. I simply had no clue whatsoever what he meant. I simply didn’t see it. From that point I knew I should go in a different direction. Ignorance is not bliss; it is simply a pragmatic state. So I do appreciate being able to say to people “please don’t waste your time with me on rhythm.” Of course, if anyone can logically explain what is rhythm and what is not and why it matters I’ll listen and appreciate that - but I’m not willing to just accept people telling me “use this because it’s a better rhythm” - I can’t do that.

Sorry for the quick note but I hope it answers in both agreement and disagreement, your points from my perspective.

tatty-bye.

James.
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Feb 23 05, 12:52
Post #3





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James,

Thanks for adding to this discussion.

This was a plea for the poor critters (sounds like a case for the RSPCA, lol) - no matter that we are all also poets: on someone else's work we are always the beginner.

Fran
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Feb 23 05, 12:57
Post #4





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Hi Fran, I understood that.

Part of my windy response was trying to say that, as a critter, I very much appreciate people telling me, in advance, what they are looking for (and what not) - makes my job much easier. Sorry that aspect of my message was lost in all the other bumph!

James.
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Feb 25 05, 19:15
Post #5


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Real Name: Lori Kanter
Writer of: Poetry & Prose
Referred By:Imhotep



Hi Fran.  galadriel.gif

I remember when I first started to critique others' works. BOY - was I nervous! I wasn't quite sure what to do?  oops.gif  oops.gif

I thought perhaps I would start out by using a thesaurus. I figured if I could suggest 'flashier' words that perhaps the author would bite.  ninja.gif  Turns out that just made most folks angry with me (they thought I was trying to re-write their work).

As I came to realize a few months later, that really wasn't what most of the writers were looking for in a crit. So, back to the drawing board I went. I then decided that I would focus my critiques on punctuation and titles. Well.... that was 'ok' but some folks simply prefer to either follow the PP (punctuation police) or not - their option.  medusa.gif

So... next I decided that I would concentrate my readings on meter and message. Well - that was a bit harder to do for free verse poems - although you can have a great rhythm in FV too, I was stumped! Wall.gif

Now, I read each piece, create my own interpretion, and offer suggestions based on the one or more of the following criteria (as posted on)Poetrymagic.co.uk :
[*]title — appropriate to subject, tone and genre? Does it generate interest, and hint at what your poem's about?
[*]subject — what's the basic situation? Who is talking, and under what circumstances? Try writing a paraphrase to identify any gaps or confusions.
[*]shape — what are you appealing to: intellect or emotions of the reader? What structure(s) have you used — progressions, comparisons, analogies, bald assertions, etc.? Are these aspects satisfyingly integrated? Does structure support content?
[*]tone — what's your attitude to the subject? Is it appropriate to content and audience: assured, flexible, sensitive, etc.?
[*]word choice — appropriate and uncontrived, economical, varied and energizing? Do you understand each word properly, its common uses and associations? See if listing the verbs truly pushes the poem along. Are words repeated? Do they set mood, emotional rapport, distance?
[*]personification — striking but persuasive, adds to unity and power?
[*]metaphor and simile — fresh and convincing, combining on many levels?
[*]rhythm and metre — subtle, natural, inevitable, integrate poem's structure?
[*]rhyme — fresh, pleasurable, unassuming but supportive?
[*]overall impression — original, honest, coherent, expressive, significant? "

I may not ask myself ALL of the above, but I do try and pick two or three and use them in my analysis....  detective.gif



·······IPB·······

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

MM Award Winner
 
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Guest_Perrorist_*
post Feb 26 05, 02:08
Post #6





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I find it very difficult to crit poetry for a number of reasons. One is that I'm not very good at poetry; another is that I don't understand the crits that I read. I feel obliged to contribute but with a few exceptions I doubt I add substance to any discussion on the merits of a poem.

Having said that, I do recognise bad poetry when I read it - it's just that what I regard as good (or at least, enjoyable) work is often critted beyond my comprehension.

I feel more comfortable with prose.

Perry
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Feb 26 05, 03:30
Post #7





Guest






Hi Cleo,

Thank you for that link and for outlining the suggested points to consider.

A checklist is a useful starting point for a newbie critter. I first used one critting short stories on BBC Get Writing with a framework by John Ravenscroft (recently transfered to Writers Dock, as GW will be closing soon):
http://www.writersdock.co.uk/modules....&t=1024

Perry,

I think you are right that poetry is sometimes almost impossible to crit sensibly, like abstract art. If it doesn't 'do anything' for you it is then impossible to say anything on an emotional basis, either.

I certainly won't hold it against you if you don't drop by and tell me my more abstract pretensions don't make sense GroupHug.gif

Fran
 
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Guest_Nina_*
post Feb 26 05, 05:51
Post #8





Guest






Hi Fran

I have been reading this discussion with interest.  When I first joined MM, I was very nervous about critting a work.  I had done very little critting and didn't feel in the least bit qualified to do so.  It felt very daunting  especially when reading the in-depth crits given.  

