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How I judge poetry on "The Lighthouse Poetry Contests."
Punctuation In Poetry

1) Learn the rules before you break them.
2) When you break them, know why.
3) Don't be afraid to experiment.

Judging Process

First, I check the contest forum often to make sure all the new posts are done correctly. When a new entry is posted, I will read it out loud. This allows me to check the entry and make sure the rules have been followed. Also, it gives me a time to enjoy the poem before I need to be concerned about reviewing. Overall, I will read each entry between five to ten times.

Picking A Winner

My purpose for contests and critiquing is twofold: (1) Help the writer being critiqued to hone his/her craft. (2) To help me hone my own craft by analyzing what works, and what doesn't work. The following is a template of thoughts I use on poetry in general.

(1) Subject: If the poem is personal, does it rise above the individual and become more widely relevant? If the poem deals with one of the big subjects (like love and peace) does it show a new perspective?
(2) Opening Of The Poem: Is it titled or untitled? Does the title seem appropriate? Does it add to the poem, or is it a direct quote from the poem? Do the first lines establish an appropriate tone? Would a later part of the poem make a better opening?
(3) Sight devices: Are there enough specific image details? Are the metaphors and similes appropriate? Are any sections weak in visual images?
(4) Sound Devices: Is there any strong assonance -- vowel sounds? Is there any strong alliteration -- consonant sounds? Any problem with scansion of rhythm and flow? Anything special about the texture of sound?
(5) Sense Devices: What is voice or persona or point of view? Is diction consistent?
Any odd word choices? Is syntax appropriate? Sentence structuring? What is the totality of tone in the poem?
(6) Closure Of Poem: Do the last few lines seem right for ending the poem? Does the closure seem artificial or overwritten? Could poet get out of the poem in any better way? Should the poem be left suspended, with no closure?
(7) Placement On Page: Do the line breaks seem right? Enjambments? Does the poem have left-hand capitals? Why or why not? Can any punctuation be stripped away? Could line placements be arranged in any better way?
(8) General Observations: Can this poem be tightened in any way? Is there any rhetoric, generality or abstract words? Could any parts be developed more? Is it showing or telling? Don't tell me - show me.

Poetry devises I like to use with a short definition.

ALLEGORY - A symbol of something else and represents the human condition.
ALLITERATION - The repetition of a beginning sound - usually a consonant.
ALLUSION - A reference in a poem to another poem.
ASSONANCE - When words with the same vowel sound are used together.
CAESURA - A pause that breaks up a line or verse.
CONSONANCE - The effect achieved when words have the same stressed consonant sound, but not the same vowel sound (brick - black).
HYPERBOLE - An exaggeration.
IMAGERY - The creation of images using words.
METAPHOR - A comparison between two things that is really not applicable or literal.
METONYMY - A figure of speech where one word used to describe a subject is replaced by another.
ONOMATOPOEIA - Words that imitate sounds (splash - ouch - bang - chang)
OXYMORON - A figure of speech that contains contradictory expressions(awfully beautiful).
PERSONIFICATION - A form of metaphor. A form of speech in which inanimate or non-human objects are given human characteristics.
REPETITION - The repeating of words, lines, or stanzas.
SIMILE - Similar to metaphor in that it compares two objects, etc. However, similes make comparisons by using the word "like" or "as."
RHYME - Repetition of identical or similar concluding syllables in different words, most often at the ends of lines.
METER - When a rhythmic pattern of stresses recurs in a poem.

As a fellow poet, I realize we all take our liberties. So if it isn't hurting your poem, I will consider it taste. If it is hurting your poem, I will be specific in the review. As I always say, take only what is helpful and send the rest into cyberspace.
© Copyright 2011 Quihadi (quihadi at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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