Hello all,

For those of you who have visited dVerse throughout the years you might remember the pubtalk. A place to go and talk poetry or other topic… maybe to improve our writing, to discuss new ideas etc. On these talks there will be no prompts but as it’s OLN next later this week, maybe this talk can inspire you.

For those of you who expected haibun monday and quadrille they will all be back. Let us see what the frequence will be.

So today’s topic is one of the scariest but also most useful there is. How to give (and receive) constructive feedback.

Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.

Frank A. Clark

My own experience comes from courses I have taken in creative writing. Of course there are difference what you can say in a closed room than what you can say for all the world to read. It is not just sensitive to receive but also to give constructive feedback.

It takes time to give good feedback, so I don’t expect it to be part of what we normally do in the comment section in our poetry prompts. Sometimes the best thing is to send constructive feedback separately on an email.

I have a few rules for courteous constructive feedback I try to use when possible.

  1. Avoid to review a poem — of course it is always nice to hear how much a poem is loved or how good you think it is, but the purpose of feedback lies not in weather it is good or bad. It lies in how the poem can be improved. Feedback is from poet to poet.
  2. Avoid to be an editor — Editor works on a one to one communication and do suggest ways a poem can be changed. With constructive feedback you hint to the poet on ways the poem can be improved. As with every rule there are exceptions, and personally I do not mind feedback on spelling or grammar.
  3. Focus on content first — When you write about a poem try to tell the poet what you felt, what emotions and associations it evoke. To avoid that this feels like editing or reviewing, remember to phrase your feedback using first person. Start your sentences with I feel, or I interpret. Be specific and try to tell why you feel a certain way.
  4. Give feedback on form secondly — Many of us spend time using our poetic toolbox, such as rhymes or meter, assonance or consonance (even when it’s unintentional).
  5. Never review the reviewer — This applies to both the poet and other reviewers. To give feedback can be even more uncomfortable than writing the original text. You often give a piece of yourself, and your views are your own.

For poets who receive feedback, you do not necessary have to agree. We are all writers and have different styles

The best compliment a poet can give from a feedback is not just thanking for the feedback, but to actually rewrite the poem. Try to do that, and you will see a wonderful response.

  • Have you ever been in a group where you have shared constructive feedback?
  • What did it feel like? Did it change over time?>
  • Did you ever set the rules beforehand? Were there any teachers/experts giving feedback?
  • Have you ever rewritten a poem based on feedback?
  • Can feedback be given on an open platform like dVerse?

Leave your comments below, and take part in the discussion.