However, I also wonder if it is ever fair to say to a critter 'this is how I wish to be critted' as the critter is the one doing the work at this stage. If a piece of work is in an open crit forum it may be interpreted in many different ways, seen in many different lights.
I think sometimes it can be useful for a newcomer if a writer has strong feelings about what they do or do not want suggestions on.  It saves a lot of frustration both for the writer and critter.  It is only when you get to know everyone on the board that you become aware of what they appreciate from a crit.

Using James' comments as an example:

If someone crits my rhythm I shalln't be rude and tell them I've put up "no rhythm crits thanks." But, for those who do read what I put up, they can save themselves much effort which would be wasted on me.

There has been the odd occasion where I have offered suggestions and from the response, I have realised that the writer was obviously looking for something different from a crit to what I had written.  It does feel a bit disheartening, having taken the time to comment.


I tend to work from instinct and gut reactions to a work rather than any guidelines, being far too lazy to follow them anyway.

Nina
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Feb 26 05, 08:28
Post #9


Mosaic Master
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Group: Administrator
Posts: 18,891
Joined: 1-August 03
From: Massachusetts
Member No.: 2
Real Name: Lori Kanter
Writer of: Poetry & Prose
Referred By:Imhotep



Thanks Fran for that link!

Very interesting! :pharoah2


·······IPB·······

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

MM Award Winner
 
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Guest_Jox_*
post Feb 26 05, 16:47
Post #10





Guest






Hi Fran, et al,

To Perry...

Perry... I may well be mistaken (usually am) but I don't think anyone writing poetry on MM has had formal poetry lessons (except maybe a little instruction at school donkey's years ago).

I empathise with you - you can't see poetry; I can't see rhythm. However, unless you try to follow a form, there really are no rules. I don't actually think bad poetry exists - I think many poems are bad which others' like - even love - and vice-versa. (One man's meat etc).

Ironically, an easy way to start is with a haiku (I think you've written one?). It is a form poem but very short and simple and easy to produce a reasonable one. If you wish to avoid the precision of form just write a poem, based on a haiku and label it as a poem, not a haiku.

I think my thing is this - you can write and it would be a shame for you to feel excluded from a whole area just because some things are complex at first appearance.

Lori, Fran, thank you both for the guidelines. I (like Nina) can't follow a prescription but they are worth a read just to give one some ideas at the back of one's mind, so to speak.

>>I think you are right that poetry is sometimes almost impossible to crit sensibly, like abstract art. If it doesn't 'do anything' for you it is then impossible to say anything on an emotional basis, either. (Fran)

Yes, I'll buy that. I know Alan says much of my stuff is impossoble to crit (though he often does an excellent job). But there is always something which one can crit.

James.
 
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Guest_Toumai_*
post Mar 7 05, 16:48
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Guest






Hi, here's another site with some more advice on 'tactful critting'

http://www.critters.org/resources.html

Fran
 
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jgdittier
post Mar 14 05, 14:32
Post #12


Creative Chieftain
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Group: Platinum Member
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Joined: 24-April 04
From: Connecticut
Member No.: 58
Real Name: Ron Jones
Writer of: Poetry



Dear All,
I've long had very mixed feelings about critiquing. It and "commenting" often seem to be used as being identical. Two other words, poetry and verse, seem to get the same treatment.
If comments were limited to general thoughts, then critiques could go into depth and include word and line substitutions.
We might define poetry as being serious or generally appealing to
human emotions by means of the best uses of language. Verse then might be the more relaxed usages making greater use of poetic license, addressing light or humorous topics, more intented to entertain than to elate.
Here are some statements I believe to be true:

Almost all writers of both poetry and verse (as defined above) appreciate comment.

Many tyros with this hobby quickly loose interest.

Both commenting and critiquing supposedly are efforts intended to be
totally for the benefit of the writer.

Strongly negative critiques may stifle beginners and those who haven't found the style best fitting them

Critiquing and to some degree commenting styles should be appropriate to the write, whether poetry or verse.
                                        _
I'm therefore committed to just two principles:
Comments, general and critical, should be limited to what are likely to help the writer according to some familiarity with his style.
Whatever the C&C, positives must at least equal nits.

Cheers,    jgd


·······IPB·······

Ron Jones

MM Award Winner
 
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Cleo_Serapis
post Mar 14 05, 20:03
Post #13


Mosaic Master
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Group: Administrator
Posts: 18,891
Joined: 1-August 03
From: Massachusetts
Member No.: 2
Real Name: Lori Kanter
Writer of: Poetry & Prose
Referred By:Imhotep



Very good input Ron!

I agree! lovie.gif

~Cleo


·······IPB·······

"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." ~ J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Collaboration feeds innovation. In the spirit of workshopping, please revisit those threads you've critiqued to see if the author has incorporated your ideas, or requests further feedback from you. In addition, reciprocate with those who've responded to you in kind.

"I believe it is the act of remembrance, long after our bones have turned to dust, to be the true essence of an afterlife." ~ Lorraine M. Kanter

Nominate a poem for the InterBoard Poetry Competition by taking into careful consideration those poems you feel would best represent Mosaic Musings. For details, click into the IBPC nomination forum. Did that poem just captivate you? Nominate it for the Faery award today! If perfection of form allured your muse, propose the Crown Jewels award. For more information, click here!

"Worry looks around, Sorry looks back, Faith looks up." ~ Early detection can save your life.

MM Award Winner
 
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