They Weren’t as Bad as I Thought

writing editingMy read and critique group meets the third Friday of each month.  We submit our pieces by midnight on the first Friday of each month,  One of our group leaders assembles them in a PDF document and emails them to us the following Monday or Tuesday.

Depending upon whether we are in two or three groups and how many people submit pieces, we each have four to six approximately 10-page submissions to read.  The guidelines say 10 pages per month, but people submit up to 19 pages so that an entire chapter can be included.  Most of the submissions are fiction.  A few are memoirs and occasionally someone submits poetry.

This month I submitted poetry that had been posted to this blog.  Titles included The Feral Wind, Assaulting the Beaches on Christmas Day, What Book is This,   How Fast Are You?, and a few others.   In the two weeks between submitting them and having them critiqued, I wondered why I had taken the easy way out and submitted poetry.  On a few of the poems like Feral Wind and Assaulting the Beaches on Christmas Day,  I had spent some time molding the words.  Most of the others were dashed off as quickly as I could get the words typed and the mispellings corrected. (Thank you Grammarly, even if I don’t always agree with you.)

Anything can be improved.  Removing most “the”‘s from The Feral Wind really smoothed out the flow.

Original lines

The playful breeze

Tossed birds into the air

To soar with the currents

Swoop with the downdrafts

Gliding and pirouetting

Between the cliffs of the cove and the point

Where the sea cave channeled the waves through the jutting land.

Revised lines

A playful breeze

Tossed birds into the air

To soar with  currents

Swoop with  downdrafts

Gliding and pirouetting

Between  cliffs of the cove and  point

Where the sea cave channeled the waves through  jutting land.

The other poems were critiqued because of imagery (or lack thereof like How Fast Are You which is just a word play on the number of words that end in fast like breakfast or steadfast.)  The uneven cadence in some poems like Be Leaf in Yourself were highlighted with re-write.  Everyone had a differing opinion on whether a poem had some or no meaning.

People seemed surprised and liked the variety.  No one shredded the poems with criticism.  The light hearted poems were as well received as the more lyrical or highly scripted poems.  I told them I was regretting the submission of some poems.  They asked which ones.  I said I would tell them after the poems had been critiqued.  The ones I had not wanted  to include were Be Leaf in Yourself and Valentine’s Day: Day of Love,.

Take away:  Be brave.  Let your work be judged. It is often not as bad as your inner critique would have you belive. The insights of others, may just improve your work.  It improved mine.

13 thoughts on “They Weren’t as Bad as I Thought”

  1. Yes, be brave!

    I read your Fast poem as just clever wording, for fun. I respectfully disagree and don’t think it needs imagery to be fun. I am super impressed at how “The Feral Wind” sounds after the “the” subtractions. It was good before and awesome now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good post Pat. I had to come back to this to comment. I’m always interested to hear how various writing groups work. My critique group meets the third Thursday of the month – this week in fact – but it strictly poetry. Two poems per poet, submitted Monday before, collected and distributed to everyone on Tuesday by our fearless leader, who keeps the workshop small to no more than 7 so we go in-depth on each one. (If anyone was curious!) I completely agree with you on being brave and submitting your work to the process! Over the years that I’ve been going regularly my poetry has improved, but I’ve also learned a lot about different styles of poetry, and understanding what makes a poem good.

    RE your “Fast” poem – it’s FUN! Not all poetry has the same end-game. They can be political, a call to arms, lyrical, spiritual, educational, or just fun for entertainment. It’s all good. … hmm… I might have to blog about this! ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d look forward to reading your post. With my Fast poem, I realize that I like wordplay in ways that do not occur to other people. It’s fun and allows me to exercise my brain in new and creative ways. If it’s not what other people want, that’s ok. I’m sure that even these fun poems can be improved. Since you are a poet, I was looking forward to reading your comments. Your poetry critique group sounds helpful.


      1. I don’t have any critique for you on “Fast,” but I think it would be a great poem to read at an open mic, especially if you are the interested in and/or are able to bring a performance vibe to your poetry when you read. It lends itself to entertainment. I’ve been to enough open mics to know that sometimes a light/ fun poem is really needed and appreciated. It’s also publishable. Consider submitting that one to a journal (online or print) for children or young adults. It has the right elements: wordplay just for the fun of it, with some rhyme, and not dumbed-down. And let us know if you get accepted!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s easy to seem brave after you know the results. Between submission and the critique,I had many reservations about why I chose some of the poems. Thanks for the positive comment.


  4. Lovely piece .i think critical groups are great but I’m not sure they really works with poetry as it looks to me it is to personal to the interpretation from both sides, the reader and the writer.But of course this is just the opinion of a non poet🤷🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you about interpretation being personal. I did get some good tips on improving some of the poems. I also learned that some people can find deeper meaning in a poem than I ever intended. Thanks for commenting.


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