False Praise is Not Enough

False Praise

False Praise is Not Enough

Is It Possible to Be Too Kind?

When you are a member of an online writing site/group you will meet a lot of like-minded people and probably make good friends from among these peers. The only trouble with this is that most people shy away from leaving comments that are not positive even if what they read isn’t up to standard. The truth is most people are just “too nice.” In order to improve as writers and poets, I feel we need constructive criticism, whether good or bad. No one likes to have their work criticised but it can be done with tact and in a way that encourages, rather than degrades.

False Praise is Not Enough

If I were to write a poem

That made no sense at all,

Every line just random words

With no real style or form –

Would you critique the poem with tact

And pretend you understand?

“Good poem, nice flow, well penned,

Your poetry is grand.”

Or would you give a true review,

Be honest for my good,

“This poem, to me, just makes no sense.

It’s jumbled, without flow.

I cannot find a message,

Its subject I don’t know.”

Some of our peers, or so it seems,

Just say things to be nice.

Even if our poem’s a fail

The truth will pay the price.

Buoyed by pride in all the praise

We submit it to be published.

The editor just takes one look

And thinks, “This poem is rubbish.”

If you are very lucky

You may get a reply,

Most likely a rejection

Something along these lines:

“Thank you for submitting

Your poem for us to read,

Unfortunately, it doesn’t meet

The standards that we need.

So please, my friends, be honest,

False praise is not enough.

Just tell me like it really is.

I’m a big boy and I’m tough.

So, it’s tough love I am seeking

To inspire me to improve.

I need critique, both good and bad,

Or I’ll stagnate in a groove.

by John Hansen © 2017

 

John Hansen

Longtime poet but not in the traditional technical sense. I enjoy rhyme but like to experiment and dabble in many different forms and maybe even make up some of my own. There is always a message or lesson I want to promote through my writing, for that reason, my poetry generally shies away from the abstract and obscure.

After a lot of procrastinating I have finally self-published my first eBooks of poetry "I Laughed a Smile" and "On the Wings of Eagles" at Lulu.com.Now I find myself branching out and experimenting with short fiction.

I have also been fortunate to have two poems chosen to be made into songs and recorded. The first "On the Road to Kingdom Come" by Al Wordlaw, and the second, "If I Could Write a Love Poem" by award-winning Israeli/British singer Tally Koren.

I am also finding my services increasingly in demand as a freelance writer and I have ghost-written the text for a number of children's books and educational tutorials.

It has taken me many years of searching and restlessness to realise that my life's passion is to write. It saddens me that I wasted so many years not devoting to that, but thinking positively, the experiences gained over those years is now wonderful material for my stories and poems.

I want to try to bring a new focus on poetry and try to make it appealing to a new generation of young people and those who thought they never liked or understood it before.
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John Hansen

Longtime poet but not in the traditional technical sense. I enjoy rhyme but like to experiment and dabble in many different forms and maybe even make up some of my own. There is always a message or lesson I want to promote through my writing, for that reason, my poetry generally shies away from the abstract and obscure. After a lot of procrastinating I have finally self-published my first eBooks of poetry "I Laughed a Smile" and "On the Wings of Eagles" at Lulu.com. Now I find myself branching out and experimenting with short fiction. I have also been fortunate to have two poems chosen to be made into songs and recorded. The first "On the Road to Kingdom Come" by Al Wordlaw, and the second, "If I Could Write a Love Poem" by award-winning Israeli/British singer Tally Koren. I am also finding my services increasingly in demand as a freelance writer and I have ghost-written the text for a number of children's books and educational tutorials. It has taken me many years of searching and restlessness to realise that my life's passion is to write. It saddens me that I wasted so many years not devoting to that, but thinking positively, the experiences gained over those years is now wonderful material for my stories and poems. I want to try to bring a new focus on poetry and try to make it appealing to a new generation of young people and those who thought they never liked or understood it before.

14 thoughts on “False Praise is Not Enough

  • June 13, 2017 at 3:43 PM
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    I think John that is all we ask of each other, or at least that is what i want from You and the others here, and rest assured, my critique is honest, always, and i hope thats yours is as well.

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  • June 13, 2017 at 3:44 PM
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    Nicely done by the way.

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  • June 13, 2017 at 4:18 PM
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    You state the need for constructive criticism very well, John, and I like your poem. Great job. I agree with Paul, “that is all we ask of each other”. I believe, in most cases, members give honest praise to the author of a post. I have often been told I am “too kind” in my comments, but as Paul said: “rest assured, my critique is honest, always,” – that is true of mine also. To point out spelling and grammar errors is very helpful and I have seen it done often in a very kind way. I think the kindness all members express comes from mutual respect and sincere acceptance of each other because we have a warm and amiable community. We do need to observe and accept constructive criticism, which I believe will strengthen our community. I recently had two comments deleted because I pointed out some errors, yet did so in a friendly way. To just delete such a comment is so not a good idea. Thanks, John, for writing your message and poem.

