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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1858070-My-Poetry-Review-Notes
Rated: E · Non-fiction · Reviewing · #1858070
An ongoing process as help for constructive reviews.
         You are probably reading this because I included a link as part of a review I gave your item, as opposed to including all of this in the review body.  Within this document you will find an explanation of how I review, the motivation behind the review, and the meaning behind any emoticons I might use.

         I do not do unsolicited reviews; I target items that can either be found on pages like "Please Review, give GP’s which inherently implies a request for a review, or by direct request from the author.  I will specify in the review where I found your work.

         I must let you know that I have a hard time critiquing poetry; I find myself ill equipped to do so.  I find a great deal of poetry hard to understand, especially if you take away the ‘Dr. Seuss’ rhymes.  Not that I don’t try: I have tried to read poetry, I have tried to study poetry, and I often troll WDC looking for poetry that might spark an understanding, but thus far it eludes me.  In short, I can’t tell you with authority if your poem is poetically correct or a mess, a masterpiece or a flop.

         So why am I here?  I am here to learn so that I can write helpful poetry reviews and because I found something I liked about your poem, (whether for the right or wrong reasons), and it would be rude not to mention it.  It is the worst possible type of review, one in which I tell you what I like, but offer no criticism; it may not hinder, but neither does it help.  To review stories I have created a template where I can check through plot, voice, scene, and such, with military cadence.  The orderly format I use here is a facade for a very loose review, and I apologize ahead of time for not understanding your poem enough to give you effective criticism.  Hopefully the how and why I review will be more apparent once you read on.  I will start with the emoticons I use.  One note:  ignore the colors I use for the emoticons, I regularly switch them depending on my mood; that way, if I’m in a bad mood I’ll take my ire out on the emoticons instead of the review.

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Emoticons :

         *CheckR* – Marks things I looked at, and is usually followed immediately by what I looked at in bold, such as:  *CheckR*Poetic structure: .

         *Bullet* – If there are several points about something I’ll use bullets.

         *Dollar* – You’ll like this one.  If I find something I really like about a piece, I’ll put a dollar sign next to it in the review, and yes, I will send a few GP’s along with the review.  When I go to a bookstore I’ll read the cover and a chapter or two of a book I’m interested in; if I like what I see, I’ll reward the author by buying the book.  This is the same principle; I’m rewarding with GP’s what I like to read, hopefully encouraging the author to write more of the same.

         *QuestionG* – I’ll use this if I have a question about something.

         *Puzzle4* – I use this if I don’t understand something or am not quite sure what you are trying to say.  To you this may be good or bad.  Perhaps I’m not in the target audience, maybe everyone who is, ‘gets’ it, or maybe nobody does and it needs work.  Only the author can evaluate the value of the reviews an item receives.

         *Heart*, *Smile*, etc. – I won’t get into these here; nowadays they’re as common as words and self-explanatory.

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Review Outline:

         *CheckR*Title and genre :  Before I read your poem I will read the title and, in conjunction with the genre(s) you have given it, tell you what I expect to find.  I will not edit this section of the review after I read the body of the poem, and it may or may not agree with the rest of the review.  If you are having trouble with your title, hopefully this will help you.

         *CheckR*Emotional investment:  In short, there has to be a point to your poem.  In a story this might be considered the plot.

         *CheckR*Wordage and imagery:  I will tell you what images your choice of words have produced for me.

         *CheckR*Poetic structure:  I will attempt to analyze the structure of your poem. 

         *CheckR*Grammar, spelling, etc.:  This is the nitpick section.  It is also one of the most important aspects of the review because it is an area where unintended mistakes can slip an author’s attention and mar an otherwise good poem.  Grammar/spell checkers are great, but they’re not perfect.  Grammar and spelling rules are deliberately broken all the time with good results.  I will comment on obvious mistakes that look as if they slipped past the author.

         *CheckR*Overall experience:  Here I will reflect on how the poem made me think, feel, believe, etc., and as with the rest of the review, it is meant to express what the piece means to me. You, as an author, after many different reviews, have to decide what overall experience you wanted to present, and if you achieved it.

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         *Star**Star**Star**Star**HalfStar*Ratings:  How can I rate your poem objectively, is my like or dislike real, or induced by the lack of understanding?  I will rate your poem based on the completed review, weighing heavily on my overall impression and deferring points of contention to a time when I am sure of my understanding of those points.  This may skew the rating I place on your poem higher than what is indicated in the review.  Be that as it may, I try very hard not to penalize for what I don’t know.  The following is a rough outline for the value I give the stars.

         *Star*  ▬   No redeeming qualities.  A work this low of stature, with terminal flaws not only in the foundation and structure of the story, but also in the mechanics, such that it is found to be unreadable, should not have been submitted for rating or review.  It is understood that the point of the review system is to supply the author with opinions that may help the author determine and correct flaws in areas like wordage and structure, but with spelling and grammar checkers, and the variety of free online dictionary, thesaurus, and search tools that are available, it is only laziness to submit works that are unreadable due to a high quantity of mechanical errors..

         *Star**Star*  ▬   Although the poem didn’t work for me, I can pick out individual elements that I liked, whether or not I believe that they will work together as a whole.

         *Star**Star**Star*  ▬   I liked the basic elements, and even though I think they may all need work, they are coming together as a whole.  It is my opinion that there is still a great deal of work left to be done.

         *Star**Star**Star**Star*  ▬   I was carried along with the emotion and flow of the poem, though there were elements that I felt needed strengthening.  All in all, though, it was an easy read and I liked it.

         *Star**Star**Star**Star**Star*  ▬   Perfection, and I sincerely hope that I will recognize it when I read it.  If your poem received this rating from me it was probably based on intuition; a sense that, understanding aside, I felt your poem was that good.

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         One final note:  I use my review notes as an ongoing process to help me do constructive reviews and, by such nature, it is under constant edit.  If you see a point where I am in error, by all means, review this item or flash me an email; if it helps me correct this piece I will, as always, reward with GP's.

© Copyright 2012 Alexander Briant (briant at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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