Thursday, December 29, 2005


I recently had the opportunity to judge a poetry contest for an organization that wanted to make the contest more objective, so they attached an evaluation sheet to each poem. I was asked to rate the poems on factors such as fresh imagery, evocation of feeling, originality, use of language, and grammar/typos/punctuation. At first I was really resistant to the idea of using a form to evaluate a poem, but through the process I unearthed some of my own prejudices about writing: punctuation that slows a poem, poems that tie everything up in a neat little bow, tired language, and weak rhymes. And I found that the poems I liked the best by gut instinct were in fact the poems that received the highest scores according to the form. All this to say, it doesn't hurt to use a checklist to evaluate a poem. Today, examine one of your own pieces by the above standards. Know your prejudices, and be aware of your strengths and weaknesses.

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