Sunday, July 02, 2006

Poetry by Committee?

Suzanne Frischkorn’s latest post: “Who Do You Share Your Poems With?”, is an intriguing one. It forced me to answer a question that exploded (or perhaps imploded) into many other concerns with regards to poetics & my poetry. I found the responses to the question posed by Suzanne at least as interesting as the original one.

What is implicit in the query is the importance of the process of revision that every poet must face when considering an early draft of a poem or one that is in the “not just there yet” category. The question here is: Is feedback a necessary evil (or an evil at all for that matter)? Some of the poets that responded to the question believe that a reader’s reaction to their work is beneficial while others would rather figure it out themselves trying to exclude the possibility that their poetry be tinged (tainted?) by an outside source.

Is a poem that we receive feedback to - no longer “our” poem? Do we sacrifice originality, perhaps even our voice & style - when we open the door to outside critique? What role, if any, should critique of our poetry play in the creative process? Or is critique “anti-creative” leading to a “poetry by committee” paradigm? These concerns all crossed my mind during my scrutiny of the issue.

Yet poets have been critiquing each other’s work for centuries. Surely, this poetic tradition cannot be valueless. I hope to come back to this & post a further analysis.

10 comments:

twitches said...

I don't just write poetry for myself; I write to share with others at some point. Therefore, I find feedback valuable. However, I'm always free to either accept or disregard any comments I receive. It's a balancing act, but I think it's a necessary one.

Nick said...

I am of the same mind - re: critique, but it doesn't appear to me that poets per se are all on the same page when it comes to criticism of their work. Thanks, I appreciate your response.

shann said...

I always pay attention to what someone says- even if it causes me to change nothing in the poem. It may make me aware of something in the next poem I write.

Or they may just be full of sh*t.

Nick said...

Yup, I had quite a *few* of those critics too! Flush the toilet & pass the toilet paper!

Travis Jay Morgan said...

I'm open to any critisism. It's up to me to determine which critiques I feel are valuable to me and will help me improve on my poetic adventure. Even those critiques where the critic totally misinterprets the poem can be valuable to me. If the poet can't handle critisism/perspectives of their poems then they shouldn't allow people to comment on them. A poet must determine why he or she writes poems and whom he or she is writing them for. Poets worried about being polluted from others critisism, give me a break. The fact that we allow critisism to bother us reflects our already polluted discriminative minds.

Nick said...

If the poet can't handle critisism/perspectives of their poems then they shouldn't allow people to comment on them.

Therein lies the rub! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Billy Jones said...

The only changes I make are correcting errors (spilling, punuctation, grandmer, etc.) my poems stand as they are written. That said: I try and carry what others tell me to future poems rather than doing rewrites.

I still stand by my sitemeter as the best judge of how good a poem is.

Nick said...

Still, if enough readers (that I trust) "just don't get" a poem that I'm workshopping I'll take a good hard look at it. Thanks for your take on this.

Collin said...

The best advice I was ever given was when someone critiques your work listen with one ear open and one ear closed.

Nick said...

Sound advice (excuse the pun)!