Critique Guidelines

Here are some websites I use for critique:

I also love this list. I have it as a checklist. I do not remember where I got the checklist and can no longer find it. If you know where it came from, please comment below!

1. Read the poem silently and then read it aloud. It is a good idea to read the poem over several times.
2. What is your first overall impression of the poem?
3. What is it you like about the poem? Quote directly if possible.
4. What is it you dislike about the poem? If you don't like a poem, try to figure out exactly why.
5. Does the poem have a title? Is the title appropriate or vague?
6. Does the poem have a strong opening? Does it grab your interest right away? Does it set the mood of the poem?
7. What is the mood of the poem? Is it reflective, somber, joyous, and humorous? Is it effective?
8. What is the style of the poem? Is it general, narrative, rhetorical, didactic, abstract, and surrealistic? Is it effective?
9. Does the poem use a specific format such as a sonnet, sestina, haiku, ghazal, dramatic monologue, lyric or pantoum et al? Was it used correctly and effectively?
10. Is the poem written in rhymed or non-rhymed format? Is there a mixture of rhymed and unrhymed lines?
11. If rhymed format, is there a consistent rhymed format? Does the poet use exact or near rhyme? Is there a consistent rhyme pattern?
12. Does the poem appeal to the senses, i.e. the eye, ear, smell, tactile or the imagination?
13. What is the theme of the poem?
14. Is the theme an innovative idea or is it a rehash of an old theme such as love, angst, et al?
15. Could the poem be improved by use of stronger verbs or adjectives: e. g. use "scarlet" instead of "red" or use "scream" instead of "said"?
16. Has the poet avoided the passive voice and used active voice?
17. Are the verb tenses in the poem consistent or do they switch back and forth between past present?
18. Is there any technical or scientific jargon in the poem? A foot means one thing to a doctor and another thing to a poet? A mouse has different meanings for a biologist and a computer technician.
19. Conversely, are there any words that will have to be looked up in the dictionary or would more simplistic language be more effective?
20. Are there obscure references or words used? What state is Springfield in?
21. Are there too many words or could the poet delete words such as "and, a, the, but, so, etc. Look particularly at the first word on each line.
22. Do the line lengths vary? Are some overly short or overly long? Could they be made more effective?
23. Could any of the lines be inverted or written in reverse order?
24. Does the poet use any run on or enjambed lines? Are there places where the poet could use enjambment?
25. Are the line pauses natural?
26. What point of view is used in the poem? First, second or third person? Is it consistent or does it switch back and forth between persons and times?
27. Does the poem speak for itself or does the poet try to explain too much. Is anything added on the end by way of an afterthought?
28. Does the voice of the poet intrude in the poem?
29. Does the poet use literary devices such as metaphor, simile, personification or symbolism? Are these used correctly and effectively
30. If similes are used, are these fresh and innovative? For example the comparison of love to a red rose is an overworked comparison?
31. If metaphors are used is the comparison indirect and implied. Is the metaphor sustained throughout the poem?
32. Does the poet use imagery? Is it clear or vague? Can you visualize the images the poet is trying to convey?
33. Has the poet used sound devices such as assonance, consonance, alliteration, or onomatopoeia? Are these used correctly and effectively?
34. How does the poem sound? How does it sound when read aloud? Does the rhythm or cadence vary or does it sound catchy, ragged or monotone?
35. Is there any repetition in the poem? Is it effective or could it be eliminated?
36. Have any clichés been used in the poem?
37. Does the poet use stanza breaks? If not, should there be some and if so where?
38. Does the poem progress? There should be a reason why the first stanza comes before the second, the second before the third, and so on. Are there any stanzas that might be eliminated or switched around?
39. Are there any spelling errors or typos?
40. Is the poem grammatically correct or are there errors?
41. Does the poem use any capitalization? Are the beginnings of lines all capitalized or does the poem have a mixture of styles? Does the poem use "I's" or "i's"? Has correct punctuation been used with the capitals?
42. Does the poem use punctuation? Does the poem need it? Are there places where the poem could be improved by adding or deleting punctuation? Is use of punctuation consistent? Are there too many dashes or ellipses?
43. What kind of conclusion did the poem have?
44. Did the poem end in the right place? Could it have ended earlier?
45. Did it come to a natural sense of resolution or was the reader left with a feeling of wanting more?
46. Did you feel that the poem carried a message? If so, what was it? Was the message effective? Was the poem's format an effective medium for the message?
47. What are the strengths of the poem? Be specific and try to quote directly?
48. Is there an area where the poem could be improved? Offer positive criticism and be specific. Don't make a general negative statement. At the same time don't whitewash the poem with praise and say that the poem is so wonderful that you wouldn't change a word.
49. Can you sum up your critiquing in a sentence or two?
50. Have you avoided rewriting the poem?
51. Have you been constructive? Have you used words such as "Consider doing this" or "You might try the line this way". Have you been tactful? Will your critiquing make the poet feel defensive or encouraged?
52. Have you addressed the poet directly by name and have you concluded your critique with an encouraging message for the writer of the poem that you have critiqued?

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