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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/703721-On-Reviewing-Etiquette
Rated: E · Editorial · Educational · #703721
My thoughts on how NOT to review other people's POETRY
One of the first days I was a member, I was browsing through and found a portfolio at random. The title of the piece was something innocuous, but the person's bio said that they loved to write poetry, but weren't any good at it. So I took a look at the poems housed within.

I found them to be wanting from my point of view, and thought it would be a nice gesture to rework the piece and make it flow better. So I did. I spent about 10 minutes and rewrote every single line, keeping the same general meaning and idea, but it no longer looked anything like the original piece.

I sent it to the person, along with an R&R, smiling, thinking I just did a really good thing.

I was wrong.

It made the person sad. They said that they really liked it (they liked it better than the poem they had written to begin with) but that it wasn't really theirs, and offered the poem to me. That wasn't what I was expecting. I didn't mean to hurt their feelings. I thought I was helping.

I never rewrote another piece for someone out of courtesy.

It wasn't until I started to get reviews of my own works rewritten that it really hit home. First off, some of the suggestions were simply ludicrous, some were just not me, and others destroyed what the poem meant personally to me.

Poetry is an art. It is a gift, sometimes an extension of one's soul. To rework someone else's poetry is to try and change something fundamental about them - their style, their rhythm, their flow. Every poet is different. Give 100 poets the same 100 words to work with and you will get 100 unique poems. Some you will like; some you will wrinkle your nose at.

When reviewing someone's poetry, you shouldn't try to make the poem sound the way YOU would have made it sound, but appreciate it for what the author wanted to share. Critique the punctuation, correct grammar errors, point out inconsistencies in rhythm or rhyme - but don't tear apart the poem and put it back together into something that pleases you.

Poems are our children. They may not be perfect, and some may be so misbehaved that others cringe when they come near, but they are still our children. We don't want them to leave home with 2 arms, 2 legs and a smile only to return home looking like Picasso was given a scalpel.
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