How to Comment on Poetry

in poetry •  2 years ago  (edited)


Making good comments is hard, but it's especially hard with poetry. This is a quick how-to that should help you through writing great comments.

I think any poet who has ever ventured to post their work on the internet for others to consume has experienced The Silence. The Silence is a term I came up with to describe the lack of meaningful comments after posting your poem on a forum of any kind. You can imagine us thinking and contemplating the words in our heads then coming alive when they start to click. As our fingers feverishly fill pages with typed or handwritten words (@bleedpoet), we may be thinking, "Yes! This is the perfect way to word this!" We finish it up, make it look pretty then post it on the net for the world to see, and then we wait....

and wait...and check it again...

...and wait...

And that is The Silence. We wait and often are never acknowledged, with the exception of those wonderful people who say things like "Nice post, I upvote you please do same for me to". God bless those guys because sometimes, I like to pretend that they actually read my stuff, and I thank them or ask them their favorite part. Err..ok that makes me sound lame. Forget I said that. I'm a really cool dude.

Anyway, I understand. I really do. Poetry is hard to comment on...even for other poets. We know we like it, but even we might not be sure as to why. I mean poetry is not always meant to be clear and concise. We use weird metaphors, strange words, no punctuation, weird timing, some use rhymes, other don't. It's just not always easy to decipher. So a lot of us would rather not share what we think about a poem out of fear that we may be wrong. Here's the thing; you have nothing to fear because you're never wrong. A professor of mine once told me a valuable lesson:

You get from art what you bring to it.

Remember that, and know that your thoughts are a reflection of what you bring. With that in mind, I have made a step-by-step method to employ for making thoughtful comments on poetry. Without further ado, I give you:

@Moeknows step-by-step guide to commenting on poetry

  1. Read the poem (they're often quite short)
  2. Read it again (think about the words and pay attention to the details)
  3. Formulate an understanding of what the poem means to you.'
  4. Decide whether or not you like it. (This is important. Don't feel like you have to upvote or comment on something that you don't like)
  5. Think about specific aspects of the poem that you may like such as:
    A. a specific line or phrase
    B. The rhythm or timing
    C. The imagery (or the way the author described an object or scene)
    D. A twist or unexpected revelation
    E. The message (again as you understand it)
    F. Any other aspect you notice
  6. Begin the comment with something easy to add on to. I like to use the following:
    A. "I like..."
    B. "I loved how..."
    C. "Good poem. This is what I read into it..."
    D. "Great piece. The following lines struck me: "
  7. End your comment. I usually end by saying "Thanks for sharing" or "Looking forward to more"

And that's it. That’s a lot of writing for 7 simple steps, but I think it will be helpful for those who want to show more support to poets. Please keep in mind that these are my own theories and habits and someone is bound to disagree with them. That’s fine. Just do whatever works best for you. Just don’t let an author suffer The Silence if they don’t have to.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to share your thoughts below.
*All above images are from Pixabay


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And here I thought The Silence was just an ugly race of aliens on Dr. Who... learn something new every day! lol

This is wonderful help. Step 5A is my go-to on responding to poetry, especially if I don't have time to do a quick scansion of the poem or evaluate the rhyme scheme or other devices. If a line stands out to me, I like to quote that back to the author to let them know. As a poet myself, I realize that can make someone's day! 😃

As a poet myself, I realize that can make someone's day!

Yes! It will. I get replies that basically say exactly that. Here are a few that I've gotten:

Thanks, that is what I was hoping for :-)

Thank you so much. I love your well thought out comments. Appreciate the words. Truly. Tip!

thank you for your comment...glad you appreciate the work

Oh, it's not just poetry, my friend. I ran a photoblog for 15 years. It got a lot of views and always had a relatively high page rank, so I know folks were reading it, but comments were of two forms: either none, or "great photo". haha

People just don't know how to comment so they decide not to leave anything rather than leaving something that might sound dumb. I think all art is more a grove, you know? You feel it or you don't. It takes more introspection and thinking than most folks want to do to figure out why exactly they like it (or don't like it). So that is to say most folks have no idea why they dig something, they just do, but they feel silly commenting that alone and so they don't say anything.

