why I will not criticise the poetry of others

This is for your own works!!!
vern.silver
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why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by vern.silver » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:53 am

Criticism is opinion born of the prejudices of the person offering that criticism. That was the point in my ‘poem’ Sideways Geoffrey, Sideways.

I have read comments about ‘real writers’ on some of the threads and I ask, who determines this and by what standard? What makes a person a ‘real’ writer? Does being published make you a real writer? Or does it take wide acclaim? Is it winning awards? Or is it simply having a wide following? I would really like to know. Then i would also like to know who appoints the messenger who informs the rest of us lesser beings so that we may fall down in worship? Or is this a self appointment? Credentials please!!

I have been trying to be a writer for about 40 years now. Specifically, a poet. I have put considerable effort and practice into this art. Taken courses, read voraciously, imitated, practiced, studied, studied, studied. I have had some success having had a few published, one being read on CBC radio in the late seventies from the magazine in which it had been published.

I have been a member of a poetry writers’ group in which there were a handful of successful published poets. In this group we met monthly, sharing our recent efforts – given out at one meeting to be discussed at the next. We would be vicious in our analysis/criticisms of the POEMS, ripping them to shreds, disassembling them, putting them back together, ‘arguing’ amongst ourselves over our opinions. We never attacked the writer/poet, always the work. There is nothing like being told that it was your comment or suggestion that made the difference in the success of their poem. (I am saddened by the fact that my job took me to a new town which does not have a similar community.)

It was others who gave me the label ‘poet’ though I do not wear it comfortably. I chose not to pursue it as a career. I keep writing because I love it – it is a part of who I am.

So then, am I a real writer or not?

I was a member of a newsletter committee for one of the largest unions in Ontario. We put out a quarterly steward’s newsletter. We ran an annual newsletter editor’s course, and I was asked to write a New Editor’s Handbook for them. I did. It won a national award. Does this make me a real writer?

I will never offer criticism of the poems in these threads, and rarely offer any other commentary unless moved to do so, or unless I am asked to. And then I will only respond through PM. People have feelings, and I’m damned if I’m going to crush them.

I post my poems simply to share them, as I think most others do. Sure, there’s a variance in quality, but who cares. Read them to enjoy them and take what you will from them. This is, after all, The Poetry and Music By Forum Members page, not the Critics Corner.
"Clarence said a striking thing about rowing that I've always valued ... that he liked rowing because you were approaching life backward. You could clearly see the past, and you glanced quickly at the future over your shoulder.' Jim Harrison.
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by News Gal » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:59 am

FINALLY, someone said it. I hate the attitudes people have about other poster's work. That's why I won't post any of mine on here after that first one--what's the point if they're going to make you not want to write?

I don't ever edit my work either. It's the way I want it the first time around. I was stunned to see people actually suggested revisions to others.
ᎤᏩᎬᏗᏒ ᏥᎪᏩᏘᎲ, ᎯᎩᎾᎵᎢ, ᎠᏓᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ. Uwagvdisv tsigowatihv, higinali'i , adahisdi geso (I've seen the future brother, it is murder.)
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by lizzytysh » Sat Apr 11, 2009 6:56 am

And, of course, I'm with you all the way on this, Vern, and again, NewsGal. It's a difference in paradigms... two clearly distinct schools of thought on what ought to be going on here. Those who simply want to share what they've written, not looking to be worshipped, nor looking to have this, that, or the other person improve their piece. Just wanting to share what they've written at face value. If someone gets something out of it, wonderful. If they don't, well the writer probably wishes someone had, but oh well.


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~ Oscar Wilde
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Gullivor
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by Gullivor » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:09 am

I think Leonard once said he had to give up on his Masterpiece so he could join the real Masterpiece...something like that, I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong~LOL
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by Marisha » Sat Apr 11, 2009 9:20 am

" I was stunned to see people actually suggested revisions to others"-

"I will never offer criticism of the poems in these threads, and rarely offer any other commentary unless moved to do so, or unless I am asked to. And then I will only respond through PM. People have feelings, and I’m damned if I’m going to crush them."


Hi I only really come here for occasional fun on the "ultimate haiku" thread, but I will say that these quotes are very sad. If writers could only separate their ego from the work. How wonderful that others offer suggestions or even take their time to make revisions. I would be stunned if writers thought their own work was so special that it couldn't be considered then critiqued.

In recent years there have been an increasing number of shows opening here in the States without preview nights for critics and newspapers. The one thing they seem to have in common is that they are "turkeys".

Any published work can be commented on and when writers set their ego aside they can often find some helpful truth in the critiques. Also I see that comments are made about the style of the critiques. Personally, I find that an irrelevance.

