How to Comment on Poems
Quoting to emphasize the importance of this.
Originally Posted by gren
As you may have noticed, I'm taking this warning very seriously and giving infractions for posts that I consider low quality for a response to a poem. But in fairness, perhaps some of you don't know what is a proper critique/discussion of a poem. So here are some ideas:
- Analyze the poem line by line. If you think it's a good poem, then there must be something that stood out about it. Find that part, and talk about its meaning, the use of words, and how it worked with the overall structure of the poem.
- Consider subject vs. structure. Repetition, rhyme, metaphor or stanza structure (among other poetic constructs) don't work the same way in every poem, and work best when the subject calls for them. If you think anything was overdone in a poem, talk about it in as much detail as you can...point out what you see as a flaw, explain why you don't like it, and offer suggestions on correcting it.
- Discuss the originality of the subject/style of the poem. Before you say how great a poem was, stop and think...did the author find an interesting and not completely overused subject to write about, and did he/she do so in a novel way that hasn't been used hundreds of time before? Anyone can string a bunch of pretty words together, but it takes real talent to speak honestly on a different topic in a new way.
- Comment on grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Often, poets don't use punctuation for artistic effect, but sometimes it's just that a writer forgets to add a comma, apostrophe, or period where it's needed. And if a poem doesn't have some grammatical structure, it may be hard to understand, to the point of taking away from the meaning. Let the author know if the lack of punctuation/grammar confused you or hurt the poem in some way. On the other hand, if the poem was so heavily punctuated that it was closer to prose than poetry, give thoughts on that too.
- Is it excessive? Do the words fit the subject/meaning of the poem? There's a big difference between a well written poem that accurately and descriptively conveys the author's thoughts/feelings, and a string of pretty words that don't really mean anything. If you think that the words are too much/too little for the subject, say so, and give suggestions on better words.
- Don't be afraid to say what you don't like about the poem.. I think some of us don't want to be "mean" and tell the author that their work has some issues, but that's the only way that anyone can improve. Just remember to voice your opinion with tact and grace, and not be a jerk. No "Your poem sucks", you don't need to insult the author to help them. Just address what you think is lacking in the work, and how it can be fixed.
(You certainly don't have to do all of these in each reply in the poetry section, but focusing on a least one of these points would ensure that your post is of acceptable quality)
I've already seen posts in the poetry section that are far better quality then they have been in the past 6 months or so. A big thank you to those who have taken the time to make sure their posts are up to standards.
As for the poets themselves, take all opinions and consider them. As much as you may love what you posted, you have to be open to opinion and expect that others may not feel the same way about it. So don't get upset if someone really criticizes your work; you should be looking for honest opinions to help you hone your skills as a writer. Additionally, you don't need to thank every individual for their comments immediately after they post them. A post that says "Thank you, ----. I'm glad you liked it" is extremely low quality and should not be done after every reply.