woman working on laptop

How to Get the Most From Your Poetry Feedback

If you’re on a journey to improve your poetry, feedback is essential. Whether you’re looking to get published or simply interested in personal growth, a few insightful comments can make a world of difference. However, there is an art to giving and receiving feedback. If you’re ready to have your work critiqued, here are seven tips to help you make the most of it. 


1. Choose carefully. 

There are a few things to keep in mind when considering who to ask for poetry critiques. First, consider your relationship with the person. A close friend or family member who doesn’t read much poetry might be supportive, but they may not offer the most insightful comments. You’ll also want to consider genre. A poetry buff who favors traditional forms may not be best suited to critique free verse, and vice versa. You’ll also want your critiques to come from a diverse set of perspectives. Consider the age, background, career, education level, etc. of the people you request critiques from, and remember that their interpretations may differ based on their life experiences. Even how well the reader knows you can influence their perspective. 


2. Prepare yourself.

Be prepared to hear both positive and negative comments on your poetry. The point of feedback is to improve, and criticism is essential for growth. Remember that good feedback is never personal, and anyone you request feedback from should have your best interest in mind. Remember that you and your readers should be on the same team, not working against each other.


3. Watch for common themes.

When you do receive your poetry feedback, compare different responses and look for common themes among them. Are several reviewers confused about the same line? Are many of them moved by a certain idea? If something sticks out to multiple people (good or bad), it’s always worth looking into.


4. Wait to respond.

When your poetry feedback is fresh in your mind, it can be hard to process it fully—especially if some criticisms were hard to hear. Give yourself time before responding so you can ensure you understand the feedback as best you can, and you’re not responding out of anger or hurt. 


5. Ask questions. 

If you’re unclear, ask questions! Feedback isn’t helpful if you don’t understand it. Don’t be shy to ask someone to clarify their comments. In the end, it’s a better use of their time and yours if you gain something valuable from the experience, rather than place a confusing comment card in the bottom of a drawer.


6. Ignore the personal.

As stated previously, poetry feedback shouldn’t be personal. Ideally, if you’ve chosen your critique team carefully, the folks responding should support you and your personal growth. However, some people may not always be so constructive. If the feedback you receive seems less about the poem and more about you, set it aside. Even personal praise that is meant to be kind isn’t helpful if it doesn’t address the poem directly. Spend your time and energy on the comments that advance your growth as a writer.


7. Say thank you. 

Be sure to thank the people who offered their feedback. Even if you disagree with what they said, let them know their time is valued. If they are a fellow poet, you may offer to return the favor. Let them know they can think of you in the future when they are looking for critiques.