How to Critique Poetry Effectively
(These guidelines were recommended by Julie Ann Cook and Kim Blum-Hyclak at the Writers Intensive sponsored by the Rock Hill Chapter of South Carolina Writers Workshop, April 2015.)
However poems are shared within the group, the following guidelines will help the poets.
Praise—Always start with the poem’s positive attributes.
What are the words, phrases, images that caught your notice?
What reactions, feelings, and sensations did the poem effectively evoke?
What parts simply sounded best? What worked best visually?
Posers—Ask specific questions for clarification.
Is there a reason for the choice of a particular word or phrase?
Is there a symbolic reference to something specific?
Is there a form or format that is being followed?
Polish—Make constructive suggestions to improve clarity, consistency, tone.
Offer a different word choice.
Suggest different line break(s) or format.
Propose omitting word(s) to tighten the poem.