|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #109|
For the sake of argument, let us say there is a feeling that most of those posting poems are not interested in developing--not the poem or as poets. Rather, they may be Self-Propelled Attention Seeking Members ("SPASMs") using the forum as a vanity outlet and/or egomaniacs testing the critics' ability to recognize "flawless" poetry when they see it. Let us say that their attitude is apparent in the way they ignore or respond to critiques.
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #100|
Easy-peasy. So, what's the problem?
Let us say that, judging from threads to this effect, the quantity and quality of critiques is said to have declined. The reason would be obvious: members don't want to waste precious time and energy critiquing verse at length, only to discover that the author is merely showcasing. The poem listing is now a minefield, each piece likely to blow up in your face if you deign to critique it. New poets will see this behavior and follow suit. New critics may be faced with frittering away months or even years discovering who the triflers are. Inevitably, members will ignore poems by anyone they don't know [is serious about improvement]. This creates a perception of cliquishness.
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #94|
Critical thinking is the third leg of the stool, along with absorbing technique and reading a lot of poetry. Aside from the rec.arts.poems newsgroup, there are few, if any, better sources of this than Eratosphere and Poetry Free-For-All. Seeing someone else's work being examined has an advantage of objectivity; it isn't our ego on the line. Unfortunately, the status quo [dis]regards onlookers as "lurkers", one or two steps removed from voyeurs. If the poet turns out to be a vanity poster or a megalomaniac and spectators aren't actively encouraged, who benefits from reading these critiques? A great resource could be wasted.
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #80|
Sometimes semantics are everything. There may be many people who are more willing to accept analysis than criticism, even if the actual texts are identical.
¹ - Zoetrope calls them "reviews", but directs them privately and unproductively at the poet.
² - Unlike critique, analysis can extend to finished pieces, serving as a measure of the poem, poet, editor and publication. Personally, I don't see this as a problem, especially with the Frederick Seidels of this world obliterating any qualitative distinction between published and unpublished work.