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Feedback or Backslapping

Most of the poets who contribute to WOL enjoy receiving feedback and/or are just happy to know that someone has read their work and given it a 'like'.

From a pro-active point of view I am always a little surprised that there is very little constructive criticism and suggestions for changing some aspect or other of the poems offered.

I have started putting poems on to WOL that are not finished, choosing to edit them in situ (something I would never have done previously) eventually placing the finished articles on my personal wordpress blog.

So I suppose my question is this. As there is such a deep resource of poets active here on WOL, why is there so little critique and so much backslapping (albeit backslapping is very welcome too).
Tue, 22 Sep 2020 10:12 am
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Hi Graham, it's a great question... When I first joined in 2009, users were much more inclined to give feedback on what worked and what didn't as well as correct typos and suggest improvements.

Sometimes, those were hard to hear but it was a great learning curve for me and encouraged me to take a lot more care in my writing and proof-reading before posting.

I think a combination of wanting to be supportive, nice and perhaps a lack of confidence or fear of irking other members might put people off making those suggestions.

I come here to share my work and to be inspired and delighted (and challenged) by others - not to sit down with a red pen and tell people where they've gone wrong. So, perhaps for me, it's laziness. I also don't want to endlessly troll people who have issues with spelling...

If there is an occasion I want some constructive criticism on a poem I tend to specifically ask for it in a post script and people are usually obliging! ?
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 10:50 am
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Tom, that is a good point about asking for the feedback.
Wed, 23 Sep 2020 02:06 pm
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I've learnt that you can make the most harmless remark and people (not just the author) will jump to put you straight. This deters the constructive criticism that I think would be very helpful. Perhaps there could be a concerted effort to go ahead with the comments and just take the flak, perhaps over time the culture would evolve to an adult level.
Thu, 1 Oct 2020 09:49 am
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Poetry is a work of art. Other than fixing typos or correcting specific form, critiques are subjective. What strikes one reader as brilliant poetic writing can leave another confused. Read Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke for deeper insights.
Fri, 18 Dec 2020 03:00 am
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I see the blogs and profile pages as each poet's face to the world and I am reluctant to put anything onto the blogs or profiles that isn't respectful of that.

I am conscious that many poets write in very different styles than I do and that in itself might mean I cannot make any recommendations or observations, but for those who do write in similar styles then I might possess a reader's eye/ear and if I am inclined to devote the brain power to it then I tend to send a private message if I have a poem altering suggestion to make.

I also use private message for other type of personal response that might not be suited for public consumption.
Tue, 29 Dec 2020 05:17 pm
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I think constructive criticism can be great! When I'm working on a college paper at least. However, I really try to be as raw as possible. Spelling/grammar kind of goes out the window if it doesn't make sense to me.

What I mean is:

The brown dog jumped over the blue cow. -Correct

The brown wonderful dog
loves to jump over cows that
are blue to the eye
as they are to the sky.
-Mostly incorrect and not my best work.

Grammar, punctuation, and the like is not art to me. It is a way to professionally convey yourself in an environment where punctuality matters. Otherwise, people might get confused.

To me, requesting that someone fix a mistake in their poetry is like asking them to paint two pictures; one where their reality is theirs and one where their reality needs to match yours. What if they meant that to be there? Van Gogh and Mozart probably made mistakes, but everyone enjoyed their masterpieces.
Fri, 3 Dec 2021 08:54 pm
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I agree Jason, I would personally never request someone to fix their poetry for reasons that you have outlined here already and also because I'm not a pompous a55hole. ?
Sun, 5 Dec 2021 12:49 pm
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The focus has changed a lot on Write Out Loud over the past few years with the lack of comments that appear on blogs. Not for me to say why as that is another story.. When I blog which isn't that much true to be told nowadays, I always try to have a look at the blogs and try to add a few comments whether strengths or thinks to think about. Not sure if everybody else does that however
Mon, 6 Dec 2021 07:42 pm
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Hey Andy,

I appreciate your style. I think its entirely different to do as you said, "have a look at the blogs and try to add a few comments whether strengths or thinks to think about." This is acceptable to me. However, SOME may want the critique; others, not so much. I think that if someone is looking for critiquing, they should explicitly say so, then there's no confusion from the audience.
Wed, 9 Mar 2022 11:11 pm
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Both are probably useful in their own way. Probably we can be quite particular with how we require others to respond to us. That's when it can become a bit awkward. Some might say a primrose for the posh nose or something like that. But that's just a thought.
Fri, 3 Jun 2022 07:57 am
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I have an idea:

Perhaps we could leave the "Blog" section as is, i.e. backslapping
but there is another section, currently called "Poetry Review" currently little used, which we could understand as the place where poems can be analysed and well discussed.

As I say "Poetry Review" is little used; the most likely reaction is a helpful soul saying 'If you wan't reviews, put it on the blogs.' Kind of makes the "Poetry Review" section redundant at the moment.

Fri, 20 Jan 2023 05:38 pm
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Hello Graham,
and Adam...I’ve just spotted your post about “Reviewing”.
I would say that we’re all on WOL to learn.

As far as Creative Writing’s concerned, I’m largely self-taught, so I don’t feel qualified to “review” anyone’s work.
But I recently saw a poem by someone whose 1st language obviously wasn’t English, but who was fluent enough to convey to me the context.

However the writer had used a colloquialism out of context, spoiling the flow of the poem for me.

I instinctively wanted to offer a friendly word of advice and to offer an alternative, but I refrained from doing so, lest I be misunderstood / resented.

Two questions spring to mind:
1. Would the poem to be reviewed be posted only in the “Blog and Comments” section - and not in the “Discussion” section?
2. Would there be nominated, “appropriately qualified” (goodness knows what that entails!) reviewers?

14 days ago
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