poetry review

3 Poetry Review Tips for Non-Poets

Baffling, I know, but the fact is: not everyone is a big poetry fan. ūüėÄ However, even if you couldn’t tell the difference between a sonnet and a haiku (and wouldn’t care to), here are some tips to help you give your poet colleagues helpful feedback on their work in your writing groups and / or review the poetry of your favorite indie authors.

1. Relax and Contribute to the Poem’s Review

Even if you don’t think you “get” poetry, you can still be helpful. You do your fellow authors a disservice when you keep quiet just because you aren’t an expert (whatever the fuck that means) on poetry. Poetry is just another form of expression, especially emotional expression. Most poems are a mere reflection of an event (everything from a near-death experience to a passing thought while waiting for the bus) that the poet has strong feelings about. Treat the poem like that person is telling you about their day at work, that traumatic event, or that passing thought they had, in a flowery / gritty / cryptic way.

2. Be Honest About Your Reaction to the Poem

Guess what? Saying that you were confused is a valid answer!

There may have been parts of a poem that shocked you, intrigued you, scared you, or even lead you to feel angry or sad. If you experience any specific emotions, this can be what you share with the poet. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to react to a poem. Nodding back to tip number 1: Just relax.

 

3. Be Specific in Your Poem Review

If you were confused, try to flesh out why. Were there too many words used that you didn’t know the meaning of (signifying that the poet may want to look into simplifying the language)? Was there a total disconnect in your mind between what the poet wrote and what they said they were trying to convey (signifying that the poet may want to consider sharpening the imagery)?

If the poem lead you to feel sad, which line stood out as the most depressing to you? If the poem lead you to feel shocked, at which word, line, or stanza did you first have that reaction?

 

 

Arm yourself with these three tips whenever you go into a writing group that you know poets frequent and you should be able to stay involved in the discussion. Remember these as well when you are attempting to craft a review for a book of poetry in order to publicly support your fellow independent authors!

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing Group Indie Author

How to Accept Constructive Criticism in Writing Groups

Writing groups are a great way for independent authors to get support, make connections, find resources, and–perhaps most importantly– hear critique on their works in progress. However, getting this feedback without becoming resentful, angry, or sad can be tricky for some. Here are three things to remember during the critique delivery¬†process that can help you actually enjoy it.

 


 

1. “This is what I’m here for.”

Remembering this can help ease some of the defensiveness you might feel when people start dissecting your writing. The entire reason that you joined the group and decided to submit your book / chapter / poem¬†for critique was so that you could get honest feedback about how it could be better. If you¬†didn’t¬†join the group for this express purpose, then the fault really lies with you for presenting yourself as someone who wants to strengthen their craft, yet all you really wanted was for people to kiss your ass unjustifiably.

 

2. “How bad would it be if I’d published without knowing this?”

Many independent authors are self-published. This means that they have full control over the creation, revision, publishing, and marketing of their writing. Unless you’ve created a Cartel like I have, there’s a good chance that your writing groups are the only thing saving you from publishing something that is full of plot holes, grammatical errors, character inconsistencies and the like. ¬†If you find that your writing group is bringing up a bunch of problems that you missed, don’t look at it as an attack on you or your writing. See it as your reputation being pulled back from a cliff!

 

3. “No one is perfect.”

I have read books by many authors who are traditionally published (meaning they have teams of people and bundles of cash at their disposal to make sure that their writing is consistent, error-free, and as strong as possible), yet have several errors in them. If these bestselling authors with publishing powerhouses behind them can’t produce a perfect manuscript, how sane is it to believe that you will do so on your own? Hell, even with the feedback of your group?

 

The point is: Relax. Take the feedback you think is helpful. Ignore the feedback you don’t think fits. Just don’t ignore solid feedback because you didn’t like hearing it. That’s not fair to you, your writing, or your readers.

Have other tips for getting through the critique process? Leave a comment!