The suggestion for this topic comes from Paula, as well as others. It is a huge topic and so I have decided to break it up a bit. This first part is about the experience of critique. Have you had it, received it, or done it? Do you know what it entails? In other words, do you have a definition for the experience? This may sound like a rather lame question, but everyone, especially we writers, have our own definitions for things: all things. And this is an attempt to get some sort of consensus before stepping into the wider topic itself, and the big question of whether or not we, as a group, would want to engage in it.
Several months ago, Viv posted a site that had some tips and suggestions about critique. I seem to have lost the site addie, and it might be a good idea to have a few such reference points. If you have something that you have read and think is good, please share it with the rest of us here.
What I would really like to see this week, is a sharing of thoughts and feelings about the topic. I think I’ve had more experience with it than most of you. Thus I want to know where you are coming from. I know that critiquing is a valuable learning tool, but I also have seen it turn into a contest of personalities and even a blood bath where the poem under discussion has been totally lost from view, and the poet has walked away wondering why he/she ever wanted to do this thing in the first place.
I have a degree in English with a writing concentration, specifically creative writing poetry. It took me seven years to complete that four year degree, but that is pretty standard for a non-traditional student still raising her children. I did have classes in Literary Analysis, as well as critique discussions within individual classes.
I belonged to and eventually became the moderator for the longest established poetry group in Southeastern Wisconsin, for ten years. We were a critiquing group, and at least three/fourths of the group, if not more, were established as publishing poets, including my own person. That meant that at our monthly meetings we brought a poem and copies to share and the meeting didn’t end until everyone had an opportunity to read aloud and present their piece to the group and get feedback on said piece. It was a completely voluntary process; you could read if you chose to, but we also had a selection process for membership and did public readings, as well as creating periodic anthologies of the members work. I was also, for a short time, a poetry editor for a literary magazine titled The Pike Creek Review. As a student I had my work critiqued by different professors, and as a teacher I did some of that same sort of critiquing. But, I have also self-published and worked as an editor on a variety of publications and endeavors.
I’m not boasting here, but I do want you to know of my own background and where I am coming from. I have some issues with this topic and perhaps a discussion might really help me clear the air about some, if not all of those issues. That would be a wonderful outcome.
Thanks for being here and the podium is now open, and questions are welcome: