On Critiquing a Poem


I have come to love the words of the critic whether good or bad, though the latter was, in the distant past, quite difficult to take.

Basically, I think critiquing a poem is one of the best things poets can feed on to pen down better works.
I simply see it as one’s thoughts on another’s work. One can choose to heed to it or not.

Anytime I read a poem, I like to share my thoughts on it. But I am mostly careful whose work I critique. Not everyone likes their work critiqued. There are several reasons why, but the simplest reason I can think of is that almost every poet sees their work as a personal piece of art.
But I have come to realise that in order to get better at what we write we can at least let go off that part of us especially when our work is being critiqued.

Some critiques can be very unforgiving.
They are mostly seen as haters or enemies.Nevertheless,a hater or an “enemy” can disguise themselves as a critique.Whatever the case maybe you can choose to heed it or not.If not for anything at all you do have the sole right to choose.You can either respond to it or react to,it’s your choice.

Yes,there are professional critiques as well as the amateur but I personally think neither of them is “better” than the other.They both provide unique perspectives which can be very helpful.

The first time I received a harsh critique of one of my poems,which I have lost,was somewhere in 2006 when I shared a poem with a class mate on a piece of paper.She came the following day telling me how insulted she felt because I used a particular word in it – I’ve forgotten the word.
Initially I felt very bad that she felt offended by it.And it was just two years since I had only began writing poems so it was hard for me to take
But after careful consideration I realised what she said made sense.I distanced myself from the poem so I could have an objective view of it.I edited that word out and the poem still made sense.I considered other people who might feel offended by it and realised I could do away with it – it was a motivational poem,and that word kind of marred the aura of it.

Today,one of my best critics is Jesse Joojo Johnson.I always like to hear what he has to say on my poems.He can be tough sometimes but tough love can finely mould the weakness in you when timely applied.

One of the best people whose works I like to share my thoughts on is Dela Nyamuame (Efo Dela).It’s simply because he ever welcomes it so I’m always encouraged to take my time to read his work,whether prose or poetry.

Finally,I was glad to hear the opinions of two of the judges for the Ghana Poetry Prize concerning my poem, “The Leashed Goat Bleats.”
Through their words I saw a part of my poem which I hadn’t even seen.
That’s the beauty of sharing one’s thoughts on another’s works.

But sometimes after reading a person’s poem there seems to be very little left to say whiles the poet/writer might feel the need for more from the critique.
However long or short a critique is a critique.

I’m always open for people to critique any of my works.
I cherish your thoughts on my works.
I’m ever willing to learn.

I encourage Ghanaian poets to welcome the critique’s thoughts

Have a good week🙂

0533hrs GMT;18th November,2013.

8 Comments

  1. Michael Asiedu said,

    November 18, 2013 at 7:17 am

    Punctuations, sir.

  2. Efo Dela said,

    November 18, 2013 at 7:37 am

    I’ve tried a few time to critique poems but i can’t seem to. When i appreciate a poem, it’s more of a feeling than a thought so it’s difficult to put it in words.
    I always love it when u critique my poem. Doesn’t matter if it’s positive or negative

  3. ammakonadu said,

    November 18, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I got all the harsh ones when i started the creative writing course in my department.
    Jesus,Daniel! Dr. Adzei can move you to tears with his comments :”(
    But gradually I came to appreciate their (Him and Anyidoho) comments because it helped a lot.
    And about having nothing to say sometimes, one day I mailed him poem, he printed it out, brought it to class and handed it to me, no comments. So i went over to ask him and he said
    “I read over and over, and there was nothing wrong to see”
    Yes, that day I wanted to run home crying tears of joy and waving that paper in the air all the way to mama..😀
    Little did I know the higher you go, the tougher the critiquing. But it has helped and continues to help me. Humility is the word.

    thanks for sharing.

  4. wsgeorge said,

    November 18, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I agree with what you say. I see critique as an art form – just as the poet acts as the critic of nature, the critic acts as the critic of the poet. The lack of honest feedback will lead to poor poetry.

    I agree with Efo too. It’s mostly about feeling – but the skill is in putting those feelings into sensible words that will help the poet.

  5. LaudDePoet said,

    November 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I have asked for your thought on my pieces at the studio a couple of times because I think you critique well and with love unlike others

  6. LaudDePoet said,

    November 18, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    I love this write up my brother

  7. Michael Asiedu said,

    November 19, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Trust me, many of those who would give this post a thumbs up do not like to hear the truth about their works. A lot of hypocrisy going on in these our circles — and that penchant for political correctness too!

  8. Akotowaa said,

    November 23, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    With reference to the comment above, I’m not sure if “the truth about their works” is the same as what a person thinks.
    Truth is fact, opinion is not.
    One man’s meat, another man’s poison etc… Relativity and taste play huge factors.
    But that’s just my…opinion.😉


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