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Paul Hansford


*How to Critique a Poem


If you read somebody’s poem and it makes you want to say,
“I think this piece is wonderful; it really made my day, ”
just go ahead and say it – feedback like this is good,
but saying WHY you like it will please them (well, it should) .

If somebody you don’t know says, “Please comment on my writing, ”
and you look at it, and find it … let’s say, rather unexciting,
then don’t forget – be tactful, find something good to say
before you start on finding fault – don’t ruin someone’s day.

And if you think it’s terrible, be careful how you speak.
Some people write as therapy; their life may be quite bleak.
Don’t be too harshly critical and leave them feeling worse,
but simply go to look elsewhere, and just ignore their verse.

Some poems, though, may leave you with a puzzle or a question,
or even make you want to give some tentative suggestion.
There’s nothing wrong with doing this – just get it off your chest,
but don’t think your ideas are necessarily the best.

With members, though, who claim they are God’s gift to Poesy,
(if there’s nothing to commend them as far as you can see)
you can state your own opinion – of course you have the right –
but don’t forget the golden rule: be HONEST but POLITE.

AND …

If you’re wanting other members to read something that you wrote,
it isn’t so unusual if you send them a note
saying, “Honoured Sir or Madam, I hope that you’ll agree
to open up my pages and read my poetry.”

Now, if to ask me to read yours you still might feel inclined,
please comment something that I wrote (that’s if you wouldn’t mind) .
For I will tell you kindly that, before I read a line,
I’d be much more interested if YOU’d first read some of MINE.

Submitted: Friday, May 01, 2009
Edited: Thursday, May 14, 2009

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Comments about this poem (*How to Critique a Poem by Paul Hansford )

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  • Paul Hansford (9/5/2009 12:21:00 PM)

    I think Ronald is saying pretty much what I am saying here, except that he does go into some technicalities at the end. It may be interesting for some of us to know all about meter, and rhetorical figures like anaphora (even I had to look up the word, though I am quite happy using the technique) . As for meter, I know the difference in theory between an anapest and a dactyl, but wonder if there is any difference in practice? I fear too many people would be put off by technical language like this, and would be better to write something that has a rhythm (any rhythm) that they can hear. (Report) Reply

  • Deborah Cromer (8/20/2009 2:50:00 PM)

    Precisely! Information given with accuracy and professional worth. What ever the reason may be for reading or reviewing another's work of written art, most definitely should always be done with respect. Positive and encouraging feedback can only help to support one's writing abilities. DC (Report) Reply

  • Louis Rams (8/7/2009 7:42:00 PM)

    i like what you have written, because you're to the point, and you also let others know that you should have others read your poems as well as you're reading
    theirs.and also how to use criticism and constructive criticism.
    this is a very informative and enlightning poem.

    GR888T A TEN (Report) Reply

  • Indira Renganathan (8/1/2009 5:29:00 AM)

    Your words are excellent and eloquent guide through the avenue of poetry...I need to read it for many more times....thanks a lot (Report) Reply

  • Sandra Martyres (7/31/2009 2:02:00 PM)

    A very good etiquette lesson on how to comment on a poem or write a critique on one... I do wish it could be made into a compulsory read for all those over-eager critics.....Great write..thanks for sharing your poetic opinion. (Report) Reply

  • Black Mendilouche (6/21/2009 4:17:00 AM)

    I concur with your other commentators, this poem should be cited as a classic example of the etiquette of sharing poetry. Thankyou for sharing this! (Report) Reply

  • Phil Smith (6/20/2009 12:25:00 PM)

    verry good poem, it makes you think. it gets strit to the point and the poetry is amazing. i'll start reading your poems now and i'm sure they're as good as this one, i had pleasure in reading this piece and it really did 'make my day'.

    Phil (Report) Reply

  • Ana Zaldivar (5/31/2009 12:37:00 AM)

    Nice.. i think just the same... but there's sometimes people that even if you read their work, they don't even say thanks.. and sometimes there's polite people who even sends a message to say thanks.. well it depends on the person.. I'm now going to start reading your poetry :) (Report) Reply

  • Shirin Sheikhi (5/26/2009 8:19:00 AM)

    paul reding your poems is not the matter of making comment but enjoynig them
    , made me smile what you recommended after sending you the message
    well done
    wish you the best (Report) Reply

  • Jennie Radley (5/25/2009 10:56:00 AM)

    Paul - another poem of yours that I really liked - having been a teacher, I know how important it is to encourage enthusiastically while criticising gently! 'How to Critique a Poem' should be compulsory reading for all teachers, and it doesn't only apply to poems! (Report) Reply

  • C. P. Sharma (5/14/2009 4:48:00 AM)

    I think this piece is wonderful; it enlightened me a lot.
    I shall feel highly obliged if you spare a few moments out of your busy schedule to read and comment on 'I am civilized'.
    CP (Report) Reply

  • Susan Jarvis (5/1/2009 2:19:00 PM)

    What better way to guide a would-be poet in the art of critique than a poem - an entertaining, educational and perfectly composed one, at that. Super stuff from a true master of the craft. S :) (Report) Reply

  • Sally Carter (5/1/2009 5:27:00 AM)

    I really like this one. I love poems that are straight to the point, as this is. This is the first new poem I have read on this site, and the first message I have posted! I will look for more by you. (Report) Reply

  • Sue Sie (5/1/2009 5:18:00 AM)

    A Superb written detailed verse Paul...I do like how you have expressed yourself..and got the point across..impeccably...well done you.. ;) (Report) Reply

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