That's my thoughts anyway. So I love it even when I do get simple comments such as "great photo" or "nice haiku".

Having said that, personally I always try to give a little more when I comment on other people. As geke said, 5a is my goto approach.

Yeah, I have seen that on photos as well. do comment on photos from time to time, and I try to employ a similar strategy. With photos, it's usually about a certain aspect of the photo. such as the way they light shines, the way things line up, or the colors present. A friend @dmcamera actually wrote a great article on critiquing photos. I thought that was a great. I'll see if I can get you a link.

And there's also the part where people feel more comfortable after someone else commented, but someone needs to take that first step.

Reddit somewhat bypasses it by being so large that someone will likely open the floodgates by commenting. But yeah, it's even true for non-fiction at times. For "non-art".

I love this post because I often post hoping some would critique my post. Did I missspell, is it confusing, moreso are you curious about what inspired it. How would you recommend I receive feedback from my readers even if it is unkind?

I often post hoping some would critique my post.


Did I miss spell...

miss spell misspell.

LOL. Sorry, I had to take advantage of such a set up. I'm a jokster.

How would you recommend I receive feedback from my readers even if it is unkind?

I think you receive it as information about their perspective. The end result of your art is individual interpretations by your readers. They may have experiences or perspectives in their life that brought that reaction. The thing to remember, though, is that you alone are in control of your art. You may find that you want to change some things...or you may not. That is totally up to you. You are beholden to no one but yourself.

Thanks for the feedback, you see even comments could use extra spell check. Thank you and I never thought of my art as my writing. I always thought of it as a piece of writing that could always be improved. However, I have learned that writing format, grammar, and style can be very subjective.

Very true. I feel everything that is created here on steemit that isn't just some replication of something created elsewhere is art. If I post a link to a funny youtube video, that is not art, but if I write a review on the video and relate something personal into that video (like analysis, memories, experiences, etc.), that is indeed art. It is a piece of you scrawled in between the lines of the language. I believe that even some aspects of code could be art.

So a lot of us would rather not share what we think about a poem out of fear that we may be wrong. Here's the thing; you have nothing to fear because you're never wrong. A professor of mine once told me a valuable lesson:

You get from art what you bring to it.

Yes that’s exactly my fear and thank you, I SO needed to hear that!

This was a great primer especially for those of us who enjoy reading poetry but don’t feel qualified to really comment on it at all. I’ve resteemed and will be keeping these recommendations in mind as I read some of the lovely poetry I’ve found on Steemit, including yours!

Thanks ❤️🌈💃

Thank you @jrhughes! I'm glad to see these tips being used even by experienced writers such as yourself. I believe in that statement (you get from it what you bring to it), and as others have said, I think it transfers to many different areas, even beyond art. Thanks for your comment and your resteem.

No Silence For You!!!!! :-) These are good tips. It is difficult to put into words sometimes how to react to a poem. I'm with you. I usually try to say something about the overall essence of the poem (as I see it) or a particularly well written phrase or verse.

For the most part, I've gotten over the "silence" treatment. My poems are mostly written for me, not necessarily public consumption so I don't worry overly much about feedback. That said, I've got about 100 poems I've written to post on here and I have yet to throw one out there....hmmmm. :-)

I will say that one thing that does bother me some is putting in thoughtful comments on peoples work and then not even getting an upvote back from them for taking my time to read their work. I'm not commenting specifically to get something back.....but at the same time, a little thank you would be nice. Just sayin'.....

Good work on the above.

Yeah, I've been there too. I reconcile that by considering the fact that they just don't know, or that maybe they are just saving their upvotes. If it happens multiple times, I take that as a "Golden Rule" statement: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Maybe they don't want me commenting on their posts, and that's why they don't comment on mine. So I leave them alone for a while.

Just out of curiosity, why would a person "save" their upvotes? You get as many as you want, don't you? Yes, they start to lose a little of their "power" as you use them but....they're still worth something tangible to the people who receive them (and yourself) and their intangible value is probably worth even more to a lot of people.

