This is not my first go at this post. As you may or may not know my wife proofreads all my blogs before I post them. Normally all she has to fix are typos and "brain farts". Occasionally she'll highlight a sentence or a paragraph where I don't make my point too well and that's fine. However, my original version of this post came back to me in neon. She says if I'd posted it in its original form I'd start a flame war and, after a feeble defence on my part, I caved in. I'm not one to court confrontation.
Okay, let's backtrack to what got me going in the first place. There were a couple of instances where I offered up some opinion on bits of writing I found lying around, one was in a forum and the other was a blog entry. The first poem I did a decent enough job on, pulled it to pieces, said what worked, what could work if this or that was tweaked and what they might think about leaving out. The reaction was an emotional tirade saying that if I didn't like her work not to review it in the future. In the second instance someone posted a couple of poems, that I actually liked, but I suggested a couple of minor changes. The response this time was a curt one line e-mail pointing out that she had not asked for criticism and did not appreciate it. I replied, in apologetic terms, suggesting she delete my comment and we'd say no more about it. When I checked the entire post had been removed.
In the first instance the poem had been posted in a forum and she was soliciting comments. Now, I have limited experience of these forums tending to stick to Zoetrope, but I've been on sites where it's obvious that all people are wanting to hear are compliments and I stay clear of them; this site wasn't like that and so I critiqued the poem to the best of my ability, probably a good 700 words if I can trust my memory. I doubt this individual had ever had a poem dissected like that.
In the second case they were quite right, she had not asked for the poem to be critiqued but I didn't. I commented on a couple of lines and that was it. I could understand removing my comment but the whole post? That seems OTT to me.
There is a third example, on yet another forum, which is worth mentioning. This time the person misread a comment which was not directed at her and launched a tirade of abuse at humanity in general. Eventually one of the other members grabbed her by the lapels and calmed her down.
You might have noticed that the three instances I've cited all involve women. Over the years I've also seen men go off on one. I really don't think gender is an issue here. Of the three instances above I know that one was a mature woman so age is not an issue either. The one thing they have in common is that they were all poets.
Why do poets have hair-triggers?
I used to be like that when I was young and full of myself. I'd fight tooth-and-nail over every comma. I believed that everything I wrote when in an inspired state was sacrosanct and could not be looked at sideways let alone criticised. God, I was an ass.
Now, if we're honest, no one likes criticism and there was a time when I would have ended up rowing with my wife for picking my article to pieces like she did but she pointed out that I was doing exactly what I was criticising these people for doing. I had set myself on a pedestal and was looking down my nose at them. And she was right. I'm better than I once was but the bottom line is that I don't suffer fools gladly. I'm sure it's an age thing.
My justification, since I feel I need one, for saying the things I do is that I believe it's incumbent on those of us who know stuff to try and pass it on. My intention is to encourage not discourage. I tried to do that with my own daughter and met a wall of resistance. I was trying to change her. I was trying to stifle her true voice. All the same sort of stuff I would've come out with when I was her age. She wouldn’t even show me most of her poetry. To this day I've probably only seen less than a dozen although I do have the only one she ever gave me framed on my bedside cabinet.
I sometimes wish I was an old Romantic but I'm afraid I'm not and my sensitive soul has withered away to nothing.
Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense