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Keep Criticism Constructive

Some Observations For The Critique Community

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 11 months ago 3 min read
An AI Nightcafe Creation By The Author


Vocal has four new Communities, and although they are not for me, I feel I need to have at least one post in each Vocal Community and I can always find a reason to write about almost any subject.

Here is the introduction to the new communities

These are just some observations on critique and criticism with some examples of my Vocal work. which you can pass judgement on if you so wish.

Throughout my life, I have been told that my work is rubbish, or should be better, with no indicators of how that can be achieved. Sometimes I have been told that I am wrong, with no reason given, the statement is enough. An example is that I was shouted down from saying that the classical piece "Also Sprach Zarathustra" was by Strauss. The shouter told me in no uncertain terms, in front of a group of people who backed him, that it was from "The Planets" suite by Holst.

I remember when I started my first job as a programmer, my manager was unhelpful, to say the least, and I thought I might be on my way out. A genius called Sean Pond showed a method for testing programs, and all of a sudden I could actually make things work and do what I want. He pointed out what I was doing wrong and gave me the methodologies to fix those things. That is what constructive criticism can do for you.

If you are going to criticize you need to have your facts right and ideally should tell the person you are criticizing how they can make their work right.

The Villanelle Example

For some reason, I decided to try a villanelle form and this is what I published on Vocal.

This was an imperfect villanelle and a Vocal Creator, John Welford,

told me it was imperfect, and in a conversation told me what I needed to do to get it right. A Villanelle uses repetition to emphasise a point which I had missed in the first one, which in itself is a good poem. I took John's advice on board and produced this, which John really liked.

This was a perfect piece of constructive criticism and then enabled me to have conversations about the villanelle form which resulted in this after a conversation about a Sylvia Plath villanelle with my friend Rachel.

This was the start of the villanelle becoming my favourite poetry form.

A Little More Constructive Criticism

For the recent Vocal "Short and Sweet" Challenge, the main criterion was to write a love poem using words of four letters or less. I set my self some challenges within this challenge, one was a double acrostic, and there was a poem in which every word was four letters, but the main challenge I set became a totally unexpected Vocal Top Story (my poetry seldom makes Top Story status, although my first Top STory was a poem). The poem was to contain a thousand words.

What happened here was that I included a lot of words that were more than four letters, and my friends and audience messaged me to point them out. This was brilliant because that would have precluded me from being considered for the challenge (though it is unlikely to place), but their help enabled me to rewrite the sections that were in error.

Constructive criticism should help the person receiving the criticism to get things right.

The poem below received unconstructive criticism, maybe you can check it out and tell me why.


I hope that this has given you some food for thought and I have dropped in a few pieces that you might like to drop your opinion or observations on.

If you would like something to get your teeth into, you can check out "Another Raven" the poem I am most proud of that I shared on Vocal. I have received a lot of praise for this and used it to close my dark poetry anthology

Critiquing this might be like a school assignment, but you can just read and enjoy if you are a fan of the work of Edgar Allen Poe.

I have included "Under Dub Wood" by the Dubwood Allstars for you to enjoy as you read. "Under Milk Wood" by Dylan Thomas is a favourite of mine and Richard Burton's voice is perfect for it, especially with the reggae backing and I used it for this villanelle.

Thank you for reading.

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About the Creator

Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

Weaver of Tales, Poems, Music & Love

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (7)

  • Tina D'Angelo10 months ago

    I hate criticism, so don't even try it. Instead of criticizing I encourage with suggestions. Having been brought up in a critical home, I physically cringe when I hear someone getting criticized

  • Novel Allen11 months ago

    I welcome positive and negative and constructive. That is how one learns. Better to be corrected and get it right than keep making the mistakes over and over. Totally agree.

  • ThatWriterWoman11 months ago

    So true Mike! I also like to try and give the person I am critiquing some encouragement. Something like 'don't be afraid' or 'go for it'!

  • Well said, my friend.

  • Cathy holmes11 months ago

    Constructive criticism is welcome. Insults are not. I hear ya. Good article

  • Mother Combs11 months ago

    Great advice

  • Mariann Carroll11 months ago

    I agree, critique to be helpful not to put someone down 🥰🥰🥰🥰

Mike Singleton - MikeydredWritten by Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

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