Seriously, I'm basically new here. I signed up in August but I haven't really done anything until the last couple weeks. Is there a reason to save your votes?

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

It depends on your definition of tangible. A lot of folks like to give an upvote which will yield a monetary return. For you, any upvote greater than 1% will yield at least a penny currently. For me, that number is 8%. A few weeks ago for me, it would have been 60%. For someone just starting out, it may be 90%.

I get how the SP affects the monetary reward. My question is: why would you "save" an upvote? My understanding is you get 10 a day with full power and then they start going down 2% a crack. But don't upvotes help increase your rep? And isn't the point to try and encourage people to post quality material? Is there something specific I should be "saving" them for? I don't get it. Until the last couple days, I never upvoted my own posts. But then I realized it moves me up the comment ladder to where my responses might get read. I still try not to do it. I'd rather upvote good material from other people. I try and hit the "new" feed a couple times a day to see some newbies and give them a boost if they put some effort in.

Anyway, sorry...rambling. I really only want to know why you'd save your upvotes. For instance, and I'm not trying to come down on you but it's a good example......I upvoted your original post above and also upvoted your reply to my comment. I'm not begging for upvotes and regardless of monetary rewards, I'd just like to know why you wouldn't upvote my comment? I'm just trying to understand how this all fits together....

Well, I guess the best way to answer would be with a different question: Why wouldn't you recognize the pieces you love the most with your most meaningful upvote? I imagine your answer would be that you would want to recognize more artists with less of an upvote. And for you, that means that people get a .25 reward rather than a .49 reward. Your .25 reward is still enough to make you the 7th highest voter on this post which may be my best performing post ever. In my case it would be .03, which while still tangible is a lot less.

I don't typically upvote comments, but I agree that there are good reasons to do so. It is a way to reward people who comment on your stuff. However, I feel like the better reward would be to read, comment, and upvote their work instead. When I do that, I want to do it with as much weight as possible. Now, once you get over 500SP, you get a nifty little slide bar where you can lower the weight for comments, but I'm not there yet. So each vote is at 100% weight. Otherwise, I would do both.

I understand your point of view though. To tell you the truth, I hadn't noticed that you were upvoting my comments as I was replying to the rest of the comments in between work. I hope you didn't take any offense to it. If it's any consolation, I upvoted this comment with my full power. I will be upvoting first level posts a little later on to include the folks who have supported me here.

No, I was in no way trying to disagree with you or disrespect you. None of that. I was just trying to get some rationale behind why people may or may not vote. Like I said, I've just started here and with the markets the way they are, I moved some crypto into Steem. That had the unintended benefit of boosting my votes. I'm happy about it. But after spending a couple weeks here, I just think Steem is a good investment. And now I love the platform.

I was in no way offended. In fact, I was worried I might be offending you. :-) Anyway, thank you very much for replying to me. I now understand your rationale and it's a logical one to have. I personally still think that unless you're spending hours and hours on here, I'd just vote for what you like and don't worry about whether it's still 100% or not. As you pointed out, the difference between 100% and 50% of $.03 is pretty small. But at least I now understand your logic. So thank you again.

Incidentally, we're having this conversation because your original post was really very, very good. In fact, it was my first official resteem. :-) You've got one more follower. Steem On as they say....

It's all good, man. I was not offended at all. I truly enjoy the discourse. Last month my upvote was only worth .01, so I am still getting used to always having something tangible. I pretty much do upvote things that I like regardless of how much I have, but will abstain from voting in order to get close to 100%, but that usually means abstaining from steemit. But since I don't upvote comments, I try really hard to at least reply and acknowledge what people are saying to me.

And like I said, there are good incentives to be more liberal with your upvote. For one, it helps to build your network because people will remember you. It also makes sense from a monetary standpoint as you will earn more curation rewards. It is also probably a more efficient use of your influence over the reward pool.

I just like the idea of being able to give someone that 100% full power vote as a way to recognize really exceptional pieces. That will be a lot easier once I get past 500SP.

