Today we will have a poetry critique workshop. Using the guidelines below, originally composed by my friend, colleague, and fellow poet, David Wright, we will critique our poems so that we can effectively revise them.
DIRECTIONS: Print and read each poem scheduled for your group critique session, marking any passages or concerns that strike you as you read. Then take no more than 15 minutes to respond to the questions below, giving as specific a response as you can. You will give this sheet to the author, so make comments legible (type if you can) and references to the manuscript specific (stanza numbers, particular lines, etc.).
What worked well or pleasantly surprised you about this poem?
Which imagery was especially strong? Which sense does the writer use best? Which sense could her or she develop/use more here? Where would you like to see a particular image developed in more detail? Which image strikes you as a cliche?
Mark ONE line in the poem you think stands out above all others. What did you like about this line? Is it located in the most effective position? Which line strikes you as more random than it needs to be? Suggest another layer of choice the writer might consider in his or her lineation.
How effective or ineffective is the writer’s word choice/diction? What particular words should the writer reconsider? Why should she/he reconsider these (connotation, sound, consistency of voice)?
What uses of sound–rhyme, alliteration, assonance, etc.–fit well with the sense of the poem? What choices seem overdone or under-considered?
Voice/Point of View
Characterize the voice in this poem. Is it strong, reflective, consistent or inconsistent? How could the writer better establish his or her voice?
What is the central emotional core of the poem? Where do you think the writer best demonstrates this grounded/embodied feeling? Where does he or she miss a chance to emphasize or offer more connection to this sensation?
What one essential change would you suggest the writer make before turning in this poem?