The act of writing poetry is something that is very personal to us poets and sharing it for the first time can be a very frightening experience. The first experience of having your work criticized can boggle our mind and set us back a step in our writing. However critique is essential in any writer’s career.
Accepting criticism is something that we all must face even if we don't like it. When I received my first harsh critique it was on a ezboard workshop and right then I wanted to give up writing. They were arrogant and my opinion very mean. It was the most painful experience.
Running an online writing community for the last two years I have met a few arrogant and mean people just like the one on Ezboard. I think that some of these poets have gone to workshops and have been critique in this matter, so now they think this is how one critiques. Wrong!
How to give a critique :
Short reviews like good poem, I like this, and awesome are not useful to any poet. When giving a critique remember that poets are looking for in depth critique. As writers we strive on feedback and we grow as writers by getting both positive and negative comments on our work. At all times keep them respectful. You don't have to take a critical lengthy review approach when commenting on others poetry. You might just want to comment on the way the poem struck you, what you liked about a poem, or what threw you off about a poem. Maybe you can quote part of the poem and why you liked that verse. You don't have to write a book; just a few comments can really help someone know what works and what doesn't. Remember to be tactful and never disrespect the writer. Poets are sensitive souls and they take their poetry to heart. There is a wrong way and right way to say everything. You can offer constructive criticism where the poet is going to learn from it without being disrespectful and never mock your fellow poet.
Here is an example: You just read a poem and all you can find are reasons why the poem that you just read sucks. Maybe they had a number of spelling, grammar mistakes and run on sentences. Instead of commenting on only the bad parts of the poem start out by pointing out a good point. For instance you could say I think you've done a really fine job at expressing your emotions. I do believe that your poem could use some work on the structure to make it complete. I noticed a few spelling and grammar mistakes. I really think this is a good attempt and if you are looking for a more in depth critique I would be happy to work with you to tighten up the poem.
How to not give a critique.
Never critique the author, critique the poem. Never change the poem and put it in your own words. When you do this it no longer becomes the poet’s thoughts. Never think that you are an expert in your field. All poets have room for improvement. Never look at another poet as a failure, keep in mind just as movies not every poem will appeal to you. Don't point out every line in the poem that needs work. You should save that for a more in depth critique if the poet desires it. Don't come off as an arrogant critic that is not the way to help people or win friends in the writing business.
Critique is important to all poets. However if you feel that you are a poet expert with no room for improvement yourself than maybe you should stay away from critique groups and just look at your own writing because your really not helping anyone.