I really hope the quoted comments do not prevent people from making comments and offering revisions. That would squeeze the life out of this place and not stimulate people to improve their writing. For every person who boasts they never revise their first draft there must surely be 10 who would like to improve their words.

Anyway, back the the Haiku!



Marisha
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by MaryB » Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:04 am

I too don't follow this topic very often, but I just had to comment after the last post.

The poetry that is created is like giving birth to a child. It belongs to the poet. The poet is there from conception and ultimately responsible for the end result. You either like that child or you don't. Someone else does not have the authority to make changes. I know, you're going to say 'what if the child is abused'. You are not the poetry police. These are offerings presented to us here, accept them as a gift. If you think you can do better - coceive your own child and I will gratefully accept your introduction to you child.

In conclusion, I am sorry if I offended anyone, I truly didn't mean too :cry: .

Kindest regards,
Mary
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by Marisha » Sat Apr 11, 2009 10:45 am

MaryB wrote:I too don't follow this topic very often, but I just had to comment after the last post.

The poetry that is created is like giving birth to a child. It belongs to the poet. The poet is there from conception and ultimately responsible for the end result. You either like that child or you don't. Someone else does not have the authority to make changes. I know, you're going to say 'what if the child is abused'. You are not the poetry police. These are offerings presented to us here, accept them as a gift. If you think you can do better - coceive your own child and I will gratefully accept your introduction to you child.

In conclusion, I am sorry if I offended anyone, I truly didn't mean too :cry: .

Kindest regards,
Mary
Hello Mary, certainly no offence taken here! I just don't agree that creating poetry is like giving birth. A child is a child, a poem is words on paper. Even the mightiest artist gets criticised for their film, play, or TV show. I suppose the similarity might be that it is polite to pat any child on her head and say to the parent "how sweet, how lovely" and sometimes when I walk away I could even think that the child was a pretty unattractive little fella! I don't have any problem with posters here patting each other on the head if that's what they want but boasts that a writer doesn't revise or a whole thread about not criticising is like saying your child is perfect.

Really your child is NOT perfect and has plenty to learn! To pretend otherwise strikes me as arrogant and unfair to the rest of the community.

Marisha
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by News Gal » Sat Apr 11, 2009 3:43 pm

Exactly, these are gifts. I don't ask for help or criticism--they're given in the traditional way we Cherokee give songs to other people. When a song comes to a Cherokee, it comes to him or her from the Creator. To change it is an insult to the One who gave it to you. Everyone here gets these ideas from their lives and the inspiration of the Creator, so how dare you criticize it and try to improve on it? THAT is arrogance.

In this case, I believe the Beatniks got it right. They didn't constantly revise to impress others. And that's why I won't share anything on here after seeing how people react. It's not a welcoming environment, rather very uptight. It's actually made me NOT want to write poetry. I also hate it when people who aren't willing to understand me think I'm arrogant because I'm simply DIFFERENT. This is so frustrating.

Marisha, I'm having a hard time saying what I mean because I'm so agitated by your misunderstanding. I'll do the best I can: I believe poems are fine just as they are, and don't need to be embellished to impress others.
ᎤᏩᎬᏗᏒ ᏥᎪᏩᏘᎲ, ᎯᎩᎾᎵᎢ, ᎠᏓᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ. Uwagvdisv tsigowatihv, higinali'i , adahisdi geso (I've seen the future brother, it is murder.)
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by Marisha » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:31 pm

News Gal wrote: I don't ask for help or criticism--

I also hate it when people who aren't willing to understand me think I'm arrogant because I'm simply DIFFERENT. This is so frustrating.

Marisha, I'm having a hard time saying what I mean because I'm so agitated by your misunderstanding. I'll do the best I can: I believe poems are fine just as they are, and don't need to be embellished to impress others.
But can you survive help or criticism? I don't believe you can always control other people.

I don't think you are particularly different. There have always been people who only want flowers and chocolates. No problem, it's your right.

I don't think poems are fine as they are every time- some are great, some mediocre, some racist, some sexist, some lazy, and so on. Lucky old you if every poem you write is first time perfect even by your own standards!

Impressing others is irrelevant, but a lack of ego and arrogance may allows the rest of us to catch up with your standards of writing!

Anyway, we are polar opposites it seems. I am very happy learning and if I ever write a poem for here would very much welcome criticism and revision from any quarter, even you or others who boast about not commenting and not revising

Sorry we disagree so much
best wishes

Marisha
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by News Gal » Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:35 pm

Marisha wrote:
News Gal wrote: I don't ask for help or criticism--

I also hate it when people who aren't willing to understand me think I'm arrogant because I'm simply DIFFERENT. This is so frustrating.