I agree
It’s often hard to know what to say! Thanks for the advice👍
Thanks for sharing!
I look forward to more👍

You are very welcome, @geneverett. I appreciate your comment, and I'm glad you found it helpful.

Of course you most likely will get people commenting completely different things, depending on how they interpreted the poem. That's okay though.

Yeah, the interpretation gives the author some insight into their reader. As an author, it's always interesting to hear different perspectives. You also learn different possibilities for how your work can be perceived. Eventually, you may even design your piece to allow the reader greater use of their imagination and perspective.

I once wrote a poetry comment,
written in more than one installment
I thought it was long
but it ended strong
Now waiting for upvote respondent.


LOL. I like how the final line fulfilled the statement in the fourth line. It was very clever. Thanks for sharing. ;-)

Thank you for your comment. I was afraid I might experience.... the silence. @ironshield

Ha! I would never... I am advocate for non-silence.

Thanks, for this. Poems are experiences that readers can partake in... Reading is not passive and, at times, a good reader might even teach the poet a thing or two about their own so-called poem.

That is true, likewise, a bad poet can teach a good poet a thing or two as well. Often, though a piece might not be refined, it can still hold a new characterization of a perspective the author has never considered. You just have to have an open mind to see it. Thanks for your complement.

This is a great guide to also helping the reader understand the poem in general @moeknows. All of Step 5 offers insight into what a poem should do for the reader and Step 2 is important for any art. I know that I myself hate getting bland comments like Great Job or I Liked It. The more critical the comment - be it positive or negative, the better my chances of improving and excelling in my writing. Resteeming this. Thanks for putting it out there.

You are welcome @japhofin8or. It's not easy, and readers are taking a risk by putting thought into it. The only thing I can suggest is replying something like. "Thank you. What did you like about it?" or something like that. Thanks for the resteem!

Do not say sad words are people who do not vote properly, I do not want to comment on posts, because voting is not restem and comment by vote

Hello, @sojibul. Are you saying that you don't want to comment because you do not want to be expected to vote? I think I might be having trouble understanding your comment because of the language barrier. Can you try posting in your native tongue and I will use a translator? Maybe someone will be able to translate for us.

I think this can be transferred to any genre, not just poems! In any case, I sure love the detailed step-by-step instructions/ideas for a meaningful comment!

Thank you for your comment. You are absolutely right. Looking back, I may rewrite this in a more general form to expand beyond just poetry. I think I might run a contest out of it.

great post guy! I think, as with art, poetry is subjective to the reader. I have dabbled in fiction and some poetry, even posted a poem or two when I first started Steemin. The lack of comments made me think I really stank, lol!


Yep. That's the message that gets received, but that may not be the case. Neither comments nor upvotes seem to have a strong correlation to quality when it comes to poetry...and probably other types of art as well. Trust me. The stuff with zero comments and zero upvotes is often just as good or better than anything on the trending page.

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Thanks for taking the time to break it down. I actually think this is a great template on how to comment on any original work--poetry, photography, recipes, anything that someone has taken care and time to share with the world. I appreciate the tip to think about what it means to you. I know I personally get caught up in wanting to be "right" (I have more of a math brain--thinking there is always one correct response), so I sometimes have to take the time to let it sink in and reflect on my own personal connection to the piece. :)

I know I personally get caught up in wanting to be "right" (I have more of a math brain--thinking there is always one correct response), so I sometimes have to take the time to let it sink in and reflect on my own personal connection to the piece. :)

Yes. Me too. That's why that lesson has always stuck with me. I wasn't expecting that from an art class. I'm not really all that into artistic stuff, but for me, I make it about the analysis. In that context, it fits perfectly into my left brain way of thinking. It's a mystery to determine not only what the author was trying to get at, but what I am bringing to the piece. It's beautiful because the same piece can mean different things for different people...and all of them are right.

  ·  2 years ago (edited)

Great advice! I should write a similar one about how to comment on photography. LOL!

I think you kind of did. Well, how to critique, but pretty much the same. It was actually eye-opening for me.

