But I should probably acknowledge that judging the Youth section of a Poetry contest isn’t quite the same as spending quality time with the classics. It hasn’t been easy! I’ve been tempted to “screech” onto the critique sheet the following:
CRYPTIC ONLY WORKS IF YOU’RE THE SPHINX
DON’T PREACH AT ME
DON’T TRY TO TEACH ME ABOUT LIFE
I’m not sure why all early poetry looks like this:
She trusted him.
He betrayed her.
Now she is sad.
or worse… young writers think rhyming poetry is neat, but they’ve never read anything other than Mother Goose. So their efforts look more like this:
She loved a rat,
who beat her heart with a bat,
so now she said, ‘Drat.’
Okay, okay… these are terrible examples written by my own hand and do NOT do justice to the very real efforts of young poets.
Perhaps the poems look like this because when we are young, all those emotions are fresh and new and we wrestle ineffectually with some way of expressing our experiences.
This is more about reminding myself that these kids really want to write and that my comments should actually be educational, rather than biting. I remember my own fragile ego when I first began to write. I kept waiting for someone to tell me I was great. I needed the affirmation, and still do! [this after 90% of my submissions ended in rejections this fall]
So I’ve vowed, accurate or not, to end every single critique with this thought; “You clearly want to be a writer. Keep writing.”