Marisha, I'm having a hard time saying what I mean because I'm so agitated by your misunderstanding. I'll do the best I can: I believe poems are fine just as they are, and don't need to be embellished to impress others.
But can you survive help or criticism? I don't believe you can always control other people.

I don't think you are particularly different. There have always been people who only want flowers and chocolates. No problem, it's your right.

I don't think poems are fine as they are every time- some are great, some mediocre, some racist, some sexist, some lazy, and so on. Lucky old you if every poem you write is first time perfect even by your own standards!

Impressing others is irrelevant, but a lack of ego and arrogance may allows the rest of us to catch up with your standards of writing!

Anyway, we are polar opposites it seems. I am very happy learning and if I ever write a poem for here would very much welcome criticism and revision from any quarter, even you or others who boast about not commenting and not revising

Sorry we disagree so much
best wishes

Marisha

Funny how you didn't quote the REST of what I said--WHY my views differ. Also, who the hell do you think you are to assume I want "chocolate and flowers?" You don't know half of my story, so don't act like you do. You really crossed a line with me now.

Some poems are racist? Let them be that way, that's the intent. Some are sexist? I don't care, that's what the writer wanted. Let them do what they want without getting yourself all in it. That's freedom of expression. I agree with Vern completely on this issue, and if you don't, well, put your work up and prove what you said.
ᎤᏩᎬᏗᏒ ᏥᎪᏩᏘᎲ, ᎯᎩᎾᎵᎢ, ᎠᏓᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ. Uwagvdisv tsigowatihv, higinali'i , adahisdi geso (I've seen the future brother, it is murder.)
vern.silver
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by vern.silver » Sat Apr 11, 2009 5:33 pm

Marisha and everyone else,

I understand the point you have made, but I reiterate - this is not a poetry workshop. Maybe we need a seperate area on this forum for that purpose where posters know and accept that they will be critiqued. I would participate in a section like that. Or perhaps each poster can append their submissions with a request for input if this is what they want.

Either way, there is difference between offering 'help' and hurling hurtful insults. Whether you like a poem or not is subjective, it is your opinion. I would like to share something from a very good book on writing poetry, The Intimate Art of Writing Poetry by Ottone M. Riccio:
You may ask yourself why you really don't like some poems that have been revered throughout time and are included in anthology after anthology. Can I really be a poet, you wonder, if I don't understand or appreciate as others do? It is natural to dislike certain poems and to feel misgivings about such dislike. Liking is a subjective affair. we don't all like the same things; there's no reason why all of us should like the same poem. it would be naive to accept all famous works indiscriminatetly. as your own writing and critical skills develop, you will detect faults in many favorite poems.

On the other hand, there is nothing to be ashamed of if tomorrow you discover what a fine piece of work a poem is, whereas yesterday it appeared to be dull and obscure. It could be that in the meantime your taste and appreciation have gained in sophistication. Even bad poems are of value if you learn to ferret out the reasons for their badness.Such understanding serves you well when you're working on your own material. if you strive to avoid the pitfalls other poets stumble into, you will be a better poet for it.
I don't know if this book is still available, but I would recommend it to anyone interested in the art of poetry.

I am personnaly of the school of editing and rewriting and will spend hours in this process. I will set a poem aside if I am not happy with it and come back to it later, sometimes years later. This is the way I work, but I am me.

I believe that every poet who is striving to make their 'art' the best that it can be should welcome help from others. After all, you are tring to reach an audience or you would leave your poems tucked away in your drawer. The problem becomes then, who is offering that advice and the manner in which they are offering it. If you simply hate a poem or think the writer is a hack, no one needs to hear that. Silence can speak volumes. By this token, not every posted poem deserves commentary. Let's hope that when you post a comment liking a poem you are not doing so just to be nice.

If you believe that you have valid advice to offer, then use PM to communicate with them. It should be a conversation between the two of you. Let that person decide whether to share it with the rest of us. Imaginary Friend has done that and I applaud her for it. She wants to learn and improve and has given us an excellent 'first' poem. We can all learn from that thread (Crybaby).

Each of us derives out of our own lives, experiences, environment, culture, etc. We must not assume that we understand the sensibility of another and let fly with our masterful genious. The benefit of being in a group such as the one I mentioned in my original post above, is that you meet face to face and get to know the others. These gatherings were as much social as they were 'getting down to business.' That is the problem with something like this forum. We're talking from distances, often not even knowing the other person.

