Hints for Reviewing Poetry

Poetry is a form of artistic expression that uses language and because of it's subjective nature poetry can be fun to read but difficult to review. Critiquing poetry is just like critiquing any for of objective art. It is just like a painting, where one person may look at it and find it aesthetically pleasing another person may look at the exact same painting and be disgusted by the way that it looks. Poetry has the same effect. You either like it or you don't like it. Depending on how the author has approached the composition you may be intrigued or bored, enticed or just plain not interesting. Poems, which can come in all sorts of variations, really can be difficult to meter by quality this why we use other criteria to judge whether or not a poem has been successful in it's execution.

  1. Consider whether or not the author has clearly defined theme
  2. All poems should have a point, even if that point is to be nonsensical. No matter what the poem is about the theme(s) should be obvious. When you review a poem you should be able to pinpoint exactly what the intended theme was.

  3. How has the author used language to express their ideas?
  4. Remember before when we said that poems were a lot like painting; imagine that language is the paint- how has it been used? Just like there isn't a right way or a wrong way to paint a picture there isn't a right or wrong way to right a poem however, you can judge the quality of painting based on the artists ability to use the paint, just like you can judge the quality of poem based on the author's ability to use language to express themselves.

  5. How is the vocabulary?
  6. Another thing that you want to look at when evaluating a poem is the vocabulary (word choices) that are being used. Keep in mind that the point of poem is to choose every word carefully in order to express an idea or point. When you read the poem do you feel like the author has chosen a vocabulary that suits the theme?

  7. What thoughts or feelings does the poem provoke?
  8. You can also judge a poem based on the thoughts and feelings that it provokes the reader once they have finished reading it. The emotional response that the poem inspires should also be expressed within the review.

  9. Does it satisfy a purpose?
  10. Art for the sake of art is a common sentiment, however when you review a poem you still need to think about the whether or not the poem satisfies a purpose. What this means is that does the poem make sense? Does it have a clear message? Is the author's intention obvious? These are all questions that you are going to want to ask your self when you compose a poetry review.

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