Critical feedback is an important part of a poet's creative process.
Getting helpful critical feedback that you can use to improve your poetry is essential to honing your writing skills, and giving useful feedback helps you to learn what makes for well-written poetry and to discover solutions to problems in your own writing.
It's a lot like dancing in pairs. With a partner, you can perform many more dance moves than you could otherwise do by yourself. Through critical feedback, you can do more with your poetry--creative lifts and poetic twirls. And like dancing, giving and receiving critical feedback are creative skills.
However, despite the fact that these are significant skills for any poet, giving and getting helpful feedback can be challenging for a number of reasons.
Obstacles to Giving and Getting Help
All poets, at times, can be sensitive about our work.
With each poem, we labor to wrench out our thoughts and emotions, and somehow we actually manage to put them into words on a page. Writing poetry is not an easy process, and sometimes we don’t want critical feedback. We simply want someone to say “good job” and tell us how great our poem is. When we ask for feedback and what we really want is praise, we’ll inevitably get our feelings hurt.
Another problem arises when the critic attempts to re-write the poem
in a way in which they would write it, rather than to offer thoughtful suggestions about strengthening the poem as it’s written. This is a particularly unhelpful impulse. Poet's want to write their own poetry, not someone else's.
Also, the critic’s personal bias can play a negative role.
For instance, if you hate end-rhyme, then you’re probably going to be less engaged with strengthening a poem that uses repetitive end-rhyme. Even disguised as “helpful” suggestions, such biases can do more damage than good as the critic is often simply concerned with writing off certain poems as “bad” and arguing against them.
So, how to get around these problems?
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