I did didn't I? I had forgotten about that! I just corrected my typo above too! Lol!

We wait and often are never acknowledged,
with the exception of those wonderful people who say things like
"Nice post, I upvote you please do same for me to".

Ohhh, man. Ignore!
Thank you for this - all writers know "The Silence," but it must be worse for poets because most people, even other writers, are a bit lost when it comes to poetry. Looking forward to yours!

Thank you @carolkean. I imagine that you guys have it pretty difficult too. Fiction works tend to be a lot longer and take a little bit more of an effort to consume. I have always been a slow reader, so it takes me forever to get through a short story. I can't imagine the effort it takes to write a novel. I am impressed by what you guys do.

Good advice, and definitely translatable to other genres of writing besides poetry! Bravo for the excellent ideas! 😊

You are welcome. I'm glad you could find it useful.

Very good advice. I learned a lot, I will take this into account when I go to comment and complement the poems! i appreciate

Thank you. I will be looking forward to seeing you around here.

Your ideas would be very helpful in one of the steemit how to posts. This is concise and extremely helpful. Poetry is difficult to comment on because it is so personal to the writer and I would feel bad if I said the wrong thing. So what I do is try to find an emotion within the poem and talk about how it affect me personally. Just like you suggested :)

Thank you for your comment. I tried to make something that had very clear and actionable steps so people could literally follow along. Sometimes I prep the author by saying something like , "I believe you get from art what you bring to it, and I perceived the following:" Thanks for your comment.

It's nice to write #poetry because that means you have a great imagination and a pure heart and a clever mind..... Poetry is the language of feelings... Until people understand poetry they must understand the language of feelings... Unfortunately, we are at the time of people caring for money, not feelings.
But no worries there is who can understand poetry.... If you can affect one person, it means you're a great person.
Oh, thank you. @moeknows

You're welcome. I think there is good and bad in every person. Most of us are able to connect on feelings in our own way.

Very informative posts, and combined with the comments this is a great place for anyone new to steemit in general to also start. I will promote it as "How not to comment on memes" for the people I know though.

@moeknows this post was presented at the most recent Pimp Your Post Thursday on the Steemit Ramble Discord. I have written a post to share your featured post. Just stopping back to let you know that you can see your name in lights right here. (Just kidding about the lights :)

Thanks, @shadowspub. I'll head over there. I was wanting to look at the other content since I was pulled away during the show. Thanks for running this great service.

As you know I struggle with finding good comments particularly for writing posts including poetry so thanks this is great advice for me

You're welcome, and I think you do a good job. At least you do actually comment. That's commendable by itself.

I am working on improving as I go Steemit is helping me to

Thoughtful advice. Be honest and open and say what your response was. Be human. That is what I heard. Just joined the alliance and am reaching out and saying hello

Welcome to #thealliance. It's a great group. Yes, be honest, but avoid being critical unless the author has asked for it. Tone is very difficult to relay in comments and people tend to get personal about their poetry. However, I have no problem being frank and honest if the author has asked for it. I look forward to seeing you around.

Did I misstep? If I did I apologize. I intended nothing but respect and recognition of yiur wirk. One offering advice or criticism unasked intends no good deed. They offer nothing. But demand attention. Peace and Love and Liberty.

On no. I didn't take any offense. What I meant to say was; when you say, "Be honest and open and say what your response was." Just make sure that if your response was negative to avoid being critical unless requested. I didn't take your response as critical at all. Even if I had, I take no offense to it, but rather feel honored. I really appreciate almost anything anyone has to say about my stuff. So many poets don't get read at all let alone receive feedback. So thank you.

Thank you for writing this. I am a novice throw some words out there and hit post kinda poet.
I am not confident about my words so therefore am nervous about expressing an opinion about someone else's words.
I will have a go from now.
Thank you

After seeing this post, now I know it's not just me getting The Silence. Upvote me, don't upvote me. I would at least like some feedback. The life of a minnow writer...

this really is wonderful and so needed. Thank you for doing this. Resteemed, naturally :-)

Thank you!