When it comes to poetry I am never a critic nor do I want people criticizing my poetry. Lots of people misunderstand why I take that position. And it isn’t because of any narcissism or insecurity. I have anxiety and suffer from depression, and can feel insecure and fear being judged. But that isn’t about my work. That is about feeling left out, bullied, awkward and I have trust issues. But again, that is not about my work. I defend both my crappy work and my good work. Here is why.
I do not want people thinking because I don’t take criticism it means I am insecure. No, it means I am not afraid of making mistakes and letting people see my bad work. I do not dwell on trying to fix a broken car,. I simply move onto the next poem. Much like a high speed photographer will take 100 pictures, but you only see maybe 10 of them out of the lot. I simply put it all out there. If I slaved over every poem obsessively I would be paralyzed and would never be able to write at all. I would rather write 100 crappy poems to eventually get to that one that is publishable. And with all art, it only takes one.
NOW that is not to say nobody should ever seek advice on making art. If you want advice by all means ask for it. I only say don’t force your advice on others. If they want it, give it. If they don’t ask for it, don’t give it.
I also do not presume what others should like, or how they should write. I will always tell someone when I like something or a line here or there. But if I do not say anything, I am not saying your work is bad. Art is subjective and I do not get to tell others a work is good or bad. I can only say if I like it.
I have lots of unknown poets on social media who have written things that blow me away, and also at the same time write other poems that I am not into or don’t like. So again, since art is subjective, I limit myself to telling someone if I like something. If they ask me for advice, I will tell them I am not the person to do that because I do not presume what other people should like or how they should write.
I will never claim every single poem I have written is a masterpiece, only a deluded person would think that. I am simply saying that everyone I read, and including myself, will write things people get and like and at the same time write things other people may not get or may not like. That is why I do not like being a critic, nor do I seek advice myself.
2 responses to “Critics, OP ED”
Well said, Brian, and thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this. I do understand how you feel. Having chronic anxiety isn’t easy to deal with as it’s something I experience, too, although I don’t talk about it often. This is your personal blog, and you are free to publish anything you want, regardless of anyone else’s views or opinions. I might not comment on every post you write, but I can assure you I read each one of them. I enjoy what you write; otherwise, I wouldn’t be following you and reading your work. Keep writing, my friend.
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Ellie, this isn’t about you. I know you like my work. This is about other people who force their advice and opinions unsolicited. I have had that happen for the past 30 years, so it is nothing new.
At the same time, by saying I don’t want advice, that is not saying I shit gold every single time. Nobody does. I simply don’t dwell on the broke stuff and move on to writing something new. I know eventually I will write something I know is good so the bad stuff people may see is irrelevant. My flaws are part of me and I could not write at all if I was paralyzed with fear.
My anxiety and depression, are not about my work, but feeling socially awkward, especially with people I first meet.
Anne Sexton did a reading of her poetry at Goucher College in 1974. I listened to it. On YouTube At one point she announced a poem and said something to the effect of “This isn’t one of my better poems”. She was a master, and I love her. But I do not like every single one of her poems. But she did include that in her public readings and admitting one is not perfect is liberating to me.
I want all my work to be seen, not to demand people like every single piece, but because flaws and all it is me, it is who I am.
And you are at the top of my list of favorite poets. You have an awesome tendency to be simplistic and powerful in your imagery, compelling, descriptive, but not so high pitched dog whistle metaphor to the point some poets do in sounding like an alien language from another planet.
You are honestly one of my top favorites.
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