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Poetry: April 27, 2011 Issue [#4363]


 This week: Revisiting reviewing Poetry
  Edited by: Stephanie Grace
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As suggested by a dear friend, I've chosen, this week, to take another look at how we review poetry and the different categories that we, as readers and reviewers, fall into when we sit down to review.

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Hello yet again, you bee-u-tee-ful WdC Poets and Poetesses!*Kiss* This week, I thought we might take another look at reviewing poetry since, well, we all know that's my comfort zone. *Laugh* Anywho, let us begin; Shall we?

When it comes to reviewing poetry, I think that most reviews fall into one of these three categories:


Reviews within this category tend to lead toward pointing out flaws. They focus on the logistics of the poem. These reviews will usually comment on at least one of these things (and, usually not in a hip-hip-horray manner!): *Wink*
         *Right*Form – Editorial reviewers will always be looking for flaws in form. Be it meter, rhythm, rhyme, or syllable count, if something is off, these reviewers will find it and let you know about it!
         *Right*Grammar – While most grammar rules tend to go out the window when it comes to poetry, these reviewers still have little idiosyncrasies that compel them to point out missing commas, words that “should” be italicized or quoted, and words that just plain don't follow the norm for grammar rules.
         *Right*Oopsies – These reviewers are definite sticklers when it comes to pointing out typos and other little things that we tend not to think about –like line spacing or centering.

These reviewers are incredibly helpful when it comes to fine-tuning your poem. When a poem is first posted on WdC or first written in a notebook even, these people tend to seem like a nuisance, but they are indeed much needed voices. Without them pointing out our initial flaws –or those that may have slipped through the cracks, how can we ever learn to pay more attention to the bare bones of our poems? Adversely, without them, how will we ever know what to defend? Lack of punctuation is common in poetry, but when an editorial reviewer comes along and suggests it, do you stand your ground or defend your territory? Poetic license is in the eye of the poet and these reviewers will be able to help you learn that –not matter how much you feel like they're just picking on you! They're just trying to better your poem and help you grow as a poet. Read, maybe take a note or two, and choose what's important to you within their review. If meter wasn't your focus, why should you care if it's off? If you wanted to rhyme, though, and a rhyme set feels off to him/her, be appreciative and use rhymezone.com in the future! *Laugh*

Emotional reviewers tend to be those of few words, but much impact. They feel that the true value of a poem is found in how it affects the reader. If they felt nothing, most likely, the review you receive will leave you with a feeling of despair, of failure. Oh, sure, they'll glance at form and maybe point out a typo or two (or more), but what they're really after is for you to make them FEEL... Make them cry or want to throw something … make them remember something that just leaves them reflecting. So, what do these reviewers usually include and what makes that important to us as writers? Let's take a little looksy, shall we?
         *Right*Affect - Obviously, these reviewers tell us how the poem affected them. That's so important because so many poems are meant to make the reader feel and, if you get feedback that that has or hasn't happened and how one reader feels it could have been happened if it didn't, that's just invaluable! I mean, we can all flat out write our feelings, but to interpret and write them so that a reader can feel them is something special. Emotional reviewers are the only ones that can confirm that you've accomplished that task.
         *Right*Connection – Beyond the affect, these reviewers will also tend to look at how close they felt the poet or narrator as they read. In stories, readers always want to feel a connection with the characters and that doesn't change when it comes to poetry; readers of poetry also want to feel connected to the “character” (yes, as a poet, sometimes you must play role) in a poem.
         *Right*Imagery – If emotion isn't the strongest dagger of your poem, these reviewers will go to the imagery. If they can see the scene, that can create the emotional aspect that they're looking for. Look at a haiku; some can just take your breath away and it's all just creating a magical scene. That scene holds the emotion that these reviewers are looking for. Having rambled on about that, I'm sure you can see the importance of Imagery.

Emotional reviewers are fresh eyes, sometimes. Most of the time, they don't care about meter or form, etc... They just want to FEEL your words. When writing a poem, most of us are hoping to relay an emotion so these reviewers can be the most important. Who cares about a stray syllable with tears in their eyes? *Wink*


Reviewers in this category tend to look at the poem as a whole and go from there. Their reviews are short and sweet but can be very meaningful. What distinguishes them from other reviewers?
         *Right*At first glance, their reviews may be appear shorter. This is not to say discredit such reviews, but, as writers of poetry, we know how much can be said in only a few words, so these reviews really have the potential to hold the most weight when we're editing, etc...
         *Right*Interpretation and/or Sum-Up – Some reviewers that lean toward this type will add an interpretation. While this is very useful as to the insight of how the reader “gets” your poem, it's not really a review; is it? Take that into consideration with the thank you that you give. A summary of your own words, to me, is also something that should be taken into consideration. It's always nice to know how someone interpreted your words, but if they're just telling you what you've written, that's not a review.
         *Right*The Good – These reviewers usually make note of the highlights within your poem. Most of the time, “hearing” your strengths is just as important as being directed toward your weaknesses.
Evaluational Reviewers may use few words, but, sometimes, that's all that is required. I mean, who among us hasn't typed up a review and thought, What more can I really say?? We must acknowledge that, sometime, evaluation reviewers are just summary reviewers –They are saying all that they can in as few words as possible. That makes them special and unique because, without all the fluff, their words are more likely to stick with us. Of course, we could also feel short changed by these reviewers, so, yeah... 'tis a fine line. *Wink*

So, now that we've looked at those three categories, do you find yourself in your one or more? Can you appreciate a review more or less when looking at it from another angle?

Personally, I think that a review should capture the essence of all three, but that's not always possible –an rarely feasible. When you write your poems, you most likely do it from your heart. When you review poetry, to me, you should review first from your heart and then from your head.

Stephanie Grace

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