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    • June 13, 2017 at 4:24 PM
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      Thank you, Phyllis. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t feel anyone should delete comments pointing out errors in their work. To me it is more embarrassing to have published work be read by others and it has glaring mistakes that taint it. I often point out errors and offer constructive criticism to new writers at HubPages for instance. Keep being honest in your comments.

      Reply
  • June 13, 2017 at 4:20 PM
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    Thank you for that, Paul. I really appreciate that you will always be honest in your comments and say it like it is. I try to do the same. If I cannot connect to a poem but the writing is still good (I realise we can’t all like everything) I may choose not to comment. I was told at another writing site not to let generous comments go to my head because no one there likes to give bad comments and if your work was somewhere else it may be critiqued more harshly.

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  • June 14, 2017 at 2:13 AM
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    Well said John, and often I’ll see work that is a little generic but say nothing as I don’t want to hurt feelings, even though I would relay my concerns tactfully. Its a good point and if we all agreed to accept real criticism, we would all grow and be better off. Well done my friend.

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  • June 14, 2017 at 2:26 AM
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    Yes, Tony if everyone could accept constructive criticism we would all benefit. You can be truthful with tact.

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  • June 14, 2017 at 3:52 AM
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    John, is it okay if I put your introduction to this post in the newsletter with the link to read the poem?

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  • June 15, 2017 at 6:13 PM
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    The tenor hear is important to grasp. I don’t mind them but sometimes I get a correction from someone whose personal style I do not like. Grammar Nazis who don’t see that I write sentences backwards so we look at the thought in reverse.
    But I still keep up with them and know it is just that,, well some of us break rules for effect. Thanks for highlighting this cool concept.

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  • June 15, 2017 at 8:34 PM
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    Yes, Eric, I agree that sometimes happens to me as well. Fortunately, with poetry I can claim “poetic licence” 🙂 I was really referring to those who offer praise for the writing when you know yourself it isn’t really up to standard, rather than offend. I prefer not to comment if I truly don’t like something. Grammar is not my strong point and I feel there should always be a little latitude there. It was good to receive your comment here at TCE.

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  • August 1, 2017 at 4:21 PM
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    I cannot stand your poetry, John. Just kidding! I truly cannot find anything on anyone’s writings in which to give constructive criticism. I love everyone’s writings. I really do!

    I have come across poems that are sad, whimsical, flowery, heartbroken, funny, have deeply embedded meaning, loving, spiritual, enlightening… There are so many varieties of flavors on here, but none that I felt needed to be changed in any way.

    I guess I do have a bit of Feedback in that I noticed that submitting way too many poems all at one time can leave one with less comments and viewers simply because there are, then, just too many writings from one person in which to view, and/or comment on.

    I know from my experiences with writing that it’s nothing personal if someone gets very few comments or views. It might just be a “time of day” issue, a tiny “glitch” in Search Engine function, only so many hours in the day, and so many other reasons that really have nothing to do with the individual’s actual poems. On Hubpages, I barely got over 50 Views per poem. But, on TCE, I am getting many more. Maybe it’s because Hubpage isn’t really the site for Poets. On Facebook, I had issues trusting Friend Requests. But, on Twitter, I had over 350 Friends. Tumbler: Still trying to understand it. But, still, it amazes me, all the differences. A lot has to do with how much time a person is willing to befriend others in order to raise their exposure. And, there really is just not enough time in the day to keep up with it all. If time wasn’t a factor, I’m sure we’d all have millions of Friends, Viewers, and Comments.

    BTW, excellent poem, John!!

    Reply
  • August 1, 2017 at 6:15 PM
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    Hi, Tamara. Even if you read this poem and told me you hated it (as long as you gave a reason) then I would be happy. I would learn from the comment and make sure I tried not to do the things the reader didn’t like, if possible, in the next poem I wrote.
    I find that those who post a lot do get fewer comments because readers only have so much time to spend reading and they try to be fair spreading that over as many of their colleagues as possible. I know I do. I also like to encourage the new writers or those who only post now and then, so I try to give their posts preference. I got a lot of views and comments on HubPages simply because I have been there so long, not that I am exceptionally talented as a writer 🙂
    You are right though, there is very little to criticise in the work of the writers on this site….they are some of the best. Thanks for the wonderful comment.

    Reply

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