I’ve been thinking about something quite a bit recently, and thought I’d share my thoughts on this to make it crystal clear where I stand when it comes to poetry and the sharing, critiquing of and feedback for it here online. I may even add this to my profile in the near future in an attempt to prevent hurt feelings of those who don’t know me yet.
I write poetry. I don’t claim to be good at it or bad at it, but I write it. If you read it and it evokes something in you, great! If not, that’s perfectly okay, too. I don’t write poetry for others. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I write for me. I post it here sometimes (I have much more poetry not posted than is posted), but if and when I do, I don’t expect you to read it, give me kudos or comment on it. Don’t get me wrong, I like getting the feedback and constructive critiques, because I think every writer can improve and grow. Ego strokes are nice and they feel good. And to some extent, it could be argued that even having a blogging page is a very egotistical thing to do. But that’s another blog.
Now, I have been invited to and joined (and left) several poetry “groups” online. Each clique has a life of its own and if you are involved in enough of them, you get to know certain people and their styles, you see familiar writers because you move in the same social circles, so to speak. Talk about egos! Whew…everyone’s a critic and everyone has an opinion. That’s life. If you’re any kind of serious artist or writer, you better learn that from Jump Street – develop a thick skin, because there will always be someone better than you out there.
The whole reason for this blog is simply this: if you invite me to your poetry group, it would be NICE (not expected, mind you, but nice) if I thought you actually liked my work, not because you wanted to increase your readership or numbers. Being subscribed is a subtle way of letting someone know you like reading what they post.
I don’t pimp myself or my blogs, and only put up poetry here that I think might have a bearing upon a future version of me, OR if it could possibly help someone else. Again, if you like it, great! Thanks for reading. If you don’t, fare thee well and thanks for reading. It really doesn’t matter. If I really cared to the extent that so many people here online seem to, I’d be published already. Technically, I am published – but that is also another blog.
If I join a poetry group, then I do intend to participate, or at least comment and kudos people, but I don’t do so lightly. If I truly believe someone merits the kudos, I’ll gladly give one, and if I’m really impressed, I’ll leave a comment with constructive feedback. But not everyone deserves them…they can go get their gold star for the “effort” from their friends and family – I’m too honest to be their baby-sitter.
I am no expert in poetry, but I refuse to give people ego-strokes simply because we all belong to the same poetry clique/group. I think that can build a false sense of confidence in writers and then when they attempt to submit their work to professional editors, their work gets ripped to pieces or they constantly get rejection letters because of poor grammar, spelling or form, etc. Then they don’t understand why, because their poetry “friends” here online have been telling them the whole time how wonderful and fantastic their work is. How fair is that?
If asked, I’ll give my honest opinion of something. If impressed, I’ll give it anyway, asked or not. It CAN be done tactfully (think of sandwiching a negative comment/remark between two positive ones – it cushions the impact of the negative), and there is no need for hurt feelings or bruised egos. We can all learn from one another. But don’t guilt trip me, coerce or threaten our “friendship” for my ability or inability to keep up with every other group member or poet out there posting their idea of what poetry “is”.
As someone with a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Creative Writing, many years of experience of proof-reading, editing and submitting papers and many years of working in libraries, I’d like to think I have a fair idea of what constitutes “good” writing, be it poetry, prose or otherwise. Please don’t condescend to tell me what my opinion of such should be. I think for myself and don’t believe in giving people false praise just because others do it, or because it means I will have more “friends”. I’m always open to new friendships and new ideas, but I don’t compromise my integrity.
As always, thanks for reading. 🙂