Drink & Draft Poetry Roadshow Writing Workshop (Online)

"I need about one hundred fifty drafts of a poem to get it right, and fifty more to make it sound spontaneous."

-- James Dickey

Critique Procedure

Be kind and tactful. Focus on the poem, not the poet.
Be specific. Name the words or lines. Give focused suggestions.
Be objective. Consider if the poem is effective on it’s own terms.


  1. Poet reads the poem out loud.

  2. Critique group members read the poem silently and mark it up with written comments.

  3. Discussion leaders facilitate discussion of the poem.

  4. 1st round is about what is working well in the poem.

  5. 2nd round is for areas of improvement.

  6. Poet remains silent and listens to comments by critique group.

  7. Poet makes any final comments or asks clarifying questions.

  8. Group passes all marked up copies of the poem back to the poet.


Critique Questions

When critiquing poems, consider these questions. You don't have to address all of them, but consider them a guide.


Message: What is the story or main point of the poem? Does it have both literal and implied meanings?

Organization & Patterns: How is the poem organized? Does it have any recognizable patterns? Does the organization of the poem make sense? 

Clarity: What parts of the poem are confusing / vague / too general / cliché? Which parts are specific and vivid?

Word Choice: Is the poet careful and economical with words?  Does the poet use strong verbs, concrete and specific nouns over adverbs and adjectives?

Imagery: Is the imagery specific, original and appropriate for the poem? Which images in the poem are most effective? Where can the poet turn an idea or emotion directly stated into an image? 

Space & Line Breaks: Do the line breaks and use of space help to enhance the message of the poem? 

Sounds: Is there rhythm or rhyme used? Are there certain letters in several words in a row? Is there a repeated phrase at the beginning or end or throughout the poem? Do any of these enhance your understanding or enjoyment of the poem?