Monday, December 10, 2007

ENGW 333/Fall 2007--Poetry Critique Guide

Print and read each poem scheduled for your group critique session, marking any passages or concerns that strike you as you read. Then take no more than 15 minutes to respond to the questions below, giving as specific a response as you can. You will give your responses to the poet, so make comments legible (type if you can) and references to the manuscript specific (stanza numbers, particular lines, etc.).

Reader Response(s)
1) As you finish the piece, record your initial response as a reader. Are you jealous? Overwhelmed? Confused? Thrilled? Eager to read more? Calmed? Reminded of something? What in the poem or poems most powerfully contributed to this response?

2) What conversations do you overhear as you read this work? Which voices (the poet’s, the artist’s, the audience’s, or other voices) most attracted you? Which ones compelled you to learn more in order to read the poem better? Which voices kicked you out of the poem?

3) What role does the artwork or song play in this ekphrastic piece? Is it central or peripheral? In what ways would you like to understand the work more fully—through the artist, through description, through reception, through context?

4) What role does the speaker or poet play in this ekphrastic poem? Where would you like to experience more distance between the speaker and the work? Where would you like to see the poet better collapse such a distance? How might he or she do this? How might your sense of this distance change as you encounter more poems in the grouping?

Formal/Technical Concerns
1) How does the writer’s choice of form fit or fail to fit with her artistic subject matter? What aspect of the form is he using with special skill? What aspect of the form could still be brought to bear on the poem? (For instance, perhaps the voice in a dramatic monologue is strong, but the writer hasn’t made use of the implied audience).

2) Which images in the poem are especially strong? Which sense does the writer use best? Which sense could he or she develop more here? Where would you like to see a particular image developed in more detail? Which image strikes you as a cliché? How could the poet write “through” the cliché?

3) Mark one or two lines in the poem that you think stand out above all others. What did you like about this line? Is it located in the most effective position? How does it make use of tension? How does it make use of meter? Which line strikes you as more random than it needs to be? Suggest another layer of choice the writer might consider in his or her lineation.

4) How effective or ineffective is the writer’s word choice/diction? Which particular words should the writer reconsider? Why should she/he reconsider these (connotation, sound, consistency of voice)?

5) What uses of sound--rhyme, alliteration, assonance, etc.--fit well with the sense of the poem? What choices seem overdone or under-considered?

6) Characterize the voice in this poem. Is it strong, reflective, consistent or inconsistent? How could the writer better establish the speaker’s voice?

7) Which use of figurative language in the poem drew your attention (metaphor, simile, personification, etc.)? Where could this writer consider using a stronger or weaker comparison? Where do you see mixed or inconsistent figures of speech that need to be made more consistent?

Harder Revision(s) (answer at least one of these and no more than two)
1) What is the central emotional core of the poem? Where do you think the writer best demonstrates this as a grounded/embodied feeling? Where does he or she miss a chance to emphasize or offer more connection to this sensation? Where is he sentimental?

2) What thought/idea/term in this poem is used in a lazy way? Where could it be better defined or made vivid? In whose voice could this abstraction/thought be better conveyed?

3) Where do you find the poet moralizing? Has she earned this? Tell her what she must do to talk to you this way.

4) Does this poem fit your understanding of ekphrasis or musical ekphrasis? Does it expand your sense of these kinds of poetry? Tell the writer what he has done to make you clarify or revise your definition.

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