How to critique a poem

January 23, 2008

Sharon Brogan over at Watermark has a terrific post up entitled How to critique a poem. It’s full of nuggets of wisdom like:

  • Critique the poem, not the poet.
  • Don’t assume that the speaker of the poem is the poet; poets often write in fictional voices.
  • Say what you like about the poem; be specific.

— and many of the suggestions are links to comments or articles that shed more insight on her suggestions. The post is designed for those who are active in online poetry communities, but this advice would work equally well for in-person writing workshops…and I think these are generally applicable, with some obvious minor modifications, to commenting on prose (fiction or nonfiction), too.

There’s also a certain alignment between Sharon’s suggestions and the workshop instructions we developed at Inkberry’s inception…though, of course, her version doesn’t begin “Don’t eat babies.” 🙂

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