What to say at workshops
It's not always easy to know what to say after hearing a poem.
Though we're not in competition with others, we don't want to
sound stupid. Remember it's a team effort, and whatever you say
can be built upon by others. If you feel confident you can try
to analyse the poem in depth, looking at these factors -
Then you could look at how these factors combine. Do they reinforce or is there ironic contrast?
- Form - Sonnet? Acrostic?
- Voice - who is the speaker? Is the language the speaker's own?
Is the tone angry? Reflective? Who is being addressed?
- Content - is there an argument, a hidden message?
- Imagery - Visual, aural, metaphors?
- Sound effects - Rhyme (type and frequency), Rhythm (regular or
Usually there's insufficient time to do this kind of analysis in full,
but you might concentrate on just one of the above, hoping that
the group collectively will cover all the points. There are other
ways you can be useful though
- What other poetry/poets does it remind you of?
- What was your first impression? How was that impression
modified by further readings?
- What aspects are good/bad/unexpected? (perhaps say 2 things
you like and 1 you don't)
- Does it start and end well?
- What's the poem trying to do? Does it work?
- Are the line breaks well judged? Are there spelling/punctuation
- Is there plot/viewpoint/character development?
- Is the title useful?
- Is anything expendable?
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Tim Love, December 1997.