As a person who works daily with what many would call 'the worst of society' (this isn't my experience) I learned long ago that you have a choice - you can be the spark that ignites the fire or you can be the cooling shower that calms things down. The choice is yours, but either way you create a situation that will affect the lives of many others. I have known 'officers' who would purposfully create a situation that lead to violence and harm to others. I know others who can take the most violent situation and turn it completely around. Which would you rather be?

Vern
"Clarence said a striking thing about rowing that I've always valued ... that he liked rowing because you were approaching life backward. You could clearly see the past, and you glanced quickly at the future over your shoulder.' Jim Harrison.
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by Marisha » Sat Apr 11, 2009 7:57 pm

Hi Newsgal, personally I wouldn't let racist or sexist poems "just be" as you advise, but if you want to walk on the other side then that's your choice.

Hi Vern, who said "if you believe that you have valid advice to offer, then use PM to communicate with them"- I don't think there is a Charter or any rules that says that. If a writer only wants flowers and chocolates then they just have to make the point in their post. I am relatively new here but i can't believe that anyone here would ever post critiques to a post marked "compliments only".

Anyway if you are relatively new here as well then I'm not sure you should be making up rules. It's a real shame that posters might be inhibited to post critiques, revisions, or just comments because of your approach. The writer then loses out on the chance of her poem "taking off" and begin generally discussed. A PM is not wrong but then issues arise of whether the sender wants it posted to stimulate debate. It is an even worse shame if people don't bother to post here because it becomes just a place to pat each other on the head. There are so many sites like Allpoetry where you can receive flowers and chocolates for anything you write. Is that really the best we can do in honour of a writer as brilliant as Leonard Cohen?

I don't see our opinions converging but I do think it would be a simple and pragmatic solution for posters like Newsgal to mark her poems "compliments only"

Best wishes

Marisha
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by lizzytysh » Sun Apr 12, 2009 2:25 am

It remains an age-old debate.


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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by Gullivor » Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:14 am

Perhapes!
But Marisha is right!
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Re: why I will not criticise the poetry of others

Post by vern.silver » Sun Apr 12, 2009 3:49 am

First off I was not setting any rules, simply making a suggestion. To suggest that by merely posting a poem opens it to commentary can also be seen as setting a rule - a rule more apt to cause people to hesitate in posting their poems which is the point of this section. Without the poems there wouldn't be anything to comment on.

I made a choice for myself on not criticising the poetry of others and aired my reasoning for that choice in this thread. Over the years more than one person has withdrawn from posting their poems here - not because they were commented on, but because of the turns the commentary sometimes takes. Consrtuctive criticism is a good thing but comments like 'your poem is a piece of crap' serves no purpose other than to cause upset and often turns into a flaming debate that has nothing to do with the poem. I use my own posting We Pass Into April ... as an example. There are six pages in that thread and only a handful of them have anything to do with the poem at all.

I personally accept any commentary on any poem I post, good and bad. I do not post to have my ego massaged - simply to share. Some will like: some will not. I would rather see someone append their poems with 'commentary wanted/accepted good and bad' rather than see 'praise only please.' In the case of the latter, silence would speak volumes. There are those who don't want their poems dissected, turned around, ripped apart, rewritten etc and we should respect their wishes. By PMing I mean 'hey, I read your poem and have some suggestions to make ...' and the original poster and the commentor can take it from there and decide to share it with the rest of us.

Once again I point to the Crybaby thread. Imaginary Friend has asked for input and boy is she getting it. If only it could always be like this. That is good stuff.

I once gave a collection of my poems to an editor for commentary sevearal years ago. Regardless of my not choosing a career in writing, it does not mean I do not dream of having a volume of poetry published at some point in my life. When I got it back there were comments like - this does not work; I did not like this; try this; cliche; trtite; wow, can I have this line; etc. They were covered in pencil marks, lines and arrows and crossouts; lines rewritten, new wordings suggested; reminders to use active words. etc etc etc. You get the point. But there was no character assassination. I chose a person on recommendation who would tell me if I did not have what it takes. I would rather know than to fool myself. I used her commentary to take a fresh look at my poems and reworked many of them based on this input.

You mentioned previously that you stopped by this thread on your way to the Hiaku exercise. You want criticism? I scanned through the several pages of that thread on more than one occasion and determined that it was a pointless exercise that has little to do with the hiaku form. But that isn't the point is it? It is a game, and the posters there are just having fun. So, forget about this remark - it is not important.

One last thing. If you want to determine how long someone has been a member of this forum, simply look to the right hand sidebar which gives the poster's information.

Vern
"Clarence said a striking thing about rowing that I've always valued ... that he liked rowing because you were approaching life backward. You could clearly see the past, and you glanced quickly at the future over your shoulder.' Jim Harrison.
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