I hardly ever workshop poems. I like the idea of spending a little time with other poets and hearing what kind of feedback and advice gets thrown around, but I'm often too close to the poem in question to embrace any drastic changes. I feel like constructive criticism will mostly benefit the future poems that I have yet to write.
On a related note, my poem "Reasons Critics Insist I Make a Terrible Poet and/or Husband" (which is a cento of reviews of my first chapbook) will be published in the next issue of The Adroit Journal. I mention this because sending them work was like getting an unexpected workshop experience. Each poem must be uploaded separately, so the responses come in sporadically.
They were very quick about it (within the first week) and they even included lots of comments from their staff.
Here are some of their comments on the poems they didn't want:
We are sad to tell that it got rejected by a narrow margin. I think this is what happened to most of the poems you sent: we half-loved them. Here are some comments by the staff members:
This makes me chuckle, but I don't think it's enough to warrant a 'yes.' I'm pretty ambivalent about it. It feels like the poet broke the structure because he liked the ending way too much the way it was, and that lack of true intentionality is what's mainly putting me off this piece. Also, for such a short piece some of the lines seem almost like a waste
I love the premise here, but the ending doesn't feel like an ending to me
I wish the end of this poem was the beginning of a different poem
This is cute. I really like this poet's style, voice, word choice, whatever, but the topic here is just too average for me. It's a nice little moment, but that's all it is at this point.
I think the concept is nice, but there are graceless moments in the language that really put me off. Also, I'm not a fan of how the short sentences in the last two stanzas start sounding halting. The piece needs a better ear, I think...
Again, conceptually, I enjoy this piece. I wish he'd just stick with the narrative though and keep it interesting and cute, rather than try to turn it into an emotional melodrama
The first stanza feels like a bunch of throwaway images with no anchor, and I'm not convinced. Overall, I think the poem relies too much on its images and its other abstract, non-imaginable expressions that just fall flat
I think the poet is obviously talented, but some of these phrases seem to veer into Lady Gaga Lyric territory
I agree, though I did like the last phrase; it was the only part of the poem that gave me some sense of the narrator's personality. Overall, this poem feels too detached
While the poem develops a nice flow, I'm not into the subject matter, and I can't quite overcome the sense that the poet has yet to find their voice. I really like the ending though