Saturday, June 11, 2011

Problems with Poetry 2: Listening to Critiques

While a lot of people assume that writing a poem is dead easy, they also seem to have great difficulty in editing their poetry. Some people think that it’s just feelings, and how can they possibly edit feelings to make them ‘better’? Others just can’t find anything ‘wrong’. A poem is just the words that fly out onto the page, right?

In my not-so-humble-opinion… wrong. Poems that are just feelings, just poured out, uncensored emotions, are like journal entries. They’re true, they’re right, they’re a piece of you… but they aren’t great literature. Just like I wouldn’t hand you my journal and tell you ‘This is the next bestseller’ you can’t hand me a poem you wrote right after your boy/girlfriend broke up with you and say ‘I’m going to get this published.’

A journal entry could eventually be moulded into a story, but there’s absolutely no way you’d publish it as is (unless you’re somehow famous and people want to read about your personal life.) In the same way, your poem, like any potential piece of literature, is going to need work. And for you to improve your poems you’ll need advice from other writers. This post is for all of you who want to improve your poetry writing by listening to critiques from others.

1.       Read their critique through a couple times and give yourself a day or two to think about it.
2.       You don’t need to take ALL the advice. If something doesn’t ring true for you, don’t use it. Just remember to always give it a decent shot before tossing it out.
3.       Be open to criticism. Remember that your poem can probably be made ‘better.’
4.       When someone says something isn’t clear, then you probably need to make it slightly more obvious.
5.       If you based your poem on real life, be ready to change the facts to make it more interesting. Changing names is also a good idea. J
6.       If the poem was written in an emotional moment, give yourself a few days, months or even years before trying to edit.

And lastly, don’t post your poetry on a writing website and ask people to read it if you’re not interested in making changes. If all you want is for people to tell you that you’re wonderful, go show it to family members who have to say that you’re amazing. Don’t post it online and then get annoyed every time someone gives you a critique. I understand that there is poetry that is so personal you can’t stand to have it ripped apart, but if that’s the case you probably shouldn’t be posting it on a writing website. In short, be open to criticism, learn to love it, and get ready to make your poem as amazing as it possibly can be. Poetry’s just another art form, one that requires practice.

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